Competition, business go hand-in-hand for Rehoboth man

Will Harris power lifts with passion
December 13, 2022

Will Harris always knew he wanted to help people reach their full potential, he just wasn’t sure how.

A two-sport athlete at an all-boys high school in the Bronx, he started college with aspirations of getting a physical therapy degree. After one semester, he realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do.

“I decided I wanted to be on more of the preventative side versus the rehabilitative side of it. I started working at a few gyms, learned the ropes, and when I felt comfortable, I branched out on my own,” he said.

Harris, 36, started with a personal training business, which led to him opening up a gym in the Bronx. Working with celebrities was part of the job. He once trained actor Channing Tatum, helping him lose 30 pounds in six weeks for a movie role. “We got it done,” Harris said.

But helping celebrities stay in shape for movie roles or appearances wasn’t fulfilling.

“I initially wanted to get into physical therapy to help people. I didn’t feel like I was helping anyone other than myself financially, so I took a step back and decided to work with more everyday people,” he said.

After competing in CrossFit events, Harris moved into Strongman competitions in 2010, and he’s been hooked ever since. He amassed seven wins, his most recent a year ago, and has competed at the national level.

Those competitions also brought him to Delaware, an area he immediately liked and where he saw an opportunity to grow. 

“Down here, I realized there really wasn’t anything close to what I was doing in New York in offering a more well-rounded approach to fitness,” the Rehoboth Beach resident said. “I saw there was a void, and decided to move down here.”

He purchased CrossFit Rehoboth, but eventually rebranded to Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club. In 2020, the club moved into the former Tulip furniture store on Route 1 in the Forgotten Mile section of Rehoboth Beach. The space includes a yoga studio, boxing gym and weight room.

“We have three different businesses operating in this space,” he said.

Over the summer when the beach community population swells to more than 100,000, the gym opens its garage doors to let in plenty of fresh air, and welcomes a few more customers. 

But keeping classes small is important to be able to give individual attention, Harris said. In recent years, he said, the business has focused on corporate wellness, most notably for local restaurant chain SoDel Concepts.

A team of about 15 competes regularly, smashing state records for lifting. Their records are proudly displayed along the wall of the weight room.

“People on our powerlifting team are between the ages of 40 and 68. That’s what we wanted to do here. We want to show people that once you hit a certain age, it’s not over for you. There’s an entirely different world of things you can do,” he said.

For now, Harris said he’s thinking about winding down his competitions. “I’m on the fence about competing again next year. At this point, it's just for fun,” he said.

Looking ahead, Harris said he would like to bring his business model to Florida, but he would still keep his Delaware brand.

“This works perfectly for what we’re trying to do,” he said.

New members come in for an assessment, and after an evaluation and discussion about their fitness goals, they can sign up for a lifting, boxing or yoga membership.

Information on the Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club can be found at


  • The Cape Gazette staff has been doing Saltwater Portraits weekly (mostly) for more than 20 years. Reporters, on a rotating basis, prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters peopling Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday edition as the lead story in the Cape Life section.

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