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Monday, July 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex-addict preaches the salvation of intense physical training at his Spokane gym

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 15, 2017, 3:04 p.m.

K.Jay Davis poses on the Devil’s ladder at SCE Fitness, a gym he started with his wife, Heather. The owners are having equipment built for the site that are obstacles similar to those used by people training for “American Ninja Warrior” and Spartan Race. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
K.Jay Davis poses on the Devil’s ladder at SCE Fitness, a gym he started with his wife, Heather. The owners are having equipment built for the site that are obstacles similar to those used by people training for “American Ninja Warrior” and Spartan Race. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Ten years ago, K.Jay Davis carried 210 pounds on his 5-foot-6-inch frame. He also carried the burden of drug and alcohol addiction.

He grew up in North Carolina and was an active kid, playing soccer, but when he turned 16, his parents split up.

“Everything went south in my family,” he said. “I didn’t know how to handle it, so I went into drugs – heavily into cocaine – then crack.”

Today, slim and ultra-fit, Davis, 38, owns SCE Fitness in downtown Spokane, and works with people training for Spartan races and those hoping to compete on “American Ninja Warrior.”

“By God’s grace I made it out,” he said.

His journey from couch surfing in crack houses in North Carolina to certified personal trainer specializing in triathlons and nutrition for endurance sports began with a visit to a church service in January 2008.

He’d won tickets to a Carolina Panthers game and wanted to go with a buddy. His friend’s wife, uneasy about Davis’ potential negative influence, invited herself along and informed him that they were all going to church before the game.

Davis wasn’t happy about that.

Yet as the pastor spoke, he had an immediate and extremely emotional reaction.

“A sense of peace enveloped me,” he recalled. “I knew I had to have been created for a purpose, but I wondered why I couldn’t get my life together.”

Weeping, he went forward to pray with the pastor.

The next day, he reached for a cigarette and found he loathed the taste.

“I’d smoked for over 13 years,” he said.

He dove into Bible study and church activities and within weeks he began working out.

“Working out – fitness, it was therapeutic for me. I found my comfort zone,” he said.

In 2010, Davis moved to Spokane to attend Moody Bible Institute where he met his wife, Heather.

Things just kept looking up. In 2015, he competed in his first Ironman triathlon in Whistler, British Columbia.

“People had talked to me about Ironman and I’d chuckle and say, ‘Why would I do that?’ ” Davis recalled. “But as my body adapted, I wanted to see what I was capable of doing.”

He also tackled Spartan races, relishing in the grueling pace and always finishing in the top 10.

Those pursuits coupled with his personal training certifications prompted him to open SCE (Strength Core Endurance) Fitness on Dec. 31.

This is no ordinary gym – it’s a personalized gym and while all are welcome, Davis specializes in helping those who are training for Spartan races and those hoping to compete on the television show “American Ninja Warrior.”

Since both are obstacle course-based competitions, SCE Fitness is filled with many of the obstacles encountered by competitors. The Devil’s Steps, the Salmon Ladder, the cargo net hanging from the ceiling and the incline wall, will be familiar to viewers of “American Ninja Warrior.” Spartan racers will appreciate the rings, the tires and of course the rope climb, dreaded by PE students everywhere. A 14-foot warp wall will be installed soon.

“Spartan races tend to work the lower body, while American Ninja requires a lot of upper body strength,” Davis said.

Three folks from Spokane have already qualified to compete on “American Ninja Warrior” this spring, and regularly work out at SCE Fitness. Davis is working with a client who’s also expecting a call from the show.

The gym offers a fun way to get in shape even if you don’t want to participate in grueling races or reality TV shows.

“The beautiful thing about the body is that it adapts to what your goals are,” Davis said. “A key part of my training is injury-prevention and helping clients enjoy the journey.”

He said proper nutrition is also pivotal to getting the most out of what your body can do.

“Nutrition is everything. You can’t outwork your diet.”

His youngest client is 15 and his oldest, 67.

Davis said his motto is “Change for life, for the rest of your life.”

He believes the years he lost to addiction have led him to this point. Looking around his newly opened gym, he said, “This is my ministry.”

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