Sunday, August 14, 2022

This local gym is collecting canned goods and getting fit while doing it. Here’s how you can help their cause

Robert Washington, left, and Toni Colon, right, are the firefighter and paramedic duo who run ACE Fitness as an extension of their mission to serve the community. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Robert Washington and Toni Colon)

ACE Fitness is a fairly new gym in James City County.

And yet they are already making positive changes both inside the gym and in the community.

ACE Fitness is hosting a friendly competition to inspire gym members and residents to donate canned goods in an event called “Food for Fitness.”

All donations will go toward St. Olaf Catholic Church’s food pantry.

This year will mark their third annual fundraiser.

The business had a fitness competition last year to collect school supplies, called “Crossfit for Crayons,” for kids at local elementary schools.

“We’re all about trying to do whatever we can to help the local community,” said Robert Washington, co-owner of ACE Fitness.

He and his wife, Toni Colon, run the gym, and this is just their second year as the official owners.

A mutual friend of theirs, Victor Cruz, who was active duty in the Air Force, was transferred to Nebraska. Colon and Washington kept the gym running for him while he was away until they eventually filled his shoes and made the gym their own.

“ACE Fitness is basically the first letters of three of our grandkids’ names — Alana, Camden and Elias,” Washington said. “My wife came up with that.”

Colon is a retired James City County firefighter with 20-plus years of experience, and Washington has been a firefighter with the city of Williamsburg for nearly 25 years. Both say CrossFit helped them get through their physically demanding careers.

Now, Washington and Colon are determined to be active both physically and in the community.

Last year, through their fundraiser “CrossFit for Crayons,” ACE Fitness was able to donate supplies to kids in need at Norge and D.J. Montague elementary schools. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Robert Washington and Toni Colon)

“Food for Fitness” is welcoming teams of two, either male and male or female and female. Men will compete against each other while women compete against one another.

There is an entry fee of $100, but teams can get $10 off for every 10 canned goods they donate. Washington added this was designed to inspire people to donate more.

“You don’t have to compete or anything, it’s just about getting as much food as we can to support their food pantry,” he said.

He said members have already been bringing in food donations plus, the gym has boxes at all the fire stations in James City County and Williamsburg.

For the competition, there are three major workouts. The first challenge is called “12 for 12.” Participants will run 1,200 meters carrying a weighted ball. Males will have a 20-pound ball and females will carry a 14-pound ball.

Team members can switch between themselves as much as they like, but if they finish before the 12 minutes is up, then they have to do as many burpees as they can for the remainder of their time .

The second workout is a deadlift competition. One partner will deadlift as much as they can, and then the second partner will pick up where the last person left off.

The combined weight will be the final score.

The third and final workout, called a “team chipper,” requires each partner to complete 50 repetitions of a series of 12 exercises. The exercises include box jumps, cattle-bell swings, and knee raises.

In case there’s a need for a tie breaker, the two final teams will compete in a rowing challenge to burn as many calories as possible within five minutes.

“The team workout really brings out the most in both people and trying to get the most out of them,” Washington said.

To add even more fun to the event, there will also be a costume contest. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

As for safety measures with COVID-19, Washington said the gym will be spaced out to allow plenty of room for social distancing.

“We have the gym laid out where the athletes will be in one section of the gym competing. There is another section where males have an area to warm up, females will have space to warm up, and those are isolated,” he said.

In between workouts, equipment will be wiped down and sanitized before the next set of athletes use them.

The gym also has an open, soccer-sized field for spectators — required to wear masks — to spread out and watch. .

“Our whole goal is community based,” Washington said. “We used to use these types of workouts to get our recruits ready for the academies. Now it’s just an opportunity to serve on a bigger scale.”

“Food for Fitness” is on Saturday, Oct. 24, starting at 8:30 a.m. with morning warm-ups. There are limited spots for the competition, so Washington advises signing up as soon as possible.

Those interested can visit the gym’s website or Facebook page to register.

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