The sound of laughter, grunting and the loud “whap!” of a giant tractor tire hitting the concrete floor echoes through the tall, narrow gym. A blonde woman in a neon orange sweatshirt and black workout pants strides purposefully around the room, grinning and exhorting anyone who’s standing around: “You’ve got two minutes left! Why are you guys standing still? Keep moving!”
Not many of us can say we’re going to change people’s lives when we head off to work each day, but Becky Jones can. She’s a fitness trainer and race organizer who has devoted her life to transforming the lives of others. She owns Rock Solid Fitness and is the first one to bring an obstacle course racing, or OCR Gym to Yakima.
In Yakima County, 37 percent of adults are obese, according to the Eastern Washington Institute for Public Policy & Economic Analysis, and 10 percent of adults in Yakima County are diabetic. Jones decided to take aim at the problem after seeing firsthand the damage that obesity and diabetes can do.
At her heaviest, Becky’s mom weighed 600 pounds, and Becky’s father had Type 1 diabetes. Becky watched her mother suffer through food addiction, depression and fat-shaming. She watched her dad struggle through insulin injections, dialysis, and losing a leg to diabetes. Her parents gave her their best, but they could not teach her what they didn’t know themselves, which was fitness and healthy eating habits. Becky calls herself a “fast food baby.”
She says the thing that saved her was athletics. She always loved working out, and she played basketball year-round. She was on the varsity team at Davis High School and continued playing basketball at Yakima Valley College, in addition to running marathons, climbing Mt. Adams, and running obstacle course races.
But she hadn’t thought of making fitness her life’s work until what she calls her “pivotal moment” nine years ago, when her dad passed away at age 59 after his 10th heart attack. She was doing web design and marketing for a firm in Yakima. “I was sitting at my desk and I thought, ‘Do I want to do this for the next five to 10 years of my life?’ I don’t have passion for this. I was just doing it for a paycheck,” she said.
“I saw my dad pass away, and I saw my parents struggle and never do anything that they loved. And I thought, ‘I want to do something I love and make a mark in people’s lives.’”
She decided personal training would be the perfect fit. She took the courses to become a certified trainer and started holding personal training sessions at Franklin Park.
She began training a friend of hers who happened to be a great promoter. That friend spread the word on social media and soon, “I had about 30 people per class, and started doing morning and evening classes, and it just kept growing,” Jones said. She was renting workout space in the winter and would do boot camps at the park in the warmer months. “It got to the point where I had to make a choice because I was doing the job, plus kids, (she has four) plus the boot camp. I just couldn’t keep up with it, so I finally made the jump in 2013.” That’s when she quit her marketing job and opened Rock Solid Fitness.
It looks quite a bit different than your standard gym when you walk in, with the OCR area up front. Becky designed the metal superstructure and had it custom-built, inspired by the Spartan races she does regularly. You may have seen Spartan races on TV, where contestants climb over walls, crawl under things, (sometimes through puddles of mud) and carry heavy objects. The races are a high-intensity combination of cardio, strength training and body work that are increasing in popularity across the nation. The first Spartan race was held in 2010 and had around 500 participants. Now, the Spartan organization holds more than 200 events every year in 30 countries, with more than a million participants.
Rock Solid’s OCR gym has a cargo net, monkey bars, ladder climb, rope climb, and Olympus Wall with hand-holds that are used to traverse it using only your upper body. There’s also a weight room and a place where clients can flip huge tractor tires or pound them with a sledgehammer. Upstairs is a full bouldering wall, and an area where clients push and pull heavy sleds across the room.
The beauty of working out at Rock Solid is the variety of exercises Becky and her two trainers dream up for their 45-minute group classes. Your body is constantly challenged by new activities, so you don’t get into a rut. Becky has a lot of longtime clients, and they keep coming back because they see results, she says.
“We have people here that have gotten off high blood pressure medication,” Jones said. “I have a gentleman whose doctor told him if he wouldn’t have changed his eating patterns and been working out consistently, he would’ve probably had a heart attack.” She says the workouts have a ripple effect: once her clients’ co-workers, family and friends notice the difference in them, often they check out Rock Solid, too.
Of course, it takes more than just the exercise. “It’s also important to food log, so you know your intake, so you’re not cancelling out your workout. That’s huge,” Jones said. She recommends tracking what you eat with MyFitnessPal, a free phone app that charts your caloric intake and nutritional information. Goals are important too. “Make small goals that are realistic,” Jones said. “I call them SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive.”
Amanda Hayes of Yakima has been working out at Rock Solid for five years and has lost almost 100 pounds. She’s a mother of six who started working out after the birth of her fifth child. “I could barely step up on a box — it was exhausting. Now there’s nothing here I can’t do. That’s exciting,” Hayes said.
She grinned and clambered up and down a rope without breaking a sweat.
“Before I was more of a couch potato. Now I love to go on hikes with my kids, any type of races. Becky got me into Spartan races and I just love it. It gives me that energy, those endorphins. It makes me feel good all the time.”
Priscilla Hernandez of Yakima has lost 45 pounds since she started coming to Rock Solid in 2016. She said she used to spend half an hour a day on the treadmill at the gym but it wasn’t making a difference. “When I came here, I loved it because I started seeing results because I had somebody telling me what to do,” Hernandez said. “It’s nice to get that extra push and not just be doing that one thing.”
Hayes and Hernandez love the feeling of community they get at Rock Solid. The music’s blasting, everyone knows each other, and Becky’s urging them on with energy that’s positively viral.
That’s the secret ingredient, Hayes said.
“It’s Becky. It’s like she knows how to push me to get past any plateau that I might hit. She’s the only one that actually sees my potential. Even when I’m telling her ‘I can’t do it!’ She says ‘You can do it!’”