Del Ray CrossFit gym owner says exercise keeps clients focused amid pandemic

Melissa Graves calls CrossFit her medicine.

Last year, though, she was forced to shut down her brick and mortar gym, CrossFit MVA at 1712 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. Graves and her team of a half dozen coaches kept the ship afloat with Zoom workouts, as members who stuck it out took home weight sets and medicine balls from the gym.

“It felt like a year, but it was probably only three months that we were out of this space,” Graves told ALXnow. “Even now I’m counting every day, one day at a time until we can function somewhat like normal.”

Graves says most of her clients are vaccinated against COVID-19, and those who aren’t are asked to wear face masks during the high-intensity workouts. Those workouts include weightlifting, rowing and gymnastics, and are alternately conducted inside the gym and in an outdoor tented area in the parking lot.

“I don’t like change, and I’ve never been a person that likes change,” Graves said “Being adaptable when those big changes were thrown at me really helped me to grow as a business owner and personally.”

A former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, the 44-year-old Graves started was introduced to CrossFit in 2008. She opened CrossFit MVA in 2014, and is personally ranked 86th worldwide and 63rd in the U.S. for her age group.

“When I discovered CrossFit, it literally became my medicine,” she said. “I got off antidepressants, I started eating better, I slept better, my mood changed. I was just a different person, like it literally my whole life and my personality.”

Graves continued, “The pandemic was just so tough on people mentally. So having us as an outlet every day for 45 minutes was huge for them, and I’ve heard from countless members tell me that if it wasn’t for these workouts that they don’t know what they would have done.”

Graves increased the monthly fee for members by $5 to make up for the additional space needed for six-foot distancing for athletes inside the box. It costs $235 for unlimited access to the gym, $210 for three workouts per week, and $185 for two workouts per week.

Nervous about CrossFit? Don’t worry if you’re not in great shape, Graves said.

“When people show up for a trial class, they see that there’s all different kinds of people in the gym,” she said. “Some people maybe are getting ready for a triathlon, there might be someone else who’s never worked out before, maybe a mom who just decided that she wanted to start CrossFit in her 40s. We have just everyone from every walk of life, and usually when people take a trial class they feel pretty comfortable.”

Courtesy Facebook

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