City Lights: Climbing his way toward $10K for cancer

Pull up the website for Masterpiece Fitness and it looks almost like a work in progress. The home page features white, gray and blue text superimposed on a plain black background, and there are no large, colorful photos to center the eye's attention.

Then, if you read the text under the Masterpiece Fitness logo, you'll learn the reason for that.

"You will notice there's no 'stock pictures' like other websites of a gym setting on this website," the message reads. "The reason, it's boring looking at weights and people posed for a photo. On this site you will find real fitness pictures from a real fitness athlete."

What the site doesn't mention is that Masterpiece Fitness has no boring-looking gym to speak of. The company is a roving enterprise owned by personal trainer Dennis George, who lives in Huntington Beach and sees clients at private studios around the county.

Sometimes, George ventures out much further from home for his endeavors. And, as of this month, the American Cancer Society can thank him for that.

George, the son of a breast cancer survivor, climbed rocks almost nonstop for 24 hours in Joshua Tree on July 9 and 10 to raise money for the society. The spartan website features a 90-second montage of All Human Power Day, as George titled his endeavor.

Even the video is small, with a screen measuring about one inch by two. It's a modest approach that belies the effort George put into his first-ever cancer fundraiser, which he hopes to make into a yearly tradition.

George sometimes takes clients out to Joshua Tree to train them on the rocks. And that was where he opted to do his fundraiser for cancer because, he said, he imagined plenty of people would be hosting pushup contests, washing cars and running in Relay for Life.

"I was kind of using it as a vehicle to really get the word out there about cancer," George said. "My mother had breast cancer five years ago, so I wanted to give something back and use that as a vehicle to get donations."

George trained for a month and a half and shed 10 pounds before July 9, when he mounted his first rock at Joshua Tree and ran and climbed until the same time the next day. With a pair of friends on hand to cook and operate the camera, he scaled one formation after another in the 100-degree desert heat, taking only short breaks to eat or sleep.

By the time All Human Power Day was over, George had garnered $640 in donations from clients and even strangers, who found the link on the websites for Relay for Life and Masterpiece Fitness. That was short of the $10,000 George set out to raise, but he plans to do another fundraiser this fall.

In the meantime, he's still taking online donations for his 24-hour climb, even after the fact. For more information, visit

"It's still open," he said. "So people can still go on there and donate to the cause."

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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