“Snow brings a special quality with it — the power to stop life as you know it dead in its tracks.”- Nancy Hatch Woodward
Why EZ Muhammad Almost Quit CrossFit and the Gut Check That Brought Him Back
As everyone leaves Miami and the TYR WZA hangover takes hold, two-time CrossFit Games qualifier Elijah “EZ” Muhammad is already back in the snow-covered Midwest, focused on what is next.
Muhammad co-founded Project Onyx, a nonprofit that seeks to serve Black youth and bring them into CrossFit. The organization teaches the kids about health and wellness and gives them spaces and opportunities to work out and blow off steam.
Muhammad:“It helps them get an understanding of the physical capacity of health and wellness and the basics of it. But it also provides a space for them to be safe and have fun.”
The main impetus behind Project Onyx was that there were few Black athletes in the CrossFit space at the time.
Muhammad: “The biggest thing was to be the representation that I wanted to see. There are not many Black athletes when I teach a seminar. I am the only Black person in the space. And so it was like, how can I be the representation for young kids and youth to want to do or get involved in health and wellness?”
“And so Project Onyx was how I can be that representation for my community,” he concluded.
Muhammad describes the partnership: “Their ideology and ideas of health, wellness, and fitness aligned with ours, and so after talking with them, I knew if I came on board with Forging Youth Resilience, I could have a bigger outreach.”
“I got attached to Project Onyx to the point where I didn’t know if I wanted to make it bigger. I didn’t want anyone to ruin or change it; I wanted it to be exactly what I created. When I saw that FYR was doing the same thing in their space with the youth, giving them places to vent, engaging with them outside of just health and wellness and fitness, investing in them, and teaching them about their worth, I knew this aligned. And so I was like, ‘What if I just partnered with y’all, and we turn Project Onyx into an FYR chapter?’”
FYR was all for it, and Muhammad came on staff. They have multiple chapters nationwide, and Muhammad is ecstatic to expand his reach and message and be the best representation he can be.
But it wasn’t always that easy.
Not too long ago, Muhammad thought he was done with CrossFit. He was knocking on the door of the Master’s division.
Muhammad: “It was a hybrid of things that happened. I was picking up on my seminars and personalized programming and coaching Mal O’Brien in the beginning stages of her career.”
“I was just kind of like, ‘Man, I don’t know if I want to continue to compete.’ But of course, you know, you sign up for the Open anyway.”
The next stage came for Muhammad, and he went with the flow, all while questioning himself what the next move competitively for him was going to be. He had started the nonprofit and realized that he might have transitioned into another stage of his life.
He still wanted to compete and train, but he was uncertain if he had the energy and drive left to do so. The year he started Project Onyx, Muhammad fell short of qualifying for the Games and was close to becoming the age of a Masters athlete.
✍️ Quick Survey to Help PhD Student: CrossFitter Priscilla Fleming is a PhD student at Walden University, and she needs your help. She needs volunteers who have been doing CrossFit for the past three months to complete a short survey that examines the connection between the effectiveness of mental health treatment and CrossFit.
Empower by Dottir: During the TYR WZA week, CrossFit Games champs (two each) Annie Thorisdottir and Katrin Davidsdottir, who founded Dottir, launched a new training program designed specifically for women during their menopause years.
Rucking Interest Online Grew by 118% in 2023, And Why This is Great For CrossFit
Recently CrossFit HQ announced that the world’s leading ruck-related company GORUCK would be the official apparel and footwear sponsor of the CrossFit Games in 2024.
While GORUCK has been active in the CrossFit community for many years now, the sponsorship still caught some of us by surprise as we wondered how a company that seemingly does only one thing has enough cash flow for such a large partnership.
Essentially, we thought that the activity of rucking, simply walking a set distance with a weighted backpack, was a fringe hobby or a great training tool for people in the military.
But after looking at the worldwide growth of rucking, it turns out (and makes complete sense) that GORUCK knew something we didn’t.
Gym Owners Save Time, Refine Content Creation with ChatGPT
When ChatGPT was released to the public in November 2022, reactions were a mix of both excitement and fear about what the chatbox driven by AI technology could do to help, or hinder, the way of the world.
Fourteen months later, ChatGPT—and other large language models, such as Google’s Bard—have quickly become somewhat mainstream, nothing-to-be-feared tools in many people’s lives, including the lives of some gym owners.
Gym owners who were early adopters of the technology say ChatGPT is making their lives easier, not by replacing what they used to do, but by enhancing their content creation and communication.
What gym owners are saying: First and foremost, ChatGPT-using gym owners told Morning Chalk Up it saves them valuable time, time they can then put toward higher-level tasks to build their business.
Victor Zamudio, the owner of South Gate CrossFit in South Gate, CA says ChatGPT saves him “at least eight hours per week.”
Similarly, Jeff Thompson, the owner of CrossFit Buckhead in Atlanta, GA says it saves him “several hours” each week, while Brian Strump, the owner of CrossFit Steele Creek in Charlotte, NC says it gives him back a handful of hours each month.
How they’re using ChatGPT: While it’s certainly possible to use ChatGPT to write a blog or social post from scratch, gym owners using the technology say it’s better used as a refining tool.
At South Gate CrossFit: Zamudio, who has been using ChatGPT for a year, uses it to help him “polish my writing” on his social posts, newsletters and emails.
“You can give it generic instructions to write from scratch, but it’ll miss the mark and you have to edit,” he said. But even as a copyeditor and writer’s assistant, though, so to speak, ChatGPT adds value to Zamudio, as it always speeds up the writing process, which motivates him to write.
“It helps me get started on writing when I would procrastinate and drag it out [before],” he explained.
Further, Zamudio uses ChatGPT to help him write WOD explanations. He provides ChatGPT an outline of what he needs, as well as details such as the intended stimulus and how it is achieved, and then ChatGPT takes it from there.
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