By Jared Stein
Ask someone if they “do” CrossFit… My bet is you get one of two responses:
- “YES!!! It’s amazing!”- and then they want to talk to you about it for 30 minutes until you agree to try it with them…
- “NO- I'm too out of shape, it’s scary, I don’t want to bulk up.”
Am I right? Of course I am… Have you ever wondered why there is such a dichotomy? As an owner of two CrossFit Affiliates (WillyB CrossFit & LTrain CrossFit), it is a question that has been obviously answered but not so obviously fixed.
I’ve realized that there is an uphill battle to pursue. Not just in taking the scariness out of CrossFit, but in challenging the public’s perception on what fitness really is. Somewhere in the shuffle between the celebritization of trainers and the newest athleisure trends, our focus has been disrupted and we’ve lost sight as to why we want to be healthy.
"Somewhere in the shuffle between the celebritization of trainers and the newest athleisure trends, our focus has been disrupted and we’ve lost sight as to why we want to be healthy. "
Is it to look better in a bathing suit? To boast to our friends? Is it to be a part of the “cool kids” clique at the juice bar? Or is it to be well again, to be healthy, to have longevity?
This city is uniquely daunting from a physicality standpoint; we have groceries to carry for several blocks, subway tunnels to climb in and out of, and five-floor walk-ups to live in. We couple that with the knowledge that chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure are no longer a thing of an older generation, and the idea of fitness being a key to wellness, health, and longevity seems to hold a little more clout than almost anything else.
Coming to this realization brought me full circle to our original problem, “How do we challenge the perception that the outside fitness community has created? How do we challenge the notion that fitness is more than just your Lulu pants or your green juice?” The answer is and continues to be, “Bringing it back to basics, keeping it simple, and exposing the necessity of functional fitness.”
In January of 2016 we kicked off our inaugural All Women’s 6 Week Challenge. Through an application and interview process, we selected 50 women who struggle with body image, weight loss, and health risk — but most importantly a reason to fight. A fight that wouldn’t entail militaristic yelling, screaming, or shaming. A fight that wouldn’t have them defy the laws of physics. And certainly not a fight that asked them to step on a scale or sling a measuring tape around their waist. But a fight that simply entailed omitting “CAN’T” from their vocabulary.
"Through an application and interview process, we selected 50 women who struggle with body image, weight loss, and health risk — but most importantly a reason to fight."
In the truest sense of, "keeping it simple," we looked to CrossFit's underlying principles to identify those who we thought would be in need of a strong community. We identified a select ALL WOMEN'S roster filled with candidates that had incurred some form of life-changing event that had rattled their sense of confidence, well-being, and health. Ranging from small binge eating urges, domestic abuse, loss of a loved one, or major change in career, to divorce, childbirth, or just new to town — what all our candidates had in common was that they knew staying on their current path was only leading to hardship, and that they did not want to make the change alone. Forewarned of the expectations, these women were willing to fight to claw back to their health.
Bringing fitness and nutrition back to the basics, we enlisted some core principles of CrossFit: Compound Functional Movements and Base Nutrition. Following the path that Coach Glassman (Founder of CrossFit) set out for us, that you first need to master the movement, then we can add load (weight), and then and ONLY then, can we add intensity — we had our athletes first master the foundational movements and clean up their diets.
We challenged each and every one of these women to put 100% effort into their workout of the day (WOD), put 100% good food in their body, and to keep a 100% open mind about what was to come of their journey. With the mandatory attendance of three times a week, our athletes were challenged to prioritize their fitness, step outside of their comfort zone, and become a member of a community.
With 50 other participants in the program and another 200 members of the gym cheering them on, they slowly came to realize that the environment in which they were once fearful was now their safe haven; a judgment-free support network built around becoming the healthiest version of yourself while having fun with your teammates. They were now all “CrossFitters.”
"We challenged each and every one of these women to put 100% effort into their workout of the day (WOD), put 100% good food in their body, and to keep a 100% open mind about what was to come of their journey."
Now every 6 weeks we aim to dismantle the stereotype that CrossFitters are only a certain type of person, by opening up the challenge to the community. Regardless of age, ability, or gender, your wellness is your top priority. We challenge you to think past aesthetics, past fancy equipment, past trendy classes, and to focus on how can we be the “wellest, fittest, healthiest” version of ourselves.
We aren’t trying to create an army of Lululemon-wearing kettle-bell swingers, or attempting to intimidate you into joining a cult, we are simply challenging you to be your best self, be fit, and feel GOOD.
Jared Stein is a long time New York City fitness professional. Trading in his MBA for a barbell, Jared is the owner and head coach of WillyB CrossFit & LTrain CrossFit in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With a passion for functional fitness, Jared found CrossFit as an athlete in 2008. Following his exit from corporate America, Jared joined the elite ranks of Flywheel Sports in 2013 and hasn't looked back. Growing up in Central New Jersey, Jared is the eldest sibling, and when not on the bike or in the "box," you can find him enjoying the East Village and watching his beloved Mets.
Find Jared on Instagram at @jsteinfit