Having grown up in Illinois before moving to Westwood and Hollywood Hills, Sheila Melody was well-traveled by the time she settled in Toluca Lake in the early ’90s. But in the years since, she has become a fixture in the community, serving as a Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce board member, supporting the annual Turkey Trot and business mixers, and donating items to local schools and fundraisers. Melody impacted the neighborhood even further when she opened The Strength Code, a boutique strength training studio that improves the health and wellness of community members by using science-based methods that focus on meaningful exercises paired with ample recovery time.
“We officially opened our doors in December 2012, so we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this year!” she says. “In 2012, I had the opportunity to take over management of an existing exercise studio that was going to close if someone didn’t step in. There were no existing clients from the former owner, so we had to start from scratch, but I jumped in and never looked back! We have certainly grown over the years, and I’m happy to say we’ve been in the same location and have had the same trainers and many of the same clients since the beginning.”
Melody points to lead trainer Ann Kirkland as a prime example of the loyalty The Strength Code inspires. “Ann is a good friend of mine — she was actually my personal trainer — and as soon as I considered opening the studio, Ann was the first person I called, and I pretty much begged her to join me!” Melody recalls. “Thank goodness she said yes! Ann is one of our most experienced trainers, and all of the clients love her.”
The Strength Code has become a fitness hub for many in the community, who enjoy the studio’s safe, effective and personalized workouts offered by certified trainers and the clean and semi-private environment.
“We’re not a big gym where you’re anonymous and have to fight to use equipment with crowds of people,” Melody says. “We have many couples and residents who know each other and are active in the community. When you walk into The Strength Code, we consider you a member of our family and an important part of our lives. We have been through so many things with our clients: ups and downs, celebrations and hardships. It’s more than just a gym that you work out at — we have been called the Cheers of fitness.”
Among her many memorable stories from over the years, Melody recalls one of her original clients, who would regularly work out at the studio with her husband. “They both came in for years, but sadly, her husband passed away from cancer,” Melody says. “She continued to come in for workouts as she was grieving, and we would all cry together. She is still coming in today at the age of 78, and she continues to travel all over the world. She credits her Strength Code workouts for helping her stay strong so that she could continue to enjoy her life.”
One of the biggest challenges for The Strength Code came during the pandemic, when the personal connections Melody and her clients craved had to be put on hold. “COVID was an unimaginable challenge that we had to face,” she says. “My first thought was that we could not lose contact with our clients, so we immediately pivoted to offering one-on-one virtual sessions, which clients really liked. When we were able to get back in the studio, we were only able to have one client at a time. Looking back, I cannot believe we did it! But again, it’s because of our amazing clients and how much we truly care about them that we survived the pandemic. We look forward to meeting new clients all the time!”