I had one of the most powerful experiences of my life in a maximum security prison.
I was participating in the world’s first ever prison CrossFit competition.
My wife Shelby and I were incredibly nervous going in.
After all, basically all the inmates had been convicted on extremely serious charges. Several were in for “life without parole.”
But I gotta say –
Within 30 minutes of entering the prison, all my preconceived ideas went out the window.
Not only was the competition the most diverse group of people I’ve ever seen compete…
It was by far the friendliest and most welcoming atmosphere I’ve ever experienced as a competitor.
No matter the religion, race, color, tribe, creed –
Everyone was there to do one thing: “suffer” together through rowing, thrusters, burpees, and double unders.
I’ve never seen so many high fives and people rooting for each other.
And I remember at the end of a particularly hard TTB/Lunge WOD, over 200 people were screaming and cheering for the “last team standing” as they finished their reps.
It was beautiful.
After the event was over, a few of the inmates came up to me and asked if I could help teach them bar muscle ups.
15 minutes later we had multiple people doing their first bar muscle ups, which was cool.
During our bar muscle up practice I watched a couple members of a white supremacist gang high-five-ing, hugging, & fist bumping some of the black athletes.
These guys have full blown white supremacist “symbols” tattooed to their faces proclaiming their racism.
They were embracing people that they (apparently) outwardly and publicly hate.
Turns out, after talking to one of the event organizers, this is common at Redemption Road CrossFit.
In fact, several members of the gym have completely denounced their former gang/racist affiliations because of the camaraderie created during their CrossFit class WODs.
Our community CAN help knock down the walls of racism. Our community CAN rise together and take a stand for what is right. Our community is not just about helping the upper middle class get slightly better at exercising more quickly. It can be used to transform people’s perceptions.
I’ve seen it firsthand, and I’m vowing to make sure WODprep does it’s part to see that it happens more frequently.
So, just to be clear:
OK, enough talk.
How are we going to make a change? And not just something “feel good” – but something that can make a real impact?
As the WODprep Team knows, I’ve always wanted to expand our footprint beyond simply helping people RX more workouts.
I’ve always wanted to find a way to share functional fitness with people that might not ever make it to a $175/mo gym.
Here’s my plan:
Going forward, WODprep will donate 1% of all revenue, FOREVER, to a non-profit that will provide grants and scholarships to make functional fitness memberships and coaching certificates more accessible and affordable.
This non profit will also run “foundations” classes for free to help expose people to functional fitness methodology in areas that do not have access or means to go to a functional fitness gym.
I will be serving on their board of directors, and donating time, courses, and coaching.
We’re still working on the official name, but the 501c3 paperwork is already in place here in Colorado.
To make group community fitness classes and coaching certificates financially accessible to everyone – no matter which race or socioeconomic background.
So that all people can have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of functional fitness.
This isn’t a “one time event”.
This isn’t a flash in the pan.
This is for good.
It it going to “solve everything”? Absolutely not.
But I hope it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a way that we can use our resources to take action, even if just a small one.
Because that’s what it’s going to take to bring our community together – action, and putting our money where our mouth is.
I’m actively working with this (yet unnamed) nonprofit organization to officially “launch” this project soon.
I’ll be in touch with more information about how it works, who it’s for, and how to support their mission.
I’m trying to listen as much as possible right now.
So, I want to hear from you.
How do you feel about Greg Glassman’s comments, and this situation with CrossFit HQ as a whole?
Please comment below and let me know. Every comment gets read. I will read all with an open heart and mind.
“Ben, I’m so confused. What did I miss?!”
Not sure why people are upset with CrossFit HQ and it’s founder, Greg Glassman? Here is a breakdown of the multiple things that have transpired over the past few days.
The CEO and Head Coach at WODprep, Ben is passionate about helping fitness athletes of all abilities get their competitive edge and learn new skills! He's currently living in Denver, Colorado with his wife and two dogs, and whenever possible the two love to travel and explore new places around the world (and meet new WODprep athletes).
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