Dorian Mosack was training in his gym, CrossFit 309 in Peoria Heights, Illinois, when he heard a motor. In came 32-year-old Tori, cruising in a high-tech wheelchair.
With cerebral palsy, and having not walked since she was 12, she wanted to train and walk again. At first, Dorian had no clue what to do, but with a lot of research and modifying, he was able to figure out how to train Tori.
It was hard having conversations of payment and scheduling with her — at first, she’d come randomly — but Dorian said they are now in a groove and she is showing how much she wants it. And it reveals what people he needs to put his time and effort into.
“Somebody like Tori, that right there is the perfect definition of what CrossFit is supposed to be. This girl wants to walk again. OK, so you want to add 30 pounds on to your squat Snatch. Or, you want to learn how to do a muscle-up — congratulations,” he said. “That’s like supplemental things. That’s cool on Instagram and Facebook posts and your little small group where you can high five and put it on a T-shirt, but Tori needs to get through the day. She wants to get through the day safer and happier and she wants to go to concerts and she wants to spend time with her family.”
It’s a mentality that has permeated everything CrossFit 309 does in its community. For instance, Holly Mosack, the other co-owner of the gym said they saw a need for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. So, they got involved with Team RWB and stated a chapter. Quarterly, they host social and physical fitness activities for local veterans, from obstacle courses to volunteer events. And Holly explained they aren’t asked to fundraise, but instead are given a budget to put on the events.
The Box has also become a Rock Steady Boxing affiliate — a nonprofit organization that gives people with Parkinson’s disease hope and improved quality of life through a fitness regimen based in boxing. Holly said a lot of CrossFitters have started to volunteer to hold pads and get involved in the program. Plus, Dorian mentioned he’s seen remarkable change, as 70-year-olds forget their canes at the gym as they no longer need them after a class.
“For an hour they just do boxing circuits and they train and it’s another community inside the CrossFit community. My regular members have bought into it,” said Dorian. “There’s something about seeing a 60 or 70-year-old man or woman with boxing gloves on or trying to jump rope. It’s CrossFit. It’s functional training done at high intensity.”
Holly suggested a lot of Affiliates want to help their communities in some way, so she advises them to think of unique ways to give back. “Think outside the Box and apply what you’ve learned in CrossFit to how you help someone with cerebral palsy or how can what you’ve learned in CrossFit now help you design WODs for Rock Steady Boxing,” she said. “So, you take everything you’ve already learned from CrossFit, you just have to figure out how to reapply it.”
Ultimately, Dorian said don’t fake it. Show people you actually care and they will be involved, a lesson evident in the 256 people that showed up for their recent 22-hour hero WOD-a-thon. Caring is where your focus needs to be. “Surrender to the work that you’re doing and not what you’re getting out of it monetary wise,” he said.