Preacher Joe Klassen Finds the Church of CrossFit
When he first came to CrossFit Unconquered, Joe Klassen couldn’t walk across the gym without stopping for a break. The fear of being an outcast because of his weight–nearly 350 pounds–made the pastor weary of starting CrossFit. Two years later, though, 130 pounds down, Klassen has become an integral part of his gym’s community, a bright light for everyone around him.
A member of Klassen’s congregation approached him in a conversation that would change his life. The member–who also worked out at CrossFit Unconquered–said Klassen’s sermons, which spoke of self-control, didn’t line up with what he saw.
- “In essence, he just said, ‘Joe you’re being a hypocrite and that’s not becoming of you.’ I knew he was right,” Klassen said. Regarding his lifestyle at the time, he said, “I was just death moving around, waiting to not be moving around.”
Despite his nerves going into his first class, Klassen made a commitment to his friend, and he was going to follow through. He remembers completing only one round and three reps of the 20-minute AMRAP prescribed that day–everyone else finished 11 rounds, he says. Tired, beaten down, and insecure, Klassen was sure he would be told that this wasn’t the place for him.
But for anyone who knows the community of a CrossFit gym, as Klassen now does, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
- “At the end, they came and scraped me off the floor and gave me high fives,” Klassen said. “I discovered that these are my people, these folks speak my language of ‘we’re going to meet you where you’re at, but we’re not going to let you stay there.’”
As the weight fell off, Klassen realized that his fitness journey was tied tightly to his relationship with God and with other people. He believes that strengthening his body and mind through CrossFit helps him follow God the way he’s meant to, and seeing his physical transformation helped him fulfill that part of his faith.
In addition, becoming a role model and leader at CrossFit Unconquered felt “right” for Klassen. As a self-proclaimed people person, he was excited to encourage people through their insecurities and coach them to confidence. Where he was once accused of being hypocritical in his talks about self-control, he knows now that he can stand firmly in these beliefs.
Klassen doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to being a leader in his community, he proves his place with his actions. Co-owners at CrossFit Unconquered Mindy and Brian Clasing speak highly of Klassen, and can name a long list of names that would be willing to vouch for his kindness.
In fact, Mindy Clasing remembers Klassen’s nine half-Murphs in May of 2022 as a standout moment. He completed the workout time and time again for athletes who didn’t feel comfortable doing it on their own, she says. Brian Clasing pointed out Klassen’s commitment to serving military families each holiday season. This support also extends to the Clasings.
- Mindy: “He’s the first one to help, and he’s the first person to tell us we’re doing a good job. As ownership, sometimes that’s what you need. He’s that person that picks us up, too.”
After just six months of attending classes, Klassen was fully invested in the community and says he started to pray for the box on a regular basis. His blood pressure, which had previously been at extremely dangerous levels, is now at 126/77, weighs 230 pounds, and regularly celebrates new fitness milestones. Klassen says that he owes his life to CrossFit Unconquered in many ways.
- Klassen: “This has radically affected my relationship with other people, this has radically affected my impact in this world and man, I’m sold.”