NCFIT Dedicates March to Highlight Women’s “Untold Stories of Strength and Grit”

March 4, 2021 by
Courtesy of Ashley Khalipa (https://www.instagram.com/ashleykhalipa/)
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NCFIT is taking advantage of March being Women’s History Month by celebrating strong and accomplished women in the CrossFit community and will be telling their “untold stories of strength and grit,” explained Gabe Yanez, NCFIT’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

Remind me: NCFIT was founded by 2008 CrossFit Games champion Jason Khalipa, a man who has personally owned and operated 15 gym locations through the years. Today, NCFIT has 105 flagship, corporate and partner locations around the world, as well as hundreds of others who follow their programs through the NCFIT Collective.

Why this matters: CrossFit has always been a sport that gives equal attention to their male and female athletes. “What other sport highlights their female athletes just as much as the men in their space?” asked Yanez rhetorically, adding that it’s one of the reasons he was drawn to the CrossFit community. However, this is not the case when it comes to coaches and business owners.

  • When we think about the most well-known coaches and business owners in the CrossFit community, names like Ben Bergeron, CJ Martin, Jason Khalipa or James FitzGerald automatically come to mind. Meanwhile, women like Michele Letendre have quietly coached not one, but two athletes to CrossFit Games podium finishes, yet her accomplishments are arguably lesser known by the broader community.
  • This is why NCFIT will be placing a particular focus on telling the stories of female coaches, gym managers and CrossFit-related business owners, as opposed to highlighting the high level athletes in the sport, Yanez explained. 
  • “I think those are the stories that still aren’t being told. We have done a great job in our sport highlighting female athletes — the Tia-Clair Toomeys out there — but we don’t do as well highlighting coaches and business owners,” he said. 

The details: The NCFIT “Women Make Waves” Initiative began on Wednesday, March 3. 

  • NCFIT will roll out daily stories on their various social media channels, via both videos and write-ups, and they’re encouraging people in the CrossFit community to nominate deserving women with incredible stories. 
  • “We’re hoping we’ll be overwhelmed with how many nominations we can fit into each week,” Yanez said. “We’d even like to see women nominate themselves.”

One big thing: One of the inspirations behind the initiative came from the heart of the brand — from Ashley Khalipa, Jason’s wife. 

  • Khalipa is the face of the very successful NCFIT brand, and has also gained notoriety for his philanthropic efforts to raise funds for cancer research after his then 4-year-old daughter Ava was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. None of it would have been possible without Ashley, Yanez explained, calling her the sounding board for Jason on business development, who “work(s) her magic mostly out of the limelight.”
  • “I can tell you that whenever Jason talks about the hardest part of his life dealing with Ava’s diagnosis, he always talks about how strong Ashley was, and how she inspired him to keep it together. She never faltered. Ashley is so private and she never gets brought up, but she kept that family together,” he said. 
  • It’s untold stories like Ashley’s that NCFIT is committed to tell throughout the entire month of March, Yanez added.
Courtesy of Jason Khalipa: https://www.instagram.com/jasonkhalipa/

The big picture: The sport of CrossFit is undoubtedly ahead of the curve in terms of its commitment to highlight female CrossFit athletes as much as their male counterparts, but this isn’t the case across the community at large, and this needs to change, Yanez said.  

  • “Our sport has made great strides, but there’s still room for improvement, especially on the coaching and business side of things,” Yanez said.  
  • That’s what this initiative is all about: To “change the landscape” by telling the stories that need to be told and “move the needle forward to where it needs to be,” he said.  

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