Coaches-AaronWeedo-CFLWRAaron – “The magic is in the movement, the art is in the programming, the science is in the explanation, and the fun is in the community.” This quote from Greg Glassman, CrossFit co-founder, epitomizes what drew Aaron to the increasingly popular strength and conditioning program. If attending one of Greg Glassman’s seminars in 2010 sparked the fire burning inside Aaron, pushing him to leave the corporate world and open his own gym, than the fuel for those flames can be traced back to his family life growing up.

Born and raised in Port Charlotte, Florida, Aaron was exposed to athletics and fitness training at a young age. One of his earliest and most powerful memories is of his father working out with friends and neighbors in their homemade gym, instructing them on how to perform proper lifts and exercises. ZZ Top commonly resounded from the Weedo’s garage in the evenings, “Sharp Dressed Man” or “Legs” echoing throughout the neighborhood as a dedicated group of weeknight warriors trained. Aaron became one of them, and soon this after dinner ritual was as normal to him as showering or brushing his teeth.

So it was only natural that Aaron, a very good athlete, used strength training and conditioning to improve at football and baseball, his two favorite sports. Though a better baseball player, he loved the intensity of the gridiron, and by early high school started exploring opportunities to continue football at the collegiate level. Chief among these was West Point, which had already begun recruiting him. While his mother had been raised by a military family and his grandparents had served in the Air Force, the Weedo family had not produced any officers. This is one reason why he felt it would be such an honor to graduate from West Point, and was all set to attend until Army fired its football staff. That’s when Navy turned their attention to him.

After adjusting to military life during his time at NAAPS, the Naval Academy Preparatory School, Aaron stepped onto the Annapolis, Maryland campus in 2001 ready for his ‘plebe’ year. Regarding his decision to go with Navy, Aaron said, “It just felt right.” He believed a possible career as a Navy Seal or a Marine waited for him post-graduation, but before that time came, he would spend two years in the classroom and on the football team. Fast and agile, he played half back and returned kicks and punts, setting a school record for return yards in the time-honored annual Army-Navy matchup.

By late 2003, Aaron found himself not deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of a SEAL or Marine unit, but working as a land surveyor in Florida. Something had drawn him back to his home state, and it would be several years before he realized what that was. At age 26, he was the Operations Manager of a 10 million dollar a year furniture company in Port Charlotte. He had found the stable career he’d been seeking, a traditional, predictable path leading to adulthood. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d chosen incorrectly. That he’d taken a left instead of a right somewhere. Clarity arrived in the form of nostalgia—all those nights training with his father in their homemade gym, observing as he helped others learn to harness the incredible power of their bodies and minds.

Aaron wanted to open a gym.

Fast forward to 2009. Now employed at Lifestyles (a place where he would meet his future wife, Alexis), Aaron got his ACE certification. He first heard about CrossFit after the popular movie, 300, came out, the actors having used similar conditioning and strength training methods to achieve publicly lauded physiques. He wholeheartedly agreed with the principals described by CrossFit co-founder, Greg Glassman, and realized he’d been exercising this way his entire life. It wasn’t long before those he trained with began going to CrossFit.com, doing the workouts and then attempting to beat their times and weights. After completing his Level 1 certification in 2010, he reached out to his friend, Matt ____, who had just moved his CrossFit gym from Port Charlotte to Sarasota, and soon began working as one of his trainers.

Aaron’s desire to have his own gym never waned, and on September 11, 2011, he and Alexis opened CrossFit Lakewood Ranch on Lena Road in Bradenton. He recognizes the parallels between the community he has built and the one his father established during Aaron’s younger years, and despite his father passing away from lung cancer prior to the gym’s opening, Aaron believes his strong commitment to the CrossFit Lakewood Ranch community and the CrossFit community as a whole is a direct result of his father’s character and beliefs.

He knows how special it is to have a place where an average Joe can train alongside a former collegiate or professional athlete and not feel uncomfortable. His vision has seen his community grow from just a few people cramped into a small building to several hundred committed members utilizing a 6,000 square foot facility filled with the best equipment available. Aaron and his wife, co-owner Alexis Pennington Weedo, offer up to twelve classes daily, including regular classes featuring at least three certified trainers, CrossFit Teens, open gym time, free introductory classes, nutrition classes, and more.

When asked about future plans for his gym, Aaron said, “Community is everything.” He realizes it is the foundation of CrossFit, and not only wants to add more members to his second family, but also provide current ones with an even better experience. His goal has always been and continues to be to help his students push past their preconceived limits and become the best versions of themselves.