Members of new Champaign gym develop bodies, friendships

Members of new Champaign gym develop bodies, friendships

Luke Moore had no motivation.

"I was lazy," he said. He'd been to gyms and exercise facilities before but "they just weren't appealing to me."

While walking his dog in Mahomet early one morning, he saw a neighbor coming home and asked him where he'd been. Doing CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program, was the response. And after learning his own boss in Texas had been a CrossFit devotee and lost 60 to 70 pounds, "I thought, if he can find the time, I can too," Moore said.

And so he gave it a shot.

One of his first workouts was to do five pull-ups, 10 pushups and 15 squats. The challenge was to complete as many of those rounds as he could in 20 minutes. He did seven, and the pull-ups were jumping pull-ups, he said.

About nine months later, he completed 17 rounds in the same time.

"I never thought I'd get to that," he said on a recent evening at the new gym called Momentum.

The new gym in far west Champaign is in a sparse warehouse. Members lift up the door, turn on the music and work out while the sun rises or sets.

At most gyms, you buy a membership and pay for access to the exercise equipment and pay extra for classes, said Sky Sanborn, founder of Momentum.

"At other gyms, the interaction you have with other members is, 'Are you done with that?'"

At Momentum, he's aiming to build a community. A place where people, after completing their workouts of the day, share stories and tips on how it went, he said.

And that's what has kept Moore coming back, he said.

"It's more about the community. These people have become my friends," Moore said.

Sanborn, who works as a project manager for Broeren Russo Construction, describes himself as a three-sport athlete in high school who spent his 20s getting out of shape. His first daughter was born when he was 27 years old. When his daughter was 3 years old, he recalls chasing her around the house and getting winded.

A friend introduced him to CrossFit, and he started practicing it on his own. A group of CrossFit enthusiasts started working out at the indoor playground and track in First Christian Church in Champaign, where Sanborn was a member. The group grew to 15 and then to 25.

During one crowded evening class a few months ago, he realized it was time to get a space of their own. Not only was the space getting tight, but they were limited to working out at either 5:30 a.m. or 8:30 p.m. and four days a week.

He found a rough warehouse space at 1305 Tiffany Court in Champaign. The group became an affiliate of the national CrossFit association. The Web site, www.momentumgym.com, was launched and the motto is "Get up, get moving, keep going." The gym also has four CrossFit-certified trainers and is limited only by the trainers' availability.

Every Saturday at 10 a.m., they hold information and workout sessions in which Sanborn explains the program and the gym. A grand opening is planned for May 7-9.

"I want to create a fun, positive place," he said.

During those intro sessions, Sanborn talks about what members can expect from the gym and what the gym expects of its members. It's not a solitary environment. Their members range from college-age students to those in their 40s.

"I like the idea that it's not focused on aesthetics," said Karen Quinlan, a member who described herself as a woman over 40. "I wanted to be more fit long term," she said. She did not want to have to hire somebody to clean her house or shovel the snow on her driveway.

Seven months later, "I'm a lot stronger than I was," she said. She can do more, such as cleaning up the yard, without as much effort as before. She's lost some weight and came down in some sizes.

CrossFit is about small-group workouts, scaling and progressing workouts, and doing broad workouts. They're not specialized, Sanborn said.

"Routine is the enemy. When you fall into a routine, you become stuck in a rut," Sanborn said. "We try to mix everything up. You'll never hear us say, 'Today's a cardio day,'" he said.

In Sanborn's view, Momentum is turning out to be a place "where good people genuinely like to be, so the positive community I'd hoped for is really breeding itself."

"If this were just about me, I could have stayed in my garage. There is a tremendous thrill that comes from helping someone work hard and earn real results that translate directly into making their life more enjoyable."

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