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Changing the fitness perception
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jun 20, 2013 | 1385 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Liberation Athletics owner Chad Lemus stands alongside his scheduled plans for the rest of the year inside his new facility in Sparks.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Liberation Athletics owner Chad Lemus stands alongside his scheduled plans for the rest of the year inside his new facility in Sparks.
SPARKS -- Everything seemed to be in order, from stacks of 45-pound plates to the barbells perfectly aligned on the wall, with the new-gym aroma lingering beneath the vents. A set of speakers in a distant corner kept the room from silence as Liberation Athletics owner Chad Lemus peeks over to his workout whiteboard where the words “The Swing of Things” taunt any gym-goer to grab a set of kettlebells.

That new-gym smell is not going to last long as Liberation Athletics found some doors of its own to open allowing Lemus to bring his traveling regime to a halt. The fitness local’s grand opening Saturday in Sparks marks the start of a new era for Lemus who said owning a gym was not part of his original life plan, but it is the future.

“(Entering the Peace Corps) was always something I wanted to do,” Lemus said. “I have always wanted to help and donate my time. It was never to have houses or anything like that, or even the gym, it was just to help people.”

After the birth of his daughter five years ago, Lemus said his passion for health and fitness took over when he began helping friends train and eat healthier. When the thought of owning his own gym came to mind, the last thing the 30 year old wanted was another place where you accept people’s money and send them to their workout.

“I focus way less about the end goal and more about the journey it takes to actually get there, and trying to make sure you enjoy every single day,” Lemus said. “You have to understand you are growing, and every single day you are here you are going to be growing better and better.

“Essentially, we wanted to kind of change people’s perception that fitness is fun. Fitness is really just play. As children get older they lose their play. They can squat, they can jump and do back flips and front flips, but when you are an adult you’re freaking out because you think you have never done that. We want to take that aspect of physical fitness and bring it back into training.”

Though a stable home for Liberation Athletics is new, Lemus has been bouncing around through various local parks, local gyms and anywhere with enough space to have some fun breaking a sweat. Lemus feels a playground-type atmosphere helps motivate his clients to think less about their aesthetics, which he admits is a tough task, and value progressive personal growth.

Lemus said removing focus from aesthetics and transferring it to self worth will ultimately change each client he helps train.

“You have a trainer and a coach and the end goal is just fitness,” Lemus said. “For some people, though, that is not enough. If you are not passionate about the fitness then it is not there. But, ultimately, it is important.

“Instead we take them on a journey where we get them healthy, more physically capable, still keep them having fun and then we are going to move to indoor agriculture, sustainable agriculture and holistic health. We want to have our clients here buy in to and donate their time to charity organizations or troops or something.”

The Liberation Athletics approach helps clients become self-sustainable. Lemus said he enjoys facilitating those who come to his gym for help and added that watching those who are simply there for the atmosphere is just as satisfying.

“They kind of understand that we are going to mentor them more than we are going to train them,” he said. “As odd as it sounds, if I can work myself out of a job and make them self-sustainable that would be ideal because I want them to be smart and intelligent enough to do it for themselves. Ideally, if they choose to stay it is because they enjoy it here and they love the atmosphere, and they can continue learning from there.”

Liberation Athletics holds various classes at its location in Baring Village in Sparks, on the corner of Sparks and Baring boulevards near Smith’s, which include women-only classes, mindset classes, massage and mobility classes and various specialty classes during the year. He said CrossFit enthusiasts can fit right in as well and many workshops will be held targeting CrossFit moves and skills.

The classes are just the beginning, however, as Lemus and Liberation Athletics plan to continue being active in the community. Working with charities such as Make-a-Wish Foundation and Toys for Tots in the coming months, and being active in local events like Artown has Lemus packing his schedule and searching for more ways to get his clients into the community.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love lifting the heavy stuff and that is a big part of it,” Lemus said, “But we want people to understand that it doesn’t end there. That is just the beginning and there has to be a reason why you are doing this.

“You are not just looking at it as an aesthetic goal. You still get the confidence from that, but you also get to say ‘Look at what I am doing with my new-found health. I have self worth and I can accomplish much more.’”

Lemus keeps a constantly updated website at and said he plans to upload content “most people would end up paying for” and he added that fitness “knowledge should not be a secret.” He plans to forge a different path from typical fitness clubs and gyms in hopes of inspiring more people.

“I want people to get a feel for something that is a little bit more mellow of a gym, more homey and not so intense,” he said. “Nobody who comes in will be treated as a stranger. Everybody is treated as client. I don’t treat anybody as if they are not a client just because they haven’t signed up. They are more than welcome to come in the doors anytime.”
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