Gyms in UK, Alabama Suffer Devastating Fires, Working to Rebuild

May 30, 2023 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit Trussville (
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The worst nightmare for a gym owner came true for two different gyms within just one day of each other. CrossFit River Mersey located in the United Kingdom and CrossFit Trussville located in Alabama are figuring out how to build back their businesses after both facing devastating fires to their facilities. 

CrossFit Trussville’s fire occurred on May 7th, while CrossFit River Mersey’s fire occurred on May 8th. Both facilities are not inhabitable and both must find permanent new homes. Kevin Hulse, the owner of CrossFit River Mersey, said he’s resorted to Zoom classes and outdoor fitness while he looks for a new location for his 9-year-old affiliate. 

  • “From outside, it looked fine. It looked okay but then once we got into the place it was a different story,” said Hulse. 
  • “The walls had been damaged, parts of the wall had come away from the roof, which made the building structurally unsound, and there was water damage, smoke damage, and fire damage everywhere. The whole unit had been flooded because of the amount of water that was used to put the fires out and it was just a total mess, to be honest.” 
  • Hulse was told the building was unsafe and they wouldn’t be able to go back, “It’s just devastating because it’s been our home for like nine years and it’s the only place that we’ve ever been, we started there.” 

Hulse adds, his members have been very supportive of the gym and are continuing to show up and help in any way that they can. He is operating out of a temporary space and is trying to host Zoom workouts in the meantime. 

“They’ve been absolutely amazing. They’ve just been so supportive and it just shows why we’ve lasted like nine years because the members are just unreal. They’ve just rallied around to support us,” he said. Here’s a link to a crowdfunding site for the gym. 

Separately, CrossFit Trussville, suffered a similar loss. The gym caught fire on a Sunday afternoon and the Trussville Fire Department was there within five minutes, said Andrew Rape, the owner of the gym. 

  • “The lieutenant, the fire chief, the fire marshal. They have all been members of ours. I mean, we know all the SWAT guys, all the police guys. So not only were they physically close, but it’s the gym they workout at with their families, so they were motivated to get there as quickly as possible,” said Rape. 
  • Rape further explained, “It was a small fire but it got so hot that it literally almost just melted everything as opposed to catching on fire.” 
  • And it’s because “there were no open windows or bay doors. It just became an oven and it basically destroyed the whole building from heat, not fire.”
  • Had the fire department not arrived so swiftly, “The whole building would have been 100% demolished. Nothing salvageable, so the fact that they responded so quickly will at least allow us to get in there and probably take some kettlebells and stuff. We’re super thankful to them.”

One of the gym’s coaches is a pastor at a local church named Gateway Family Church and the gym is currently operating from there. They pull out loaned equipment after church services and put it all back and “nobody would know that there’s a gym operating every weekday, 13-15 classes a day,” said Rape. 

The gym has plans to create an outdoor space and is working on collecting equipment. Support from former members and current members has been outpouring, even new members have been signing up since being in the church interim location. 

Rape tells prospective members they’re at a church right now and people don’t seem to care, “all the worries of trying to take care of people have been met with just absolute support.” He isn’t too concerned with the loss thanks to the immense support he’s gotten and is trying to keep an optimistic outlook on the situation. 

“To me there’s no such thing as a good experience or a bad experience. It’s just your perspective on it,” said Rape. “Yes, I’ve worked on that building for 12 years trying to improve it. Lots of lives changed, but I didn’t really see it as a lost cause. I just saw where we are going next.”

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