Interview with Drew Ragan, ‎Director of Impact Strength and Performance

Drew Ragan founded Impact Strength & Performance in 2011. The Bellevue community gym offers a variety of classes focused on strength building, improving mobility and helping clients reach their unique fitness goals.

Drew with his father. (Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

Ragan has a unique approach to health and wellness – with a degree in psychology, this owner sees the supreme importance of connecting the mind and body in a workout routine. With a credentials list a mile long (he’s been an American Ninja Warrior, power lifer, yogi, college football player and more), he’s found that the mind-body connection is where the real magic happens. With this, he started the gym not with a focus on helping members get washboard abs (although, many do – his members’ transformations are incredible) but more with a focus on creating community. He strives to develop a place that combats what he considers an epidemic of people not feeling good enough. Day-in-and-day-out Drew and his crew of coaches are inspiring members to move daily in a way that helps them become the best version of themselves.

I had the chance to chat with Drew about life and fitness!

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
I’m a local boy who moved to Bellevue when I was 5 via Honolulu. My childhood home is literally less than a mile away from Impact. I had an ideal childhood playing sports and riding my BMX around Bridle Trails with my best friends and younger siblings. My mother passed away when I was 16, and her alcoholism and the 5 years leading up to her passing were chaotic and scary and caused some legitimate coping mechanisms to become rooted in my way of being that I’m now learning to work through. At a very young age, exercise and lifting weights became a way for me to handle the stress in my home. Although lifting served as a high functioning coping mechanism for many, many years, I now have a healthy relationship with lifting as a means to promote self-love instead of a protective mechanism because deep down I was feeling scared and vulnerable for a very long time.

How does the Pacific Northwest lifestyle inspire you?
Like any good PNW man, I feel most connected to myself and to Mama Earth when I’m outside in in the elements.

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

You have been on American Ninja Warrior. How did you train for that and what was the whole experience like?
It was more of a dare than anything else. My buddies and I made a quick video, posted it on YouTube, sent in an application and BAM, they wanted me and I booked a ticket down to Venice Beach where they were filming. I was 3 weeks out from my first Men’s Physique show when I competed in ANW, so my training leading up to the show was half body building half athletic performance training. Anyone that has ever competed in a show (whether men’s bodybuilding or women’s bikini and anything between) knows that the nutritional discipline is rigorous and drains so much of your energy. It being my first show, I was constantly tired and not used to the extreme caloric discipline. When it was my turn to go on ANW, it was 4 a.m. (they film in the middle of the night for production purposes) and I was eating tilapia and asparagus out of a plastic bag when they called my name. They give you about a 10-minute heads up prior to your shot on the obstacle course. I was so excited and happy to be up there. The crowd was chanting “Cena! Cena!” Because I was shredded and about 50 lbs heavier than all the other participants, so I looked huge compared to everyone else. My size ended up being my downfall as I anti-climatically fell on the third obstacle simply because my 205 lbs was too heavy for the equipment.

Who inspires you the most and why?
My son motivates me to be my best self and to live a life worth modeling. It’s not what I say, it’s what I do. He’s always watching, and since his birth, I’ve really been intentionally living to model kindness, honesty, courage, and compassion. I want him to be proud of his father and hopefully guide him to live his life as true to himself as possible.

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

What made you decide to open Impact Strength & Performance in 2011?
I graduated college in 2008 with my BA in Psychology and played four years of collegiate football. I became a trainer while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I fell in love with the profession and decided to make a career out of it. I called one of my best friends up, Travis Motley, who had been personal training professionally as well, and we went into business together. Since then we have split ways, but I wouldn’t have been able to open Impact nor would I have seen the success we have had without him.

Walk us through what a new member would experience on day one through their first 30 days of changing their life?
Lots of high fives, encouragement, non-judgment, bad dad jokes, and a community of people who don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s a family atmosphere where everyone is welcome. If changing your body composition is important to you, we’ll have you jump on our state-of-the-art Inbody body composition analysis machine to get initial data (what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed) of your lean body mass to body fat ratio, and we’re off to the races. You’ll get access to all of our nutrition plans and at-home workouts and will have access to coaches to assist you with any obstacles you are going to face along your journey. Additionally, there’s also an aspect of challenging yourself mentally – not just physically. With my background in psychology, I see the real magic happening when clients can make the mind + body connection within their fitness journey. That’s when things really starts to click. We all have to understand why we’re showing up – in our workouts and in life.

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

So many people are intimidated to join gyms like Impact. What do you want to tell them to ease their fears?
We love on people equally as hard as we train. We’re here to help people become the happiest and most authentic versions of themselves, not embarrass you or force any square pegs into round holes. If one of our movements isn’t working for you, our amazing coaches will meet you where you’re at and give you a version of the exercise that fits your bod and fitness level.

What makes Impact different from other similar gyms out there?
Our functional hybrid training model gets our members – known lovingly as “the Impact fam” – long, strong, and lean. Many gyms and fitness establishments’ training methods accomplish just one of these results. We are a well-educated and experienced group of coaches and have created a training program that blends scientific strength training principles with elements of yoga and athletic performance training that creates an incredibly fun, challenging, and effective movement practice. Most importantly, we realize that people don’t care as much about what we know until they know how much we care. I know what it’s like to be scared, to long to be loved, to over identify with my body and wrap my self-worth up in my image. To feel helpless and just wish I had someone who cared to hold my hand and tell me it’s going to be ok. That’s why we’re here more than anything – to help people and guide them on their journeys back to their authentic, happy, and whole selves.

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

What are some of your favorite workouts and why?
I love yoga. I love kettlebell training. I love powerlifting. Combine all three and you have an incredibly dynamic and synergistic training platform to make your body strong, long, and lean.

What are some charities and non-profits that are near and dear to your heart and why?
Mamma’s Hands in Preston. Rainier Athletes. First Aid Arts. Any local organization that is led by people with big hearts whose aim is to serve local people who need some extra love and support.

Since this is What’s Up NW and we love giving shout outs to local businesses, tell us about your favorite place to eat, drink, and chill in the PNW and why?
Shout out to Bala Yoga and their inspiring community of yogis. Amonos Taco Truck on 130th has THE BEST breakfast burritos and are solid people. When not slamming burritos, you can find me smashing on poké from Just Poke or DERU local market – all ran by local PNW’ers and great people. I don’t take myself very seriously and like to do Ecstatic Dance up on 15th in Cap Hill as well at the Underground Dance Studio. Super fun and goofy times.

(Photo Credit: Impact Strength and Performance)

Where do you want to see yourself and Impact in the future?
The dream is to have a set up similar to my homeboy Luka Hocevar’s gym, Vigor Ground, in Renton. There’d be a local organic cafe, a place to lounge and spend time with your friends and the rest of the community. We would host weekly workshops on everything that supports optimal living ranging from environmental stewardship, self love and personal development, honest and intentional relationships, healthy eating, and tons of other fun and inspiring events.

Impact Strength & Performance
1508 128th Pl NE
Bellevue, WA 98007
Ph: (425) 628-4898

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