KALISPELL, Montana – October 29, 2023 – An abandoned truck repair shop in downtown Kalispell has been transformed into a vibrant CrossFit gym, thanks to the dedicated efforts of fitness enthusiasts, Jessie and Kyna Williams. This new fitness haven, aptly named Switchback CrossFit, stands as a testament to their vision of it being more than just a place to break a sweat.
Kyna Williams expressed their hopes for Switchback CrossFit, saying, “We have had all ages and abilities come through the door. I would love to see us be a hub of the community, where people feel safe, emotionally and physically. This is a space that offers people an incredible reprieve from whatever they’re going through, where people can come to lift weights after a tough day at work, and gather with their friends to laugh off the week.”
The Williams duo is passionate about their mission. “We’re training with a purpose, and our purpose is to be better in the gym and outside of the gym,” Jessie added. “To be a better parent or a better employee.”
Jessie Williams, a certified CrossFit coach, made his mark as an athlete, ranking 120th in the world in his age group during the 2022 CrossFit Open. Kyna, an ardent CrossFit enthusiast, previously served as a Division 1 cross country athlete at Northwestern University, where she also captained her team. Fate brought them together through a mutual running group, eventually leading both to employment at Nike.
During his time at Nike, Jessie oversaw the development of the Nike Metcon CrossFit shoe and the Nike Romaleos Weightlifting shoe, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mat Fraser, Josh Bridges, and Sara Sigmundsdottir. However, corporate burnout symptoms eventually prompted them to follow their true calling – starting their business to inspire others through fitness, sports, and the great outdoors.
Jessie summed it up, saying, “This is about serving the community, creating healthy lifestyles, and bettering people. This is our passion, we love this, and we care.”
Though opening a CrossFit gym was always part of their plan, it took several years before Switchback could become a reality. The Williams patiently awaited the perfect time and space as they transitioned out of Nike, immersing themselves in the local community.
Kyna noted, “We all live here in the valley because we, for the most part, love the endless recreation that it comes with. Whether you choose to get into Glacier every weekend, get up onto the mountain and ski, or you’re wake surfing on Flathead, we’re all doing these things, and we’re training for something beyond just the one hour.”
For the Williams, CrossFit is a means to an end. Most CrossFit movements mirror real-life activities, ultimately aiming to provide a strong foundation for people’s hobbies and daily lives. CrossFit, as a fitness regimen, is characterized by constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. The distinguishing feature, as explained by the couple, is the practice of ‘benchmarking.’
“Everything can be measured or benchmarked with CrossFit, which brings in a scientific approach,” Jessie said. “It’s not just going to an exercise class and moving without knowing how much work you did. The other thing about measuring and scoring things is that you can turn it into a fun sport to appeal to somebody who is an athlete. There are lessons that you learn about winning and losing, and we’re always trying to be better.”
Their vision extends to the next generation, with Switchback planning to introduce a CrossFit Kids program. Kyna explained, “We teach kids the form and the mechanics early on, which will apply whether they join adult classes as they get older or if they’re skiing on the mountain or just wearing a backpack and walking to school. Crossfit Kids is really a blend of movement and games, and it’s really fun. Kids bring you joy and this youthful energy that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Switchback CrossFit was designed to welcome people beyond the one-hour class. It offers a comfortable lounge with a fireplace, leather couch, and a streaming TV for recovery and stretching sessions. The facility includes a kitchenette with a microwave and a coffee bar, an indoor viewing deck with zero gravity chairs and Normatec recovery systems, showers, a kids’ room, and an “work from gym” bar in the works.
Jessie emphasized, “Fitness isn’t just one hour of the day. Hopefully, it’s the best hour of your day because it’s fun and social, but the big thing for us is connecting with others. The relationships that we build in the gym actually lead to long-term happiness. That’s why you need to know the other members and your coaches, the people that care about you. The heart is a powerful muscle too.”