From the Parking Lot to the Brickyard

Working out together in a parking lot (sun or snow) during the pandemic is how we coped, stayed connected, and remained fitness-focused.
Lisa Pietrangeli
August 3, 2021
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From the Parking Lot to the Brickyard


On March 15, 2020, we learned that all gyms (and most other things) were ordered to close due to Covid-19 becoming a very real and escalating concern. Among my fitness-focused friends, this reality – not being able to be together, working out – hit us in the gut. Schools, offices, stores, and restaurants closed. Events were cancelled. The reality of the severity of this pandemic was starting to set in. Everyone was wondering if they or their loved ones were in danger.

We had no grasp of how terrible this situation was or how long it was going to last. As a fitness community, we relied on being together and our daily workouts to cope with normal stressors in life. And now, in the face of a pandemic that we could barely comprehend, we needed to figure out how to navigate this new reality. Being able to work out together and remain connected to each other felt like an urgent priority.

Barbells in the freezing rain at 6:00 am, Winter 2020
Barbells in the freezing rain at 6:00 am, Winter 2020

This focus on maintaining our daily fitness routine may have seemed insignificant to some. But being active with a community of like-minded people is what keeps us all mentally, emotionally, and physically capable. Capable of handling whatever life heaves at us – even a pandemic. Not working out and not being together while doing so, was not an option. We needed to figure out a solution that would keep us all safe, healthy, and connected in our new socially distant world.

The day after the mandate to close everything was announced, our group text and Slack communications were in full swing. It was freezing cold, wet, and the world was turned upside down. Quickly, we decided we would gather our sanitizing wipes (wearing masks wasn’t a thing yet) and whatever random equipment we had available (a few dumbbells, yoga mats, some detached porch steps, suitcases, and jump ropes) and meet in small groups in driveways. We came up with workouts that included our measly equipment, running, burpees, push-ups, etc. We froze but we needed it and we did it.

old dumb bells in the basement
Remember those old dumb bells in the basement? New Mobile gym!

Why did we NEED it? Why did we opt to not workout in our warm living rooms or basements? Why didn’t we just accept that gyms were closed and we could just take some time off from that part of our lives? Why did we opt to suffer in the freezing cold, rain, and snow? The conditions didn’t matter. We started every single day, in the early morning hours, together. Knowing that was the one time each day we would be with our friends, however icky the weather and grey skies, got us through the next day, and the next week, and the next month. It’s how we coped with the state of the world.

Parking Lot WOD in Parker's Lot! Many layers to stay warm
Parking Lot WOD in Parker's Lot! Many layers to stay warm.

As it became clear that the pandemic was here to stay, we eventually migrated from driveways to a parking lot. Our handful of fitness addicts became a steady group of socially distanced “lot members” (we each had our own parking spot with an empty one in between, masked up when that became the rule) sharing this experience together. It was our lifeblood at this point. The only thing any of us had to look forward to on any given day. We started to acquire some more equipment – barbells and whatnot – and managed to come up with programming that we shared amongst our friends who were working out indifferent driveways and parking lots as well. Finally, summer came.

We’re Going to Need a Bigger Lot

We never realized how important our fitness community was to us until we were forced to come up   with our own socially distant fitness routine. Eventually, we outgrew the Fairport fire house lot and moved over to the main public lot, where the kind Fairport Police waved at us in the early mornings. (Thankyou to Fairport’s Bravest and Finest for being welcoming, early-morning neighbors!)

More and more of our community came together again. Coach Jason Wasserman started programming for us daily. Even if someone couldn’t show up to the lot, they would still do the programmed workout and share their times and progress to our group Slack. We all needed each other and we did whatever we could to stay connected.

Celebrating Spring in Parker's Lot. A real box to jump on!
Celebrating Spring in Parker's Lot. A real box to jump on!

We celebrated birthdays, and other life milestones, so as not to let things slip by without notice. We drank coffee in the freezing cold all the way through the frigid winter. We spent months outside in parking lots in folding chairs, gloves, hats, blankets. Our yoga mats blew away. Our barbells rolled on the uneven pavement. Neither snow nor wind nor sleet kept us from those workouts. No matter how frigid it was, we didn’t up and leave after a workout. The workouts became secondary to being with each other.

It was this experience that solidified what a few of us had been thinking about for several years…that we wanted to open a new gym that recognized and celebrated this sense of community as the foundation for physical fitness and mental health. It was this need we all had which validated my now-partners and I to focus on figuring out how to build Brickyard CrossFit in the midst of a pandemic.  

A bigger lot. More friends. Still cold.
A bigger lot. More friends. Still cold.

Introducing Brickyard CrossFit

Our fitness community means the world to us. For over 3 years, we Brickyard CrossFit owners had contemplated opening a new gym to further grow a nurturing, encouraging community. We recognized that it’s not just the workouts and cool equipment, rather the community that ensures people will walk in over and over again.

During this most unusual time that 2020 presented, my partners and I were motivated to find a new home (and roof) for our fitness community. We explored many options, but found none so perfect and welcoming as the JCC of Rochester.

Wall balls and Box jumps. Getting it done at Brickyard CrossFit.
Wall balls and Box jumps. Getting it done at Brickyard CrossFit.

Now, a mere few months since our grand opening in April2021, we have welcomed so many new athletes to our Brickyard community. With each new athlete member, our community grows stronger as we cheer each other on to push through each day’s workout. Join us and you’ll experience unwavering support and encouragement as soon as you walk in the door!!

Helping each other break personal records! Bench pressing with friends is so much fun!
Helping each other break personal records! Bench pressing with friends is so much fun!

And that’s what keeps us all coming back for more. Neither rain nor snow nor virus kept us from being dedicated to each other and to staying fit and healthy. And we bring all of that dedication to ALL of our athletes at Brickyard CrossFit. We look forward to seeing you there!

-Lisa Pietrangeli, Owner

(Director of Sales and Operations)

Brickyard CrossFit Owners:  Mike DeMarco, Chris Lenzi, Sean Mathis, Lisa Pietrangeli, Jason Wasserman


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