You know it’s always humbling when someone takes the time out of their day to sit and tell me how we’ve impacted their life, write a testimonial, or even just give a hug and say thanks. It’s a whole different level of humbleness when someone who comes in twice a year just to use our oly platform takes the time to write such a piece on our box. Below is a testimonial I received from Chris Ryan, pictured above. His words touched me and humbled me yet again. Not much more to say than thanks brother. I really appreciate that you took the time to write this.
“One of the challenges about traveling for me is finding a suitable gym in which to train. I’m not talking about getting in a quick workout by the pool or sweating on an elliptical in a hotel gym. I compete at the National level in Olympic Weightlifting, specifically the snatch and the clean and jerk. Training for this sport at this level necessitates a gym not found in hotels or even most towns in the US. But in 2013 on a trip to Lakewood Ranch Florida, a burgeoning country club community on the Gulf Coast, I happened upon Crossfit LWR and have not since been as impressed by a facility as I was upon walking through their doors that November.
Lakewood Ranch lies in Manatee County on a sunny stretch of I-75 between Tampa and Sarasota 20 minutes from the sugary quartz sands of America’s highest rated beach at Siesta Key. “LWR”, as it’s known to the locals, was a planned community founded in 1995 on what used to be a logging reserve. Due to its convenient location near the I-75 corridor and several retirement and vacation hotspots, LWR has seen expansive growth and development growing from 15,000 residents in 2000 to nearly 21,000 in late 2014. Part of the draw for retirees and vacationers is the Gulf-Tropical weather pervading the area with daily temperatures averaging in the mid- to high-seventies throughout the month of November, which was when I first visited. The weather was gorgeous and I was ready to enjoy it having flown in from the doldrums of early winter in Rochester, NY. But before I could relax in the sun, I needed to train.
The requirements of the sport of Olympic Weightlifting dictate that a facility needs to have certain features to be a “Weightlifting Gym.” These features are, in no particular order: bumper-style rubber weights that can be dropped safely from overhead, bars with well-spinning shafts of sufficiently high-quality steel in order to bend yet retain their shape under tremendous loads, and platforms on which to lift, ideally made of wood, so a lifter’s feet can move freely or be planted securely when necessary. Crossfit LWR checks all of these boxes like no other facility I’ve ever seen. Walking in for the first time, I was overwhelmed; the sheer size of the gym is gargantuan with enough floor space for 30+ lifters to train at one time. A converted commercial warehouse, the gym boasts dramatically high ceilings adorned with military flags respecting local veterans of the armed forces and reflecting the sentiments of the gym’s owner Aaron Weedo, a former standout football player at the US Naval Academy. Among the flags, combatting the humidity are multiple “Big-Ass” Brand Fans with 14-ft aircraft-aluminum blades churning the air and fighting an endless battle to keep trainees comfortable. The Weightlifting area consists exclusively of Swedish-made Eleiko-branded equipment, the undisputed highest quality bars, plates and platforms available. This feature alone is admirable, and sets Crossfit LWR apart from other gyms immediately but what puts them in a class all their own is the equipment available to the regular gym-goers. The general membership of Crossfit LWR lifts daily on Pendlay-brand bars and competition-grade bumper plates in all of their workouts. To have the amount of “comp”-grade bumpers used at Crossfit LWR is unheard of in the Crossfit and Weightlifting industry and their members are truly privileged to train daily on such high-quality equipment. Tying everything together spatially is the multi-tier pullup rig that spans the length of the gym with stations for over 50 trainees. On 3 walls, huge garage doors yawn open letting in sunlight and fresh air to further enhance the gym’s ambiance. To “PR” is to set a “personal record” in a lift or a workout, and I consistently PR whenever I visit Crossfit LWR. Something (probably everything) about it just brings out the best in my training and always keeps me coming back for more.”
50 Sit Ups
40 Push Ups
30 Pull Ups
20 Handstand Push Ups
10 Muscle Ups