LIFEAID’s FITMAS Campaign Recognizes Gyms that Give Back During the Holidays
From toy donations for homeless children, to supporting veterans, to cash donations for a good cause, affiliates around the world have long used December as a time to celebrate their own communities and even give back to the larger local community in various creative ways.
Recognizing what affiliates do each year during the holidays is one of the goals the popular beverage company LIFEAID has for their currently running FITMAS campaign, an initiative aimed at sharing stories, recipes and traditions from various athletes and gyms around the world.
So in the spirit of LIFEAID’s FITMAS campaign, let’s take a look at what affiliates around the world do each year to give back.
Sponsoring Children at CrossFit COMO in Missouri
Each year, Michael Wuest and his team at CrossFit COMO in Columbia, MO, work with a local charity—a shelter called the Rainbow House—that houses children who have been removed from their homes “for a variety of reasons,” Wuest explained.
“The stories of these kids are heartbreaking,” said Wuest, adding that the charity is especially important to both him and his wife because both of them spent time at Rainbow House as children.
To give the children a memorable, happy Christmas, the CrossFit COMO community donates dozens of gifts, generally giving each child at the Rainbow House “everything on their Christmas list and then some,” he added.
Schrottwichteln at CrossFit KH in Germany
Marcus McClain, the owner of CrossFit KH in Bad Kreuznach, Germany has often used the holidays as a time to celebrate and give back to his own community of clients, such as through an initiative he calls “WishWOD,” which means every Friday in December he draws a workout from a tin cup.
“The first two years were amazing and we had a lot of fun, inviting other gyms from the local area. The last two years we haven’t been able to do it due to COVID, but (we) hope to pick it up again next year.”
“This gives members a chance to write and perform workouts they want to do,” he explained.
Each year, McClain’s community also participates in what Americans call Secret Santa; however, in Germany it’s called Schrottwichteln, which translates to “exchange of crap,” he explained.
Essentially, it involves the community coming together for a Christmas party and providing something as a gift that they already own that they don’t want, the idea being one man’s trash might be another man’s treasure
Beyond his own community, McClain also hosts a LiftOff charity event and gives the proceeds to the Children’s hospital.
“The first two years were amazing and we had a lot of fun, inviting other gyms from the local area. The last two years we haven’t been able to do it due to COVID, but (we) hope to pick it up again next year,” he said.
Matching Funds at Cohort CrossFit in Australia
Paul Knowles, the owner of Cohort CrossFit in New South Wales, Australia hosts the classic 12 Days of Christmas WOD each year, but also asks each member to bring a monetary donation, and then Cohort CrossFit doubles the money to provide gifts for homeless children who might not otherwise get a Christmas present. Typically his community raises close to $2,000 a year, he explained.
“Christmas is my all-time favorite thing about this world. Not all are that fortunate and that’s super distressing, at least we can give something back.”
“It has been a horrendous year. It at least feels good to be given back and knowing we can pay it forward for those in need. Christmas is my all-time favorite thing about this world. Not all are that fortunate and that’s super distressing, at least we can give something back,” Knowles added.
Donations and Gift Baskets at 7 Mile Strength and Fitness in Grand Cayman
Each year at 7 Mile Strength and Fitness in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, the gym community donates as many toys as possible to donate to the Family Resource Center.
In exchange, each person who donates a toy’s name is entered in a raffle to win a free month at the gym. Each toy gets you one entry in the raffle, explained owner Wanda Brenton.
Further, Brenton’s community makes gift baskets to give to the eldery, and also drops off donated food at a local organization, Meals on Wheels.
Giveaways and Donations at CrossFit Exhale in British Columbia
This year, Bobbie Moore, the owner of CrossFit Exhale in Fort St. John, British Columbia is collaborating with other small, local businesses, such as aestheticians, bakers, home crafters and wood workers, all of which took a big hit during the pandemic, in their GIVEBACK GIVEAWAY campaign.
Throughout the month of December, Moore’s CrossFit Exhale community and the other small businesses on board have been offering various giveaways—Moore’s giveaway is a free OnRamp experience or punch card at her gym—in exchange for a donation, such as food, toys, hygiene items, warm clothing, pajamas and books, which they will give to their town’s community’s Women’s Resource Center.
“We’re so thrilled with the outpouring of giving from such a small town,” Moore said.
Supporting Children in Need and Veterans at CrossFit 256 in Alabama
Like Wuest’s community, the community at CrossFit 256 in Cullman, AL sponsors children at Christmas time through a program called Christmas Love at a local elementary school, explained owner Chet Graves.
“Anybody can open a gym…It takes a lot more to create a community.”
“We are given a child’s wish list and the members go above and beyond what is on his or her list to make Christmas special for so many families who are in need. This is something we have done for the past seven years,” he said, adding that CrossFit 256 community also goes out of their way to help veterans during the holidays.
“We have several coaches and members who are military and we donate to special events that raise money for veterans,” Graves said. In the past, they have also held corn hole tournaments to raise money for the Saving Forgotten Warriors organization.
About why he does it, Graves explained: “Building a community has always been a staple of CrossFit 256 since the early days when we would congregate in a small garage and push one another to be better…The emphasis on community is what’s changing the mental health of the members and what has the capacity to impact the greater community of people in general.”
He added: “Anybody can open a gym…It takes a lot more to create a community. I want to thank each one of our members over the past seven years for your willingness to give back to this community. Your service and hard work is never unnoticed.”