We have been at our new facility since April 30, 2015…closing in on 6 months now!! Obviously it is an upgrade from the old downtown bowling alley and obviously it is about a block away from CrossFit Torsion. We are also sharing this space with LICCO Inc. who operates in the largest portion of the building, the warehouse section on the other side of the wall. I have received the question many times, “What is LICCO??”, so I thought it was probably time to address the question with a blog entry. Will I get to the proximity to Torsion statement earlier? Sure will. Read on…
The short answer about LICCO is found in their mission: “To support integrated services in our community through empowering individuals to reach their full potential by providing employment, social and recreational opportunities”. It is also the oldest provider of services to people with developmental disabilities in Licking County.
LICCO moved into this building at 600 Industrial Parkway in early 1982. They continue to provide privatized support services and employment opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. Guess what has happened to them since we moved in? Their focus on fitness and wellness has increased. They walk more and can be seen doing pushups, sit ups and squats in the break room, and are out on the basketball court many mornings. CrossFit Newark and LICCO are now strategic partners. We held orientations daily for all of the LICCO participants and staff who were interested in their new neighbors and what we would be engaging in when the subwoofer begins to pound the floor and rattle the doors. We began to take on some of their staff as new members and held two separate classes of program participants who come over and do modified WODs of whatever Bolte has cued up for our main body athletes on any given day. They CrossFit. Our partnership with these athletes and LICCO staff is a big reason we now occupy this awesome space full of modern conveniences and plenty of room for activities (just wait for the central heat this winter!). Would we normally choose to move one block from another CF gym and outside of the city limits of Newark? No. Would we do it because our impact with a large segment of the population which is normally marginalized (the disabled) could be broadened and our membership rewarded with a top notch training facility equaling or bettering CF boxes in Columbus? Yes!! Did we have that unique opportunity at any other available facility in Licking County?? Nope.
What makes our box unique? Our SERVICE to others…giving back! (Refer to Operation Warm-Winter Coats for Kids in need, Barbells for Boobs-breast cancer awareness, Kettlebells for Balls-prostate/testicular cancer awareness, Active Heroes-to end veteran suicide, Michael Murphy Foundation-to provide opportunities for underprivileged high school students, Newark varsity fall sports, Granville Football, LICCO, etc.) We are partnered with Licking County Special Olympics and train powerlifters out of our facility along with many others who enjoy adaptive CrossFit workouts. The team of athletes continues to grow. We will aspire to follow a model of inclusion and invite anyone interested to be included in our regular classes. CrossFit is adaptable to any athlete of any age and ability. We have all been an adaptive athlete at some point in our CrossFit journey. We work around it, we work through it. We never stop moving forward. Our training staff is no longer just me, Mike, Howie and Lindsay. We have doubled our CFN ambassadors and increased our diversity. Our diversity…what each coach brings to the training environment is part of our strength as a community. Speaking of STRENGTH, that is something else we believe makes us unique among CF boxes…we have a LOT of strong athletes as we compare and contrast at local competitions. We are very proud of what we offer and are VERY proud of all of you, our community of athletes: the originals, the newbies, the competitors, the cherry-pickers, the 2-3x-week’ers, the young, the experienced, the differently-abled, and the HERO WOD warriors…you all play a part and are here for your own reasons (your WHY—see Mike’s blog), and we love you for it. The COMMUNITY is what makes CrossFit different from a globo-gym and each box has its own culture. We just think ours is the best. SERVICE-STRENGTH-COMMUNITY…our three pillars at CrossFit Newark. It defines who we are.
I will end with a story because you love stories and I love telling them.
One of the LICCO athletes, his name is Michael, attends our Monday and Wednesday class at 11:30am. There is no half effort with Michael. He gives all he has, each and every session. He gave up his karate class to come to CrossFit instead. He has also lost over 200lbs due his lifestyle changes and commitment to fitness. Michael has his lionshare of challenges but he does not let them deter him from participating fully in each WOD. He always comes to class hungry to be challenged. On one particular day I called it “military training day”. For those of you who participated in the WOD to End Veteran Suicide on August 22nd, you will remember one particular exercise known as the “low crawl”. I had programmed the low crawl as the final evolution of 25 minutes of one military-themed callisthenic movement after another. I knew this particular exercise would be extremely difficult for Michael but I had planned to modify the distance of the crawl to allow him to pop up if he stalled out and finish with a bear crawl or sprint to the wall. He began at the tree line. He refused to quit. He took many breaks. In total he low crawled about 10 minutes up that backyard and incline. At the end he was grasping onto handfuls of the dried blades of grass and pulling his body along the ground inches at a time. His elbows and forearms were bloodied in his effort. He did not quit. Did I try to get him to bear crawl? You bet, but only once. You see, one of the main concerns or questions I faced when starting the program was “what if these disabled athletes get hurt?!”. Well, what if they do?? Athletes performing intense exercise sometimes do. Sometimes people get hurt when they get off the couch too. We cannot prevent that entirely and the uniqueness of CrossFit has always been the intensity component. We try to protect our LICCO athletes like we do all our athletes, but never to shelter them or limit their ability to prove to themselves they are capable of more than they thought possible. Athletes who are differently-abled do not want to be treated any different from any other athlete. They want what we all want…to feel accomplished, to be better than yesterday.
Michael reached out and almost touched that brick wall, but was about two inches short. He laid there, chest heaving, arms bloody, glasses falling off, and looked up at me…I thought he had nothing left…then he mustered the inner strength for one more push and slapped the wall with his whole hand. I got to witness very similar efforts a couple days later with many of you while I cooled you off with a garden hose. You are welcome! Even Mike Bolte’s mom, Karen, was there and she one-up’d Michael by head-butting the wall and making her forehead bleed! Sorry Karen, I should have eased up on that water pressure toward the end.
The truth is…what seems impossible seldom is.
If box members would like to ever assist our adaptive athletes during their training sessions (1st and 3rd Saturdays at 11am), please see me or Chris Campbell and we will make that happen.
“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it” – Thucydides ~450BC
All the best,