In a quest to create a fun fitness gym for adults, Maxwell Eriksen found his purpose in doing fun learning and fitness activities with children.
Eriksen’s father and brother, William C. and Paul Eriksen, are chiropractors in Elizabethtown, and his wife Morgan owns the Maternal Chiropractic Center in the mall. But his career path took a different route.
The 34-year-old opened Twelve Gym because he wanted to have somewhere that makes fitness fun. He enjoyed climbing and the television show American Ninja Warrior, which gave him some ideas.
He learned in his jobs before that wanted to have a job where he could work for himself and something that was so fulfilling it didn’t feel like work. He wanted to have a way to workout that was more fun, so he created Twelve Gym and it opened in October 2019 in the J.C. Penney wing of Towne Mall.
He built it for adults to have fun.
“But adults never came, kids came,” he said.
Through the process of working with the young people at his gym, he learned he was good with children.
“I’m a giant kid when it comes down to it,” he said.
He learned to enjoy talking to kids about things that interest them and wanted to be the best coach he could be.
“Working with them was fulfilling,” he said. “They got so much enjoyment and I saw them enjoy ninja.”
Growing up, he said he fit into the “outcast” group. He wasn’t into sports as a kid but like to stay active with things like skateboarding. Those are the kids he likes to work with the most, the ones that feel like they don’t fit anywhere else.
“The biggest thing for me is creating that place they can call home,” he said. “They can come in here and they are all ninjas and they are all in it together.”
In other sports, fans only cheer on the one team. In ninja, he said, it’s the kids against the course, not the other kids. So everyone cheers for every kid as they meet the challenges.
Initially, when kids came instead of adults he was a little sad because he really wanted adults to come in and become healthier while having fun. But then, he realized, it was OK because the kids needed it just as much as anyone else.
“It felt like the right thing to do was to make it a kid’s focused gym,” he said. “It was enlightening to find a good purpose.”
Jacqulyn Rascoe said Eriksen didn’t just given the town a new gym. He gave those who go to the gym a new family, she said.
“Our daughter struggles to fit in a lot of times but at Twelve Gym we have found a village who accepts her for who she is,” Rascoe said. “He has given us and our children a village we can count on and know that they are always here to support not only our child but us as parents as well.”
Eriksen also co-owns Clobberin’ Comics that opened about two months ago next door to Twelve Gym in the mall.
In the future, he wants to create more science and technology and physical activity centers to help promote personal growth.
One of those future ventures could be working with a company in California to help bring a new place to the mall that does drone racing and other activities.
“I want to create a safe place for the nerdy kids, the outcast, the ones that don’t quite fit in the box,” he said of all his ventures. “I like to make kids feel accepted in whatever they are into.”
When he was a kid, Eriksen said he was into comics and Pokémon but said he was made fun of at times and hid his nerdy interests. Because of that, he wants to get down on a child’s level to talk to them about the things they are interested in, even if he has no interest in them, to make them feel valued. The goal is to keep a positive environment, he said.
Eriksen said his wife Morgan is the most supportive person he could ask for in all his projects.
“Maxwell’s every day is a ‘yes day’,” Morgan said. “He is always so eager to say yes to everyone and anyone who needs a helping hand, from the children at the gym to the patients in the office, customers in the comic shop, a stranger off the street or a friend.”
She called him a man of many talents and caring.
“I am honored to not only be in business with him but also to be his wife,” she said. “Helping others and making a difference is what Maxwell is all about and people like Maxwell are what truly make a difference in this community.”
Eriksen credits the people who work with him at the gym for helping him keep the dream of Twelve Gym alive.
“I owe them everything for the long hours and continually marching into the unknown with me as we build the most unique place in Hardin County,” he said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1416 [email protected]