Rebel Mels looks for family

Personal trainer opens new fitness facility in Monroe

Kelly Sullivan

Holly McVey says there isn’t another facility she knows of that combines the different trainings and activities available at Monroe’s Rebel Mels Fitness, which opened in early September.

McVey and her husband, Sam, are trainers at Rebel Mels Fitness, 17321 Tye St. S.E. The couple also previously owned SnoCo CrossFit in Snohomish.

“I think no one has done this in Snohomish County,” McVey said.

Monroe resident Melanie Smith began planning the new business in March. She has been heavily into fitness for years. Last spring she was a trainer at five different gyms in the county, and has worked at around 10 over the years. She was spending too much time in her car, which was full of her kids’ stuff and equipment for her clients.

McVey remembered a conversation she had with Smith more than a year ago. Smith asked McVey how to create the perfect fitness center. McVey told her to simply pick everything she loved and put it all in one building.

Rebel Mels has a yoga and warm yoga studio, CrossFit equipment, massages, personal training, boot camps, cycle classes, kids and teen fit classes, and the list goes on. Smith said the club is about 7,300 square feet, more than twice the size she’d been looking for.

Smith had her eye on a smaller space just down the road at first. Her new landlord, Ashton Wolfe, heard about her plans to open the new gym and encouraged holding off on signing a lease at the other location.

The mother of two boys grew up in Monroe. She played basketball at Monroe High. In college she realized she still loved the sport, but wanted to pursue another career, and switched her focus to banking, which is where she spent the next 10 years.

Smith said she also spent time on things that students in their early twenties spend time on, which rerouted her interests and caused her to take a step back from fitness.

“I had a lot of fun,” she said. “I had a great time.”

She eventually met her husband, Travis Smith, who is also a trainer at Rebel Mels and a full-time firefighter, which is when she got back into working out. She remembers the feeling of getting back in shape, being “out of breath and sore as hell and wondering, ‘Am I going to puke today?’”

Smith’s focus on fitness blossomed from there. She was encouraged by friends to get certified as a trainer, because of her drive, energy and ability to inspire, she said.

Even though her schedule was hectic, Smith said she met so many amazing people, many of whom have become her good friends. A few left their old gym to join up at Rebel Mels, she said.

Smith told her former employers about five months ahead of her last day. She said she wanted to let them know she didn’t intend to take any of her clients with her. She prefers to be as open and honorable as possible with her intentions, she said, and that is also what she expects of her employees.

Brooke Lundquist didn’t know Smith ahead of time, but heard about her ability to create a strong community in every gym she worked at. She heard that Rebel Mels was opening up through mutual friends.

Lundquist has done CrossFit in her garage for years. She lives in Lake Stevens but travels out to Monroe now because of the positive atmosphere and access to different training and equipment than she normally pursues.

“Most CrossFit gyms are just a box,” Smith said.

She said she wanted to create a place where trainers are able to work with their clients at whatever level  they are at. Smith said she feels the body was made to move in so many different directions, and wanted to have a facility where each one made in daily life can be mimicked. She also goes for walks with her clients when that is what they feel like they need to do that day.

“I don’t care what you do as long as you are moving,” she said.

Doing the same workouts continuously without stabilizing other areas of the body is a recipe for injuries, Smith said. She said she has worked with people who are obese, seniors who have a hard time getting from a sitting position to standing position, and children as young as seven.

When taking on a new client, Smith said she understands she is also taking on everything that happens outside of the club, whether it be eating unhealthy foods, abuse, or a stressful job. She said originally she had capped her personal training clients at about 10, but since opening she has been more realistic and signed on another four.

Rebel Mels also has showers and offers discounts on services to members. Smith said the facility will be closed on Sundays, which is family day. She said she hopes people will take that time to enjoy life out of the gym — maybe go for a hike.

Smith also envisioned a place where everyone feels comfortable being themselves. She said she knows and wants to know the name of every single person who walks through her front door. She wants her club to be family, which is how she sees her relationships — as a fitness family.

Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Rebel Mels Fitness owner Melanie Smith works with one of her younger clients inside the Monroe facility on Friday, Sept. 22. Brooke Lundquist works out at Rebel Mels Fitness.


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