THE Sandpoint Strength + Conditioning STORY
Kenny & Jenn Markwardt - OWNERS
I found my passion for fitness at 16 years old. I was immediately drawn to the idea that I could strengthen and build my body in a way that made it more functional (and of course looked better too). It also proved to be an outlet for the unpredictable nature of the mood of a teenage boy. Before long, I found myself spending an hour or more every night in the gym. I’d skip the more popular social gatherings in order to not miss a day of training.
Over the years, fitness took on many forms for me. I started out with body composition training, spent nearly a decade in combat sports, found the functional fitness craze and eventually made my way to CrossFit.Regardless of the execution, the theme stayed the same. If you put in the work, you could change your body and change your life.
In a beautiful twist of fate, I fell in love with a woman who felt the same way, but about nutrition. Jenn and I got married in 2010 in Sandpoint even though we were living in Santa Barbara, California at the time. Upon return from the wedding, we both went back to jobs we didn’t like in a place that never really felt like home.
We started daydreaming about quitting our jobs, moving across the country and starting a business where we could use our passions for fitness and nutrition to change the lives of others in a facility of our own.
One day while out on a hike to Inspiration Point, our idea started snowballing. As we watched our dog Attie romp around in the woods, we talked through where we could go. In almost no time at all, we knew that Sandpoint was the only choice.
Over the following six months, we saved up as much money as we could. We quit our jobs, sold everything we couldn’t fit in our vehicles, and moved across the country, much to the surprise of our friends and co-workers.
When we arrived, we took the summer to get settled and fall deeper in love with Sandpoint.
In the Fall we started working out in a small “garage gym” with Duffy Mahoney and Britian Whitley, who were just using the space as a hobby for their friends and themselves.
Before long, we approached them with the idea to make a run at it as a real business. They accepted and we were off to the races.
Over the last 8 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes, including one in ownership (Jenn and Kenny are sole owners now), made a ton of friends, and most importantly changed a ton of lives.
We are literally living our dream and our passions still revolve around helping others live theirs!
HEAD COACH, CROSSFIT LEVEL 2, PRECISION NUTRITION COACH
I grew up playing a variety of sports from the moment I learned to walk, but after high school I went through long stretches of inactivity due to lack of structure in the traditional gym environment. I received my degree in Natural Resource Sciences from WSU and found that living in a place like North Idaho was only natural. I love spending my summer weekends up at Priest Lake, and taking advantage of all the activities our small town has to offer.
I heard about CrossFit, and was incredibly nervous to attend my first class at the gym knowing how out of shape I was at the time. Looking back at my first year living in Sandpoint, going to my first CrossFit class was one of the best risks I have ever taken.
I never imagined a time when I would find personal value in strength, and what my body is capable of doing, over the numbers on a scale. Fitness has taught me how to dig deep and overcome difficult challenges inside and outside of the gym.
Today there is nothing better than seeing the look on someone’s face when the smallest girl in room is able to carry the heaviest load.
I love the relationships this sport builds between people that may have absolutely nothing common, and it also allows us to come together daily and support one another.
I am extremely grateful to be a part of this community and look forward to the opportunity to help make a difference in every client I coach, from group classes to personal training and nutrition.
CROSSFIT LEVEL 2, ACE YOUTH FITNESS
GROUP CLASSES, PERSONAL TRAINING, KIDS AND TWEENS COACH
Growing up my parents enrolled me in the occasional dance and gymnastics class and I played SSA soccer until the age of 10. I hated all of it. Playing sports and working out was never my forte until I started CrossFit in 2011. I was so far out of my element and I had so much to learn. I jumped right into taking several classes a week and gradually began to learn the basic skills and awareness of my body.
Over the next year and a half I had progressed tremendously from my starting point and when it came time to take things to the next level I quit CrossFit. For the next 2 years with Kenny’s coaching and support I spent countless hours in the gym building strength and mastering the Olympic lifts, the snatch and clean and jerk. I knew I had to get stronger and I knew I had to learn how to lift. Coming back to CrossFit after 2 years was difficult for me after having a barbell attached to my hands for so long, but once I did I found that everything In CrossFit began to click. That’s when I truly found my passion for the sport.
I feel great mentally and physically, I’ve found balance between life, fitness, and food and it’s been quite a journey for me. Fitness is something I’m incredibly passionate about and there is always something new to learn, always room to grow, always new goals to reach and that’s what makes coaching others through their own journeys so exciting and awesome for me.
CROSSFIT LEVEL 1, GROUP CLASSES, PERSONAL TRAINING, TEENS
I was born and raised in Sandpoint and have been a member of Sandpoint Strength for 5 years. Before my career in the gym, I was working as an Engineering Project Lead at Polaris Industries but fitness had been growing into a strong passion for me and I wanted to bring my learnings and experience to more people. Doing something you love and working with people you enjoy being around is never the wrong move so I made the permanent switch and I have absolutely loved every second of it.
What drew me to fitness were the many opportunities for learning. Every day you learn how to move in a way that supports better health and fitness here. You learn about your body and become more in tune and aware of its needs and abilities. I use all of this outside the gym in my other activities and it helps me enjoy the things I love more than I could have imagined.
As a coach, there are so many moments that inspire me. I love watching people from every level of fitness push themselves further than they originally could have imagined. It promotes a great spark of accomplishment and pride from putting it all out there and working hard that is so great to watch people achieve and go through.
What inspires me is sharing my knowledge and experience with people and seeing how that helps them build better skills and strength that they can use in their everyday life and physical activities. Knowing that I can help people get stronger and move better, rehab a past injury, or help prevent a future injury is what I love and is what I try to bring to my coaching.