ANAHOLA (HawaiiNewsNow) - An abandoned Kauai church that transformed into a gym this June helped youth stay off of drugs and out of trouble; but without the proper permits, the facility had to shutdown.
It was a place for young people in Anahola to escape bad influences and better themselves; but during a sweep by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands last week, the gym was forced to close.
Bronson Lovell has lived in Anahola his entire life and has watched as close friends fell victim to what he says is a serious drug problem there. He wanted to do something.
“I saw something that wasn’t being used and I thought what better way to do something for the community then to bring a gym in and that’s what I did,” Lovell said.
In an abandoned church, something special started to happen. Anahola CrossFit was born. Bronson's gym was bringing in the good and forcing out the bad.
“It just took right off. I mean, there were nights that I would have like forty people in there,” Lovell added.
Bronson’s friend Aaron Hoff had started gyms in Kekaha and Poipu. He helped garner a huge donation from CrossFit – thousands of dollars worth of gear for the gym.
“Nobody has a solution to revive our community and I have been doing this for years and this is the solution and it works,” Hoff said.
It was a dream come true until the Department of Hawaiian Homelands told them the gym couldn't operate.
"We are simply telling everybody that you have to comply with the rules and the law," said DHHL Deputy Director William J. Aila, Jr..
For now, Bronson's members are working out in the garage at his home.
“Brought over all the gear and we just started training here too so it’s all good,” Lovell said.
The property is zoned for community use, but Lovell has some paperwork to do before they’re up and running again and that could take months.
"I am stoked to be working with DHHL. I have no animosity towards them. We are moving in a positive direction and I have total faith that it will all work out," he added.
The gym in Anahola was part of the Keala foundation that offers free memberships to kids on Kauai.
Eventually, they plan to bring the program to the other islands. You can learn more about what they do and how you can get involved by clicking here.