From By: Erin Miller

YORKTOWN, Va. – D’Shawn Wright’s sacrifices have always been worth the “weight.”

“I was telling them that I used to sleep in here. Like, I lived in here in the gym for months,” he said. “What happened was I had an opportunity to have [the gym], but then I couldn’t afford where I lived and so I had to make a decision.”

As the proud owner of two Body By D gym locations, it’s clear that his decision to fight for his dreams worked out.

“Everything happens for a reason – good, bad or indifferent – and once I realized that, my life took off,” he said.

Wright’s daily grind and desire to give back to the community that supported him caught the eye of the Windrider Institute, a nonprofit that “launched as an immersive experience between filmmakers and film lovers, designed to facilitate thoughtful conversation, awaken compassion, and inspire change.”

Currently working on a short documentary series, the Ignite Storytelling Project, Windrider hired Los Angeles-based director Timothy Blackwood to join the production process.

Michael Priddy, executive producer at the Windrider Institute, said, “[The series is] a project that is focused on highlighting the human flourishing that comes out of the workplace. We find that people’s work and their jobs are oftentimes undervalued for the significance that those jobs make in their individual lives and the community’s lives.”

Priddy connected with Wright through a local pastor in Yorktown.

Wright said the vision of the Ignite Storytelling Project aligns perfectly with his life philosophy. He told News 3 reporter Erin Miller, “[This gym is] not just about health and fitness. It’s about using the component of health and fitness to like translate into life in total. That’s what this movement is all about.”

So for the next few days, the film crew will be out and about in Yorktown and setting up shop at Body By D.

“As soon as you walk into D’Shawn’s gym, Body By D, you’re just instantly hit with this incredible energy,” said Blackwood. “He’s opening opportunities for people not just training at the gym, but also to become more financially independent and to succeed in their entrepreneurship and to support their families.”

The team hopes to have Wright’s five- to seven-minute documentary released to the public by the end of summer. They also have plans to do a private showing at Body By D sometime in August.

Notoriety aside, Wright said he’s just grateful to reach more people.

He said, “I did it. Guess what? You can do it, too.”

In addition to Wright’s participation in the documentary, he opened up the gym for a screening of Blackwood’s short film “The Conqueror” on Thursday night. Blackwood, Priddy and other members of the team made themselves available for questions from audience members who are interested in the film-making industry.

Blackwood, who is originally from Chesapeake, said, “For me it’s really important to give young people an opportunity to learn about film-making that otherwise may not have that opportunity. You don’t have to move away or live in Hollywood for your story to matter.”