Since CrossFit City Line opened five years ago, Mat Frankel said they’ve had 2,000 people come through the doors. But they don’t have 2,000 members.
“Why do people stop going to the gym?” Frankel began to wonder.
Spurred by a deepening interest to know why members do what they do, Frankel reached out to a current member, Taylor Wilkins, for his help. From that partnership and Frankel’s single question, the Axon Program was born at the Box located in Watertown, Massachusetts.
“It’s a program that combines personal training with more psychotherapeutic techniques, mental health techniques,” explained Wilkins, the director of the program.
With a background in neuroscience and crisis stabilization, especially when it comes to children, Wilkins said he starts the program with an assessment of a client’s physical abilities and emotional state. First, he and the client make a list of themes, patterns and general topics of things that keep coming up emotionally in their lives. Then he will talk to them about their fitness goals, as well as what they like, dislike and want to work on physically.
From those two lists, Wilkins will design a program that matches up what they’re trying to achieve on an emotional level while addressing the physical aspects. He will work with clients sessions by session.
Frankel said in order to more adeptly explain the program to clients, he went through it himself. “There’s a real powerful thing that I think Taylor and I both have a lot of respect for in terms of knowing and creating awareness and acceptance around the mental space that we have and the reasons that we have them,” he said.
And bringing in the fitness aspect can be powerful. Frankel explained how a wall ball is like a stress ball. “Every time you throw that ball, you’re getting rid of weight. You’re letting stuff go,” he said. That, he added, can be extremely powerful.
Bettering people’s lives physically and emotionally, the Axon Program has slowly been growing. Wilkins said they’ve mainly reached out to schools and therapeutic organizations for clients. And Frankel has used his newsletter to educate members on what it is.
The name of the program itself is telling. Axon refers to the section of a neuron that transports the most important information in the most efficient way. “That’s what the program is doing for people,” said Wilkins. “It’s taking their emotional themes, emotional information, consolidating it and then funneling it efficiently into some kind of behavioral output that’s healthier.”