UK CrossFit Box St Albans Burns Down, Owner Appeals for Support and New Home
CrossFit St Albans was caught in a raging fire on Monday. The gym is located on an industrial site. An investigation is ongoing to find the cause of the fire, but it appears as though it started two units along in a car garage. The fire then quickly spread and burned all day and night, into the next morning.
One big thing: The owner and manager are reaching out to anyone in the local area who can host them, either short term while they find a new location, or permanently. This could be farmers with sheds, landowners, landlords or anyone with space.
- “But if we can’t find a venue, I’m really concerned we aren’t going to make it,” said Claudia Luscombe-Whyte gym manager.
They have raised GBP26,000 via a GoFundMe page already, while other local boxes are talking about holding fundraisers. Other businesses are helping in kind, such as a local print shop that has made trucker caps with CrossFit St Albans’ logo, to raise more money. Zack George, the UK’s Fittest Man 2020, is donating all profits from his brand new clothing collection with MP Activewear to CrossFit St Albans.
- “That takes the pressure off a bit because we can take care of our staff,” Luscombe-Whyte said. “It takes the pressure off a bit because our first concern is the people we care for and their livelihood. We should be able to help them for a while as we find a new unit.”
“It’s just so life affirming,” she said. “I can’t tell you how sad it was sitting there that day watching our life burn down. A crossfit box is so much more than a gym, it’s a family, it’s a community.”
“To be met with so much incredible support, it’s humbling, it’s frankly overwhelming, we are so grateful.”
Luscombe-Whyte had just started the 1045am class on Monday. They were finishing their warm up and starting Romanian deadlifts when she got a call from a friend in another unit warning her of the fire. At first, she thought he was joking, but then when she looked outside and saw the fire she knew it was serious.
The class evacuated the gym, and got all their cars to safety.
- “And I thought there’s a couple of fire engines here and they’ll get it under control,” Luscombe-Whyte said. “ But once it took hold… because of the ceiling materials and a lot of these businesses had a lot of tyres and tyres are so flammable. Once it took hold, there were 14 vehicles, a command center, and thermal imaging drones. They fought so hard.”
CrossFit St Albans opened nine years ago and has about 200 members. Luscombe-Whyte estimates the majority of members visit about three times a week.
“We are woven into the fabric of their lives and it would be such a shame if we had to let them go,” she said.
The members might be temporarily out of a physical place to train, but CrossFit St Albans still exists.
“What the CrossFit community has done post that tragedy has made us realize that a box is so much more than bricks and mortar,” Luscombe-Whyte said.
- “It’s the people, and the support, and the community. It’s been a great reminder. People start CrossFit for fitness, they see their friends get six packs. But what they get is so much more. They get a community, supporters and friendships. That’s what we’ve been reminded of by this tragedy.”
How to help: Contribute to the GoFundMe here.