A native of Ledyard, Connecticut, Allen first got into strength training and fitness when he played football in high school. He discovered the power of a personal trainer while in college, and he majored in psychology in an effort to learn more about behavioral science.
“I noticed that most people had the exercise part, but what was missing was the mindset part,” he says. “I wanted to know more about how the human mind works and how to affect behavioral change.”
During and immediately after college, Allen worked for and was mentored by Greg Drab, who owns Advantage Personal Training in Mystic, Conn., not far from Allen’s hometown. He shadowed Drab and his employees for several months before joining the team.
“I got really lucky,” Allen says. “I got my certifications and worked for him for five years – it was an incredibly valuable experience and mentorship.”
Allen decided in 2015 to move to New York City to live with his girlfriend, Allie Lindkvist, a Mill Valley native and Tam High grad who he met at UConn. As Allen sought his next landing spot, Lindkvist popped into Soho Strength Lab, grabbed a business card and pointed him to owners Ryan Hopkins and Albert Matheny.
“They weren’t hiring, but we spoke for two hours or so and they decided to make a spot for me,” Allen says.
The couple moved to Mill Valley in January, and after taking a class at Pilates ProWorks at 360 Miller Ave., Lindkvist noticed the very large space at the back of the studio, grabbed the manager’s card, and passed it onto Allen.
Notice a trend here?
Allen connected with Pilates ProWorks manager Megan Webster and they made arrangements for Strength Den MV to sublease the space when it wasn’t being used for pilates. He opened Strength Den MV in May.
Allen sees his practice as unique in its ability to appeal to a wide range of clients, from those with brawny physiques to people with, well, quite a bit less than that. His focus of late has been helping people coming off of injuries via physical therapy or the like and looking to take that next step.
“I really enjoy helping those who are active to remain active as they get older and to help people get back to activities that they love and want to do again,” Allen says. “People know the importance of exercise, but they may not know as much about the importance of maintaining and building strength and how that helps you move well as you age.”
Allen has a variety of mediums to make that happen, depending on the client, including kettelbells and dumbbells to TRX suspension weight training. He starts each new client off with a functional movement screening, whereby they perform a variety of movements like squats and lunges.
“That gives me a picture of how their body wants to move,” he says. “From there, and their history, I come up with a plan for each person and help them understand their alignment and joints and how their body is really one unit.”
It’s that methodical approach that has seen Allen work with everyone “from grandmas to professional athletes,” all while feeding his insatiable appetite to learn more about strength training via strength education provider StrongFirst and maintaining his blog on the subject.
“The bottom line for me is that people should feel comfortable regardless of where they are at physically – I’ll meet them where they are,” he says.
The 411: Strength Den MV offers “team training” sessions and semi-private sessions at 360 Miller Ave. MORE INFO.