City: San Francisco, California 

Passion: Boxing, Life

Website: www.theparkgym.com

Shortly after welcoming us into the Park Gym at 1960 Harrison Street it becomes apparent why David has become a close friend and trusted confidant to so many of his clients.

Positive, enlightened and remarkably creative are some of the ways you could describe this unassuming boxing and taekwondo teacher, but David admits he didn’t always have a healthy perspective on life.

After achieving fame and fortune as a women’s wear fashion designer for retailers, including Nordstrom, Henri Bendel and Forever 21’s predecessor, he realized that, despite appearing to have King Midas’ golden touch, he wasn’t happy and had developed a skewed sense of priorities. His decision to get sober was the tipping point and, after impressing the fashion industry with his final signature collection, David turned his back on his high-pressured career. He moved back to his hometown to rekindle his first love of boxing and open his own innovative gym, which recently inspired him to write and produce his own sitcom.    

ON PASSION

I started out with taekwondo as a kid and I loved boxing also. Then life happened and I ended up getting married and starting a clothing company with my then-wife. Within a few months our relationship dissolved, but I ended up continuing with that. I fell into it, but ended up going to OTIS College of Art and Design in LA for more education. I never finished, but tried to make the clothing company successful.
I couldn’t compete in the budget market so after a year and a half, I was just up to my eyeballs in debt, about a $150,000. With the last bit of money that I had, I decided that I really wanted to get into the mainstream contemporary market. Luck would have it that there was this one dress, which I called the Erika, that we had gotten a test order for from Nordstrom Southern California. It was a very small order for just a few stores but it was a hit. With that my fashion career and company grew very quickly and I had a good seven year run at it.
Being in Los Angeles, a lot of celebrities came to my fashion shows, like Owen Wilson. Tara Reid hosted one of my shows and Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction was a friend and would DJ my shows. I rode that high for a while.
Fashion is a very tough business. You’re only as good as your last collection. There is a lot of pressure. With clarity and some humility, I realised that this wasn’t the business that I wanted to be in. Then the recession hit and it just became too daunting for me. I decided to move back home, here in San Francisco, where my family is. I wanted to start fresh and decided that boxing and taekwondo was what I wanted to do.

ON MASTERY

Really I came without any money, but I manifested that it was going to happen and just took action on it like I had the money. I was determined and told myself that it was going to happen and, somehow or another, someone put me in touch with someone else and that person decided to invest a small amount of money with me, and I found this space. It’s like the universe thought this was the right thing for me to do.
The false desires of money, fame and that prestige, I realized that’s not what I wanted to be about. I came here and realized I like coaching a lot better. I’m actually more talented at this than that whole thing of fashion, or at least I think so. I feel better. I really get to help people and truly, genuinely interact and be of service to people, whereas in fashion the mind-set was all about me and my image.

ON TRANSITION

Physically it was very difficult. Your mind lies to you because you have the experience of being physically at a certain level but, when in actuality, I was very out of shape and had a lot of injuries. It was a long road to get back into shape. I thought ‘In two months I’m going to be right back where I used to be,’ but it actually took two years. In the beginning I trained people more with my knowledge and then eventually everything balanced out.
Mentally, I was completely ready for it. People ask me all the time if I miss fashion and no, not at all. In the fashion industry, I kind of thought I was King Midas and my attitude was more like Marie Antoinette, but before I left that industry I challenged myself creatively and made peace with myself. I had beautiful collections and I made beautiful things so I left on that note and decided that business was not what I wanted.

ON FAILURE

Early in my career being rejected gave me sense of failure, but it was more of a sense of fear and drive. That first part of fashion, I didn’t really learn much, it just kind of turned me into a monster because success came so fast and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was just so self-obsessed, but once it hit big and then came down, that’s when I realized that’s not what life’s about. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame.
Today, I throw failure over my shoulder. There is no failure to really deal with. I keep things in perspective. I don’t care what people think as much, as that’s the way the first half of my life was. I just live in the moment and I don’t agonize over things, like ‘Oh my God, this has to be the greatest gym in the world.’ As long as I take care of as much as I can for that day, everything works out.

ON FEAR

No matter how strong you try to be, there is always going to be a voice in the back of your head saying ‘Is it or can it happen?’ But I always revert back to the moment and everything is okay.
It’s trial and error. I opened this gym and kind of thought to myself, again, this is my last opportunity in life to do something that I love. Everything and every person affected me in the first year. I wanted to make sure everything was okay so that was daunting and a little nerve-racking. After about a year and a half, I sat back and looked at all the anxiety and the quirky things that had happened and they all seemed actually kind of funny. So then I thought, you know what, this would make a great sitcom. I had that idea and somehow one thing led to another and put together some friends and I just finished a sitcom pilot. It’s called The Park. It comes from real happenings and experiences.

ON MONEY

Ego will always put you in a ‘poor me’ situation and that’s something I had to adjust to. It took some time because the degree of turnaround was pretty drastic. This might be a cliché, but then I got to enjoy the little things in life. I really was able to be present with people, friends and not worry about what people think of me or if they’re looking at me because I’m driving this great Porsche, or this or that, so I get to be more present in life.

ON SELF-LOVE

Self-love is about having good relations and being present. It’s been very important because by showing respect for people, you respect yourself also.
Pretty much the way I’m living my life right now is about taking care of myself. Sometimes I feel like I need to be working a little bit more. I hope that I have a healthy balance.

ON INSPIRATION

My friends and the people I meet inspire me. My fashion professor at OTIS, Frances Harder, had always told us, ‘Look, there are a million people that can make beautiful things, but it’s the people who have a handle on how the business works that become successful.’ When I heard it back then I didn’t really pay any attention to that, but it always stuck with me, and just to keep things simple and with hard work, things will turn out they way they’re supposed to turn out.
There was another friend of mine, this woman named Gary Hudson. I’ve always been a grandiose, fantasy-thinking type person. I always believed my ideas were going to make things happen, but she told me something very important; ‘You have to have a product for anything to be successful, not just an idea.’ I think that those kinds of things, consciously and subconsciously, stuck with me. So when I opened this gym I wanted to do everything, be good to the members and really give them a good product; good teaching.

ON SUPPORT

I think I’m spiritual. I believe in God. That helps me stay strong mentally and just put one foot in front of the other. There is also community support in the sense that this is a gym and all types of people from the community come through here. I think I’ve always been a people person. I’ve always had a lot of friends.

ADVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

Stick with something you love and believe in. Put one foot in front of the other, stay in the moment and always take the right next action. If you rely on getting someone else to make what’s in your mind happen, it won’t happen. If you continue to even take the smallest action every day in fulfilling your purpose, then those things and people start coming into place.

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