Health & Wellness

Training your body and your brain with Danielle Gray

USC alumna explains her journey with fitness and mental health to a female weight lifting club.

Danielle Gray before her event.

Danielle Gray points to her mini avocado tattoo on the back of her wrist, and then the avocado on the back of her Train Like a Gymnast t-shirt. To her, the fruit holds special meaning. “The avocado symbolizes the lightness with the dark,” Gray says.

On September 17th Danielle Gray, a personal trainer and fitness model in L.A., returned to her alma mater—The University of Southern California—to teach a fitness event for the Girl Gains USC club.

Girl Gains is a USC female weightlifting and empowerment club designed to get girls lifting and supporting each other.

Their event with Danielle was a 45-minute gymnast training focused class. They ran in a circle on all fours doing bear crawls, partnered up to do squats while holding their partners legs in a plank position, and plank up and downs with a clap in the middle.

“I want working out to be playful and fun,” Danielle said.

Danielle definitely achieved that at the event. Girl Gains members were smiling and laughing at the new positions they were being put in, while bonding with their partners.

Gymnastic training is not new to Danielle. She has been a gymnast since she was four years old, and has always kept her athlete mentality with her. However, she eventually stopped gymnastics and pursued a career in marketing.

When she graduated in 2014 and began her first job she recalls feeling like she wasn’t doing enough, and that there was more out there for her.

Danielle decided to reconnect with lifelong passion—gymnastics. So she decided to become a personal trainer and naturally incorporated her gymnastic background into sessions with her clients. This included a holistic training program with strength, balance and stretching.

She decided to take the success of her training style and create a 28-day online challenge to help people outside of her in-person clientele get stronger and healthier.

She now has an app with workouts and Train Like a Gymnast retreats.

Her upcoming retreat to Bali will include all the elements of Train Like a Gymnast fitness, while also incorporating mindset work, journaling and personal development.

She explained that getting healthier “stems from your mental health. It doesn’t have to just be physical training.”

Mental health is a subject close to Danielle, as she has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and was open about being suicidal.

Her work now lies outside of just helping people achieve their fitness goals. She tries to foster a safe space for her clients to talk about their mental health, because when she was suffering she wished for a space like this.

“People would try to ‘fix it’. I didn’t want to ‘fix them.’ I knew what my problems were, but I just wanted someone to listen,” Danielle said.

Danielle believes we need to open up platforms for people to share thoughts through emotion management and truly understanding what we are feeling, while normalizing these feelings.

In addition to her work with her clients, Danielle uses her social media presence to advocate for mental health. While she uses trendy TikTok sounds to discuss not having normal serotonin levels, she also provides serious descriptions of her struggle with anxiety and depression.

Danielle hopes to continue incorporating the mental and physical into her training and social media to pioneer a space for both mental and physical wellness.

“Hold your darkness and your light. Everybody has that darkness. We just need to let our light shine brighter than it.”

Watch the event here!

If you are having thoughts of suicide, text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or go to for a list of additional resources.