I found CrossFit in early 2010.

I had done the classic 3x/wk bodybuilding, 2x/wk cardio routine for years. That worked great throughout high school and into college. But after college, my metabolism slowed down, I knew nothing about nutrition, and those workouts from Men’s Health magazine weren’t cutting it anymore.

A friend of mine invited me to go to the local gym to do a workout he found on this website called crossfit.com. It was the “Filthy Fifty.” Fifty reps each of 10 movements. He’d been doing CrossFit for about a year. It took him 22 minutes to do that workout. It took me 100 minutes. It was horrible. And I was hooked. Over the next year, I got stronger, faster, and leaner than I ever had been. I learned about nutrition and it took things to the next level. And all of that is great. But it’s not why we opened a gym.

I started doing CrossFit with a group at our church and learned quickly what people all over learned: doing hard work like that alongside others builds powerful relationships. I saw people who had known each other for years, but never beyond a wave or friendly smile, build relationships with each other that are strong to this day, nearly a decade later. And as I went and visited other gyms, I encountered the same things. And it hit me: these gyms are what churches used to be like. The gyms I found didn’t care about who you were, they cared that you were ready to work hard and get better. The fitness they taught was inclusive – grandmothers and collegiate athletes worked out next to each other. It was people in community with each other. They celebrated with each other, mourned with each other, held each other accountable, loved each other, and brought out the best in each other.

THAT is what Lauren and I wanted to build. We wanted to build an inclusive community of meaning and belonging where people could grow in body, mind, and spirit. So with unbelievable naivete and wide-eyed innocence, we set out to open a gym. We wrote grants to the church and they supported our efforts of building a community of meaning and belonging like that and we opened our doors in October 2014. We started with 3 members in MacIntyre Park while we finished renovations, which were all done on Christmas Eve Day 2014.

That first year was tough. As much as we loved CrossFit and the community we found, we had a hard time building it. It wasn’t until we hired our first business mentor that we learned how to systematically build a community of welcome. And from there, we fell in love with what we do. What guides every decision we make is our desire to make our community better.

We want people to come in our doors and find a place where they are welcomed and seen and valued. But we want it to be a place where they are challenged to be more a year from now than they are today: to be fitter, yes, but also to be kinder, more thoughtful, more grounded, more grateful. We believe that fitness builds community, and through community we can build a better world. The stronger our community, the stronger its members. We are here for you. We get up and go to work for you. We do our own learning and growing and improving for you. Because we love you. Just as you are. And too much for you to stay the same. We’re almost 6 years in. But our story is still just getting started.