Transforming I Can’t Into I Can
CrossFit Empower coach and owner Corey Lapell has transformed many of his clients’ lives, starting with his own. He recounts how debilitating back pain made it impossible for him to lift his newborn baby. This was a life altering moment and he decided to take responsibility for his body and end his pain.
2005 was the year he stumbled upon CrossFit’s website, and made it his mission to rehabilitate himself at home in his garage. He marvels that his fitness plan didn’t involve a paid subscription, and best of all, he got results. He says, “I quickly exceeded the fitness levels of my youth.”
Greg Glassman founded CrossFit Inc. in 1996 in Santa Cruz, California. In 2005 the first affiliate gym opened in Seattle and they spread like wildfire. Lapell reports that there are now over 10,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide.
After working at CrossFit in Surrey and apprenticing as a paid coach at CrossFit East Vancouver for three years, Lapell opened his own gym in March 2013, which he prefers to describe as “a playground for adults.”
He targeted Dunbar as the ideal location. Lapell was looking for a neighbourhood with a slightly older demographic than the usual CrossFit profile. He is not shy to admit that he is in his early 40s and wanted to offer an alternative to this age group. Little did he know that his clients would span the ages of 10 to 70+ years old.
He makes the distinction between franchises and affiliates. Affiliates are independently owned. In the case of CrossFit, owners receive trainer certification and pay an annual fee to use the company’s identity and program.
In layman’s terms, CrossFit is a combination of weightlifting (barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls, sledgehammers, tractor tires and sandbags), gymnastics (rope climbing, gymnastics rings, pull up bars, parallel bars, and body weight exercises) and metabolic conditioning (skipping, rowing, running, cycling and jumping). Workouts blend these combinations together in an infinite variety of ways.
Lapell says, “We might run outside unladen or carry a medicine ball, a kettle bell, dumbbells, weight plates, a partner, weight vest, sandbag, barbell, who knows? Is it regular? Everything in CrossFit is irregular but I would say it is not uncommon. All CrossFit gyms follow a constantly varied model.”
At CrossFit Empower you will also find more community spirit than you ever thought possible. It is a neighbourhood hub. While the coaches suggest members work out a minimum of three times a week, many attend much more frequently. This is like the “Cheers” of the gym world, where everyone knows your name.
“Recreating your body and transforming your soul” is a large part of CrossFit Empower’s core philosophy. On the website members attest that this program has transformed their lives.
“There is no greater joy for me than working with people whose bodies and spirits are as broken and fragile as mine once was, and watching them soar to heights they hadn’t dared hope for,” declares Lapell.
There are countless success stories, and Lapell is incredibly proud of each CrossFitter. Everyone earns a name, which is selected for him or her by other members. For example, Lapell’s name is “WOD Father.” It is almost like you take on another persona when you are assigned an alias.
This business is a family affair. Lapell’s wife Sunghee is also a CrossFit coach. Not to be left behind, their 12-year-old son Kaelin has been working out for several years.
Lapell is devoted to his work. He says he frequently spends 16 hours a day at the gym with his wife and son often by his side. Their story of working out together as a family is not uncommon. In fact a number of families (sometimes with babes in arms) and couples maximize their time together by squeezing in a workout in this social environment.
The active facility is open seven days a week. The first class begins at 5:30 a.m. (and yes, it is busy!) and the last class is held at 8:00 p.m.
While it can be a daunting prospect to join a gym, fear not. Lapell and his coaching team (Coaches Jen “All Star,” Leon “The Touch,” Sunghee “Hee Hee” and Yvan “The Law”) specialize in adapting CrossFit training for all ages and fitness levels. They emphasize form before intensity to avoid injuries. Their goal is to see members succeed and stay fit.
Deana Clark’s (also known as “Adventure”) story is an inspiration. She is a petite 66 year old who discovered CrossFit in May 2013. In this short time she has achieved phenomenal results – she can now deadlift 185 pounds and perform five consecutive pull-ups. Awesome.
At CrossFit Empower it’s all about empowerment. It’s about achieving your maximum potential and moving from I can’t to I can.
3321 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2B9