ZEPHYRHILLS — Anytime Fitness celebrated Veterans Day on Saturday with a local installment of the company's national campaign of Tough Hero competitions.
The popular gym on U.S. 301 welcomed members and non-members alike to compete in a weightlifting and fitness challenge that is also one of the country's largest fundraisers for military families. It is part of Active Heroes, a foundation dedicated to providing financial assistance to military families and veterans.
"Several Anytime Fitness stores around the country are doing events like these and since I have a lot of friends who are veterans, I figured why not do something for a cause that helps their families," Anytime Fitness owner Jonathan Carle said. "We opened it up to the public, but most people who have gotten into it are members of Anytime (Fitness), whether it's here or Dade City. We have medals for people who finish first, second and third, but it's just a fun time."
The Tough Hero competition, which drew a dozen competitors at the Zephyrhills location, featured four tests of strength: push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and the bench press. The competitors paid a flat fee to compete in the event, which altogether raised about $700.
Steve Carle, Jonathon's 67-year old father, is a Vietnam veteran who watched the competition unfold. He was happy to see people out in support of military families.
"This is something I'm proud to see my son doing and a great way to celebrate Veterans Day," Carle said. "It's really neat to see these guys come out and see what they can do. There is a guy here who served in Afghanistan and he has a video about what he did while he was over there that people can watch. I think an event like this really honors the vets."
For veteran and Sarasota firefighter Jay Wayt, 29, competing in the event was a great way to work out with friends as well as support families that are going through the same thing his family once dealt with.
"It wasn't that long ago that I was in Afghanistan, so of course I can appreciate what this is for," Wayt said. "This is a nice chance to hang out, work out for a cause and joke with all the guys here at the gym. It means a lot just to have a group of guys like this that you get to know so well and to see them doing something for military families. I'm happy to be here today."