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Monday evening Spartan Elite changed its name to honor the memory of a man who loved the gym and was respected by its members.

With a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in conjunction with the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, the gym on Eleventh Street became the Mark Garriss Spartan Elite Training Facility.

At age 53, Garriss died unexpectedly last Tuesday, leaving behind his wife and 15-year-old daughter.

“Mark was one of a kind,” said Tracy Story, owner of the gym, “Honestly, one of the best men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and was lucky enough to call him a brother.”

Story said he and Garriss worked together through the gym and at Spartan races. “Everything he could do to help and that was to anybody so I felt like the right thing to do here was to memorialize him in somewhere he loved being.”

All gallery photos by rrspin with the exception of the Spartan race photo which is courtesy of the gym

Story remembers when the gym was on Roanoke Avenue that Garriss showed up and began helping and working out. “He fell in love with it. He was just super strong. For a big guy he had balance. He worked towards getting in to do a Spartan race. We pumped him up and got him out there. The guy did a great job, he fell in love with it and the rest was history.”

Story said he was honored to know Garriss and his family well enough that he could make this gesture to rename the gym in his honor. “Every time somebody rides by here they’re going to look and see that name and they’re going to remember Mark Garriss.”

Garriss, Story said, was a person who was hard to forget. “We’re going to do every thing we can to make sure he stays in front of you.”

Besides the ribbon-cutting, Story also planned a workout demonstration of Garriss’s favorite exercises at the gym simply called The Mark. “They were things that he enjoyed and things that he did when he would come that we would do them together and work out together so I decided to put them on the board.”

Story said calling these exercises The Mark will be another way to remember him.

Garriss’s wife Michelle said, “I am just floored. I don’t even have words. Mark loved this gym. I’m so honored and I know he would be too.”

Michelle said her husband’s motivation for beginning the Spartan regimen was his daughter – Maecy. “He wanted to be around a long time for her. When he came he fell in love with the gym and the people. He fell right in with them.”

Maecy said, “It’s a huge honor. It means so much because I know they had a huge impact on his life and he made an impact on theirs and it shows. He was a good man.”