Pulling For The Community: How a Rowing Fundraiser is Bringing Members Together
Curtis Marzinzik has been in the CrossFit space since 2010.
In the first year of the Games in Carson, CA, Marzinzik fell in love with CrossFit. He jumped headfirst into the sport, taking classes and quickly becoming certified to coach. Although he loved the physical movement of CrossFit, the thing he enjoyed the most was the community, so in 2015, he opened up his affiliate, and CrossFit SCV was born. Now in 2023, CrossFit SCV has almost 250 members.
The community is the cornerstone of how Marzinzik runs his affiliate and he takes personal responsibility to ensure all of his members can afford fitness.
- Marzinzik: “I’d say probably half of the months of the year; we have personally paid for at least one person’s membership since we’ve opened, just because we thought it was important.”
Whether it was because of the loss of a job or trouble at home, Marzinzik just made it work.
- “I told them just to keep coming to the gym. And then whenever you get reemployed, do it right. Members would approach me sometimes, letting me know they couldn’t keep up with the membership–I would find out why and then I usually said we would work it out for a few months.”
With his affiliate located in Los Angeles, the hotbed of production, CrossFit SCV saw the repercussions of the recent writers strike up close when most all television and movie production screeched to a halt on May 1, 2023. The strike still needs to be resolved, and many people are without work, including writers, actors, and all crew members.
- “When the writer strike started, it occurred to me that we have a lot of people here that might have to make the hard decision as to whether they can keep a CrossFit membership. And I thought I wouldn’t want that to happen,” he said.
Early on, Marzinzik had covered some memberships out of his own pocket, but he knew he couldn’t handle supporting ten or more people with the amount that the strike had affected the population.
- Marzinzik: “I thought, this just makes me feel good when I do this for people. And if we did this as a community, I think the community would feel stronger.”
He knew he didn’t want to just ask for donations from members.
- “It was important to put something to it; there had to be a physical end to it, something people could do every day.”
Marzinzik came up with a plan of a month of rowing, the goal being for each member to row 1000 meters a day. He encouraged members to donate themselves and also have people pledge donations for the number of meters rowed.
- “It was just about getting everybody involved, even if they gave a little bit. Then they gave back to the community, and that made them feel like it was a little more theirs. They become a piece of it.”
- “I wanted our community to be able to take care of the other people in the community. I didn’t want it to just be me. It’s always been the community for me, not the burpees and the clean and jerks.”
The original goal was to raise $2000 to have a slush fund for CrossFit SCV members who fell on hard times, but when after about a week, Marzinzik had already raised over half of that, he started to dream bigger.
- “I wondered if we could turn this into a $10,000 fund that we could use to help people around the community of Santa Clarita. This might now be able to fund some other stuff that we do as a gym and perhaps fund some kind of charity in addition to supporting our members.”
- “I think, in general, the community might have a lot of weird thoughts about CrossFit – look, those are the people who do the weird pull-ups. But if they start seeing that these CrossFit communities are supporting causes in need, they will view us differently and understand what the community is really about.”
The fundraiser concludes with a 24-hour rowing marathon during the last weekend in August, with the goal to either row a marathon or row enough to have completed the marathon length over the course of the month. Members and coaches are encouraged to sign up for a time slot and donate themselves, and have others sponsor them and their rowing total.
Marzinzik will put a bow on the event by coming in to do a four-hour chunk and lead by example. He signed up for the coveted 2 AM slot.
- “When you’re there during weird hours doing weird stuff, it’s a whole different fun, summer camp vibe. And it brings it back to the whole point – building community.”