How Eddy Roche, Founder of DMN8, is Building a Next-Generation Fitness Brand, Led By Community

Jared Mintzlaff

January 24, 2024

In the heart of Santa Monica’s Main Street emerges a different breed of gym—one fueled not by ego or aesthetic, but by community, acceptance, and the simple joy of movement. This is DMN8, the brainchild of Eddy Roche, a former tech professional whose winding journey led him to fill a gaping hole in the fitness industry.

His recent chat on The Magnetic Podcast illuminates the grassroots way he cultivated a following, the unconventional beliefs underpinning his brand ethos, why the future of fitness lies in extreme personalization, and what founders/marketers everywhere can learn from his experiences.

Rising From Rock Bottom: The Origin Story

Eddy’s foray into fitness was born less from strategy than a soul-searching quest for purpose. His various athletic pursuits had sculpted a rock-solid belief—that tending to physical health first catalyzes mental well-being and self-actualization. He aspired to build a welcoming, ego-free sanctuary where regular people could partake in the transformative power of community fitness, without the anxiety that gyms often breed.

This wholesome vision fueled the launch of outdoor workouts targeting adults of all ages and body types—during the pandemic. Eddy recollects, “If I could just get 20 or 30 of them to show up, I could put on a show and make it really fun.” And show up they did—in ever-growing waves as word spread. Satisfied members eagerly recruited friends to join the Saturday morning bonding rituals. Eddy emphasizes the primacy of friendships in seeding organic growth, noting, “It’s very simple...I literally sent out 150 text messages” to personally invite people. Positive word-of-mouth aside, his energy and people-first mentality were magnetic.

Of course, fate had less storybook-esque plot twists in store. After weathering literal storms that hampered classes, Eddy endured his biggest “oh crap” moment when over $100K of equipment was stolen from their van. Cash flow flatlined. Investors vanished. But resilient founders obviously don’t dwell in despair—Eddy resolved to manifest his vision despite steep odds, embracing hardship as a teacher of commitment. This trial-by-fire resilience would prove instrumental in laying DMN8's physical foundations during 2018’s “wettest, rainiest, coldest winter in 30 years.”

Today, DMN8 stands tall as a state-of-the-art Santa Monica gym housing a suite of offerings: group classes, personal training, nutritional guidance, recovery modalities, and an outdoor fitness oasis nearby at the beach. Roche summarizes his multifaceted business model: “I think the two are going to marry together and be feeding off of one another. A lot of investors tell me like, dude, just do software...shut the gym down. But I think the Equinox of 20 years from today is going to have a sizable physical presence as well as a massive online presence.”

His visionary balanced approach certainly seems plausible given brick-and-mortars’ renewed relevance. And rather than scale through rapid cloning, Eddy wants to cement a small footprint of thoughtfully designed locations—his answer to building the next-gen Equinox.

Main St | DMN8

Cultivating Community: Lessons for Audience Building

In an age where brands lean on inflated followings, DMN8’s organic growth offers crucial lessons on seeding real community. Eddy emphasizes living your brand first—instilling an inclusive, motivated vibe in all interactions before making any “asks.” Only when his natural cheerleading persona shone through did he tap existing friends.

This principle of trust and likability preceding promotion applies online too. DMN8 didn’t advertise—Eddy simply documented his enthusiasm across social media. When passion permeates your ecosystem, people catch the spark.

His community activation tactics build on this initial intrigue. DMN8 embeds consistent touch-points, from twice-weekly workouts to special events facilitating deeper bonds. Crucially, Eddy spotlights members as the stars while ensuring they feel acknowledged and uplifted.

In our metrics-mad era, it’s also refreshing to hear Eddy share that “lives transformed” is his key benchmark. But make no mistake, this service mentality produces commercial success. He notes, “If you can create immense value for lots of people...for 10’ll create something valuable.”

Santa Monica and Venice become center of evolving fitness industry - Santa  Monica Daily Press

Excitement Rising: The Future of Boutique Fitness

While juggernauts like Apple witness wellness’s trillion-dollar potential, Eddy believes smaller brands boast advantages in nurturing and customization. He sees boutiques increasingly integrating digital tools to complement physical offerings, unlocking hybrid business models and expanded reach.

At DMN8, in-person community retains primacy while software plays an assistive role. Imagine AI trainers analyzing workout data and prescribing personalized regimens, nutrition platforms calculating ideal diets, or at-home members joining streaming classes.

As Eddy observes, human connection can’t scale infinitely. So thoughtfully incorporating technology opens boutiques to wider, specialized audiences while maintaining their distinctive emotional pull. DMN8, for its part, seems well-positioned to capitalize on this omni-channel trajectory.

Parting Inspiration: Commitment Unlocks Freedom

When ambition meets adversity, many abandon ship. But through his many storms, Eddy discovered an antidote that applies equally to startup grind and fitness progress: wholehearted commitment unlocks freedom. By surrendering completely to his vision, ongoing uncertainty lost its sting—he simply responded with whatever effort the occasion demanded. Such willing flexibility stems from an incredible sense of purpose in one’s work.

And that purpose doesn’t require external validation or ideal conditions to sustain itself. For Eddy, before dawn workouts at his labor-of-love gym are their own reward after years of striving. He describes this pre-dawn sanctuary, the result of immense personal sacrifice, as profoundly fulfilling—a daily reminder that passion fueled perseverance delivers its own prosperity.

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