By Morgan Willie
This past year, Olympia resident Sean Dorsey was on the job as an electrical lineman, expecting to stay active and concentrated on his work, when his concentration was broken by a sudden throbbing injury to his back.
He was put on “light duty,” transferred to the company headquarters where washing trucks was all the physical activity he was allowed to do. After going through massage therapy and receiving criticism from his peers, Dorsey decided to make an adjustment. He decided to join ChYL.
ChYL (pronounced “chill”), or Change Your Life, is a small group of dedicated young men looking to improve upon their physical and mental fitness using CrossFit-inspired techniques and various conditioning routines. They are neighbors, teammates, and friends of friends. They motivate one another to overcome challenges and live healthily.
The group meets a few times a week in an alfresco storeroom off Foxhall Drive in Olympia. The barn is filled with numerous sorts of weights, bars, and equipment. And, there’s plenty of space for outdoor activities such as running and basketball.
Dorsey approached ChYL this May, wanting to get things settled with his back injury.
“It was a really slow two weeks and very painful. You catch a lot of flak from everybody else [when something like this happens] because you’re 22 or 23 years old and you’re just beat down basically. I decided it was time to make a change so I didn’t ever have to go through that again,” Dorsey said.
He has been sticking to a strict diet and working out with the other ChYL members for around two weeks thus far and it’s made all the difference.
“I’m not good at motivating myself at all, mainly when it comes to working out. I’m lazy; I’d rather do other things. Being around people that are keeping serious about [working out,] that’s what keeps me accountable,” Dorsey noted.
Founder Ben Reece started bringing friends to the gym about a year ago, hoping to create a brotherhood and encourage others to take control of their health. The group has no intention to make money off of their meetings; they are purely in it for fitness inspiration.
Member Caleb Baldwin was hesitant at first about joining ChYL because he was worried that the other guys might poke fun at him for not being as fit. But, he soon got over this fear.
“I was with the group when we first came up with the idea. We started up in the garage,” Baldwin said. “I had a membership to a gym, but I had maybe just gone once a week. I had a personal trainer, but it’s not the same.”
Baldwin noted that his confidence has skyrocketed since he began working out with the group.
“I still might be in last place but I’m finishing the work outs. I was never big on self-esteem, but now I kind of carry myself differently,” he said.
Similarly, Ben’s brother, Tyler Reece, has benefitted from working out with ChYL.
“I run a lot. I’m in cross country and track. You know, running is a lot of legs, but you do need upper body strength late in the race to keep your posture right,” he said. “I feel like I have an edge on other runners because I have a little more upper body muscle and that helps me in races.”
Though ChYL is not a provider of the very popular CrossFit classes, they do draw a lot of their exercise material from such high intensity programs.
Collaborator PK Machado said that CrossFit, “takes the marathon runner, the gymnast, and the Olympic weight lifter, and it combines them all into one.” Moments after, Machado was doing dips on the rings and then walking on his hands!
“There’s one aspect that CrossFit has that other workout programs don’t have, and that’s the mental toughness part,” Ben noted. “Having mental toughness is really the key to your success because not everyone is going to want to work out every day. When you work out alone, that’s great, but you don’t push yourself as hard. When you’re here as a group, like we all are, we’re competitive and we have fun.”
But, maintaining the gym hasn’t been all fun and games. The team recently had a minor setback concerning their title.
“We came up with a name, ‘1440 Fitness,’ we got bumper stickers on our cars, and we met with a marketing guy who came up with all of these designs,” Baldwin said. “We were good to go, and then we received an email from a company called Fitness 1440 saying they have a trademark on that name.” He explained the letter as a cease-and-desist order. “They offered us a franchise for 50,000 dollars,” he laughed.
On top of that, Ben received an injury to the knee this year and has been working through the pain.
“One of us might be having a hard time, like I hurt my knee, so I’m feeling sorry for myself, but if you can’t do a certain thing, we scale it down, either repetition wise or weight wise,” he assured.
Working out and staying in peak physical shape can be a challenge when you’ve got no incentive on your own. ChYL has perfected a method to staying consistently in shape and enthused about exercise. They will only get better from here.