Fitness Under Fire

Seriously, I thought it was the stupidest thing when somebody first brought it here, but it is the coolest game. It is so addictive. [laughter] My education’s in finance and my dream was to be in stock market People always marvel at how many jobs I’ve had, I’ve probably had 75-80 jobs at mid-thirties. I was very attracted to the idea of being a professional, wearing a suit, making a bunch of money, driving cool cars. I would get into a job, master it or nearly master it and I’d be
bored. I’m like, OK, next thing. This is relic, the remnant of my past life. That used to be on the edge of my cube wall, so I stuck it there with athletic tape. So you needed a constantly varied lifestyle? I did, yeah, and I still do and I love— that’s part of why I like this. It allows me to do so many different things on a daily basis and constantly challenge myself. There was a demand for CrossFit. I
think our city was kinda getting the bug. Once we catch on we go in a big way. We got a pretty good group, let’s line up, kinda length wise right here, we’ll go stairs to stairs. We blew up in about four months, five months we were we are humming right along. We were coming up on growing ourselves to about 100 members, and then, uh, yeah, it’s been kinda crazy to think still that it even happened. He was working the morning shift at the
time and coaching classes in the early morning and I was coming in later, so he calls me about 4 a.m., he’s like, ‘Hey man,’—just as calm as can be— ‘I don’t know what you’re doing right now, sorry to wake ya, but you should probably get down to the gym because it burned down last night.’ Investigators
are looking into an early morning business fire that
happened on the northeast side Grand Rapids. It happened about 3:30 this
morning at CrossFit Luminary on Maryland Avenue near Oak
Industrial Drive. I happened to be showing up because I was opening that day and as I turned the corner to come down the hill and approach the gym I saw a big puddle at the bottom of the hill. I thought, that’s weird, it didn’t rain last night where’d that water come from. And as I get a little bit closer I start seeing red and blue lights like kind of bouncing off things and again, it didn’t register. I thought, that’s weird, why are there red and blue lights? And then, it just hit me. I was like, oh god, I hope it’s not our building. This is where the fire had started, the heat
just went straight up burned a hole through this roof and just burned straight up and all the smoke then poured into the gym, so all this, anything that was in here was pretty much destroyed. There’d be days and I’m like, forget it, let’s just walk away, take the money and run. And he’d be like, no man, we can do it. Let’s build this thing. Then he’d come in and be depressed one day and I’d say, no we got it, we can do this. Seeing everything that was taken by the fire was , it was almost surreal at that point. Everything that I had was in there. I got a passerby driving down this road here saw smoke
kind of pluming out of that hole, pumping out so
they called the fire department and now all you can really see is just that little bit up there. You know, I got away from insurance to do fitness and here I am going through itemized lists and and going through dec pages and reading through coverages, reviewing these options and all this stuff, so it was kind of an extra kick in the pants and a little bit of irony to boot. And at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter. We had a fire and Why is your logo still fire? [laughter] We actually were gonna turn it red afterwards ’cause then it was a real fire, but … Yeah, the irony is just a staggering, isn’t
it? There were some really cool things that
came out having a fire here. It’s kinda hard to say that
because you think, oh it’s a fire, it’s a tragedy and it was but you know it happened three weeks
before we were, before my wife gave birth to our first son and so like, look you don’t want a fire, but if you’re going to have one, what a great time for us to have a fire. I got to spend six months while we were
closed down at home with my child. That was an amazing experience that most dads probably don’t get to experience. We decided to the parking lot workouts because that’s all we had. We had a couple pieces of equipment that we were able to get clean, some of the barbells survived, some of the kettlebells survived,. At least this happened as we were
approaching springtime and summer where the weather was nice. It felt like to me like the videos I’ve seen
of the original CrossFit Games with Jason Khalipa out there in the dirt doing thrusters and that’s kinda how we were doing it out in the parking lot, doing burpees on the gravel and just getting your hands dirty and it felt
almost like in a way this is what CrossFit’s really about, we didn’t even need a gym to experience CrossFit. We got all our people together cranked the music in my truck and we did workouts right there on the hot asphalt and ran around with our shirts off and it was a ton of fun. Being shut down for almost nine months, it hurt our business, it hurt. We knew that if we were gonna come back at all, we had to come back in a big way. That called for spending a little extra time, thinking a little bit deeper, a little bit more money into really building this place out and making it be the gym that our clients deserve. The first time around, it was really kind of utilitarian. What do we need and what don’t we need? And this time, as you can see, the gym has color, it’s vibrant. They put their lives on hold, they put their training on hold, in a lot of cases for us they had to venture outside the comfort of this community here to go to other gyms, so we knew that if we were gonna come back, we had to make it worth it for our clients and for our future clients. I’m actually Mike and Kim’s neighbor so I’ve known Mike since before Luminary. It was such a great community here, I’d made lot of friends and then the fire happened and it was like, I’m not leaving, I have to stick by everybody. I knew we could do it
again, like you know the fire was a big bump in the road, but that was OK. We had done it before and I knew we could make it better. Honestly, I had no idea what I was
getting into, I just knew it looked like a lot of fun and usually I’m not a very social person, but they made it easy for me to feel accepted and I just kinda fell into it. We ended coming back, opening with a waiting list with people that wanted to train so I’ve always thought that speaks—it must say something if you are willing to
work out a parking lot or work out in a field somewhere just to experience the type of training we’re providing here. Well, I’ve been dong CrossFit with Shane for about six years now. Shane and I would get competitive
in certain WODs and I always kinda prided myself on if I
could at least stay in his rearview mirror than I knew that I was doing something
right. Just them and the staff just always really being encouraging and being patient with me more than anything, I just feel more muscular, just walking down the street I guess. I think if you look around at the members here you’ll see people from every different walk of fitness and every different walk of life and they really are building a community around here. Boy, you look at the community of people
that you bring together, in CrossFit gyms all around the country, I’m sure that every gym will say the same thing, but the group of people it brings together are just phenomenal. We’ve poured our heart and soul into this place, twice and … many of our members now never
knew there was a fire, didn’t even know our story. I’ll ask people, do you know our story? No, we didn’t know that you had a fire at all.

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