Two Ways for CrossFit Athletes to Support Ukraine Through Fitness

March 9, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nicholas Worley
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Nearly two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, CrossFit athletes around the globe are beginning to come up with small ways to both show support and raise money for Ukraine.

Johnny Hunka, a long-time CrossFit athlete whose father is first generation Ukrainian, and Nicholas Worley, a member of CrossFit Asphodel in Hong Kong, are two of them.

  • Hunka created a workout called Ukraine Unbroken, which he and his Bluenose Fitness community in Truro, Nova Scotia, are doing this Saturday, along with seven other affiliates in Atlantic Canada, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross. 
  • Meanwhile, Worley created an event called Burpees For Ukraine, which seeks to raise funds for Doctors Without Border in Ukraine and runs from March 11 to April 16.

Ukraine Unbroken Details: Right now, eight boxes have confirmed they will partake in Ukraine Unbroken, but Hunka is hoping many others will also throw their names into the hat.

  • “You can just come do the workout and show your support through fitness, or you can come and donate. We’re also encouraging people to wear blue and yellow,” Hunka explained. 
  • Another option is to donate actual items to the Red Cross that are needed in Ukraine right now, “from electrical cords, to diapers to toiletries. There’s a list of things on the (Red Cross) website that are needed,” he added. 
  • Hunka is also asking anyone who does the Ukraine Unbroken workout to post pictures and use the hashtag #ukraineunbroken

The Workout: With a partner, complete, in a descending and then ascending ladder:

  • 70 double unders
    60 alternating hang kettlebell snatches (35/26 pounds)
    50 toes-to-ring
    40 wall balls 
    30 alternating weighted sit-ups
    20 clean and jerks (155/105 pounds)
    15 synchro burpees
    Then, row 2,870 meters.

The rep scheme represents the casualties as of March 3, 2022, Hunka explained. 

  • The total reps (554) represents the number of civilian casualties as reported on March 3, while the 15 burpees represents the number of child casualties at that time, and the 2,870 refers to the number of soldier casualties.
  • “And the name, Ukraine Unbroken, is obviously a big terminology in CrossFit, but it also symbolizes the strength of Ukraine. Their history has had a lot of hardships involved in fighting for their freedom, and they finally established a free and democratic society and now they have to fight for it again. So the unbroken symbolizes their strength and their willingness to continue to fight,” Hunka added.

Burpee for Ukraine Details: Register a team of two, create an account and then share your page to encourage others to donate to the cause.

  • Between March 11 to Saturday, April 16, raise as much money as you can, and do one burpee, between you and your partner, for each dollar raised. So if you raise $5,000, you must do 5,000 burpees as a team before April 16. 
  • While he doesn’t have Ukrainian roots, Worley explained he has visited Ukraine several times and has “seen firsthand how wonderful the people are and I have been fortunate enough to train at some of their incredible boxes, such as CrossFit Banda,” Worley said of his reason to start the fundraiser. 
  • “A few weeks ago, friends there were organizing competitions, training and getting excited for the Open before the invasion, and now they’re literally fighting for survival and their country,” he said. His hope is for this to become a global event “to raise as much money as we can and to show our friends in Ukraine that the community is thinking about them,” he said. 

The Big Picture: While a bunch of athletes in eastern Canada doing Ukraine Unbroken, or CrossFit athletes around the world doing thousands of burpees, isn’t going to change the course of the war being fought in Ukraine. But if their events can even make a small impact, then that’s worth something, explained Hunka and Worley. And they know they can count on the CrossFit community to show their support, even if it is in the tiniest way. 

  • “I always believe in the power of the CrossFit community…and even though we are helpless, I feel like this was something small I could take on,” Hunka explained. 
  • Worley added: “I’ve found the Crossfit community to have always been one of the most passionate and supportive groups in the world, so was really happy to see a huge amount of positive feedback already from boxes and friends globally, so will see how much we can raise and how many burpees we’ll all do at the end on April 16th.”

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