As a Varsity athlete at Steve's Club Camden, 21-year-old Ray has been training for the Open - and life- since he walked into Steve's Club in 2013.
Growing up on the harsh streets of Camden, NJ, Ray remembers being young and not being about to go outside of the house he shared with his parents and siblings. Ray is the youngest of 5.
“My oldest brother got caught up on the streets, hooked on drugs and was constantly in and out of jail,” said Ray. “We couldn’t play outside, there were drug dealers on every street, prostitutes everywhere. It was scary to open the front door.”
Ray found Steve's Club Camden three years ago just as he was beginning to follow in his brother's footsteps. "I was hanging around the wrong people, drinking, going to parties. Then my friend told me about Steve's Club."
The Club became his safe haven. He had always had a passion for sports, and that helped fuel his passion for fitness.
“I enjoyed my first day,” said Ray. “We did sit ups, dumbbell thrusters and box jumps. The next day I was so sore I couldn’t move, and I contemplated not coming back. But I didn’t have a good enough reason not to go, so I went. I’ve never regretted that decision.”
Steve's Club and CrossFit have helped Ray realize his potential and given him new possibilities for the future. He recently earned his Associates in Exercise Science from Camden County College and plans to continue on to Rowan University to finish his four-year degree. In addition to juggling school, Ray works part-time in the Steve's PaleoGoods warehouse.
His aspirations include coaching high school track and owning his own gym. Ray earned Level 1 CrossFit certification last year and is an intern at CrossFit 1Force. A proven leader at Steve’s Club Camden, Ray regularly helps Steve coach class and is a junior counselor at SCNP's Summer Leadership Camp.
“My favorite part of Steve’s Club is the people,” said Ray. “I enjoy lifting weights and getting stronger, but it’s more about the community. These people are my family. I can talk to them. They are always there for me. It’s really comforting to be around them everyday and it makes me feel at home.”
Ray is a role model for the other Camden athletes and truly exemplifies the 9 Steve's Club Values (integrity, respect, improvement, teamwork, positivity, support, discipline, character & community).
He shows up every day and puts in the work - and it shows. He can clean & jerk 255 lbs., back squat 335 lbs. and deadlift 450 lbs. He does 'Fran' in 2:42, 'Grace' in 2:40 and the 'Filthy Fifty' in 18:50.
The CrossFit Open challenges everyone that takes it on. It makes you stronger; physically and mentally because it's hard and takes you out of your comfort zone. But hard is something Ray is used to, and he's ready!
Follow us on social media during the Open for weekly interviews with Ray. Watch him do the WODs and help us cheer him on!