The American Gainz Case Study

American Gainz: Muscle and Fitness is a personal training and coaching company located in Denver, Colorado.

The Place

I am lucky to work out at a singular gym in the Denver area. It’s an amazing environment for more reasons than the good company. It’s also an amazing company!—small business, I mean. The community is incredible. And so is the branding. Everywhere there are flat screens that promote ten-second spots for the personal trainers and general gym announcements.

My client had one such ad. A simple announcement with a white background and photo, and the singularly catchy phrase “Get you some American gainz.” This would be spinning in my head every time I went in for a workout. Finally I stopped Greg one day to see if he was interested in a Brand he had inspired.

I wanted to go all the way over-the-top with the “Gainz” thing. Actually name his company, “American Gainz.” I have always wanted to make a bro-brand. Here was a chance to go for the gold. He was on board, and did me the honor of becoming my first fledged brand client, bro.

The Challenge

Greg was a new trainer in a competitive environment—in the business sense, I mean. The community is delightful, but the business is a neat little free-market incubator. Swashbuckling capitalism. Greg needed to stand out with an ad on the reel, apparel, and he wanted a digital card.

Greg is a super friendly and outgoing. He’s very engaged with his clients, always chatting and laughing with everyone. And, he’s a dapper fellow; always well-groomed—which, in the gym, usually means a simple tee shirt with a fresh design.

The Solution

The solution is what I call, a “Tee Shirt Brand.” Several graphic assets designed for apparel so as to stand out during the work-out… and as it happened these various assets also worked well on the internet and in different digital media. The graphics to be related visually by similar textures and fonts, and the overall style like the omnipresent patches of the 1970’s.

The Process

The American Gainz: Muscle and Fitness Original Analog Sketches
The mood board and inspiration for the brand, with all of the copyrights belonging to their respective owners.

I am always interested to see how the original sketch changes into the final product. How much of the original is in the final? At any rate, analog is a fun place to begin.

One of the first things I ask my clients is “what is your favorite music — [that you listen to whenever you do what you’re hiring me to design an emblem for].” For Greg, it was, “What’s your favorite song to workout to?” It turned out that one of the top 5 was Bob Seger’s, “Turn The Page.” Which became the particular (entirely unofficial) anthem for the project.

The rest all kind-of organically comes together. Greg agreed on the style, and I set to work on the major themes: Denim jeans, baseball, and other nostalgic sources, and one of my favorite logo designers.

Typography was fun on this one. Greg won’t be spending a lot of time generating written content in the future — most of Greg’s content is pictures on Instagram. So instead of the usual two-fonts, we broke some more design faux pas and went with four instead! Check out the different ways the fonts are used in the graphics and logo.

The American Gainz Typographical Choices
The Brand’s Unofficial Theme Song, if-you-will.

The Assets

Many of the final builds with the color selection.
A screen-shot of Greg’s landing page.

The Apparel

The best part of this brand is the apparel. Even with an ad on the reel and a website on the interwebs, the best way to advertise in a gym is with a stand-out shirt. One of the best parts of my day is seeing how many people wear one of these — as of this writing, Greg has sold 70+ tee shirts. (He’s sold out three times now.)

Greg is a great salesman, and every person wearing his snazzy new digs is another free bit of advertising (for me and him!💖) — whether it be one of his clients, friends, or a person who just liked the design.

This brand was designed to pay for itself through tee shirt sales over the next several years. Greg has enough graphics for literally hundreds of apparel combinations, and has already gotten screen printed tee shirts and embroidered hats. That means that Greg will be profiting from his tee shirt sales long after the brand has gone to work for him.

A day a trainer and I happened to arrive in the same snazzy tee shirt.


This project was enormously fun to bring together: It was my very first full brand (for someone other than myself) and I really pulled out all of the stops. The best part—the very best part—is getting to see the way this brand has come to life through the day-to-day use of the apparel and ads. One of Greg’s colleagues commented to me that he, Greg, went from being the “worst branded, to the best branded trainer at the gym.”

Each time Greg sells another shirt or hat I know I’m helping the fellow build his business by helping him shine in his best light. Mostly, the thing I think the most is, “Eureka! It works!”