“You've got to fight through some adversity. You've got to have some tough times. You've got to have some rainy days.”- Tom Izzo
Former Florida Affiliate Owner Finds Calling Working with Special Olympics
Until 2018, CrossFit was Mark Oliver’s life.
That year, the former Florida affiliate owner and CrossFit athlete, had his “life turned upside down”: he started training Andrew Whitehead, an athlete with Down syndrome.
“Long story short,” Oliver said, “He became my best friend, I got involved with the Special Olympics… and [I knew ] this is what I’m supposed to do.”
Within one year, Oliver went from training one individual, Whitehead, to training 400, and running the largest Special Olympics program in Hillsborough County, FL. Over the next five years, he continued to grow this programming, naming it the Specially Fit Foundation.
The details: Specially Fit, recently rebranded to the Specially Fit Academy (SFA), is a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services to those with disabilities: Special Olympics training, hosts free weekly workout classes, offers health care, job opportunities, housing, and more.
Oliver’s recent rebrand to SFA will take the foundation to a new level: a high school serving students of all abilities, with a focus on fitness and athletics.
“I feel as though the Academy is just another branch of the Specially Fit Foundation that will continue to enrich our community,” Oliver explained.
Focusing on fitness: Fitness has been a foundation of Specially Fit since the beginning, starting with Whitehead. “We’re known for our fitness program,” Oliver explained. “We offer free Special Olympics classes every week… our athletes get a free gym membership. Fitness is our backbone. It’s everything we do.”
By keeping this foundation, Oliver says they’ve seen major improvements in the health and more of Specially Fit athletes.
“There’s a story that came out about one of our athletes, Everald Nelson. He was in the hospital for 288 days, diagnosed with a developmental disability and he was on insulin and dialysis,” Oliver said.
After working with Specially Fit, Nelson is off all of that, Oliver continues. “He just made it to the state Special Olympics competition for track and field.”
Another Specially Fit athlete, Christian Wright, lost almost 40 pounds in four months after starting the program. Even at the beginning, when Oliver first started training Whitehead, he saw his motor skills, along with his health, improve at a rapid rate.
Nelson, Wright, and Whitehead are just some of Specially Fit’s many success stories; working alongside area hospitals, Oliver has been able to track how the organization’s fitness focus can help individuals in their programming lower blood pressure, lose weight, and keep them out of the hospital.
Oliver says CrossFit has given him the foundation to create a comprehensive program like Specially Fit. He still hosts CrossFit and powerlifting competitions for the athletes he works with, saying the CrossFit mentality is always with him:
“I brought the CrossFit energy into the [Specially Fit] training. We have chants… we shout family. It’s that family mentality that I learned in the CrossFit gym. I bring that to the Special Olympics side.”
Future of Fitness Technology Added to the CrossFit Affiliate Partner Network
The original Customer Retention Platform whose first customers were CrossFit Affiliates and is now a part of the CrossFit Affiliate Partner Network: Wodify.
Wodify transformed the CrossFit industry once, and now they’re doing it again with their CRP that enhances the experience gym owners, coaches, and athletes.
Wodify is proud to be a member of the CAPN and committed to helping CrossFit affiliates grow. So, they are offering an exclusive deal to all Crossfit affiliates of up to 65% off the first 3 months of their Customer Retention Platform.
Emily Rolfe x GORUCK: 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games athlete, Emily Rolfe announced yesterday that she is the newest GORUCK athlete.
Rolfe: “I’m so excited to be joining the GORUCK team. I’ve always loved their products and found them a head above the rest as they make the most grueling of workouts that much more bearable. Training for the remainder of the 2023 season just got a whole lot more exciting!”
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Two Western Australian Best Mates Qualify for the CrossFit Games
Best mates and training buddies, Ryan Woodall and Caine Hayne from Injustice CrossFit in Rockingham, Western Australia, will be competing alongside each other for the first time at the 2023 NoBull CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin in the 40-44 age group.
Woodall and Hayne are no strangers to elite competition, having competed at the CrossFit Games together on a team in 2017 and as a pair in 2019 at the Torian Pro, Brisbane Australia. However, it has been a long and challenging road, but finally these best mates will be competing in the same division for the very first time as Woodall shared on Instagram:
In 2018, Kim Joiner, tiredly chatting with Sawed-Off CrossFit co-owner Brian Healy, shared how exhausted she felt. By working in a corporate job, she had such little time for her four children, and while the paycheck was comfortable, she was anything but.
Healy took how she felt to heart, and asked her if she would be interested in forming a kids class at the gym. This would involve quitting her job, pursuing her L1 and CrossFit Kids certification, and devoting herself full-time to growing a brand new program from scratch.
Which is exactly what she did.
Five years later, Sawed-Off CrossFit Kids has grown into one of most well-known CrossFit Kids programs in existence, and one that many CrossFit Kids coaches and teachers look to for inspiration daily. Joiner has coaches regularly reaching out to her from across the world, asking her for advice, programming help and tips.
Joiner reflected on the five year journey she’s been on, and the highs and lows of her program. In 2020, while her gym was shut down, she taught her classes over Zoom. She looks back at this time as integral to her development as a coach.
“I had to learn how to coach using minimal words, completely holding their attention over the computer. I had to keep them coming back, which was a huge challenge, but ultimately it made me into a much better coach,” she said.
She has learned that, like the adult athletes at the gym, her kids need structure and goals. They explore different sports and skills, like running, tennis, throwing and catching and gymnastics, among many others. For many of the athletes, CrossFit Kids is their first and only exposure to certain modalities.
Have you ever visited a new city and had a hard time finding a place to workout? Don’t settle for the bogus hotel gym, use the MagFit app to locate a gym in the area. You can even see what kind of equipment the gym has.
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