“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
The Deaf Athlete’s CrossFit Experience
You are in the middle of 23.2. The music is blaring, your friends are cheering you on, and as the timer counts down, you hear your judge scream at you how long you have left, and you speed up. You hear the beep and collapse to the floor, spent.
This is the CrossFit experience for athletes who can hear.
The CrossFit experience for Deaf athletes is entirely different.
It is 2013 at the South Central Regional, and the six members of CrossFit Kemahtake the floor. One of the members was Robin Gonzales Dazé, a Deaf athlete who had been playing sports her entire life.
“I grew up in athletics–I played volleyball, basketball, softball, and tennis. The Deaf Softball League recruited me, and I was in that for three to four years. After that, I ended up in the Deaf pageant for Miss Texas.”
She stumbled into CrossFit with her sister to get in shape for her pageant and fell in love. However, the weights were only one of the challenges.
“It was a challenge because of the communication barrier. No one knew sign language except for my sister, and luckily, I had her help me with communication with the coach. The coach used his body language, and that did assist a lot. He gave us a bunch of examples of the movements that he did physically, and he made sure to show it with his body.”
Dazé progressed quickly and was part of the team from CrossFit Kemah that went to Regionals in 2013. She is the only Deaf athlete to compete at this level of CrossFit. Close to the competition, she contacted the organizers to request an ASL interpreter to stand on the floor with her.
“Unfortunately, they would not allow a sign language interpreter on top of the CrossFit platform because of safety concerns. I needed someone because they needed to tell me about the timer–countdowns are important, and I’m always behind a bit because I don’t hear the timer go off.”
The interpreter provided was set up behind the fence that separated the competition floor from the spectators, and being so far away, it was almost zero help to Dazé.
“I told myself this is doable and just focused on myself. I ignored the interpreter and just started competing. And when it finished, we ended up in 11th place out of 30 teams, which was awesome.”
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🫑 💪 Spend the day with Dallin Pepper: Hosted by CrossFit NEBO, get your tickets now for a training day with the fifth Fittest Man on Earth, Dallin Pepper in Salem, UT on September 9. And, enjoy a BBQ and games after the training day.
Train with Brute Strength: Coach Matt Torres and the Brute crew are heading to CrossFit OBA in Philadelphia for a training camp on October 7-8. Early bird tickets are available now (save $75).
The ELFIT Sports and Fitness Games has revealed its full slate of events for this year, highlighted by the ELFIT CrossFit Championship. And, the official leaderboard is live now. Check it out.
This year the Crossfit-licensed event is being programmed by new Technical partner, Underdogs Athletics. Send all questions here.
Just announced on Friday, HYROX will be hosting its World Championship for the ‘23-’24 season in Nice, France at the Palais des Expositions-Nice Acropolis.
Remind me: HYROX and CrossFit have maintained a close relationship as many professional CrossFit athletes have tested themselves in the hybrid sport and have competed at a high level. Just last month, James Newbury, Ricky Garard and Katelin Van Zyl competed in Sydney. This is not a new trend, others such as Sam Briggs, Kristi Eramo O’Connell, Elijah Muhammad and Adam Klink have participated in HYROX events in the past.
The details: Over the course of three days, there will be age group, solo and partner competitors, racing to crown the champion for each division. The elite race will be livestreamed, and this year’s event boasts a $150,000 prize purse.
Additionally, Hyrox has announced a new season structure and qualification process for its Elite15 Series for this upcoming season with over $300,000 in prize money available.
The Elite15 series is the professional racing division in the world of HYROX, featuring the top 15 female and top 15 male athletes competing in various formats. This season’s Elite15 Series will consist of the following key events:
Four regional races, with the top three times at each earning coveted spots at the HYROX World Championships.
Two Last Chance Qualifiers, providing athletes with one last opportunity to secure a spot at the HYROX World Championships.
And, the HYROX World Championship, the crown jewel of the season, where the best of the best will compete for titles, prize money, and the title of HYROX World Champion.
Memberships Only $65 a Month at Illinois Affiliate Subsidized by Medical Center
How can we make CrossFit more accessible?
It’s a question that has been circling in recent years, and often leaves the affiliate owner stumped. Because the reality is, most small business owners need to charge upwards of $200 a month—often more than that—just to be able to make a decent living themselves, arguably pricing many people out of the market in the process.
Such is not the case at CrossFit KMC in Monticello, IL, a gym located on the campus of Kirby Medical Center. Their membership fee is just $65 a month.
How they got here: Kirby Medical Center’s CEO Steve Tenhouse found CrossFit, loved it, and knew he wanted to build an affiliate at Kirby, a traditional medical facility that’s also home to a team of dieticians, occupational therapists and physical therapists, among other health professionals.
Six years ago, with the board’s approval, Tenhouse opened CrossFit KMC, and today, the 200-member affiliate located in Kirby’s 5,000 square foot Therapy and Wellness Center, is essentially subsided by the medical facility. Essentially, this allows the gym to charge just $65 a month for members, as well as pay their eight coaches well.
One big thing: For Jordan Barney, the gym’s manager, one of the biggest benefits is how he can develop relationships with dieticians, occupational therapists and physical therapists and work together to “collaborate” to help their clients get the best possible service and coaching.
“We can connect with each other and refer (clients) both ways,” Barney said, adding that the model also allows him to focus entirely on coaching, rather than being pulled in multiple directions, such as is often the case for coaches at traditional affiliates.
“I still have (quantifiable) objectives, but not having to worry about other roles allows me to put everything into my coaching and provide a better experience…It’s a dream job,” he added.
The big picture: CrossFit KMC is the perfect example of what CrossFit LLC is trying to do with their CrossFit Health initiative, an initiative that focuses on preventive medicine, rather than the reactionary medical model that waits until people are sick before using medical treatments and interventions to help combat disease.
At CrossFIt KMC, this means introducing CrossFit’s sickness and wellness continuum right in their prep course, their ultimate mission being “to make the country a healthier place to live,” Barney said.
“And we know the CrossFit methodology can do this,” Barney concluded.
CrossFit Program for Special Needs Community—Uniquely Abled— Spread its Wings to More Gyms
Less than a year ago, we featured coach Christiana Siegelin, who started a program called Uniquely Abled CrossFit to serve those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
At the time, Siegelin’s long-term goal was to spread her program to other coaches and other CrossFit gyms interested in working with the special needs community, but she wasn’t sure how to go about growing it beyond the 17 kids and teens with Down Syndrome she was working with at the time out of CrossFit Valley Park in Valley Park, MO.
“The dream was always to take the program I started in Missouri and spread it, but it felt like a long-term dream that didn’t feel tangible,” she said.
Turns out, it was more tangible than she thought. After the Morning Chalk Up article was published, coaches began reaching out to Siegelin for advice on starting similar programs, and despite being pregnant at the time, Siegelin didn’t hesitate to offer guidance.
Join us Oct. 21+22 in Milford CT for the first annual North East Coaches Summit. Spend the weekend with Kelly Starrett, Bo Sandoval, Brett Bartholomew, Mike Molloy, Jason Leydon, Chris Hinshaw, and more! Learn from industry leaders in a weekend full of insightful seminars, networking opportunities, and expert panel discussions.
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