Back in 2012, when Moss first started planning his business, CrossFit was still a relatively new phenomenon in the mountains of Western North Carolina, with the closest gyms an hour away in Asheville. But Moss, who now owns Catamount CrossFit in Sylva, had been doing the workouts ever since stumbling across them online in 2009.
“When you start doing CrossFit, you realize that you have the capacity for way more than what you were doing before,” Moss said. “I can go run a whole lot of laps around the track and be tired at the end of it. But it was never mentally challenging. CrossFit adds that mental challenge to the physical challenge. You’re learning how to do new things, you’re working harder, but you have this voice in your head talking you through it.”
After a few years of jerry-rigging workouts using spaces and pieces of equipment not really made for the purpose, Moss started thinking seriously about opening his own gym so that he and other CrossFitters in the area could start doing the workouts they way they were intended to be done.
Moss discovered that the owner of Paleastra Combat Sports Club in Sylva was interested in CrossFit, and in 2013 Catamount CrossFit moved to its first location, a space within the club of less than 400 square feet. His was the first CrossFit gym to open in Jackson County, with Haywood and Swain counties getting their first CrossFit gyms at about the same time.
“I’m a master at figuring out how to put equipment in places so people can exercise and still have enough space,” Moss said. “We would pack 10 to 12 people in a very small space.”
As the business grew, the Palaestra offered more space until Catamount CrossFit occupied about twice the square footage it had before. At that point, there was no room left to grow, prompting Moss to look for another location.
For the past two years, the gym has been operating out of its new home, a 2,100-square-foot building on the Asheville Highway.
“It was a pretty big jump,” Moss said.
Starting and running a business has had its challenges. But diving further into CrossFit and seeing the way it works for everyone from former couch potatoes to elite athletes has been inspiring.
Whether the goal is to conquer the toughest hiking trails or keep up with kids on the playground, there’s a workout for that. And with CrossFit, Moss said, the result is a fitness that envelops the whole body, not just the particular set of muscles you might need for football or running or any other individual sport.
“As I grew into CrossFit, I began to really understand what it was capable of,” he said. “I started pushing the boundaries of what kinds of people am I bringing in here … You can use the same workout to train children and grandparents and elite athletes, and the more you understand CrossFit and coach it, the more you understand how to scale the movements for that to happen.”
For example, Moss coaches a 72-year-old woman who works out alongside 20-year-old college students. They do the same workouts — the woman just uses different weights.
“For me it’s about finding what each person wants out of their life, what they want out of their training, and trying to push them more toward that life,” Moss said.