A haven for Strasburg teens

Justin Palmer, left, and Jesse Baker, right, both 16, run on treadmills inside the Tight'n Up Gym in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Rob Wescoat knew that youth in the Strasburg area needed a place to go, to hang out and get in a workout. So he came up with Tight’n Up.

Tight’n Up is a gym, mostly for teenagers, located in downtown Strasburg. It accepts donations, but it is free of charge.

“I wanted to give the youths and young adults a place to be off the street,” Wescoat said. “Some place without the burden of membership fees, without the burden of money and that’s why it just runs off donations, so they can come and have a place and an atmosphere that’s positive.

“There’s no nonsense that goes on in here, just a safe place for them to be and for them not to get in trouble.”

Wescoat said people of all ages are welcome at Tight’n Up. He said he’s had the vision for it for about three years, but decided in July to get it started. He said that he felt it was what God wanted him to do.

“I verbally stepped out there on faith and put it out there and instantly a room full of weight equipment was given to me,” Wescoat said.

Wescoat said that Byron Brill heard about the idea and loved it so much that he loaned the use of his building. All of the weight room equipment, food and drinks have been donated by the community.

Tight’n Up opened up Aug. 3, and Wescoat said he’s had a lot of teenagers come in and work out. There are tables there, and he said they can come in and talk and do their homework if they want.

He said that Christian music plays and he also has water, Gatorade and nutrition bars for free for the teenagers. Wescoat said that there were 354 uses of the gym in the first month, and as of last week there had already been 365 in September.

“We’re averaging over 30 (teenagers) an evening now and they’re not all sports players,” Wescoat said. “They’re band kids, orchestra kids, skateboard kids, sport kids — everybody. The common goal is they come into a positive atmosphere and they feel comfortable. They don’t have to put on a show for anybody, and they just feel comfortable.”

Strasburg juniors Caleb Warren and Ryan Jenkins, both 16 and both of whom are members of the football team, said that it’s been a great place to go and get in a workout.

Caleb said, “I think it’s a very, very good investment, because it takes kids off the streets. If they want to build up their bodies they have a safe Christian organization to go to. They have great equipment. They have great leadership. It’s a great environment.”

Ryan added, “It’s pretty nice in there. He’s got all the mirrors and equipment. … It’s a nice environment. It’s all Christian. There’s not everyone running around and cussing and yelling. It’s just a calm and relaxed atmosphere for us to lift weights in.”

Another thing Tight’n Up has done is to have a “Pizza Night” after one of Strasburg’s home football games this season. Wescoat said that there were around 40 kids who showed up, and he said he hopes to do more things like that in the future. He said he’s not trying to compete with anything anybody else in the community does, but simply enhance and add to those things.

Wescoat said the support of the community so far has been overwhelming.

“I myself am a member of Liberty Baptist church. That’s where I go. I’m a very active member there,” Wescoat said. “The other churches around here have been helping and they have been behind it for the community. The community as a whole — people coming off the street, people driving by, people calling me when they see the number — have been so supportive and excited to see this in town. They say it’s the first time they’ve seen anything like this for the youth and they love it.”

Wescoat said he hopes to do more events for the teenagers and the community in the future.

He said he’s been very appreciative of everything everyone has done for him to get it started.

“I’m just thankful to the community, to the area,” Wescoat said. “I’m just thankful for all the support, from all the different people, churches, organizations.

“It’s been great just to see the support and to see that it’s something positive and something the community wanted.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

Correction: A story published in Thursday’s paper misidentified Rob Wescoat.