Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Last week, Logan Aldridge kicked off our series on all things adaptive with his profile of Kevin Ogar on the anniversary of his injury. This week, Alec Zirkenbach shines light on how the VA hospital in Orlando is using CrossFit to help disabled vets and how other medical facilities could do the same. Today:
The Orlando Veterans Affairs Hospital uses CrossFit for therapy.
Will Edmonds left the CrossFit community and promptly came back; he explains why.
A fundraiser recap and roundup across the affiliate community.
“Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you aren’t disciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions. That’s a fact.” — Eliud Kipchope
Orlando Veterans Affairs Hospital Uses Local CrossFit Community for Therapy
Veterans utilizing the Orlando Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System have a unique option in their healthcare treatment plan: CrossFit classes.
Created in 2017 by recreational therapist Christina Lafex, CTRS, veterans are able to learn proper movement techniques and then transition through specialized adaptive CrossFit classes before joining community CrossFit classes at local Orlando gyms. This healthcare treatment option is part of the Adaptive Sports Program that was developed to provide active involvement in adaptive sports, outdoor recreation, and fitness programs for veterans with disabilities.
“Adaptive CrossFit is one of the few all-inclusive therapeutic modalities that every veteran can participate in, no matter their ability level,” said Lafex, who is also a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer (CF-L2).
Whole Health System: In 2018, the Veterans Affairs announced a new initiative for veterans that shifts away from a health-care system focused primarily on treating disease to one guided by a personalized health plan that considers the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of each individual.
More than just medication: The VA acknowledges that health care involves more than the physical human body.
Community Focused: Veterans are accustomed to a strong community network through military service and the CrossFit community is in a unique position to provide similar support via its focus on inclusion.
Lafex: “The sense of community within CrossFit classes replicates, and for some replaces, the military community support that they depended on for many years. I’ve seen first hand the success in transition from active duty to veteran status using CrossFit as the transition tool.”
How it works:
CrossFit Affiliates: Local CrossFit gyms like Clermont CrossFit donate their gym space and trainers volunteer their time during non-peak usage hours for the initial technique education and adaptive CrossFit classes.
The transition from treatment to lifestyle: Once veterans are fully integrated in the CrossFit community, they have the option to continue taking classes on their own without a formal VA appointment.
How to pay for it: CrossFit affiliates often discount memberships for veterans to aid in reducing the barrier to entry. Grants and scholarships are also available to veterans for adaptive sports and fitness through organizations like Challenged Athletes Foundation (Operation Rebound) and Catch A Lift Fund.
How to replicate this program: Lafex would like to see this program used as a benchmark for success that other health-care programs, and not just the VA, can replicate across the nation. “A program like adaptive CrossFit can be easily replicated at any box throughout the country,” said Lafex.
Education for trainers and therapists is key: Lafex earned her certificate through the former CrossFit Specialty Course: Adaptive Training, now the Adaptive & Inclusive Fitness Training course through Adaptive Training Academy. “This course provides an opportunity for both our veterans and anyone who works or knows anyone with a disability to gain the requisite knowledge about adaptive fitness training methodology, techniques, and safety protocols,” said Lafex.
Affiliates should reach out to their local VA: The VA will create a memorandum of agreement that establishes the affiliate as a volunteer provider and sets guidelines for the relationship. From there, you can start to provide service to the veterans!
Mentorship is available: Lafex and Adaptive Training Academy are available to provide assistance in establishing a program in your community.
There are 18.2 million veterans in the United States, according to the most recent statistics from the US Census. The positive, life-long impact the CrossFit community can make on the health of our veterans can not be understated.
Alec Zirkenbach is co-founder, with Logan Aldridge, of theAdaptive Training Academy, an education-focused organization dedicated to providing adaptive fitness knowledge to trainers, coaches, therapists, and athletes. Adaptive Training Academy strives to make fitness training accessible and inclusive for everyone,
regardless of disability, by providing real-world guidance that is practical and universally usable.
What I Learned about the CrossFit Community from Leaving (and promptly returning)
I’m guessing you’ve probably had a conversation with someone who doesn’t do CrossFit that goes slightly like this:
“It’s not so much about the workouts, it’s the community.”
“Oh, my boot camp feels like a community.”
“Yeah, I know. But it’s not the same.”
“Umm… it’s hard to explain.”
Right? We’ve all experienced this weird cult-like phenomenon that is the CrossFit Community, but it’s quite hard to put a finger on what exactly that is. It’s the encouragement, the shared experience, the obsession with shoes, etc, etc. But what causes it? Where does it come from?
Well, I think I may have stumbled across the answer.
I recently moved, forcing me to find a new box. There were 3 or 4 within a couple of miles of my new place, but there was also something else. A gym literally next door. It looked like a CrossFit box. It smelled like a CrossFit box. There was a rig, all the equipment was Rogue, Assault and Concept 2. Everyone sure looked like CrossFitters in their No Bulls and Metcons. There were ripped guys with no shirts on, moms, people in their 20’s through to their 60’s — everyone you’d expect at a regular CrossFit box.
In fact, among my non-CrossFit friends, upon hearing where I was moving to, without fail, told me the place next door was a CrossFit gym. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear many of the members there believed they do CrossFit.
But they definitely do not.
So, what was different?
Well, in an effort to be less “scary” (I’m projecting here – I don’t know for sure why this is the case), they removed many of the things non-CrossFitters fear. No Olympic lifts — that is, no snatching and no jerks. No gymnastics — at least, no kipping or muscle ups. Not even double-unders. The prospect was not ideal, but at the time, I was re-entering workouts for the first time in months having had minor knee surgery and figured I wasn’t ready for a muscle-up or a snatch for a while anyway. And boy, this gym was convenient. No need to drive. I didn’t even have to walk on a sidewalk. So I joined, figuring with it being a month-to-month membership, I could use it to get back to reasonable shape, then find a CrossFit gym close by if I so chose.
Spoiler alert: I would so choose.
First, it’s important to note that the classes provided great workouts. Without fail, I would leave feeling exhausted. My t-shirt was soaked through on a daily basis. It felt like we got 3 WODs in per class. In fact, we did. Every class. There was no variation in the class structure — or the warm-up.
However, no one spoke to each other. I tried to engage with people (those who know me, know I talk… a lot) but nothing ever stuck. Within 2 minutes of class being over, everyone was gone. No community. Nothing.
Why? What was so different?
What became apparent early on is that without anything to learn, there was little need for coaching. Which was handy, because in the two months I was there, I didn’t receive any. Each “WOD” would be preceded by a quick demonstration, then… go!
What I discovered is that if you’re not struggling to learn something new, the opportunity to band together to help each other is lost.
1. Sell what you believe in
Your stamp of approval should be on every item in your gym. If you don’t eat it, why would your people?
2. Manage inventory
Reduce financial risk by not over-ordering. Start small. You can always re-order if you run out.
Keep your display rack up front, stocked & visible to drive an impulse purchase.
Ready to add another revenue stream to your gym? Join the LÄRABAR Wholesale Program and use promo code CHALKUP to get a free display rack!
Sanctional News and Notes
The Norwegian CrossFit Championship has announced that Bill Grundler will be a part of their media and studio team.
The Morning Chalk Up’s very own Niki Brazier has been confirmed to be a part of the Norwegian CrossFit Championship media team.
Wodapalooza has released the first workout for its Elite Divisions. The Hero WOD “Luce” will await the individual and team competitors.
Samantha Briggs, Harriet Roberts, Joshua Al-chamaa and Michael Smith are confirmed to compete in the team division as Team WIT at Wodapalooza.
The team of Célia Gabbiani, Alizée Andreani, Alexandre Pinsolle and Stéphane Ossanga will represent France as Team Happy Hearts at the Brazil CrossFit Championship. Their team won the Brazil CrossFit Championship Team Online Qualifier.
The Morning Chalk Up has confirmed their live media coverage at the Atlas Games. Our own Justin LoFranco and Tommy Marquez will be in attendance to cover all the action in Montreal.
Rebecca Voigt-Miller is confirmed to compete at the West Coast Classic.
Registration for the Master’s division at the West Coast Classic is still open.
Judges and volunteer registration is now open for the ELFIT CrossFit Championship.
Week 2 workouts for the Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge Team online qualifier will be released tonight at 8PM EST.
Team Central Beasts, the 2019 CrossFit Games fifth-place finisher, has confirmed their appearance at the Rogue Invitational.
ButcherBox delivers 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage bred pork, and wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon all free of antibiotics and added hormones right to your door. From now until February 16, new ButcherBox members will get two pounds of free wild-caught salmon and four grass-fed and grass-finished sirloin steaks in their first box.
Dave Castro on Changes in Life and the CrossFit Games.
On this episode of Pursuing Health, former Games athlete and current family medical resident, Julie Foucher sits down with Director of the CrossFit Games, Dave Castro, to talk about the positive changes Castro’s witnessed as CrossFit transitions its focus to CrossFit Health, his reflections on the 2019 CrossFit Games and why he’s okay with not being everyone’s friend.
This Whole30-friendly Tex-Mex Beef and Rice Casserole uses cauliflower rice, ground beef, and salsa to make a delicious one-pan grain-free meal with lots of leftovers to spare. And, you can swap out the protein, veggies and spice level.
Here is a recap and roundup of fundraisers across the affiliate community:
CrossFit Krypton in Chesapeake, VA just completed the 4th annual Compete for a Cure on February 1. The event benefits the Saint Jude’s Research Hospital and Krypton hosted 128 teams for the competition, raising over $100,000 for the hospital. Even if you missed the event, you can still donate.
A member of the Blackbird CrossFit community in Eldersburg, MD, Erica Blouin, lost her battle with cancer on January 31. Blackbird CrossFit is celebrating her life with memorial WOD and continuing a fundraiser to help her family with medical and funeral costs.
The Riverside Police Department in Riverside, CA will host the Crain Memorial WOD on February 8 at 9 AM. The hero WOD is to celebrate and remember Officer Mike Crain who was fatally injured by gunfire in an ambush while on patrol. Crain, a former Marine, died February 7, 2013. The workout will take place at the Mike Crain Memorial gym located inside the Riverside Police Aviation hangar.