Crossfit Lower Town Settling Into Former Saxton's Storefront
Gym moved in 2012 from Old Village to historic downtown building.
When Crossfit Lower Town moved in 2012 from its former Old Village digs to the historic Saxton's Garden Center storefront in downtown Plymouth, owner Brian Schaefer said he wanted to keep the building's decades-long history intact.
Saxton's Garden Center, a family-owned fixture in the area for more than 80 years, closed its longtime storefront in late 2012. Saxton's Power Equipment LLC, run by former employees of the tractor and mower shop, relocated to the rear of the building at 587 W. Ann Arbor Trail, which occupies the equivalent of two city blocks downtown.
While the crossfit gym now occupies the former Saxton's showroom, the large Saxton's lettering on the rooftop that has become somewhat of a downtown icon will remain intact, Schaefer said.
"It keeps the historic Saxton's feel down here," Schaefer said.
New location offers more options for members
Schaefer, a Plymouth Township police officer and former SWAT officer, started Crossfit Lower Town two years ago at Farmer and Amelia Court in Plymouth's Old Village—a district nicknamed "Lower Town" by locals—but the business quickly outgrew its space.
"The building was kind of a square box, cinder block, cold, damp," Schaefer said.
The Saxton's storefront, Schaefer said, offers a refreshing contrast, sporting large windows with a view of Kellogg Park and downtown Plymouth and significantly increased floor space.
While the showroom has transformed to a gym, little has changed with the aesthetics of the building, Schaefer said. The historic interior brickwork remains intact, as do the redwood ceilings.
"Basically all we did was come in, put a layer of paint on the walls, lay down our rubber floor, put in all our equipment, our rigs and weights and we were able to go," he said.
A former retail area on the east side of the building will be covered in artificial turf this year, Schaefer said, allowing for more athletic exercises.
Crossfit offers intense workout, camaraderie
Crossfit is an emerging fitness method that combines a variety of strenuous timed workouts.
"The workouts are constantly varied," trainer Eric Bartlett said. "Every day is different."
The exercises, he said, can include Olympic lifting, gymnastics, body weight movements, running and jumping.
Bartlett, a stay-at-home dad who first came to Crossfit Lower Town as a customer after resorting to doing workouts in his garage, has become somewhat of a crossfit expert; He earned third place worldwide in the 45-49-year-old division of the 2012 Crossfit Games. He'll look to qualify again for the California-based competition in less than two weeks, he said.