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Daily Inspiration: Meet John Marcum

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Marcum.

Hi John, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Like most veterans, once I was out of service, my level of fitness dropped significantly. But several life events caused me to re-evaluate my health, and the summer of 2005 was the start of this part of the story. For the next year and a half, I completely overhauled my diet and turned the clock back; going from 315 pounds to 190 pounds. It was during this time that the thought of working as a fitness professional entered my mind. The concept of Florence Barbell was growing into something…

Fast forward to 2010, my roommate and I got into a conversation after coming home from the bars. He was partaking, and I was working as security. He wanted to open a restaurant, and I wanted to open a gym. I was dabbling with CrossFit at the time, and began looking into that business model. The gym was born and quickly migrated to my old roommate’s garage (the person who wanted to open a restaurant). Within a year of our conversation, our gym was a reality and so was his restaurant. I partnered up with a client who was also motivated to start a gym, and together we started the 3rd CrossFit gym in Northern Kentucky.

A year or so later, we both attended the CrossFit power-lifting seminar at The Sweatt Shop, and from there it was a migration from CrossFit to traditional strength and conditioning. I was the first person from our gym to compete on the power-lifting stage, and I fell in love with the sport.

In 2015, we completely transitioned away from the CrossFit model, rebranded ourselves, and hit the ground running. We aligned with a larger national power-lifting association and continued to build the sport in our area. Since that time, we have been able to help many people get stronger; both on the power-lifting platform, and in various sports. We have helped many candidates prepare successfully for military service, and even rehabilitate a few broken service members once they have returned home.

Our passion is being of service to others. Our passion is educating others in how to acquire strength and use it. Our passion is to prevent injury. We have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to do the things we are so passionate about.

Today, we are thriving. With student athletes in various sports, clientele from the USA to the UK to the UAE, special needs clients, and soft tissue work (body tempering), we continue to add value to the lives of our clients.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all. I started the biz on 17K. I didn’t take a salary for 4 years. My original biz partner left the business due to life event. I have some blackmails and extortion attempts, normal and extraordinary gym drama. My wife’s battle with ulcerative colitis and my battle with throat cancer, but it’s all been a blessing.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I was a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy. I was also a nationally registered EMT and a Florida registered EMT-I/P my area of focus was emergency and field medicine. That was the greatest foundation I could have asked for, I have always been a science nerd, but there was something about medicine that just seemed natural to me.

Fast forward to a secondary education in Biology, coupled with the medical training I received in the service, and a passion for lifting weights and strength training, it was a perfect combination to begin a career in fitness. Once I got a job in the industry, I quickly became the ‘old school’ specialist and the go to person for military prep in the company.

Once I got my first CrossFit certification, I took a part time job at a local affiliate, and slowly transitioned from one on one training to small groups. Then we took steps to open our own facility. 5 months later, that was a reality.

As a CrossFit athlete, I was average. However, once i did that first powerlifting competition in 2014, by the end of 2018, I was in the top three masters powerlifter in single ply, in my weight group worldwide. December of 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Esophageal Cancer. 2019 was all about fighting and getting healthy again.

Here we are in 2022, and still going strong!

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Listen to your heart and spirit.

Do what you are passionate about!

Be genuine and authentic.

As a fitness professional, “eat your own dogfood”.

Give as much as you get, if not more so.


  • $50-$150 a month memberships
  • $45 an hour personal training

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @florencebarbell

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