Conquer All Things Founder, Joshua Yakes, Defies His Disability with Fitness

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2021
Joshua Yakes, Founder of Conquer All Things Fitness

Conquer All Things Fitness is a personal training gym in Burbank built on the philosophy pillars of enduring, overcoming, and conquering; something Founder Joshua Yakes has experienced firsthand by not letting his disability define his story.

Founder and Trainer, Joshua Yakes, comes from a fourth generation Burbank family. His great grandmother attended Edison Elementary School the year it opened with only a small handful of students in the class. Yakes’ parents met at Edison, it is where he attended as a child, where his daughter went, and where his son will attend in the coming years. “I always joke that my whole family has been here since it was apple orchards,” laughs Yakes.

When Yakes was three or four years old, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic visual disability called Achromatopsia, which presents as an absence of color vision, decreased vision, light sensitivity, and weakness of the muscles behind the eyes. “Basically the light that we’re experiencing right now, your eyes have already processed it through your retina to your brain and it’s gone. I will be processing the same light we’re in right now, two to three hours from now,” said Yakes through sunglasses that he wears, both indoors and outdoors, to protect his eyes from light.

Both of his parents carried the recessive gene, which is where he inherited the trait. Achrimatopsia, the congenital cone photoreceptor disorder affects an estimated 1 in 30,000 people worldwide. “When I was a kid it was much worse because my brain didn’t know how to process what my eyes were seeing, so I was much more disabled, in a way, when I was younger than as an adult.

When we close our eyes at night to sleep, we see darkness, but for Yakes it takes hours for the light to be processed. Yakes compares it to when you’re driving at night and tired, and see lines of light spread out across your windshield from traffic lights and lamp posts. “What I see at all times is a kaleidoscope of light. It’s just crazy light rays,” said Yakes.

“I can see everything around me and that is a blessing and I’m very grateful that it’s not worse because it has been worse. I have lost whole vision,” explained Yakes, who experienced partial blindness in his twenties. He lived in a school dorm for four months preparing to lose his vision, learning braille, and practicing how to walk and move with a cane. 

“When I was told I was going go blind, it was kind of like my eyesight died. I was mourning the loss and I spiraled,” said Yakes. “My daughter was two at the time and I was going through all the scenarios of the things I would never see. Her getting married, or graduating. I would never see what she would look like as an adult or a teenager. I wouldn’t get to see my dad’s face again, and my dad’s my best friend, and he raised me to be very strong, so I couldn’t imagine not looking at his face anymore.”

Conquer All Things Fitness

Luckily Yakes didn’t lose his full vision, and found a way to “hack” his eyes by scheduling his sight just like you would go about scheduling your day. He realized that he only had a limited amount of time with his vision each day and calculated how much sleep he needed each night, and how cutting out things like TV, hours looking at the phone, video games, and reading books were necessary to get through the day.

Athletics was never on Yakes’ radar as a child with a disability and fell into the perceived notion that he wasn’t capable of things like sports or exercise. It wasn’t until his time in the dorms adjusting to losing his site, that he started to train in the small, private gym on campus. While others had to be supervised while exercising, Yakes had enough vision left that they allowed him to train by himself. He worked out for two and a half hours every day but struggled with building muscle and gaining weight. “When I lost my vision, athletics became more important because I was dealing with stress by training,” he added.

It wasn’t until he was back in Burbank and met some trainers at the Burbank Crunch Fitness location, that he finally learned what exercises and nutrition would work for his body type. Yakes used professionals, coaches, and trainers, putting on 60 lbs, and working his way up to bodybuilding competitions and men’s physique shows. He was now training three hours a day at Crunch, and that’s when they offered him a job as a personal trainer.

Once the pandemic hit and businesses closed, Yakes decided to use his business degree from USC and his new personal training skills from Crunch, to open his own gym here in Burbank. Finally, Conquer All Things Fitness was born. Using a hair salon business structure, Yakes molded it to fitness, allowing personal trainers to work as independent contractors and run their own businesses through the gym. 

Conquer All Things Fitness Studio

Conquer All Things Fitness has quickly grown to be the leading personal training gym in Burbank and combines personalized approaches with support, guidance and motivation so that their clients will successfully meet their goals. They also utilize body composition testing and nutritional support as part of their training services to get each client to reach their fitness and wellness goals and reach their desired results. This month, Joshua Yakes was named the Best Dietician by the public in the 2024 myBurbank’s Best contest. 

The gym functions with six trainers per hour, with one client per trainer, working with a maximum of 12 people at a time. Yakes has not only built a gym, but a community that cares about each other. The clients have become friends with other clients and trainers, and Yakes has utilized his roots in Burbank by partnering with other local businesses. “Burbank is such a small place, but being a small place, you get to utilize other small business owners to work with each other and grow together, and that’s the best part of being a business owner in Burbank,” said Yakes.

Conquer All Things is a beautiful example of how your disability doesn’t have to define you, and how through enduring, overcoming, and conquering all things, you can do incredible things. You can find the gym at 1218 W Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, 91506. To learn more about the gym visit www.conquerallthingsfitnessstudio.com

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