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D1 Fitness helps people succeed


Personal trainer Demarcus Searcy founded D1 Fitness to help people succeed and not even a pandemic will stop him. Photo by Ashley Cox.

Growing up in the small town of Madison, North Carolina, Demarcus Searcy was a fitness fanatic. As a young athlete, he played basketball, baseball, football, and worked out two to three times per day. He loved the feeling of working out, and feeling good, and was always on the hunt for anything that could help him stay active.

He spent his junior year of high school preparing for college recruiters -- working hard to get bigger, stronger and faster. However, as the story too often goes, he suffered an injury that cut short his dreams of playing sports in college.

“A lot of it came from working out so hard and being so active,” Searcy says of the injury. “It took me downhill and I watched my hopes go down from there.”

But Searcy didn’t give up. After the injury he got his personal training certification and, lacking experience, took an internship with a friend who taught him about fitness and wellbeing. Unfortunately, Searcy still had trouble finding a solid job in the fitness world.

“I applied to gym after gym and there was no response, so I thought, maybe this isn’t for me; maybe there’s something else,” Searcy says.

So, he started training younger boys in his neighborhood and holding boot camps for anyone and everyone who wanted to come. He told them that he was a certified personal trainer but didn’t charge them a dime.

“It was that feeling of helping others; it really all started there,” Searcy says.

This focus on helping others, Searcy explains, is a direct result of his father, George. Growing up, Searcy says his family didn’t have a lot, but he watched his father give all he could. “For someone who I admired as a father and really looked up to as a role model, I kind of took on that mindset as a child. So, me helping and giving back when I don’t have much was really big for me, and it still is.”

With that in mind, he continued training his neighbors, and that gave him the experience he needed to turn his passion from a hobby into a business.

“I never really had interest in personal training, but I like helping others and finding a way to bring value to other people’s lives,” Searcy explains. “And I never knew how I would do that until I realized I was already doing it through the training. I thought, ‘I’ve got something here.’”

Two years ago, Searcy moved to Greensboro, North Carolina to find more opportunity in his field. That’s when he launched his business, D1 Fitness.

He started by specializing in fat loss, something in which most people find alluring. But then he started getting clients of all ages with various issues, like leg and back pain. He took this as an opportunity to educate himself, and soon found his niche in clients aged 35-55 who mostly just want to get moving and healthy again.

Some of them have no experience, some have a little, but what Searcy takes great care to do is specialize in the client’s specific needs. “I give nutrition advice, help with mobility issues — I want to help people reach their goals, whether it’s health-wise, fitness-wise or anything else.”

While Searcy has been in the fitness business for several years, he was thrown a curveball when the pandemic shut down the country in March 2020. While he explains that it was easy to pivot the business to online coaching, he says it’s much more difficult to train over video because of the energy required for the sessions.

“That natural energy of being face-to-face with someone is not there,” Searcy says. “Doing it over a screen is difficult, but it’s doable. Some of my clients wanted to meet them in person, and it was warm at the time so we did that at a safe distance. It’s not the same, but they’re still able to work out.”

However, for Searcy, it was important to keep helping his clients, especially during the pandemic. And luckily for him, keeping his own energy high hasn’t been difficult at all; he simply reminds himself why he’s doing it.

“I believe my gift and my passion is to help people succeed, not only at fitness but at life,” Searcy says. “And it’s not just personal for them; it’s personal for me as well. If you get the call that you’re borderline diabetic and I can help you reverse that that would make my day. Or if you call and say you feel the best you’ve ever felt, that’s the part that’s personal to me. I like changing people’s lives.”

Alex Milstein is a freelance writer with the Carolina Peacemaker. He resides in Greensboro.