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Wine Wednesday: Camie Cragg overcomes broken back to pioneer physical fitness in Reno

Camie Cragg.png
Wine Wednesday: Camie Cragg

Every Wednesday, Shannon Kelly will sit down with a coach's wife, a former Wolf Pack athlete or a woman in the Northern Nevada community to have a conversation over a glass of wine (or whatever drink they choose). This week, she sat down with lead trainer and owner of Camie Cragg Fitness, Camie Cragg. They talked about what inspired her to get into personal training, the most challenging parts of owning a business, fitness and mental health, being involved in the community and some of Camie's favorite things, among other topics.

'I can, I will'

A graduate of Galena High, Camie grew up playing volleyball and basketball and competing in track and field, until one day in high school her life changed.

“When I was 15 years old I found myself in this freak accident," Camie said. "I was standing underneath a basketball hoop that was down and I was talking to my girlfriends before a volleyball practice and one of the girls was doing a layup with a volleyball onto the basketball hoop and I happened to be standing with my back facing the hoop and when she went up with just the right height, just the right momentum, velocity, everything and she came down on my seventh vertebrae, left me laying on the floor and I proceeded into CareFlight all the way to the hospital and my body was paralyzed for 47 minutes until they started to do body manipulation in a neck brace to see if that nerve could be released. And 47 minutes later, I started to feel my feet and my legs and everything again."

Camie said she was determined to play sports again after the freak accident.

"I was told that I would never be able to walk again, I would never be able to play sports again," she said. "I didn’t really care about walking at the time. All I cared about was playing sports, and I adopted at that moment that you’re told the most negative news ever in your whole life: 'I will and I can play sports again.' That’s all I focused on as a 15-year-old little girl. That was what I ate, slept for and breathed for, so it meant a lot to me. I adopted the 'I can, I will' attitude right then and there. I didn’t know that I was going to be in the fitness industry, I just knew that this was going to be part of my story, and working with my mentor, Max McManus, was very helpful in that time because the doctor said if I had muscle around my spine, that this accident wouldn’t have been so profound."

Camie said working with McManus, one of the most well-known trainers in the area, impacted her decision to focus on fitness.

"Max came into my life and he was there to rehab me, he was there to mentally prepare me, he was there to help my muscular and cardiovascular and my nervous system all together to work as one to be the strongest athlete that I could be coming off of this accident," she said. "So then at that point, not only do I adopt an attitude but I adopted a lifestyle of strength and courage in this physical manner, and I fell in love with it. As I got through college and all that stuff, I just remembered how amazing that time was and how much Max had helped me and I wanted to give that same love back in return to someone else.”

Launching Camie Cragg Fitness

Camie graduated with a degree in Communications, PR and Marketing from Dominican University and landed at job at Nike in San Francisco shortly after. She knew that wasn’t her end goal and wanted to find a way to help others. After being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, Camie moved back to Reno. Upon her return, she went to her mentor, McManus, asking for an internship, which helped lead her to where she is today. In 2011, Camie launched Camie Cragg Fitness.

“This was the time when emails were strong, MySpace was really cool back then and I was really focused on connection and I had newsletters," Camie said. "It was to help educate my clients with nutrition. I didn’t just want to be a personal trainer. I wanted to focus on different elements of becoming a better self, and the following became a little stronger within the community, and the one thing that I wanted to do that wasn’t present where I was at was filling in the gaps with connecting with our Reno/Sparks/Tahoe community and that was giving back in some way, shape or form. That was the transition in there and of course the chips fell where they fell. My landlord I knew since I was 15 years old when I broke my back. Everything kind of just fit into the puzzle piece and made it very desirable and likable, yet the risk was strong, I was a woman that was spearheading in a male-dominated profession, and so I was getting 'talked off the ledge' per se every day. So to be a pioneer, I could already feel the fire inside of me and I just jumped and I was getting told not to do it more than I was being told to do it.”

In a male-dominated field, I asked Camie what advice she would give to women who want to pursue a career in personal training and open their own gym.

“I would say go for it," Camie said. "Go for it and follow your heart. The best advice that I was ever given and I put it to the wayside because I didn’t think that it had a lot of value and worth was 'follow your heart.' That wasn’t enough back in the day. That’s like your second brain. Your intuition, your faith which is then pressed on to your heart is everything. So for those women that are in the limbo zone of becoming, I would say to be the risk taker, you’re going to lose a lot, you’re going to fall a lot, but the hardships, just like I’ve been through, you’ve been through, all these women you’re chatting with, we’ve all had our hardships, and it’s one of those things where people want to talk about, 'Why are you so successful?' and I want to share the things that weren’t so successful inside of it that creates the success that you are probably striving for.”

Giving back to the community

When she was building her gym, Camie was asked, "How is this gym going to be different than any other gym? Because every gym is the same. They have weights, they have a floor, they have a lot of mirrors so you can look at yourself. They have a radio and speakers.' But she had something different in mind.

"I just saw it all, I saw the layout to be different, but what I told him was the deeper thread in me," Camie said. "My heart for connection is so strong and that will live inside of CCF. So all I wanted to do which wasn’t present where I was at, was to help the community in need. I always thought if something ever happened to me, my family, you or anyone, I would hope that someone would be there for you and someone would be there for me, and even if it was in a fitness setting, like why can’t it? So I just let my creative juices flow, my box started to expand and I was thinking of community fundraisers for people in need. That had never been seen in the state of Nevada at the time, ever. Fundraisers were there, but a fitness fundraiser?

"So I saw a 60 minute class and envisioned hundreds of people there, this was me really big thinking. Hundreds of people there, and the illness or the disease, or the hardship or the accident to be present at these functions and fundraisers and then people setting aside their selfish needs to be selfless and give back in a monetary way to help these people that are inside the gym that they can see. We did our first fundraiser and it was a huge success, and before I knew it there was hundreds of people there. There were the radio stations, the news stations and not locating us but locating them because their story mattered. That’s what made CCF different, it had a different pulse to it and it still does to this day."

Camie enjoys mountain biking, spending time with her children, being involved in the community, going outdoors and recording her podcast, Project You with Camie Cragg, which can be found on iTunes, Spotify and Podbean.

You can find out more about Camie Cragg Fitness here.

Wine Wednesday with Camie Cragg

  • Working from home & reopening the gym, spending time with family during quarantine – 0:00
  • What inspired her to get into personal training – 6:10
  • Opening Camie Cragg Fitness – 15:50
  • Most challenging part of being an entrepreneur – 17:47
  • How personal training has evolved – 19:35
  • Best advice Camie has been given/gives to other women looking to get into personal training – 22:53
  • Fitness and mental health – 24:17
  • Launching the CamUNITY program – 25:58
  • Favorite part about living in Northern Nevada – 29:54
  • Camie’s hobbies/favorite things – 31:27

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