Turn Up the Intensity!

Inspiring students to rise to new challenges every day, CrossFit Gorilla Den offers an atmosphere of encouragement for students of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced athletes.

By: Jessica Dusek
Photos by: Darklab

I love showing someone that hasn’t worked out in 20 years how to do CrossFit. I love seeing their face light up!” says CrossFit Gorilla Den Owner and Head Coach Kate Douglass. As their name indicates, “the music is always loud,” Douglass laughs. The high-intensity gym creates an atmosphere of encouragement with athletes doing the same workouts as other group members. CrossFit Gorilla Den welcomes all skill levels, from beginners to advanced athletes.

In 2016, Gorilla Den expanded to their 6,600-square-foot gym, located on Leopard Street in Corpus Christi. “We are getting ready to have 24-hour access, to cater to schedules,” Douglass says. The key app will make it easier for clients when they have the time or inspiration to workout, regardless of the time of day. “We have guys that work crazy shifts (industrial and refinery) that can’t get to a CrossFit class.”

So what distinguishes a CrossFit gym from other gyms? “We do Olympic weight-lifting, cardio gymnastics, stretching and cardio – full-body workouts,” Douglass explains. Yet, when trying a new type of workout, one must be ready for the dedication. “I always ask a new member to commit 30 days,” she says. “You are going to overcome the whole new ‘what the heck am I doing with my body?’”

What makes CrossFit so unique? The daily workout changes. “The workout you do today – you won’t see if for another year,” Douglass explains. Engaging a full-body workout throughout the entire workout, “every day, you are using multiple muscles. That’s why CrossFitters get stronger and lose weight so fast.”

As head coach, Douglass teaches the Workout of the Day (WOD), a term well-known within the CrossFit world. “One thing about my gym: It is a family-friendly gym,” she says. “You come in here, you talk CrossFit and do CrossFit.” Different from traditional gyms, CrossFit provides classes broken down into workout segments. “When you come in, you are in and out in an hour,” she says. “We warm up together. We go over the skills for the day. We cool down together.” Each workout provides students with versatility and new challenges.

With a background in corporate insurance and working for Harley-Davidson, CrossFit entrepreneurship wasn’t always on Douglass’ radar. In fact, Douglass never saw herself as a business owner overseeing a CrossFit gym. “I loved to eat, drink and travel,” she says. Her former lifestyle gave her extra unwanted pounds, which finally prompted her to join a CrossFit gym. “I started posting before-and-after pictures,” she explains, which inspired others. She then decided to pursue the certificate and became a coach.

The opportunity of becoming a business owner literally fell into her lap not long after. “Everything happens for a reason,” she says with ease. She even has a tattoo with the famous saying to serve as a reminder. She was asked by her former CrossFit coach to take over her Calallan location. Douglass decided to take the challenge.

“It’s hard to find a healthy group of friends,” she says. At her gym, she is in good company and elevated health, “mentally and physically.” Douglass enjoys spreading that gift to all clients: beginners and advanced athletes. “One client is a body builder, and always hurts from all of the years of heavy, heavy training. He started doing CrossFit with me, and he loves it!” she says energetically. “It’s lit a fire within him.”

The progression of one of her beginner students is also incredible. “My client couldn’t get up off the floor without assistance, but can now lift weight over her head and do weighted sit-ups,” Douglass says.

Incorporating her family values into her business, both of her kids are also involved. “My son does CrossFit, and my daughter is a teen bikini body builder. She got second at her first competition.” Both work with their mom at the gym. “They’ve learned a lot,” she says. “It’s been good for them.”

Also participating in Fit Fest, CrossFit Gorilla Den is participating in the second event in January. In 2016, they put on a competition in 2016 with 63 competitors, ages 17 to 67. Expecting a large attendance, the event is free. “My No. 1 rule is to have fun!” Douglass says, adding that beginners are encouraged. “Kids got to come out and see mom come out and lift weight. They see she won a ribbon and was the fastest. It was cool to see all these people show up for the first time.”

Learn more about CrossFit Gorilla Den or visit them at Fit Fest on Jan. 6 at the RMB Fairgrounds! You can also email them at crossfitgorilladen@yahoo.com.