Using CrossFit Out of the Box

A class at Windy City CrossFit.

Get out there and use your fitness.

That’s what Justin Marcis would say, the Affiliate of Windy City CrossFit in Chicago, Illinois. “You have to be healthy and fit to go out and do cool things with your life,” said Marcis. “Don’t let life just pass you by.”

Cool might be a bit of an understatement when compared with what Marcis does for his staff. Every year he gives each Coach a stipend for a trip of their choosing. From whitewater rafting to biking the southern coast of Ireland to a trip through the Himalayas, his Coaches use their fitness to check off bucket-list-worthy travels. “We have to start leading by example,” said Marcis. “We can’t just push this message.”

The message he talks about has stuck with Marcis since getting his CrossFit Level 1 in 2006. This was after he had realized the personal training he did before and after his corporate job was what he was really passionate about. “I started to realize that I really enjoyed the beginnings and ends of my days and didn’t really care too much about the middle,” said Marcis.

In 2006, Marcis dove head first into the world of CrossFit and went to earn his Level 1 in Colorado. The time he spent there listening to Glassman he became enthralled by what he heard. “I’d never thought of fitness in that way, and for those two days, I was on the edge of my seat,” said Marcis.

By December 2007, Marcis opened Windy City CrossFit in Chicago, Illinois, with a clear mission in mind. “We believe that the quality of our health determines the quality of our lives,” said Marcis. “Why do we believe that? Well, we believe it because nothing is more important than the quality of our lives. What do we do? We train our members to live the strongest lives they can imagine, and why do we do that? So they can be the person they were meant to be.”

So, it’s no wonder Marcis’ staff is pushed, even helped, to live the strongest and highest quality lives they can. When a Coach decides on a trip, he or she has to submit a proposal and develop a training program to prepare for whatever he or she will be doing. For example, one Coach is going to a surf camp and will implement movements like single leg balances into workouts. Even members can join in on this training if they have a similar goal.

By living out their mission and offering up a variety in programming, Marcis said people are not only engaged, but living the life they want and deserve. To him, that is the most important thing. “Train in the gym so you can make memories outside of the gym,” he said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at