Boise-based BodyBuilding.com has taken a unique approach to giving back.
The online seller of supplements and other workout-related products has started the non-profit Lift Life Foundation - remodeling high school gyms across the country.
The foundation's idea is to "give new life to old run down high school weight rooms and give underprivileged students access to an amazing space that can literally change their lives both physically and mentally for the better."
Employees of BodyBuilding.com double with roles for Lift Life - taking a passion for fitness and applying it to doing good for students in small communities across the U.S.
So far, LLF has completed three gym projects - and showcased the latest effort with a 30-minute documentary film.
The team travelled from Boise to Anderson Preparatory Academy in Anderson, Indiana to polish up a pretty run down workout space.
The town of Anderson was once a big hub for General Motors. As the 90s progressed, cutbacks came - followed by a complete pullout of the automaker in the early 2000s.
“When that happened it was like an implosion. The bottom just fell out,“ school founder Robert L. Guillaume said.
Schools like Anderson are strapped for cash - and that has a big impact on the school's weight room.
That's where Lift Life steps in.
The school received a grant of materials, time and equipment from the foundation. What happened next is a sort-of Extreme Makeover: High School Gym Edition.
“The Anderson weight room when we walked in was in really rough shape," BodyBuilding.com's Dylan Cooper said in the video.
Out went a rundown, hazard-laden workout room - and in came a gleaming space loaded with the latest equipment.
“A lot of the students were like ‘why would I come here and work out - you don’t have any of the good equipment?’,” Anderson’s Prep’s Major Jeffrey Dorman said.” And a lot of them would say ‘do you work out here Major Dorman’ - and I didn’t. I worked out a commercial place.”
Exposed electrical wiring, unpadded tile floors and a small scattering of workout equipment gave the athletic teams a distinct disadvantage on the fields and courts.
The LLF team swept in and assessed the current weight room and figured out how to improve the facilities and make the environment more welcoming.
Construction teams brought nearly seven trailers of equipment into the project.
“All together we are bringing in more than 130,000 pounds of equipment today. All by hand,” Cooper said.
They revamped the flooring, removed rooms, cleaned, added mirrors and more. Beyond new equipment and a coat of paint - the team focuses on branding, logos and atmosphere.
That focus paid off.
When Major Dorman first saw the revamp, the shiny blue turf on the floor (and perhaps the Boise-based team) gave him one thought:
"Boise State's got nothin' on us man!"
"(This is) State of the art," Dorman said. "Better than what we could have expected. Ten times what we would have expected. It will make such difference."
“To have this facility is just beyond expectation. What has occurred here with this project again reflects a positivity to the community,” Guillaume said.
Seeing the reaction to the project gives the LLF team great satisfaction.
“I hope it gives all the students a tool that they can take advantage of. It’s so rewarding. Every project is different. We change lives for these kids” Lift Life's Makayla Frickey said.
“What I’m going to take away from the Anderson project is we left it a better place than when we got there," Cooper said. "This is something that is a brand new space and a new beginning. They can get in there and it can be a rallying point.”
BBcom and its Lift Life Foundation have complete three remodel projects - including one in Idaho. A fourth is in the works in Montana. The foundation is taking nominations for future projects.