Red Eagle CrossFit Destroyed in Kentucky Tornado, Owner Intends to Rebuild
On Friday, December 10, Leah Kluemper and 20 of her members were at Red Eagle CrossFit in Mayfield, KY gathering for a “friendsgiving” to celebrate Kluemper finishing the Physical Therapist Assistant program.
Three hours later, the gym was gone, lost in the deadly tornado that ripped through Kentucky and five other states the night of December 10 and early morning hours of December 11.
- “We worked out and then we ate and celebrated, and I said to my assistant coach, ‘We need to have everyone out by 7,’ because we knew a storm was coming,” said Kluemper, Red Eagle CrossFit’s owner for nearly five years.
- “We definitely would not have made it had we been there when the tornado hit, because it just sucked everything right out,” said Kluemper, who left the gym at 7 p.m. and and drove to her mother’s place 20 kilometers away with her husband to avoid the tornado.
What happened next: At 10 p.m., Kluemper received a call telling her her gym was gone. She was in disbelief, she explained, and needed to see it for herself.
- At 10:45 p.m., after the storm had passed through Mayfield, Kluemper drove back to the gym.
- “I didn’t want to believe it. It’s just one of those things you don’t understand it until you actually see it,” she said.
- Arriving at the gym, it was evident that almost nothing could be salvaged. The rowing machines were bent and missing pieces, the rig was leaning sideways, and even the wall ball targets were all bent.
- “It looked like everything had been picked up, spun around and slammed around…We were able to find a few things, but we’re not sure if they’re safe for people to use. There were still four Assault bikes in the gym. And it’s not funny, but we joked that, ‘Of course, the Assault bikes made it,’” she said.
Rebuilding: While Kluemper fully “intends to rebuild” her gym, she also admits she isn’t sure what this is going to look like.
- “I would like to build a building because I plan on becoming a physical therapist and I wanted to have a gym (at my practice), but I’ll have to wait and see…Right now I don’t even know what to do,” she said. “Even if I wanted to rent a new building right now, my town is destroyed and there’s nothing to rent. There’s no water or electricity inside the city right now.”
- She added: “I know it’s just a gym, but it’s more than a gym to all of us.”
I didn’t want to believe it. It’s just one of those things you don’t understand it until you actually see it.Leah Kluemper
The community steps in: Kluemper said she has been overwhelmed by how the larger CrossFit community has offered support since losing her business and her livelihood five days ago.
- Brandy Key, the owner of CrossFit Dig Deep in Paducah, KY, reached out to Kluemper immediately and asked, ‘How can I help?’ Then Key set up a GoFundMe page to help Kluemper rebuild her gym. At the time of publication, it had raised $4,088.
- Other Kentucky gyms have also offered support, as well, including CrossFit Murrary, who is letting Kluemper’s members train there for the time being.
- “And lots of other gyms that are a lot further away have been donating and asking what they can do,” added Kluemper, including the owners of CrossFit Hermitage, a Tennessee gym that was lost in a tornado in 2020, whose owners reached out offering advice.
- The generous support from the community has lessened the blow, Kluemper explained. “I just want to say how much I appreciate our CrossFit community. Hearing that I’m not in this by myself makes me feel better and it’s all the more reason I chose to open a CrossFit gym, so I’m appreciative of everyone thinking about us,” she said.
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