Taylor James was born and raised in Memphis. His job as a brewery sales representative took him to Nashville and Virginia. It required him to travel, often spending nights in hotels and eating whatever was quick and convenient on the road. Taylor explains, “I didn’t have a good routine. I was up late and not sleeping well. I didn’t have consistent training or recovery.”

After five years of life on the road, Taylor knew he needed a change. As a result, he moved back to Memphis in 2019 to work for the family business, Castle Retail Group. In his current role as executive vice president, Taylor oversees High Point and South Point Grocery.

Once Taylor established a routine, he dug into fitness and began lifting weights and eating healthier. “I was mentally and physically drained from life on the road,” Taylor says. “I knew it was time to make a change.”

Finding Strength and a Coach

Change is the only constant in life, and after Taylor began a consistent fitness routine, the world changed in 2020. Gyms were temporarily closed, and everyone had to adapt. Amidst change and uncertainty, Taylor decided to double down on his fitness regimen.

He ordered equipment for a home gym and hired strength coach Teddy Cox out of Wenning Strength Gym in Columbus, Ohio. The gym specializes in the conjugate method, a training method designed to build strength through max effort and dynamic efforts days, utilizing chains, bands, and specialty barbells.

Teddy programs workouts through an app for Taylor and other fitness trainees. Then Taylor checks in for his workouts on the app, which aids in accountability and helps to monitor progress. Teddy and gym owner Matt Wenning offer training tips and nutrition advice and work with clients to customize a plan that works for them and their individual goals.

Taylor explains, “I chose to train with Matt’s gym because he’s never had a major injury in a lifting career more than 20 years. Instead, he focuses on general physical preparedness. It’s not about breaking records; it’s about building strength to accomplish my goals and continue to be active as I age without my body breaking down on me.”

Building a Home Gym and Finding a Community

A home gym is an investment, but it comes with advantages: no commute, no occupied equipment, and no congestion. Taylor admits, “When you have a home gym, there are no excuses.”

“I never thought I’d have a home gym, but I’m the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been,” Taylor explains. He credits that to coaches Teddy and Matt and his best friend and training partner, Garrett Metts. “We hold each other accountable. We get to hang out and work out simultaneously,” Taylor says.

No matter how nice the gym equipment or how close to us it is, there are still occasional struggles with motivation. “When I’m mentally checked out, I lean on my coaches,” Taylor says. “They help motivate me and switch things up to keep them interesting and fun.”

“They understand my struggles, and when I reach a goal, they celebrate it with me, and we get to share in that success,” Taylor shares.

Training for Life

Taylor does strength training four days per week, one hour per day. While his workouts vary each day, they are structured the same. Each workout includes a warm-up, the main movement, and an accessory movement. This format allows trainees to focus on one movement pattern and target complementary muscle groups.

Taylor explains, “What keeps me excited is that my workouts are always changing. It’s never monotonous or boring. We utilize different movements and equipment to enhance them.”

“I only train for four hours per week, leaving many more hours in the week where I need to be accountable. I try to eat well, and I prioritize rest and recovery,” Taylor says. When he steps into the gym, Taylor’s goal is to crush his workout. However, he understands not every day will be your best.

Taylor shares, “If you aren’t mentally in your workout, it won’t go as well. If you have a hard day, you can adapt your workout and make changes. You have to know how much you have in the tank that day, not just physically but mentally. Knowing your limits can help prevent injury.”

In addition to training and recovery, Taylor supports his training by taking supplements. “Getting blood work done and identifying your body’s needs is helpful. In addition, I take ATP Lab supplements, and it has been extremely helpful in supporting my training and recovery.

Setting Goals and Swinging Clubs

Over the past three years, Taylor focused on building strength and learning proper techniques. He is now focused on getting more athletic. He enjoys golfing in the summer and wants a fitness regimen that supports that.

Taylor says, “Golf is a great mental break for me. Spending time outside is undervalued. I think it’s important to have a hobby that you enjoy and do for fun.”

Beyond this summer, Taylor has big plans. He plans to visit the gym in Ohio once per month and learn more from his trainers. Ultimately, he wants to bring the positive training experience he has had to Memphis by opening his own gym.

Taylor says, “The grocery business is what I do for work, but fitness is what I can talk about all day. It can benefit everybody, even just training for one day per week. Whether it’s strength training or walking, find that one thing that excites you, and it will benefit you in so many ways.”

By Morgan Stritzinger
Photo by Sam Sikes