The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

July 13, 2014

Central Cambria grad prepping for national CrossFit competition

JOHNSTOWN — A Mundys Corner native will participate in a nationly recognized athletic event when he takes his talents to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games on July 26 in Carson, California.

Luke Espe, 27, will be part of a three-man, three-woman team to take on various fitness challenges. 

In the sport of CrossFit, there are competitions of weightlifting, gymnastics, and interval training. Teams are rated on either how fast they can complete a task or how many reps they can perform within a certain time frame.  

His team, CrossFit Syndicate, qualified for this year’s games after finishing in second at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Qualifier in Washington D.C. This is the first time ever that Espe was a part of a team that qualified for the CrossFit Games in California.

Espe never worked with half of the people on his team until the beginning of this year. The team worked well together throughout the year and Espe was very optimistic about his team going into the regional qualifier.   

“We knew we would do well in the regional,” said Espe. “Making it to the games in California is a great achievement whenever your life is dedicated to CrossFit.”  

The high-intensity exercises of CrossFit have become a competitive fitness sport and a household name in the past five years. CrossFit is a very diverse type of athletic competition. Athletes from all over the world are involved in the CrossFit Games. 

“It is hard to explain,” said Espe. “It is pretty much the sport of fitness. CrossFit’s claim is to find the fittest human beings on the planet.”

“They test every aspect of fitness.” Espe added.

One of the most complex aspects of the CrossFit Games is that athletes never know what they will encounter. 

“It is not like any other sport.” said Espe. “You have to be ready to do anything.”

The Games will be featured on ESPN3 online July 26-28 and for the first time, the event’s last hour of competition will be on broadcast nationally on ESPN2 from 4-5 p.m. on July 28.

The Games are getting bigger and bigger every year. 

“When the CrossFit Games started, there were 20,000 participants,” said Espe. “Now there are 230,000 athletes in the Games, it has become the Olympics of all-around fitness.”

He attended Washington and Jefferson College and played on its football team for four years. After graduating with an Information Technology degree and moving to Baltimore, Espe wanted to find some activity to fill the void of football. After watching a YouTube video about CrossFit in 2009, he went to a CrossFit gym and immediately fell in love. 

“After I was done playing college football, there was no competitive atmosphere in the weight room,” said Espe.  “Going to the gym was just going to the gym. When I heard about CrossFit and participated in it, my competitive edge was resparked and it gave me something to work for.”

Espe took fascination in the sport, he got all the education and credentials needed to become a CrossFit trainer.  In 2009, Espe met Ryan Thompson and opened a facility in Columbia, Maryland where he is a trainer in CrossFit and forms teams for the competition.

CrossFit is now Espe’s life. While he did not get a job linked to his IT degree, he moved on to co-own three gyms in the Baltimore area by 2012. Even before opening these gyms, Espe always had a training background working with his father, Dr. Scott Espe, owner of Espe Chiropractic.  Thompson is also the coach of the CrossFit Syndicate team. 

“I really like interacting with people,” said Espe. “I love watching people achieve their goals and that is what keeps me coming back to work at the gyms everyday.” 

Espe is a 2005 graduate of Central Cambria High School, where he was a letterman in football, basketball as well as track and field.

 

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