Resident Introduces New Way to Get Fit on Daniel Island

May 25, 2011

With miles of trails, hundreds of acres of parks and world-class sports facilities, Daniel Island residents have no shortage of venues for getting fit. But that didn’t stop resident Robert VanNewkirk from introducing yet another new option for fitness within Charleston’s island town. His business, CrossFit Discovery (located in the Publix shopping center), offers a program that caters to all fitness levels and focuses on exercise for “real life” wellness.

Based on concurrent development of all elements of fitness – including endurance, flexibility and speed – CrossFit Discovery is no ordinary gym.  Upon entering, instead of treadmills and nautilus equipment, you’re greeted with 30-pound sandbags, ropes hanging from the ceiling and various sized balls and barbells.  Reminiscent of a gym that might have existed forty years ago, the space has an old-school feel and is home to a “grassroots” type of workout.

“CrossFit was originally created for elite athletes and people such as firefighters and military personnel who ultimately depend on core strength and conditioning for survival,” says Robert. “Here on Daniel Island, we have clients that range from doctors and business owners to stay-at-home moms and their elementary-aged kids,” he adds.

Robert and his wife, Angel, and their two daughters moved to Daniel Island five years ago from California looking for a simpler, less stressful lifestyle.

“Angel has family in Myrtle Beach, so we were familiar with South Carolina. We love Charleston, and Daniel Island provides a close-knit community where the kids can ride their bikes to school and where Angel and I can pursue our own passions,” commented Robert.

Upon moving to Daniel Island, Robert worked as an event coordinator.  He was able to convert his garage into a home gym and that’s where the idea of opening his own fitness business became a reality.

“I was always active in sports and athletics throughout high school and college, and just kept at it into adulthood.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has always been a priority. So, converting my garage to a gym seemed a very natural thing,” says Robert.  “At first I got a lot of questions from our neighbors, but before I knew it I was training and educating them about how to optimize their fitness goals.”

Soon after, Robert opened CrossFit Discovery and was able to dedicate his career full-time to helping others achieve a higher form of wellness.

“CrossFit is unique because it is scaled to each individual. Whether you can lift five pounds or 500 pounds, the program works to improve all elements of your fitness,” says Robert.

The CrossFit Discovery space: Not your ordinary gym!

Based on the belief that fitness is the highest form of wellness, the CrossFit Discovery program teaches proper nutrition, exercise and recovery. It incorporates varied, high intensity, functional movement. Far from boring, the classes are extremely time-efficient and produce observable, measurable results.

“Classes last about an hour and could include running sprints, doing push-ups, lifting weights, jumping rope or a combination of several movements. We focus on basic mechanics and core strength,” says Robert. “I am consistently amazed at the quality of people I train. One client, in particular, started training last fall and could barely do one pull-up. Now, she’s doing 100 pull-ups.”

CrossFit Discovery has been steadily growing and attracts a wide range of island residents as well as clients from surrounding areas like Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley and downtown Charleston.

“I train people as young as age six and as mature as 65. It’s a very social workout that takes place in a relaxed, fun environment,” says Robert. “This is important to clients as they form special bonds with one another and even participate in various Charleston-area fitness events, such as the popular Citadel Bulldog Challenge.”

Taking health and wellness one step further, CrossFit is co-sponsoring an inaugural event here on Daniel Island next month. The New Primal Games, scheduled for June 25th, will feature individuals and teams taking on a series of fun, primal-inspired challenges such as a trail run/obstacle course, “stone” throw and “log” lift.

“We’re really looking forward to being a part of the New Primal Games. I think its going to help push the CrossFit Discovery program and even further expose Daniel Island and our unique fitness philosophy to a broader audience,” says Robert.

For more information about CrossFit Discovery, visit For information about the New Primal Games and to register, visit