O2 and Morning Chalk Up Partner to Celebrate Gym Appreciation Week

May 9, 2021 by
Credit: O2
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The past year has presented immense difficulties for many gyms, but through it all, owners and staff members have continued to give back to their members and the community.

O2 is partnering with Morning Chalk Up to say thank you to the gym owners and staff that have worked hard to bring normalcy and fitness to their communities throughout the COVID pandemic. Starting on Monday, May 10 through Saturday, May 15, Gym Appreciation Week will serve as a way to recognize gyms for their dedication. 

How you can participate: Through O2’s Gym Appreciation Week webpage, gym members can submit a short thank you video that will be sent to your gym to show your appreciation. 

  • Every thank you video that is submitted will enter your gym into an $8,000+ Ultimate Gym Upgrade giveaway that includes prizes from Yeti, Assault Fitness, and Hyperice.
  • The winner will be announced on May 20. 

A look back at a tumultuous year: Since early 2020, many gyms have stepped up to help individual athletes and their community overcome hardships, despite trying to keep their own doors open through COVID hardships. From helping individual members lose 100 or more pounds to opening an affiliate dedicated to empowering women, no deed should go unnoticed. Here are five stories (among dozens) that were featured in the Morning Chalk Up during this time: 

Gym Owner Buys 52 Pairs of Nanos to Thank Members for Their Loyalty:

  • After temporarily downsizing because of an electrical fire then closing down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jason Keesler, the owner of Crossfit Illuminati, in Houston, TX bought 52 pairs of Nanos to thank members for their continued loyalty.
  • Keesler has seen a massive uptick of members since the start of 2021 which allowed him to buy 52 pairs of shoes. The gym has twice the number of members today as they did a year ago. 
  • “When I gave out the cards, a lot of them cried. They cried. I cried. There were a lot of tears…It’s something I’ll always remember. It’s something they’ll always remember. It was overwhelming and it was totally worth it,” Keesler said.
  • After seeing the story in the Morning Chalk Up, Reebok offered Keesler a $3000 to purchase more gear for his gym members and a second $3000 gift card to “pay it forward” to another gym of his choosing. 

Erin DiNicola Reassesses Priorities in 2020, Opens Affiliate Dedicated to Empowering Women:

  • From giving birth to four kids in under four years to moving around the country because of her husband’s job in the U.S. Army, Erin DiNicola fell off the fitness wagon. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, she had the time to take a step back and dial in her personal and professional priorities which included health and nutrition. 
  • DiNicola was back to training “at the level I wanted to,” in 2020 and had a new priority: To open a CrossFit affiliate.
  • CrossFit Mt. Pleasant, in Mt. Pleasant, SC officially opened its doors this February and is dedicated to empowering women, especially mothers. DiNicola and her friend turned business partner are doing this by offering childcare “to make it accessible for moms who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make it to class,” DiNicola explained.
  • Although she recognized that the timing was not great to open a CrossFit box during the middle of a pandemic, she knew it would give people hope. 

24 Workouts, 24 Hours: Gym Owner Raises $12,000 for Haitian Orphanage:

  • On January 15, Corey Lewis, his friend Jeremy Mullins, one of his coaches at Xtra-Mile Fitness in Fenton, MO, as well as Abraham Whitehead, and Estevenson Coleman, Program Manager for Brace for Impact 46, did 24 workouts during a 24 hour span to raise awareness and money for Brace for Impact 46.
  • Brace for Impact 46 is a non-profit organization that supports the IDADEE Children’s Home in Haiti and sustains community development in that local community. The foundation also assists inner city youths and development in St. Louis.
  • The workouts ranged from AMRAPS, EMOMs, rowing, rucks and partner WODs, and by the final workout, Lewis had not only learned they had reached their goal of 20 children sponsored, but surpassed it with a total of 32 kids receiving a sponsor. They had raised just over $12,000.

“Everyone is Recovering from Something:” Connecticut Gym Offers Free Workouts and Recovery Meetings:

  • A Saturday morning at Guilford Athletic Center doesn’t look much different than that of other gyms: a group gathers at 9:30 AM for a 30-minute class, free and open to varying fitness-levels. What’s different is the meeting that follows: a 45-minute, recovery, self-reflection meeting open to anyone working through “any of life’s challenges.”
  • Recovery Move exercise and Recovery meetings are run by Clint Zeidenberg, a CrossFit coach and top-200 masters athlete, and Dr. Hannah Jurewicz, a clinical psychologist, licensed professional counselor, founder of non-profit Journey Home Recovery Living, and athlete.
  • Zeidenberg and Jurewicz said that, according to research, fitness gets circulation going, generates endorphins, and can act as a distraction from cravings. 
  • The workouts and meetings are open to any adult or teen, whether they’re in recovery from substance abuse, anxiety, stress, COVID fatigue, loss, or something else, and help to destigmatize recovery.

“Incremental Changes,” Supportive Community Helps Bryan Hricay Lose 100 Pounds:

  • When Bryan Hricay joined CrossFit Hoboken in Hoboken, NJ, in April, 2019 after a friend encouraged him to take control of his health, he weighed 285 pounds at 6-foot-5. 
  • Hricay’s first workout at CrossFit Hoboken scared him, as he said, “I looked up and on the white board, in a blue dry erase marker, was written five sets of 20 push-ups, along with three other exercises I had no idea what they were…I knew there was no way I could do 100 push-ups.”
  • One of the coaches helped scale the workout so he could finish it by reducing the reps to five push-ups on his knees each round. Hricay struggled to finish the workout, but he continued to show up at the gym. 
  • For the past few years, Hricay has been working out three times a week and making small changes to his diet. Each small change has added up and he is now 100 pounds lighter than the first day he stepped into the gym.
  • “Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or CrossFit gym members, and just show up. Really, the hardest part is just getting started,” Hricay said.

To bottom line: O2 supports gyms and believes in the good that gyms provide to their communities, both in terms of health but also so much more. In these times of hardship caused by the pandemic, gyms have worked even harder. Now is the time for the community to give back to the gyms that helped them most. 

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