“It started with a hypothesis that there existed a better way to pursue health and fitness than the model the fitness industry had given us.”
From there, the rest is history for Lafayette’s very own The Uncommon Gym.
TRC spoke with Jacob Watts, Head Coach at The Uncommon Gym. He tells us more about the facility and what makes it “uncommon” from any other gym.
Tell us about the history behind The Uncommon Gym
My mentors, bosses, and friends, Pete and Crystal Deiwert discovered CrossFit back in the late 2000’s and immediately saw the value in this type of training. Back then, the only way to get information about CrossFit was through www.CrossFit.com. They posted free workouts every day starting all the way back in 2001. Pete and Crystal started gathering a small group of like-minded friends who were also curious about trying out this relatively new workout routine. After seeing enough of a change in themselves and seeing how it impacted other people, they decided to open their own CrossFit location in Lafayette. In August of 2012 they opened CrossFit Uncommon, and it is in the same location to this day.
What does The Uncommon Gym have to offer?
At our core, The Uncommon Gym offers CrossFit classes. CrossFit is defined as constantly varied; functional movement performed at a high intensity. So, our workouts mostly consist of movements that people do every day (squatting, picking up off the ground, carrying, lifting overhead, running, jumping, etc.) and we change up the combinations of movements from one day to the next so we can always keep improving. What really drives the benefits of CrossFit, and what separates it from most people’s workout routines, is intensity. We spend a great deal of time and effort teaching people how to move their bodies and weighted objects safely and efficiently. This allows them to push their bodies to greater and greater levels of effort with minimal risk of injury. It is this ever-increasing effort that keeps the improvements going indefinitely.
We require four one-on-one sessions with a coach where we teach you the basics before you join the group classes. This is called our Foundations program. If anybody wants more focused attention, we offer one on one sessions. This could include working on a particular skill, addressing a weakness, or even rehab from an injury. If somebody signs up for an Unlimited class membership, they even have the ability to attend one yoga class per week at Community Yoga in West Lafayette, which is owned by a pair of our very own members, Jacqueline Allen-Magers and Jay Magers!
Do you set goals for each individual member? How do you keep them coming back?
While we certainly have the ability to meet and discuss goals with individual people, we do find that most people’s goals have quite a bit of overlap. Everybody says they want to be leaner and/or stronger but what they really want is to feel better. Everybody loves to talk about the little things that might make a 1% improvement. What supplements should I take? What special strength program should I try? Should I do CrossFit, or OrangeTheory, or spin class? But very few people are doing the things that will make 10% improvements. So, we make sure our members know that they need to take care of the big things before they even worry about the little things. The big things are getting at least seven hours of quality sleep every night, drink enough water every day, eat mostly fresh produce and unprocessed/unsweetened food, and do something very physically intense at least three times per week. If somebody has those things dialed in, then we can start making the little tweaks to get small changes here and there.
If you ask any one of our members or even any member of the worldwide CrossFit community why they keep coming back they will tell you it’s the people in their gym. Everyone is so supportive of each other that it’s very easy to make showing up a habit. The other nice thing about CrossFit is that there is SO MUCH to work on that you’ll run out of time before you run out of things to improve. Not only are there many different exercises that require a great deal of skill and practice to master, but we also encourage people to work on various aspects of their mental fitness.
Tell me a little bit about your coaches and what they bring to the table
In order to coach at a CrossFit affiliate, one must obtain a minimum of a Level 1 certification through CrossFit HQ. We currently have 5 part-time coaches who have their Level 1 and 3 coaches who have their Level 2.
Beyond certifications, Pete and Crystal have done an excellent job at setting a standard from the very beginning. The expectation is that you lead class like a professional coach. It’s a tricky thing to do because the beginnings of CrossFit are very underground, grassroots, and informal. It started out of people’s garages and backyards. It was friends training with other friends. But it has evolved into a huge, thriving community. You can see the influence of CrossFit in other commercial gyms. Gyms that look a lot like Planet Fitness, but they also have barbells and bumper plates and kettlebells. They are also offering memberships that are cheaper than ours. So, we have to go above and beyond. When people leave our classes there can be no doubt in their mind that they were just coached by a professional. They were coached by a person who not only loves coaching but is obsessed with becoming a better coach and improving the lives of everyone they meet. That is what the coaches at Uncommon bring to the table; an extensive knowledge of movement, how to improve quality of life, and we offer our expertise in adjusting workouts to fit the needs of any individual we coach.
Is The Uncommon Gym for anyone and everyone?
I want to emphasize in all caps here… ABSOLUTELY!!
We have trained everyone from kids as young as 12 to adults in their 70’s. We have trained women through their entire pregnancies, people working around injuries, and anyone who has to modify for other limitations. CrossFit is safe for everyone. The key is in the coach’s ability to modify to the needs of the individual. A large part of our ability to do that depends on the tools we have in our toolbox. That means we are constantly looking to different sources of information. Even if it is just one little thing that helps one person, it’s worth it.
How would you encourage someone to stop by and see what you have to offer?
Our class schedule is online at theuncommongym.com! Anybody can stop by at any time to see a class and talk to a coach. We also offer a free community workout every month! It is usually the first Friday of the month (every class of the day is free) but sometimes we do a single free class on Saturday morning.
What sets you aside from other gyms and fitness centers?
In avoiding a huge essay, I’ll try to summarize some of my answers to the other questions. We have a community full of people who are willing to pursue personal growth (physical and mental) through experiencing challenging workouts. They are also relentless in their support of each other. That doesn’t just mean we cheer for each other and give high fives and say great job after a workout. We are willing to help each other confront some difficult things in life. We are there for each other when somebody is going through a hardship. We are willing to ask hard questions of each other and ourselves. Through our pursuit of personal growth, we are there to help our friends do the same. We truly are a tide that raises all ships.
Do you have to be a member to use the facility?
Yes, but we do allow drop-ins. Also, if somebody lives locally and has CrossFit or extensive workout experience, we let them try the gym free for a week to see if it’s for them.
What is your definition of wellness?
We believe in treating each person as a multi-dimensional being. You are not just a sack of muscle and bones and organs controlled by a brain. You are literally the most complex organism that has ever existed. We believe true health and wellness comes from getting to know yourself better. Difficult workouts are a good start but we as humans are way too distracted these days. There an infinite number of things trying to take your attention. The apps on our phones are literally designed to get your attention and keep you addicted to them. All of this distraction is driving us further and further from knowing ourselves. It’s no wonder so many people are sick, and they don’t even know it. If you are an overall well person, you are sleeping well, you are physically capable of doing just about any challenging thing you want, and you can emotionally handle adversity.