At-Risk Youth Help Spawn Camden Co. Man's CrossFit Business

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PENNSAUKEN, N.J. -

For a Camden County man, he made it his mission to get kids off the streets of Camden and into a healthy environment where they could push themselves to be the best they can be — through fitness and nutrition.

“It just started off with trying to get kids off of the street,” said Steve Liberati, the owner of Steve’s PaleoGoods and executive director of Steve’s Club.

It’s all about the hard work and that’s all we do.

Steve Liberati was working for his father’s exterminator business in a Camden housing complex when he came up with the idea of Steve’s Club, a place for students to go after school to try CrossFit.

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“I got to meet a lot of kids and I found, you know, I kind of learned that a lot of them had a good head on their shoulders, but they were just kind of living in a bad environment,” said Liberati. “A lot of drugs and violence, and just a lot of negative things around them.”

He started a small fitness club at the complex, teaching the kids about fitness and nutrition.

On the side, Liberati and his wife made snack mixes for the kids to bring to school containing beef jerky, nuts, and berries.

“A lot of it kind of ran along with what I was preaching to the kids,” said Liberati. “Just no sugar, to avoid processed foods, to really just focus on eating 'clean food' as we call it.”

Fast forward more than a decade later.

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Steve’s Club is now a non-profit, offering free CrossFit training to students from Camden and Pennsauken locally, with other clubs nationally.

He turned those snack bags into a business, and now Steve’s PaleoGoods sells a variety of paleo-inspired treats, with 15 percent of the proceeds going towards funding the nonprofit and helping the at-risk youth.

“It kind of steered me in the direction that I want to go to in the future,” said Raymond Negron, a participant of Steve’s Club. “I’ve always had a passion for health and exercise, but it kind of pushed me to be a level one coach. So right now I’m coaching, it gave me some more future aspirations.”

The students dedicate four days a week after school to train, learn CrossFit, and get a better handle on their nutrition.

“Really nice people,” said Bruno Sanchez, a participant for Steve’s Club. “Dedicated, hardworking. You know, it’s all about the hard work and that’s all we do.”

Liberati says he uses the workouts as a way to build relationships with the kids, which helps him offer better nutrition, guidance, and life advice.

“It was just a really good environment coming here every day after school and Steve was always like a father figure,” said Brayan Sandovel, a past participant of Steve’s Club. “He always cared for us, always has.”

“Not only is it self-rewarding, but it’s just really gratifying to see that kids, just with a little help, just having the positive support, that it truly makes a difference,” said Liberati.

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