Students, alumni run Huntsville’s first CrossFit gym

Several students and alumni have come together to operate a patriotic gym just north of downtown Huntsville.


Sean Smith | The Houstonian


CrossFit Stars and Bars, named after the U.S. flag, is a unique workout experience located at 929 University Ave. Elmer Miguel is the head owner and trainer of CFSB and a senior psychology major at Sam Houston State University.

The CFSB gym opened in October 2013 after Miguel and a couple of his friends from the Marine Corps moved to Huntsville. Their goal was to start a gym in honor of their friend that lost his life while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.

“After Wade died, we all talked about moving to the region to start a gym and be there to support his family in Centerville,” Miguel said. “When we came to Texas, we searched the region and really liked Huntsville and decided that it would be a good place to open up a gym while we went to school at SHSU. At the time there were no CrossFit gyms here at all so we wanted to incorporate the same fitness lifestyle we had while in the Marines and open it up to the public.”

Miguel was first introduced to CrossFit in 2009 and after getting his CrossFit training certification, he used it to form a fitness program for the Marines whom he served with overseas. Miguel joined the Marine Corps in 2001 and since then has served in the military for eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CFSB trainers Justin Amundson and Tanner Wheelis along with Miguel bring the dedication and experience that helps keep the gym running. CFSB offers a variety of disciplined exercises in their classes that span from weightlifting and running to flipping tires and box jumps. The possibilities are endless and offer a way to mix things up so that no one is ever bored during a workout.

Justin Amundson is a junior criminal justice major at SHSU and is one of the gym’s founding members. Amundson and Miguel met while they were in the Marines after Amundson was transferred to Miguel’s unit in Afghanistan.

“I joined the Marine Corps directly out of high school because I had known since I was in Kindergarten that I wanted to serve in the Marines as an infantryman,” Amundson said. “When I was transferred over to Elmer’s unit I met the best group of guys that I have ever met in my life. After we got out of the Marines and the opportunity came along to start a gym in Huntsville in Wade’s honor, I saved up the money that I had made from my job for three years in Idaho as a firefighter, said goodbye to my friends and family and came to Texas to support what I believed in.”

After Amundson graduates he hopes to work as a police officer and stay close by his friends at the CFSB gym.

Tanner Wheelis became a member of CFSB in January 2014 and since then received his CrossFit certification and his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at SHSU in December of 2014.

“I came to Huntsville to finish school at SHSU after my plan of being a firefighter in Houston fell through,” Wheelis said. “I had always wanted to pursue fitness so I went to several different gyms before I found CFSB last year. As soon as I walked into the gym, Elmer and Justin were super cool with me and we just clicked as friends. The people at this gym are very tight knit and there is a big family atmosphere here. I’m really glad that I found it.”

Wheelis will be attending graduate school at SHSU for human and sports performance. After recieving his degree, he and CFSB intern Alyssa Gregg hope to own their own gym somewhere in Texas.

Gregg is a senior exercise science major who arrived in Huntsville in 2011 and played on the SHSU women’s softball team for three years before leaving the team in pursuit of an internship. After joining the CFSB team in January, Gregg brought her knowledge of nutrition and experience in athletics to the gym and helps plan programs for the CrossFit classes as well as learning about the business aspect of the gym from Miguel.

“I heard about the internship at the CFSB from one of my professors and met with Elmer shortly after about serving at the gym,” Gregg said. “My favorite thing about this gym and the people who work here is that you aren’t just another client number. Everyone knows everyone and it is very personable.”

Gregg said the friendly atmosphere is prime for people who have never done CrossFit before.

“The people that work here are so welcoming and it really doesn’t matter if you have never done crossfit,” Gregg said. “They will break everything down through the basic courses in the beginning. This is a great gym that goes at the pace you need but also challenges you.”

CFSB is open Mondays through Saturdays and hosts a variety of classes throughout the day.

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