Chuckwalla CrossFit started because of John Hazdovac's passion to see people become better versions of themselves and because of the commitment from 20 founding members. Our owner John has been involved in athletics, from gymnastics to college football all his life. After his college athletic career ended, he needed something to keep him interested in fitness. Once he found CrossFit, it changed his life. His passion for CrossFit is what led him to want to help other people experience their own life change when they became healthy and fit. He knew CrossFit worked and he knew he could run a business, he was just waiting for the timing to be right to open his own location.
Early in 2015 he mentioned his dream of opening a CrossFit gym to Joe Makston. Joe suggested, "Why don't you just start in your garage? I would go." That was all John needed: one member and a garage. So that May Chuckwalla CrossFit started up in John's single-car garage. With a growing family of their own, John and his wife Ashley really wanted a place where people could bring their kids to while still getting in an amazing workout. So Ashley would watch all the kids in their little house during the hour of class.
It was ONE HOT SUMMER. The founding members faithfully worked out in the garage and at Butler (Royal Palm) Park. And the momentum was contagious, and the vision of helping people become better versions of themselves was taking off, despite the temperatures. Soon they needed their own space.
That's when they spotted the 2,000sq ft mechanics garage at 10 E Ruth Ave. It was perfect! In August, right when the Hazdovac's daughter Lily was being born, they received the key to place to begin getting it set up for CrossFit classes. They worked hard, with the help of friends and members, to get the gym ready for grand opening, while raising their newborn daughter and older son Zac.
At the end of September we started having a few classes in the new space. October 17, 2015 was the official grand opening celebration! At this point we had about 30 members and offered 17 classes a week. John coached along with Dave Coberly and Chris Colombi.
Now, 3 years later, Chuckwalla CrossFit has grown to about 130 members with 47 classes every week. There are now 9 total coaches and 1 intern coach on our team! We've gone from just CrossFit to adding 5 additional programs, as well as educational seminars on topics like nutrition, chiropractic care, pregnancy & postpartum, olympic lifting seminars & personal finances. We have expanded to 2,700 sq ft, added an outdoor rig complete with rings & ropes, and most of our walls have beautiful murals.
The growing process has been full of long days and it hasn't always been easy. For the first year and a half John worked a full-time job cleaning carpet and scrubbing tile floors on top of running the gym. He would wake up at 4:30am, go in to coach until 7am, then clean floors until 4pm, when he went back to coach until 7:30pm, before finally being able to go home to his beautiful wife and 2 children. And since then, John & Ashley have added twins to his family.
When interviewed by VoyagePhoenix, John said, "To see how our gym is making an impact and changing people’s lives makes me smile. Like I mentioned, the long hours and working two jobs and trying to take care of a family is never easy. But I learned ways to get through each day and to stay focused on where I would be eventually. I always felt like quitting, almost every day. But I knew I wouldn’t quit. My family was depending upon me and I had dreams that I needed to fulfill. I kept telling myself, 'The only way out is through.' So I kept hammering through. Money was always tight when starting our business, and I was working the carpet cleaning job just to pay our common living expenses. The manual labor job and long hours kept me tired. Every day I would dream about what my life could be if I just didn’t give up."
Because of John's & Ashley's commitment and passion Chuckwalla CrossFit is a place where "everyone knows your name." Our community is one of a kind. We work together through tough workouts to become better versions of ourselves. We support each other through meals, checking-in, motivating, celebrating, and playing together. The people of our community are so generous too, always giving to each other in time and care and giving back to the local community and global community through fundraisers, school supply drives, and supporting local organizations like YoungLives and Rosewood Courts (Catholic Charities).