Ardent CrossFit Offers Refuge to Members Amidst Freezing Temperatures, Power Outages
The forecast was calling for a storm to hit Stafford, VA on Sunday, January 2, but it was hard for Ardent CrossFit owner Kasey Fulwider to imagine the havoc that was about to hit her city, as it was a warm 70 degrees out at the time.
But the predictions were right. The temperature swung to freezing levels and the storm hit in a big way. By Monday morning 400,000 people were without power and many areas without cell service.
“I have never seen so much snowfall in such a short amount of time. It snowed 16 inches in four or five hours, and this area isn’t well equipped to handle snow like that. It was so dense, so heavy, so many trees were down. It looked like a tornado had come through…some people were stuck on the interstate for 24 hours,” said Fulwider, who opened Ardent CrossFit with her husband Ryan Fulwider eight years ago.
The silver lining: Miraculously, Ardent CrossFit was one of the only places in the area that managed to maintain its electricity. So on Tuesday, when they realized how severe the power outages were, the Fulwiders and their two kids decided to camp out at the gym and extended the invite to their members.
- A number of members came by, including a mother and her son, both of whom spent the night at the gym with the Fulwiders. “She only joined the gym two weeks ago and she showed up, and her 2-year-old ran around the gym for a couple hours,” Kasey said.
- The following day, another 30 members came by to either shower and get warm, or to work, or just to hang out, play cards, and eat in a warm building.
- “It was a cool day at the gym. There were people who just hung out all day, and we also had one couple who got stuck at the gas station, so someone drove to them and jumped their car and then they came to the gym to shower and workout…It was just so nice to see people helping people,” Kasey said, adding that other members of the community shared generators with each other to stay warm at home in the following days.
What the members said: To say Ardent CrossFit members were appreciative is an understatement. Many took to social media to express their gratitude.
- “I moved to the area in August and this community has given me some lovely people I could rely on. The storm would have been horrible without people at the gym,” wrote one member.
- “This community has redefined the word for me. To have a community of people I know I can rely on, day in and day out, is something I am forever grateful for. A huge thank you to Ryan and Kasey for creating such an impactful space,” wrote another.
- “This is why hundreds of thousands of people paid their monthly dues back when gyms were locked down. They were supporting their community center so that the same box owners could support us when we lost power for days and people were stranded on the I-95 former than a day in freezing temps. Share the good,” wrote a third.
The big picture: As of Sunday, January 9, thousands of people in Stafford were still without power, but their gym is back up and running, and the whole experience has solidified exactly why they started Ardent CrossFit.
- “This is why we do this, why we started this. To create a community, and it was so nice to see everyone be there for each other,” Kasey said.