Most people associate CrossFit with intensity, competition, and hard-core fitness fanatics. But, “that’s just not our style,” says Jeremy Hale, co-founder of Desert Devil CrossFit.
Jeremy and his wife, Juliet Ricci, opened Desert Devil in April 2015 to create a CrossFit gym where everyone is welcome, regardless of fitness level. “We wanted to foster an environment inline with our values and expectations to ensure everyone feels welcome,” explains Juliet.
As a 22-year veteran of the Air Force, fitness has always been a big part of Jeremy’s life. “Working out and lifting weights is just something you do in the Air Force, but my philosophy on fitness has evolved over the last 25 years,” he explains.
A friend introduced him to CrossFit while on a deployment in South Korea in 2007. This relatively new fitness regimen combines traditional exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, gymnastics, and calisthenics. “I became addicted to CrossFit because it’s functional fitness,” Jeremy says. “At that time I didn’t have to worry about programming the workouts for myself, and it felt good to work out that way.”
Jeremy returned home to share his newfound passion with Juliet, a licensed massage therapist. CrossFit quickly became a way of life for the couple. They earned level one and level two CrossFit certifications, and finally realized their dream of opening their own gym.
Watch the CrossFit games on TV and it’s nothing but top athletes in peak condition. While many seasoned athletes work out at Desert Devil, Juliet says they get most excited about working with clients who are new to fitness or new to CrossFit. For beginners, they offer a CrossFit Foundations class. This class is usually one-on-one, and is designed to make newbies comfortable with all the basic moves and terminology.
“We want to encourage and challenge those up for competition, as well as support and challenge those ready to be a the best version of themselves,” Juliet explains. To complement the CrossFit workouts, Juliet teaches a LifeStretch class several times a week that offers flexibility and overall wellness benefits.
Desert Devil isn’t a traditional gym. With jump ropes, free weights, barbells, and climbing ropes, it looks more like a place to play than a place to work out. That atmosphere is helping to change lives. Jeremy tells of one client who couldn’t do a single pull-up the first time she walked into the gym.
Today she can climb a rope, do ten unassisted pull-ups, and recently competed in a statewide CrossFit competition in Albuquerque.
“Another client, Dave, comes at 6:30 a.m. every morning,” adds Jeremy. “When he started he couldn’t overhead squat a PVC pipe. Now he has a beautiful full-depth squat.”
Another, a 62-year old nurse, has never been active in her life. Her faithfulness and dedication paid off with ten pounds of weight loss in her first month at Desert Devil.
Luciano Vera says Jeremy and Juliet’s dedication to their clients brought him to the gym. “Every so often you find a CrossFit gym where people stay after to hang out, where people encourage each other, and high-five each other,” says Luciano. “We’re competitive but we want everybody to succeed and we’re excited for each other.”
Jeremy believes health is a way of life, rather than just something to do at the gym. That philosophy permeates the coaching strategies at Desert Devil. “I feel good at 43. I’m not overweight and my body can do what I want it to do,” he notes. “I go hunting and I’m able to hike up huge hills. I can go do pretty much anything I want to do and not have to worry about my body not keeping up with me.”
But it’s ultimately that sense of family that really sets Desert Devil apart. “Their pitch was short and sweet: ‘We’re going to push you. Come work out for free for a couple days and let us know what you think,’” Luciano remembers.
After the first workout, he was hooked.
“Jeremy and Juliet aren’t really trainers they are coaches,” he adds. “They work out with us. If they’re wrong they admit it. They are here to help us succeed. All you have to do is show up and put out a little effort.”
Desert Devil Crossfit
848 W. Hadley Ave • 575-288-1177