For area gym owners, law enforcement deaths hit close to home

For area gym owners, law enforcement deaths hit close to home

by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa – As law enforcement officials across the state are mourning the death of West Des Moines police Officer Shawn Miller, who was killed in a crash this week, the tragedy hits close to home for an Indianola business.

Especially since the co-owner of CrossFit 65/69, a gym at 502 S. Jefferson Way, is Carlisle Police Chief Eric Spring.

He and his wife, Cassandra, started the gym in 2013 and have found fitness to be an outlet for day-to-day stress while on duty – and they’re working to provide fellow officers with the same opportunity while, at the same time, supporting the survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.

The gym, in partnership with ICE Performance Training Center in Altoona, will host the Fallen Officers Fitness Challenge later this month to commemorate officers who died while keeping Iowa’s streets safe.

“We’re just trying to bring awareness to this issue,” Eric Spring said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community. Unfortunately, we were going to do this challenge before Officer Miller passed away, so it just all ties in together the importance of why we’re doing it.”

The challenge, to be held at Pickard Park in Indianola, consists of a three-person team – all male, all female or co-ed – competing in four unique and challenging workouts based on the abilities of each competitor, which are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced.

“It’ll be fun because this year, it isn’t gym versus gym. It’s everybody,” Eric Spring said. “It’ll be fun to bring them all together all for a common goal.”

For the past two years, CrossFit 65/69 and ICE Performance Training Center, both facilities that have numerous law enforcement officers, fire personnel and emergency medical services personnel on staff, have done intramural-type exercises. But organizers said they wanted to branch out to benefit the community.

And Cassandra Spring said it’s not just for fitness junkies of the utmost caliber.

“It’s for all fitness levels,” she said. “It’s meant to be something fun, something that everybody can participate in. I think more people feel comfortable with a team atmosphere, bringing a friend and just having fun versus being really, really competitive and nervous about what you’re going to do.

“We wanted to have a place that is positive for our members and a way to kind of highlight the fitness.”

The challenge itself, though, is not CrossFit-based but rather “functional fitness at its best outside.”

Athletes on the same team are required to be able to complete these standards:

– Beginner competitors must be able to do sit-ups, push-ups (snaking allowed) and deadlift 95 pounds

– Intermediate competitors must be able to do full push-ups, 14-pound weighted sit-ups, deadlift 135 pounds and wheelbarrow walk on hands

– Advanced competitors must be able to do full push-ups, 20-pound weighted sit-ups, deadlift 175 pounds and wheelbarrow walk on hands.

The cost per team is $65, and all proceeds will go toward the Iowa Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) organization, which provides resources to families and co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

“We all hope we will never need the Iowa COPS organization, but it’s definitely something that’s there,” Cassandra Spring said. “We want to make sure we can support them in any way that we can.”

“Iowa COPS puts that all together to take care of all those needs you wouldn’t possibly think of,” Eric Spring said. “They got it down to an art and just take care of it for you.”

Those who wish to support the cause but choose not to participate in the challenge can donate at or

“When there’s trouble in your neighborhood, the first place you call to get help is obviously law enforcement of some sort,” said Todd Downing, owner of ICE Performance Training Center. “You expect them to be there, but people don’t realize there’s a sacrifice behind the scenes.”

Downing also said there should be a concern for people who dedicate their lives to the safety of citizens.

But the stigma recently – the dichotomy of good cop, bad cop – has plagued the nation and encouraged a sense of negativity that’s fueled headlines and presidential campaigns. The challenge, aimed to foster fun, rugged, outdoor competition, hopefully overcomes amped-up animosity Americans may have.

“Just being a Christian man, a Christian dad myself, I see the wrong voice is being heard,” Downing said. “I think we need to be louder than the negativity. I mean, nobody likes to see tragic things happen to good people or tragic things, period.”

Though not in law enforcement himself, Downing deeply respects those who are, saying it’s sometimes a thankless job.

“Every day, it almost has to be in your mind, you have to be positive about it, but will they come home?” he said. “I don’t have that risk in my job. I may trip over a kettlebell, but that’s about it.”

Downing heard about Iowa COPS through Eric Spring and said their work is meaningful to so many families throughout the state.

“Who, that’s not affiliated – like married to or in the family of law enforcement – really even goes that far to think about what happens to these families, and who’s actually there to help?” Downing said. “Sure, you have life insurance and stuff like that so officers’ families have some sort of financial backing, but there are a lot of other things that are going on behind the scenes.”

The Springs said they’ve received a generous amount of support as they tackle fitness in hopes of spreading awareness for a bigger cause.

“Especially with our community, everyone is so close-knit,” Cassandra Spring said. “We have plenty of friends and family members in law enforcement. We always want to make sure that we support (them).”

The Fallen Officers Fitness Challenge begins at 9 a.m. Aug. 20 and is open to those 14 and older. Teams that register on the day of the event must do so before 8:30 a.m. Cost is $75 per team on the event day.

Anyone who may have questions is asked to contact CrossFit 65/69 at 515-326-5681 or [email protected].