Several years ago, John Watkins struggled with depression after his young son was diagnosed with cancer. But one day, Jess Moore, a Washougal resident, strength and conditioning coach and former professional fighter, invited Watkins, a kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu enthusiast, to train with him — not, he said, because he wanted Watkins’ money, but because he genuinely cared about his friend’s well-being.
That workout session led to another and then another. After a while, Watkins began to feel like his old, exuberant self. Looking back now, he knows that Moore changed his life — or perhaps, he said, even saved it.
“I was down and out. My son had cancer, my daughter wasn’t getting the attention she deserved, and my marriage was falling apart,” said Watkins, a Washougal resident. “Jess brought me back where I needed to be. If it weren’t for him, I’m not sure that I could say that we’d be having this conversation. I’m able to see my growth through his influence. There’s nothing that I can do to repay the guy. It took a great amount of care and heart to do what he did for my family.”
Watkins’ story is an example of what Moore hopes to bring into the local community with his new business, Champ Camp Training and Fitness, which opened in July at 1434 “E” St., in Washougal.
“I want to create a welcoming, personable environment,” Moore said. “I want to know every one of my members’ names and their goals. The owner of a cookie-cutter (gym) couldn’t tell you those things, although they would know their credit card numbers. Their vision is money, and that’s why they go out of business. I don’t want to have 1,000 people here. I know the number of people I need to have to pay my bills. I don’t chase dollars to find happiness. I’m about helping people.”
Champ Camp Training will offer general memberships, private training, semi-private group training, athletic development programs, youth training programs, kickboxing, boxing, movement screening, nutrition counseling and personalized workout plans.
“This is the gym Washougal has been waiting for and needs,” Watkins said. “It has everything you will need to get a top-level workout. It’s not just just filled with bulky items to take up space. Jess put the essentials in there that people need. You’ll get elite-level training at an affordable price.”
Moore said he thinks of his new gym as “a community development project instead of a human development project,” with an emphasis on providing opportunities to low-income youth through scholarship programs.
He’d also like to hold fundraisers, sponsor community events and establish close working relationships with Washougal High School coaches to provide a space for athletes to train.
“It all starts with the base. I’d love to get the kids in here and get them moving,” Moore said. “I just want to be a positive male role model for them, and be able to help out and give back.”
“He’s completely selfless,” Watkins added. “It just screams out of his pores how much he cares about his clients. He has an ability to communicate with any individual in a way that they’ll receive it. He puts himself in his (clients’) shoes and bases his training from that perspective.”
On Aug. 3, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new reopening directives for fitness centers, which will now be required to increase distancing to 300 square feet per person; limit occupancy to 25 percent of the facility’s limit; and require all patrons to wear face coverings.
As long as Clark County remains in the second phase of Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan, Moore will allow only up to five people in his gym at one time.
“They’ll have access to the facility for one hour. And, once they leave, we’ll spend a half-hour cleaning everything with antibacterial disinfectant before the next wave of people come in,” Moore said. “I’m doing temperature checks, and I wear a mask all the time. We have health questionnaires, 6-foot markers and cleaning stations. I don’t want to be the place where you hear that two people came down with COVID after being here. I want this thing to die out so that we can go back to normalcy.”