Ben Boulware ’16
“Boulwares go to Clemson.”
For Ben Boulware, there was no question about where he wanted to play football. He was born and raised in Upstate South Carolina in a family full of Clemson fans and alumni.
“I was just waiting on Coach Swinney to pull the trigger and offer me a scholarship,” Boulware says. “Once he did, I pretty much committed on the spot.”
A starting linebacker for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Boulware quickly became a household name among Clemson Football fans for his tenacity, ending his career with 352 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 8 1/2 sacks and five interceptions. Of course, the jewel in the crown was winning the 2016 National Championship his senior year.
“We played pretty lights out,” Boulware remembers. “To beat a team like Alabama in the last couple seconds, that’s the pinnacle of a football career.”
And for Boulware, it was. Despite making it onto the practice team of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, he knew it was time to hang up his cleats.
“I’m not tall. I’m not that good looking. I’m not that smart,” Boulware says in his no-nonsense way, without a hint of self-deprecation. “I have two things: I understand football, and I understand how to work out.”
So, Boulware turned to fitness and embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that began when he and his good friend Marcus Brown got into cycling. They started coordinating their workouts to music, and an idea took shape. What if they could create a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout using song beats and lights to create the intervals? Green means slow; red means go.
After coding their own music software, Boulware and Brown began testing their idea in a flex space in downtown Anderson. Those first workouts were paid for in tips and song suggestions. And the Junkyard was born.
Today, the Junkyard has three Upstate locations and a fourth on the way: Anderson, Greenville, Clemson and soon-to-be Mauldin. Every Junkyard class is different with four possible stations — cycling, rowing, running and free-weight lifting — all overseen by a trained coach who knows your name.
Boulware says the Junkyard was only possible with the help of his support system of friends, family and mentors, including Clemson’s former defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The same can be said for the 100-mile race Boulware ran at the end of October 2022, the Javelina Jundred in Arizona. He spent 10 months training with more than 1,000 miles under his belt.
“In that season, we were opening our third Junkyard location, and I was getting married and building a house. I thought it would be a good test of my time management,” Boulware says. “And it worked. But I will probably never do it again.”
Besides, he has a new challenge to focus on. In May, Boulware and his wife, Hanna, welcomed their first child, son Blue, to the world.
“I have no idea what I’m doing,” Boulware laughs. “I’ve been able to figure out a lot of things in life by asking questions. I plan on doing the exact same thing with my parents, like, ‘Hey Dad, what am I supposed to do with this? What’s going on?’
“A lot of questions will be asked.”