In the Beginning
The “original” Steve's Club started by Steve Liberati in the community center of Centennial Village Apartments, a public housing complex in Camden, NJ (ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the country according to FBI statistics).
Steve had been helping out with his father's extermination business in the area and got to know a lot of the local kids. When he started doing CrossFit, Steve created Steve's Club as a fitness program for high school athletes who couldn't afford training and the program quickly grew to 25 kids in a few short weeks.
Steve’s Club had to move and found a borrowed space from the Police Athletic League on the other side of town. To drive the kids back and forth, Steve bought a used 15-passenger van (and had to park it in a fenced lot when not in use; Camden has the highest incidence of car thefts of any city in the U.S.).
Steve’s Club had to move again and began splitting time between the storage basement (fondly called "The Dungeon") and the local park depending on weather. While at the park, Steve began training adults and CrossFit Tribe was born.
Steve's Club and CF Tribe finally found a humble place to call their first home: two adjoining offices (drop ceiling and all) on the edge of Camden - CrossFit Tribe on one side and Steve's Club on the other, but strong bonds were formed in that small space.
PaleoKits were born. The first PaleoKit was made by Steve and his wife as a way to help the young boys and girls of Steve's Club eat better during their school day (instead of the cafeteria food). Steve eventually put them up for sale on the internet as a way to raise funds to buy equipment and PaleoKits were an instant hit. Steve then hired a few of the Steve's Club kids to help pack boxes and count inventory.
CF Tribe/Steve’s Club continued to grow and moved into their facility located just outside of Camden. The kids would walk (sometimes over 2 miles!), ride their bikes, or get a ride from the Steve's Club van. Steve’s Club expanded to 5 day/wk (Mon-Fri), training approximately 30 kids each week.
The Beginning of the National Program
The CrossFit Community picked up on what Steve's Club was doing in Camden, and other Affiliates expressed interest in doing something similar in their local communities. The idea of setting up a Steve’s Club National Program was gathering momentum.
A small team of Steve, Lee Knight, and Troy Willis began building the legal and administrative infrastructure for the National Program and the wheels started turning.
Affiliates across the country participated in "Beat the Streets" Fundraiser to raise over $20k for the Steve's Club National Program. Most of the money raised went back to the Affiliates that planned to start their own at-risk youth programs.
Steve's Club National Program received official 501(c)(3) status; Steve Liberati (Executive Director) and Lee Knight (Program Director) began spreading the word about the National Program, with the help of CF HQ and the CF Journal.
Growing a Community
May 14-15, 2011
Over 30 CrossFit Affiliates across the country participated in our annual Steve's Club Beat the Streets Fundraiser, including Reebok CF One, CF Santa Clara/Mtn View (Khalipa's gyms), Ute CF (Tommy Hackenbruck's gym), CF Virtuosity, CF Fairfax, CF KoP, TJ's Gym, District CF, CF Green Bay, and many others!
Thanks to the entire CrossFit community for supporting the cause and helping get kids off the streets and into the sport of fitness. If you're a CF Affiliate, please consider doing this Suggested Donation WOD at your gym in the spring.
Steve's Club National Program receives its "Group Exemption" from the IRS, which allows Local Clubs to join our national network and establish programs in cities across the country.
Welcome to the first 5 official Local Clubs join the National Program: SC KoP (CF KoP), SC NYC (CF Virtuosity), Kaizen Youth Club (Mission CF), Project Guerrilla Youth (Guerrilla Fitness: Montclair), and Kelly's Champions (TX).
Every week we get emails from people who want to start a Local Club or get involved somehow. We're excited by the continued momentum and support from the CF Community, and look forward to more in the next few months!