With every new beginning comes some other beginning’s end.
This month we are overjoyed with several major achievements in our life including Najla and I celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary, our daughter Camille’s 8th birthday and 10 years of coaching, owning and operating SICFIT in Scottsdale, formerly knows as CrossFit Scottsdale Powered by: Kayyem Fitness.
We have so many amazing people to thank that have been such a big part of our lives over the years and I am going to do my personal best to convey the heartfelt emotion going into writing this blog. We would like to start by thanking you, the students of our amazing Fitness School. Without you we would not be!
In the past 10 years we have coached over 3,000 students, completed over 10,000 baselines, and taught over 20,000 hours of fitness and nutrition to the residents of Scottsdale and those visiting us from around the globe.
More importantly we have eliminated over 4,000 lbs of documented body fat from our bodies and added countless years to our lives.
Those of you who know me personally know I am always a man of truth, transparency and often un-apologetic authenticity. My target for you during this read is to be inspired, committed and enthusiastic for the changes and improvements happening around the gym and the future of your own personal fitness program.
I can honestly say this has been the greatest 10 years of my entire life and I’ll even go as far as saying it might be the best I will ever have.
My son Kanon was a year old when we moved to Scottsdale in October of 2007. Born in the same hospital as me 26 years earlier at Cedars- Sinai in Los Angeles we were actively looking for any reason to relocate and not raise our own family in Hollywood.
Our move from Los Angeles to Scottsdale came quick as the house we rented on top of Mulholland drive was going to be put on the market and our young family was not in any situation to buy a home in Sherman Oaks.
My wife Najla an executive with Caruso Affiliated, “The Grove” an iconic landmark on 3rd and La Brea had been scouted to work on a new project in North Phoenix called CityNorth.
Within weeks we had packed up and began the move to Arizona. Along with the news we were having baby #2, Najla, Kanon, Ziggy, me, and baby to be (Camille) were in route to our new home at Horseman’s Park the neighborhood across the street from Notre Dame Prep.
A community we found online and immediately fell in love with site unseen.
The Best part about the home we found was the Real estate agents listing the house were none other than Devra & Carol Tousley (+ Chris Tousley) longtime friends and members of the gym since we opened in 2008 and our first real friends here in Scottsdale. After renting for a year we would move into our dream home and the Tousley’s would become our next door neighbors.
Upon moving I took the first job I could find training at the local Gold’s Gym. My four week tenure there was very monumental and life changing now that I look back on the series of events that unfolded in our first few months in Scottsdale.
One of our founding members, Tina Vange, came in to Gold’s to meet with me shortly after having a baby of her own. 9 years later Tina and I continue to train together twice a week as she has worked hard to eliminate and keep the baby weight off and returning to her pre-pregnancy size.
Tina would later bring in her brother Marc who needed a lifestyle change and an accountability coach. 8 years later Marc has lost and kept off over one hundred pounds from his body and continues to reach new personal records and milestones including 5 strict bodyweight pull-ups and racking up over 2 million meters on his personal concept 2 rower.
My next significant relationship in Scottsdale came shortly after meeting Tina. As I was walking an elderly man through the gym floor and assisting him on and off of a few machines, I was approached by a curious member who asked me who I was and where I had come from? Her name was Toby Schultz.
Stating she had never seen any “Trainers” care for a client as I did and never had witnessed one working with someone so old. I simply smiled and explained my story and my WHY? A message I continue to share wherever I go and with as many folks as possible.
That is how I first met Toby and Buddy Schultz… my adopted parents and the two people I was in the middle of coaching when Najla’s water broke with Camille while training at the location of our next facility – the “Edge On Wellness”.
The Edge was a wellness center and hair salon located on 92nd street and Shea, directly across the street from the hospital where Camille was born. The gym was a 700-square foot room with no windows, pergo wood floors, and door-to-door mirrors. It was so not functional, we had to install a pull up bar in the ceiling and use treadmills for our runs.
Looking back it was definitely not the ideal location for the first CrossFit in Scottsdale but having adapted so many times, it was the perfect facility to create our vision and build our fitness business.
A business and brand built on integrity and standards. And so our foundation for family, fitness, and community in North Scottsdale was born.
This is also where I first met so many amazing clients and friends that are still with us today like Stephanie Woods [TRIBE 001] and original CrossFit Scottsdale members Richard Shields, Reem Kidess, and Gwen Whitfill.
Our reputation proceeded us as we introduced many new people in our community to CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting. As our membership grew fast within months, we had maxed out our new space and were looking to expand.
We secured a location at 14885 North 83rd place, 1,000 yards from the Golds Gym where it all began and 2 miles away from our amazing neighborhood at Horseman’s Park, all within a year and a half of settling in to our new community.
The fact that I was able to do it with my wife and high school sweet heart Najla
while raising two very special children makes me the most fortunate man on earth.
As our business began to really take off in 2009, so would the explosion of CrossFit and within a year several of our students, coaches, and friends would all open up competing gyms in North Scottsdale. A lesson in business was quickly handed to us as we began to do our own soul searching on who and what we wanted our personal brand and legacy to become.
Around that time Najla and I accepted every opportunity we were given to stand out in such a crowded space. I trained under Mark Divine at SEALFIT in Encinitas, filmed underground videos with Syn Martinez of Afrobrutality in Harlem, became Dave Castro’s go-to for CrossFit coaching certifications in the Southwest, had Greg Glassman in our suite at the CrossFit Games, and produced the Europa Games introducing the SICest of the Southwest competition series.
After we created Friday Night Lights, the first live competition of the worldwide open, our brand began to get global notoriety. I was offered the opportunity to fly to Austin for a photo shoot with Jeremy Thiel – founder of CrossFit Central, the Blueprint, Garage Gym and his new start-up an online video and clothing company called SICFIT.
Little did we know that this trip to Austin would become the sole spark we needed to eventually acquire the global lifestyle brand, take the company into the physical gym space, and move into the “Future of Fitness”.
An extremely challenging family decision would be made to leave the CrossFit Affiliation and begin the process of rebranding and building our own systems, standards, and structure.
If you think starting a new job is hard, try re-branding an established business that you have been running for years. Another great lesson in entrepreneurship and a core value at SICFIT.
Our vision has always been to create a higher quality of life for our members and staff and to help them feel better when they leave us then when they arrived.
We showed our coaches how to go above and beyond what the industry standards are and we gave back to our neighborhood by actively participating in community events, volunteering our time at schools, donating to worthy causes, and teaching our students how to live healthy, active and energetic lifestyles for a lifetime.
I could not have written this chapter of my life any bigger or better nor would I want to change a single page of it!
Today we celebrate the officially passing of the torch to long time member, 2010 Athlete of the Year, teammate, networker, husband, father, and friend, Matt Blanton. Matt’s passion for learning, relentless focus and ability to keep cool under chaos is a natural skill that he has mastered over the years in business and in life. He’s the owner of Printing Solutions and President of EO Accelerators, and together with his Back on the Bar business partner, Justin Baumgartner, will officially be taking over the gym operations on July 1st.
Justin, also a family man, organic chef, and resident DJ for the SICest of the Southwest and The CrossFit Games comes on board with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Olympic lifting world. Justin was also one of our first members-turned-coaches back in 2010 and has since learned a ton on the art of coaching.
We are grateful for every step of this journey that we have been able to take with you and so very thankful to be keeping the gym in the family.
As clients, you put your trust in us with the single most important item in your life: your body! In return we promised to prescribe you the right amount of intensity, work and correct movements…while creating an amazing experience.
To the coaches and staff who have had to put up with our meticulous standards, constant evaluations, and OCD based cleanliness…you guys are what makes this place run class after class and hour after hour. Your commitment and dedication to lead from the front and make people better makes us proud to have you on our team.
So what’s next for us? Our belief is that FITness is a never-ending journey that evolves, grows and embraces CHANGE.
As constant innovators and early adopters in the functional fitness industry, we are proud to introduce our newest concept. A natural progression in the future of personal health, lifestyle, and technology. The Fittest Tribe Alive is an on-demand, remote, and virtual coaching program that features a global community of health-conscious and active individuals looking for adventures, races, challenges, and coaching on how to live a higher quality of life.
This new coaching model allows my father-in-law in Beirut to be held accountable for walking on the treadmill. It gives an executive client in New York City access to the video coaching library, and gives Tribe members weekly Training Assignments that can be completed from anywhere and at anytime with little to no equipment.
It also gives us the freedom to fulfill our passion for delivering health and wellness to change the lives of thousands of people around the world.
From the bottom of our hearts and to the end of our souls we want to personally thank everyone who has ever stepped foot in our door, taken one of our classes, attended a seminar, participated in a challenge, competed in one of our events or taken a walk with us around the block. THANK YOU!
In Great Health,
Luke and Najla Kayyem