How Ron Webb Helped 100-Plus Access CrossFit During Pandemic
When we first met Ron Webb in August 2020, he was in the early weeks of running Functional Life Performance Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to “remove barriers” of access to CrossFit.
- Six months later, Webb’s foundation has already helped more than 100 people, including students, veterans and those recovering from substance abuse, gain access to various CrossFit gyms.
Remind me: When we spoke with Webb six months ago, his foundation had just sponsored the CrossFit Level certification 1 for Brandon Burns, a young African American Army veteran, who was looking to make a career change. At the time, the foundation was also brainstorming a plan to bring CrossFit to an adolescent treatment center in Houston, TX, as well as how to deliver CrossFit to veterans with PTSD. Though his talk was big, his non-profit was brand new, and most of Webb’s plans were still just in the “hope and dream” stage.
Six months later: From sponsoring individual athletes, military veterans and coaches, to starting a CrossFit program for those rehabilitating from addiction, the Functional Life Performance Foundation has quickly expanded. Their efforts even helped Webb win the WIT Catalyst for Change Award in 2020.
The details: Burns is now coaching at CrossFit Equality in Houston, TX, and Webb is in the process of sponsoring another coach. “She’s a Spanish speaker, so she’s taking an English course first, and then she’s going to do the CrossFit Level 1…She can do a lot to help attract a more diverse population into fitness,” said Webb, adding that he would like to sponsor a couple more coaches to get their CrossFit Level 1s in 2021.
- Another big win has been introducing CrossFit classes to adults in a local substance abuse program. Every Monday night, they train together at ChalkMonkey CrossFit in Pasadena, TX. “They average about six or seven people each class, but they have had as many as 10 or 11 attend,” Webb explained.
- Also, as planned, his foundation has made strides in setting up a CrossFit program at an adolescent substance abuse treatment facility in Houston, TX. COVID-19 stalled the progress, but they’re almost there. “I have my truck loaded with a bunch of wall balls and dumbbells and kettlebells and I’m going to drop them off at the facility this weekend,” Webb said. The plan is to offer CrossFit classes there twice a week. The only thing left to do it to find a CrossFit coach in the area who is interested in coaching these classes, he explained.
- Finally, Webb connected his foundation with a local veteran’s organization, who helped him recruit veterans interested in starting CrossFit and he’s currently placing them at CrossFit affiliates.
- Next up: Webb is in the process of “trying to figure out how to support a local organization that rescues young women from human trafficking,” he explained. The organization has a charter high school on site so the young women can get their high school diplomas, and Webb is on the hunt for a CrossFit gym to offer PE classes at the school.
One big thing: One of the most important parts to successfully helping the people in his target population involves continuously providing mentorship and support, Webb explained.
- One of the individuals he sponsored is a young woman who was transitioning from High School to college. “She was the first person in her family to go to college and I knew CrossFit would help her with the transition, and would make her healthier and provide her a community when she was away from home,” he explained. The foundation funded her membership last year, and because Webb was in ongoing touch with her, he was able to also sponsor a Martial Arts gym membership when she expressed interest in trying a new sport.
- Now, the young woman is transferring to Texas State University in San Marcos, and Webb is helping set her up at a new gym. “We have been working hard to stay in touch with her and support her through the transition,” he said. Without this support, she might have become lost in the shuffle and fallen off the fitness wagon.
The big picture: Webb’s goal isn’t to try to raise as much money as he can or become as big as he can. In fact, he doesn’t have an agenda at all, other than to help as many people as possible. So far, his open-minded approach is working.
- “Things have happened pretty organically, and they have been different than I thought. When we first started, we figured we’d help a bunch of individuals, but we have had more success teaming up with facilities and organizations, and then we can provide a service to a whole group,” he said.
- He credits the CrossFit community for making it easy for his foundation to help. “It (makes) perfect sense to rally troops within this community to help out. It’s just kind of what we do. If you ask, the community responds,” he said.
Donations to Functional Life Performance Foundation can be made here.