February 13, 2015
Valentine's Day Special: Chris and Maribel LaLanne Talk Couples' Fitness
As a special article on couples' fitness this Valentine's Day, we've brought in Chris and Maribel LaLanne, the owners of San Francisco's LaLanne Fitness CrossFit, to talk about physical fitness as a couple and the family business. Chris, the grandnephew of fitness legend Jack LaLanne, initially launched LaLanne Fitness CrossFit in 2008 with his wife, Maribel, who decided to leave her career as a dental hygienist to help manage the business. What started with a few dozen members in a small facility has since grown to one of San Francisco's largest CrossFit clubs with nearly 400 members and ten coaches. Years before opening a gym together, Chris and Maribel would initially meet in 2005. Working as a personal trainer at a gym close to Maribel's dental office, Chris took a chance a local deli that the two had regularly visited. "We had caught each other's eye before but never had pursued anything," Maribel said. "One weekend, as I was walking by, he had grabbed my hand very boldly and said that he had seen me around and that he thought I was very beautiful, and then the rest is history." Two years later in 2007, the couple ended up marrying, and during the same year, Chris discovered CrossFit. As a kinesiology graduate from San Diego State University, Chris had offered personal training at an array of health clubs and commercial gyms, though he was drawn to CrossFit due to the athletic and group-oriented nature. "I discovered CrossFit in 2007 and it changed my career because I really liked that it was a group-training method, and it ended up changing my whole business model" Chris said. "I was really attracted to the competitive nature and the athletic ability that one develops with CrossFit." As Chris laid the groundwork for his new CrossFit gym, Maribel decided to join the plan, leaving behind her career in dentistry. Though she described her former self as an "elliptical queen," Maribel began to take on more intense weightlifting and cardio exercises until she, too, became a CrossFit trainer. "In '08, when we opened the gym, I decided to leave my career as a dental hygienist to help support (Chris') dream and his passion for fitness," Maribel said. "My intensity was never there in my training, but CrossFit really challenged me," Maribel said. "During my first workout, I don't think I even made it through the warm-up, but from then on, I had to prove to him and myself that I could do it." Since opening the CrossFit gym in 2008, the LaLanne family has expanded, both in the gym and at home. While the gym family has expanded to nearly 400 regular members, Chris and Maribel have also had additions to the LaLanne family with their 4-year-old son Jackson and one-year-old daughter Shayla. Using each other as support for their exercise and nutrition routines, Chris said that it's very helpful to have a partner on the same page when it comes to physical health.