Leadership, Strategy

In a business world that prioritizes productivity, speed, and profits, Christians may feel like Monday through Friday belongs to the world while Sunday belongs to God. But Scripture beckons Christians toward a more holistic lifestyle. “Whatever you do,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “do it all to the glory of God.”

We spoke to five Christian CEOs—including a co-CEO of the nationally renowned Camp Gladiator, Jeff Davidson—who want to do more than simply run another successful company. These leaders want their faith in Christ to be fully integrated into their business practices, influencing everything from production to employee relations, from hiring practices to strategic planning.

Here’s Jeff Davidson, cofounder of Camp Gladiator

Jeff Davidson’s wedding day wasn’t just the beginning of his marriage union, it was the first step toward a professional partnership as well. While food was prepared and flowers were delivered, hours before their wedding, Ally snuck away to try out for American Gladiator and made it back just in time to walk down the aisle.

A few months later, Ally won the American Gladiator Grand Championship. With the winnings, Jeff and Ally started Camp Gladiator with a stack of cones and 40 people in a parking lot. Now, Camp Gladiator is one of the nation’s fastest-growing fitness company with over 1,000 trainers who have impacted over 300,000 lives.

It would have been easy for the Davidsons to coast, riding the wave of success. But instead they want to live generously in every way. “God has created a world where there’s enough to go around,” Jeff says. “He clothes the flowers and feeds the birds, and he’s going to take care of us. So, we have an abundance mentality because we have faith in God.” As he works to pass on this abundance mentality, addressing the needs of members and employees, Jeff is also keenly aware of businesses that eat away at the Camp Gladiator client base: “Our main competition is Netflix.”

While he studies the ways other fitness companies operate, Jeff believes he will lose the most members to couches and chips as people settle in for an evening of entertainment, holding on to the hope that they will exercise tomorrow. Recognizing this reality, Camp Gladiator designed their packages to be as accessible as possible. Their classes meet in low-pressure, community-based environments like parks, schools, and church parking lots. And Camp Gladiator keeps their rates flat, contracts clear, and class schedules updated online.

“Some boutique fitness companies are open to the first 20 people, or they’re for the people who are wealthy, or for the pretty people, or for the fit people” Jeff says. “But Camp Gladiator has always been for all fitness levels, for all people, for all backgrounds. We offer unlimited classes, unlimited workouts, and unlimited access to certified trainers, all for one low price. We believe there’s enough to go around, and we want people everywhere to be able to experience a life-changing fitness community and a location convenient to them. We want to be everywhere there are people.” The Davidsons didn’t want their staff to espouse the abundance mentality only to clients; they wanted them to experience it for themselves. Camp Gladiator employees enjoy unlimited time off, a relaxed, “fitness professional” dress code, and a free Camp Gladiator Membership. Since the company’s inception, many of their benefits have drastically changed as well. They’ve improved their maternity leave, instituted an adoption and foster care benefit, started a book club, and created a Spirit Squad that focuses on cultivating a positive company culture. A set of community guidelines provides instructions and processes that keep people safe, promote respect, and encourage the communication of problems and escalation of concerns when necessary.

Jeff and Ally also created CG Gives, a granting organization that supports nonprofits in the communities where Camp Gladiator hosts group workouts. And then there’s CG Victory, a summertime youth adventure camp with half-day and overnight programs that shares the gospel through sports with children of all athletic levels. To date they have seen more than 1,500 people respond to the gospel through CG Victory and CG Gives.

From benefits and charitable giving to group workout classes that cultivate community, the Davidsons guide people away from scarcity-minded elitism and toward abundance and generosity. Their ultimate goal for CG is to honor God and serve others.

*This profile originally appeared in the article “5 Companies Radically Shaped by the Faith of Their Owners” published here and in the May/June 2020 issue of Christianity Today.