SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A new gym is making its mission to give back to the community.
Viking Strength Sports has launched its “Empowered” initiative, aimed to help local women, veterans, and troubled youth.
The gym caters to all types of strength and conditioning, but they are working to be even more inclusive than your average fitness facility.
It’s even written in their creed:
I will respect my fellow person as treating this as a sacred home that we all share. I will empower myself by empowering others. I am here to be humbled. I am here to learn. We are here to rise together.
Co-owner and military veteran Nate Korpusik says the gym was started, in part, to give veterans a chance to get into the gym and join a supportive, healthy community.
“They need a place to heal,” Korpusik said. “And they often don’t have that.”
“And when you’re in the military, the gym is a very pervasive part of your culture,” he said, adding, “So you can find common ground when you come into the gym as a veteran.”
Viking Strength Sports hosts multiple competitions a year, such as strongman competitions and USA Powerlifting competitions, each with its own charitable aspect.
A portion of the proceeds goes to organizations to benefit veterans like the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I have seen firsthand what has happened to other veterans and close friends having been deployed and I lost some of my best friends,” Korpusik said. “It just hits really close to home.”
The gym also provides memberships for veterans in need and discounts for those who may not be able to afford the full fees.
Anyone can sponsor a veteran, which could provide them with a discounted gym membership.
“You’re with a group of people you learn to literally trust your life with on a daily basis,” Korpusik said. “You lose a lot of that when you leave the military. You don’t know where to find that again. So we’re trying to bring that back.”
Korpusik says his goal is to help as many people from all walks of life through strength sports.
Viking Strength Sports is holding a competition in May as a part of their Empowerment Project, the charitable arm of the gym. Proceeds from this competition, through participants and spectators, will go to the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
“Paul Anderson is very well-known in the powerlifting and weightlifting community,” gym co-owner and record-holding powerlifter Katt Mabe said.
The youth home works to shape young men in need through mental and physical discipline in the name of the four-time Olympic weightlifting record-setter.
Viking Strength Sports also has an affiliation with Girls Who Powerlift, an organization dedicated to helping empower women through weightlifting.
“There’s too much of a stigma of like you walk into a gym and it just feels uncomfortable and too masculine sometimes. Even guys that walk into a gym can be intimidated by that as well. It’s no longer men and women,” Korpusik said. “It’s just a bunch of people in the gym working out.”
“We think it’s important for people, especially the younger girls, who are intimidated by strength culture and gym culture, to see something like that banner or that logo and recognize it and say, ‘I’m supposed to be here,’” Mabe said.
Owners Korpusik and Mabe say it only makes sense to give back to the community that allows them to share their passion with others.
“You’re giving a little piece of you and it brings everybody together,” Korpusik said. “It doesn’t take much to bring people together in this world nowadays.”