The story.

If you do CrossFit, you know that the benefits spill over into everyday life. The same diligence shown to finally master double-unders can be used to study for a big test. The perseverance of doing heavy thrusters can help us get through sticky points in relationships. The dedication of showing up to a community that expects your presence applies, well, everywhere.

So, imagine if you had found CrossFit sooner?

Like, in middle school.

Well, that’s just what CrossFit DC is doing with their “Lift and Learn” club. CrossFit DC member Caitlin Maxwell is the School Leader at KIPP DC Northeast Academy and noticed that there was no formal organized program for young men that used fitness to address the social and emotional issues they face in the DC area. So, in true CrossFit fashion, she made one herself.

Like a boss.

Every week twelve middle school boys from KIPP DC Northeast Academy meet at the U-Street location of CrossFit DC for a WOD. But not just any WOD. The mission of Lift and Learn is to give DC middle-school boys the opportunity to have fun through fitness, learn how to set goals, and to reflect on how efforts and experiences in the gym can be applied to school and beyond.

Each class is themed, using quotes like “It always seems impossible until it’s done,” by Nelson Mandela. After the WOD, the boys discuss what they learned through the WOD. One boy, Jamal, shared  “When I saw all that work written, I thought this is going to be impossible. But now it’s done and I did it.”

We love that.

Coach Thom Szymanski wrote on the CrossFit DC website, “Already after the first couple of sessions, the boys in Lift and Learn have been drawing their own analogies between workouts and schoolwork or chores. We sincerely hope that they continue to apply the confidence and empowerment forged within the walls of CFDC to the rest of their pursuits after the workout is done, AMRAP style.”


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