Building muscle and building business at Flint's first CrossFit gym

FLINT, Michigan — The dumbbells, pull-up bars, ropes and straps are arranged neatly around what looks like a garage transformed into a launchpad. Pull-up racks that double as lifting stations line the wall across from more free weights in the city’s first CrossFit facility. Jake Saldana, built somewhat like a truck compressed into a 5-foot-8-inch frame, is amenable, direct with authority, yet polite  and slightly soft-spoken. 

“CrossFit is simply a strength and conditioning program that can be tailored to any intensity,”  says Saldana (pronounced Sal-dawn-ya). It features a mix of calisthenics, weightlifting, body-weight exercises, and powerlifting movements. The classes usually last an hour, where each element of the workout can be individualized to a person's fitness level and goals, Saldana said. 

“I’ve been wanting to open a gym ever since I was in high school,” he says looking out at the snow coming down outside of his small corner office of the facility located at 1113 University Ave. Flint CrossFit is the dual location of Flagstop CrossFit in Davison, where Saldana has coached and trained for the last seven years. “We were always looking in Flint. I grew up in Flint, my family still lives here, and I would drive around seeing a trend of a comeback,” Saldana says. 

He looked for nearly three years before finding his location almost four months ago in the heart of the University Corridor. The building is owned by Kettering University. “University Avenue is a really smart investment,” Saldana says. 

After wrestling varsity in high school at Davison, Saldana moved into mixed martial arts after graduating. “I did that for a little bit, but I wasn’t too crazy about punching people in the face,” he says. One day while browsing YouTube, he watched a video on CrossFit and it peaked his interest. He started training at 810 CrossFit in Grand Blanc before opening his own gym.

For first-timers looking to try the program, Saldana is encouraging. “It’s open to any fitness level. Anything you need help with can be scaled. A lot of people might feel or think this is all about flipping tires and really high-intensity weight-lifting, but what's great is this can be easily changed to fit anyone’s level,” he says. Newcomers often see improvements almost immediately — “in the first two or three weeks” — in weight loss, muscle definition, cardio improvement and lifting ability. 

Membership at Flint CrossFit is $100 a month, $85 for college students and includes access to classes at both the University Avenue and Davison locations. It is open Monday through Saturday. Check the Flint CrossFit Facebook page for class schedules and hours. 

Read more articles by Jake Carah.

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