When CrossFit Aspire closed in October 2018, member Jessica Shulz knew she would need something to help hold her accountable to still working out. Instead of joining a different CrossFit gym, Shulz opted for following Street Parking programming at home. So she reached out to friends, invited them all to workout with her, and started an Instagram account, Suffer With Friends.
“I thought it’d be a way to keep myself accountable while doing Street Parking at home. I figured if I recorded myself, I’d be less likely to stop in the middle of the workout and walk to my phone to turn off the camera. I also thought it’d be a nice way of tracking my new journey with new programming and wanted to really see if I could continue to work out but by myself,” Shulz told the Morning Chalk Up.
Street Parking programs WODs that you can do anywhere, as long as there are dumbbells. Sometimes Shulz works out alone at home, sometimes she gets together for WODs in the park with friends, or on Tuesday nights, dubbed the “get together” nights, old members of CrossFit Aspire come together to workout. Often times, she works out in her best friend’s basement, “which we’ve dubbed the ‘Creepy Basement.’ There are some videos that show that it can be a little creepy. We’ve even done a Fight Club parody down there,” she said. Shulz then shares these videos on the Suffer with Friends account.
But it wasn’t just the Street Parking WODs that Shulz was sharing. She was also sharing her mental health and weight loss journey and she found that people were responding to it. In June, Shulz went through a particularly tough time. Depressed and experiencing passive suicidal idealization, she was open about her experience on the Suffer With Friends account.
“We tell people to reach out if they’re feeling depressed or anxious, but we don’t really teach people how to do it,” Shulz said. “I’ve also learned just how lonely we really are in society. I post videos of either myself or my friends and I working out together because there’s something special about sharing a brutal workout with someone. And I’m honest about how I’m feeling.”
The more she shared, the more people reached out to her. So Shulz had an idea. What if she created an event, that anyone could do on their own, or with her in her basement, to help raise awareness of mental health issues while strengthening friendships through fitness?
And the Why Suffer Alone challenge was born.
The 2019 Why Suffer Alone challenge is an online charity WOD to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Individuals or groups can register to complete the WOD online, then share their own videos online. Shulz had a goal of $500 in mind, which she says they have already passed. “I have a number in mind that I’m hoping we get to as a secondary goal but am already so thankful that we’ll be contributing so much regardless! Also, I hope that the discussion about suicide becomes a little easier. People are starting to become a little bit more at ease when it comes to discussing someone’s depression or anxiety, but suicide still scares the shit out of people,” Shulz said.
The support so far for the Why Suffer Alone challenge has been far and wide, including support from Street Parking, who is matching every dollar that Shulz raises.
“Jess is a shining light in the Street Parking community. She embodies everything we believe in. She is always positive – but also keeps it real. She never gives up – but is open about how she often wants to. She started her weight loss and health journey with a long way to go, but understood that sharing her journey (while uncomfortable) would not only keep her accountable, but help so many along the way,” Miranda Alcarez, co-owner of Street Parking, told Morning Chalk Up.
“When she first came to me and asked if I would help her with the fundraiser, and the cause it was for, we offered to match her program to show her that we support her and believe in her the same way she supports and believes in us. Street Parking is a family and we support our own as much as we possibly can. She has given so much to us, and she (as well as this cause) are truly close to our hearts,” said Miranda.
You can register for the 2019 Why Suffer Alone challenge to complete the dumbbell WOD on your own, in your affiliate, or with a group of friends at home. As for Shulz, she’ll be completing the WOD with a group of people, in her best friend’s driveway, and posting it to the Suffer With Friends Instagram, continuing to share her story.