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Gym re-opens after 'nightmarish' fire

December 15, 2014
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Gym re-opens after 'nightmarish' fire
The mission of the CrossFit Luminary gym in Grand Rapids is to provide a “premium strength and conditioning experience.” Photo via

In the early morning hours of April 11, Michael Livingston and Shane Davis stood outside in the cold watching their business and their dreams go up in flames.

Major setback

Only a few months before, they had felt hopeful and excited as the co-founders of CrossFit Luminary, a Grand Rapids-based gym focusing on the CrossFit program, as well as plyometrics, strength training, gymnastics and other “metabolic conditioning.”

Since its founding in October of 2013, the gym had grown a loyal core and was so busy training, there was barely any time to think about developing the business, Livingston said.

Then came the random fire that practically burned their 6,000-square-foot space to the ground, at 610 Maryland Ave. NE.

Livingston called it a “nightmarish scene.” To this day, the cause of the fire is listed as “electrical unknown,” and the inspectors still don’t fully know what caused it.

“It didn’t feel like a blessing in disguise, because it was total heartache,” Livingston said.

“When we first saw it, it started off in our supply closet — where there really even wasn’t a lot of electronics — but the offices were damaged, and the gym area had a lot of smoke damage. . . . The whole place was a total loss.”

Starting over

For six months, the gym was closed down while Livingston and Davis figured out what to do next.

As true CrossFit athletes, the men decided to push past the pain and not give up.

Livingston said it was a decision they couldn’t have made without the support of their customers and fellow CrossFit fans.

“It was a little stressful to say the least,” he said. “It was an emotional roller coaster. We thought about closing the business. At the end of the day, we decided to soldier on and get it back together.

“We have a pretty cool community. One of things about a gym like ours and CrossFit is people get to know each other. They become friends.”

Livingston and Davis decided that their existing location, although badly damaged, would still be the right place to house their business.

Livingston said that in September, Grand Rapids-based Pioneer Construction started work to rebuild the space almost exactly as it was before, with an emphasis on “almost.”

“The structure of the building and layout architecturally wasn’t really changed, but . . . we changed our layout of equipment,” he said.

“Re-focused” business

CrossFit Luminary re-opened last month with a new layout that features traditional equipment for more varied regimens, a reverse hyperextension machine and Olympic power lifting equipment.

The gym will also be offering an Olympic weight lifting class in addition to its CrossFit classes.

Livingston said the plan is that the new equipment and training will facilitate a wider range of athletes, transforming the space into more than a CrossFit gym, but a true strength and conditioning space.

The team also plans to add three coaches to their staff.

“We re-focused our philosophy and who are market was and what they needed in their training experience,” he said.

“We’re not a $10-a-month gym by any means. Here, we’re selling training.”

Looking back on the year of rebuilding, Livingston noted that although the fire might have slowed CrossFit Luminary down, it also gave the co-founders time to develop as athletes, coaches and business owners.

“Not too often do you get to try out new things when your business has been entirely put on pause,” he said. “But that’s what we did.”  

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