“The first wealth is health.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ukraine’s CrossFit Banda Becomes Humanitarian Center: "We are strong, we are free. And we will definitely win!"
“I apologize for not answering right away as there was no opportunity to answer. You know that we are now shelled by aviation and there are interruptions to the internet.”
CrossFit Banda’s – which is located in Kyiv, Ukraine – initial reply to Morning Chalkup’s request for an interview was a stark reminder of the stakes and reality for Ukrainians. This was not a simple CrossFit story about workouts and community spirit. It is a matter of life and death.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The full scale assault on the northeast and Kyiv was expected to last just days. But the Ukranians have repelled Russia. The invasion galvanized the population to fight back.
The spirit of resistance is typified by Tatiana Grashchenko, owner of CrossFit Banda, the biggest CrossFit gym chain in Ukraine. Her gyms have been used as humanitarian shelters, she offered one gym as a weapons silo and she continues to raise thousands of dollars for the soldiers.
“I was scared. This was a real war, hundreds of shells were flying at the civilian population, I had nowhere to run, because explosions were heard from all sides, sirens sounded, screams and cries were heard everywhere,” Grashchenko said.
“I gathered all my will into a fist and decided that I had to act. I had to do everything possible to protect my family, my friends, and my employees.”
Some of Grashchenko’s CrossFit trainers went to the front line to fight, and she helps them by sending equipment and medicine.
Her gym quickly turned into a humanitarian aid center, where volunteers distributed clothes, food, water, medicines and other items.
One interaction sticks out in Grashchenko’s memory.
“A stranger, a woman, called me and asked for a sports mat. I didn’t ask who she was, I just collected the mats from all my clubs and handed them out to the children and women sitting in the dark basements on the cold concrete slabs,” Grashchenko said.
She said the war has united Ukrainians. Strangers are helping strangers all over the country by arranging heating points, centers for food, drink, first aid, medicine and shelters. People are weaving camouflage nets, making warm socks or trench candles to go to the front lines.
“[I had to] do everything possible to help people who are left alone in slippers in the cold without money and housing. Cold, wet weather… People were freezing, so they came to my halls to warm up at least a little. We gave them our clothes and shoes that were in the halls. At least something to keep them warm.”
In April, Russia shifted its attention away from Kyiv and the northeast to the south. The Ukranian’s had beaten the initial onslaught.
People returned to the capital and resumed business, Grashchenko says, in order to boost the economy.
Grashchenko’s clients asked her to reopen the gyms. Three of the four have reopened. And Grashchenko is organizing marathons to support the war effort.
“It has already been possible to collect several thousand dollars to buy a night vision device. People from all over the world sent us money. They asked what else they could do to help,” Grashchenko said. “The war continues, the guys at the front need additional equipment, transport, medicines, generators, so I will continue to organize charity marathons.”
Meanwhile, she and her clients are returning to their workout routines.
“Due to rocket attacks on critical infrastructure, we often work without electricity and water, but we do not give up. We put candles and flashlights so that our clients can train. Yes, it’s not easy, but many of our customers see us as family.”
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How Weight Lifting is Educating Gym Owners, Coaches to Help Clients Heal from Trauma
We have all heard anecdotal stories about CrossFit and weightlifting, and how getting strong has the power to help people heal from trauma.
Mariah Rooney, too, has heard these stories, and has found a way to take this healing to an entirely new level.
Rooney, a professor in a graduate social work program and long-time trauma therapist, co-founded Trauma Informed Weight Lifting (TIWL) six years ago and is using their non-profit program to educate coaches and gym owners about trauma, so they can help their clients even more than just giving them a place to become strong.
A Mothers Perspective: The Emotions of Watching Your Child Compete at the Highest Level
It’s common to see coaches, managers, and spouses in the stands at CrossFit events — but it seems much less common to look up and find an athlete’s parent or parents. But at the Dubai Fitness Championship, there were a few parents along for their children’s journey through the highs and lows of competing at the highest level. Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil caught up with Freya Moosbrugger’s mom to discuss all the emotions that go into watching your daughter compete.
2022 Legends Championship Kicks Off a Home For Masters Athletes
The 2022 Legends Championship, one of the few masters-only CrossFit events, will for the first time commence at CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville, Tennessee, the home base for one of CrossFit’s legends, Rich Froning. The event kicks off this Thursday, Dec. 8 and runs until this Sunday, Dec. 11.
The competition is one of the biggest events for age group athletes, giving them a chance to compete in a way that’s professional and competitive and fun.
The competition is considered one of the best for masters athletes, aside from the CrossFit Games itself, says Jason Grubb, who won first place in his age division at the last three CrossFit Games; 40-44 in 2019, 40-49 in 2021 and 2022.
“This is my third year doing it and for me it’s a repeat of the Games in a sense. It’s the same roster, the same guys for me. The ability to get on a competition floor a couple of times a year with this demographic of athletes, of this caliber, it’s really just an amazing experience to be able to do that.”
“Overall competition and what is presented to us is very accurate for masters and I think it’s harder than the games.”
Christmas is getting closer each day… have you done your holiday shopping yet? Thinking of gift ideas can delay our shopping, but use our guide to get some ideas for the fitness fanatic in your life. We make it easy, so you don’t have to leave your couch to get them the best gifts!
The Relentless Method has a proven track record with several Games athletes and Olympic Weightlifters on their team. No more generic training programs, no more copy paste – just training adjusted to your and your abilities.
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Move Fast Lift Heavy has released a MONSTER of a 12 Days workout. Do you have what it takes to complete it? Bonus: if you submit a video and tag them, you’ll have a chance to win some training with Chris Harris.
Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a tip.
Congratulations to Coach Susannah Wingfield from Core City Fitness in Detroit, MI on hitting three new lifting PRs— power clean, push jerk, and clean and jerk all at 145 pounds/67.5kg.
Congratulations Susan Plakke from CrossFit Zwolle in the Netherlands on her first place finish in Rogue’s L-Sit Challenge with a 1 minute and 25 second hold.
Congratulations to CrossFitter Kaitlyn Johnson from Morgantown, WV on qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Trials in the 50m freestyle swim.
Congratulations Helena Collins from the UK on the 220 pound/100kg power clean, squat clean, front squat complex.
Move Lift Live Fitness Village in Miami, FL is hosting a number of fundraiser events in the coming weeks to support their member Tito Ignar, who suffered a spinal chord injury during a workout that has left him partially paralyzed and in a long road to recovery. Part of his journey now includes making his home fully wheelchair accessible. A GoFundMe has been created for Tito and his family, and you can follow along with Move Lift Live in their Community WOD December 10th.
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