Dalton and Dakotah Mankin have been athletes for most of their lives.
Both brothers are Texas Tech alumni who started doing CrossFit on their own when they were in high school, and they just celebrated the six-year anniversary of the opening of their gym, CrossFit Wild West.
Dakotah, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies in 2015, said he started doing CrossFit between 2009 and 2010, not long before he graduated from high school.
“Dakotah was doing CrossFit at Zach’s Club with one of his friends, and I was just doing my own thing on the side,” Dalton said. “He challenged me one day to do a workout with him, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to come after you Dakotah. I’m going to beat you at this workout even though I’ve never done it.’ He beat me, and we started doing it from there.”
Dalton, who graduated in August 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, said he and his brother helped that same friend open a CrossFit gym in town, which is when Dakotah got certified to be a coach. Dalton got certified shortly after Dakotah, and then their dad got certified as well.
The brothers were dissatisfied with how things were going at that gym, so they decided to open their own gym in 2013.
“There are 11 CrossFit gyms in Lubbock, so it’s a very saturated market,” Dalton said. “It’s hard to put yourself above others, but we kind of came out on top. There’s probably two or three that are actually competitive as far as membership and clientele, and we’re one of those.”
Both brothers stressed how important it is to them to foster a community environment centered around progress and growth for the members of their gym, and that does not go unnoticed.
Jake Montgomery, a Tech freshman from Plano, has been doing CrossFit for seven years. An international economics major, Montgomery has been a member at CrossFit Wild West for six months, and he said Dalton and Dakotah’s roles as coaches and owners is an essential part of the community.
“There is often a lot of time spent in interaction with the instructors, and over time those repeated interactions and conversations really help grow the community as a whole,” Montgomery said. “Those interactions are both ways from the client to the coach and from the coach to the client, where each learns about each other in CrossFit, but also about their life and endeavors outside of the gym. Both Dakotah and Dalton specifically do a fantastic job of this through the gym.”
Dakotah, who graduated with a minor in sociology, said it is interesting to look at CrossFit through that lens.
“When it comes to CrossFit, the individual is trying to get better, but as a whole, it’s more about the community and the vibe of the community,” Dakotah said. “So, one person isn’t more or less important than the next person. I don’t care if it’s a person that’s been here for six years, or a person who’s in here on their very first day lifting just the barbell. That person means the same to me as someone that’s lifting 300 pounds, no matter what.”
Since Dalton has graduated high school and college, he has taken over the role of head coach and gym manager from Dakotah, giving Dakotah more time to balance the gym between family and his other occupation, vision therapy.
“I work with Dr. Nolan Riley at the Vision Center of West Texas, and I’ve been doing that since I was 18, so I’ve been doing that for about 10 years now,” Dakotah said.
Dakotah works with kids who have visual-related learning problems, kids who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, who have eye turn or have difficulty just generally functioning within a classroom.
Dakotah works with two boys who are 12 and 13 years old in vision therapy and CrossFit. He said it has been interesting to see how CrossFit helps them with their vision and how vision therapy helps them with their hand-eye coordination.
“I’ve been working with both of these boys for a very long time, and it’s cool getting to watch them grow, not only developmentally, but also physically,” Dakotah said. “That challenge is really cool, because I’ve been able to see them garner health in both aspects. Physically, they’re getting stronger, therefore their eyes are actually getting better.”