Erin and Todd Sywake have always held a strong belief that if you want your children to be interested in physical fitness, you need to set the example for them. Being avid runners for many years, Erin and Todd have qualified and run in many prestigious marathons including the Chicago and New York Marathons. The next big goal is the Boston Marathon, where both have qualified for but have had to withdraw before the race due to injury. This is the primary reason Erin and Todd went searching for something beyond running. Looking for a gym that offered more structure and coaching they discovered Undefeated CrossFit in August of 2017. They attended the Free Trial Class on Saturday where coach Dan introduced them to what Undefeated CrossFit practices and coached them through a challenging workout.
After that day the entire Sywake family enrolled in the Fundamentals program; Erin, Todd, and their two daughters Emma and Abby who are both competitive swimmers. During the swimming season Emma and Abby have 6-7 training sessions in the pool per week, however when they do have a day off they love to come to Undefeated. During the summer months which is their off-season, the girls use CrossFit to train for swimming. The strength they are gaining has helped their swimming tremendously. During hard swim sessions and long competition days they aren’t as fatigued as they once were. Both Emma and Abby have shown interest in continuing to advance in CrossFit once their swimming days are over. Emma has started to compete in the sport of CrossFit, getting her first taste of competition in January at The Comp and this past weekend at the Prairie CrossFit Throwdown where she podiumed.
The Sywake’s all have busy schedules revolving around work, school, swimming, and making it to the gym consistently every week. By having Undefeated as a commonality they are able to schedule at least one hour a day where they get to spend time together, and also share in something they are passionate about. “Getting to the gym is much easier because we are doing it together and it is just part of our daily routine now,” Todd explains why they have been able to attend classes so consistently for the past year and a half. CrossFit allows them to work together as a team and connect as a family. This is especially evident during partner workout Saturdays where Emma and Abby partner up and compete against mom and dad. The workouts at Undefeated allow the whole family to challenge themselves with continuous progressions towards more difficult and challenging movements.
“If any families are looking for an environment where they can hang out with great people, laugh, accomplish things you never thought you could do, all while getting in shape, then, like our family did, you should get started in the Fundamentals class. You will likely become addicted to CrossFit like we have.” – The Sywake’s
If you walk into Undefeated CrossFit and see a mom performing multiple reps and sets of strict pull-ups and strict handstand push-ups, that would be Denise McKendry. Denise has been quite the badass her entire life. Growing up in rural New Brunswick, there was no girls-only hockey league so she became the first girl to join the boys league. She also started lifting weights at a young age to stay fit and active. Before completing her university degree she applied to become a Winnipeg Paramedic, was accepted, and now 30 years later she has recently retired from the force.
Denise was introduced to CrossFit in October 2014 by colleague and fellow member Zoey Moe. Prior to CrossFit Denise was on a leave of absence from work for two years due to lymphedema, a condition characterized by fluid retention and tissue swelling. This occurred after Denise broke her leg and shortly after flew down to Mexico on a trip, where the pressure changes during flying caused the chronic swelling to occur. CrossFit was able to help Denise move past this condition and return to work. Recently, in November 2018 Denise had hip replacement surgery. Doctors advised her to wait two months before returning to CrossFit, but Denise was back in the gym two weeks later and believes CrossFit is to thank for her speedy recovery.
First impressions are important. Everyone’s first experience in a CrossFit gym should be exciting, challenging, but most importantly fun. Denise immediately loved it, as she has always been a person who enjoys pushing herself and working hard. Being a part of a group class atmosphere that encouraged people to go beyond what they thought they are capable of was exactly what she was looking for. There were, and still are a few movements that she doesn’t enjoy or finds quite difficult, but that is just part of the appeal. If we are able to do everything perfectly, we don’t face any diversity and won’t grow as a person. Denise loves that there is always something for her to work and improve on.
Denise has been a member at Undefeated CrossFit for almost five years now and plans on doing CrossFit for the rest of her life. Playing ice hockey and ringette are two of Denise’s favorite activities to do outside of the gym.
Scott MacLeod pulled up to Undefeated CrossFit, turned off his car, and sat there for twenty minutes trying to convince himself to walk in and attend his first fundamentals class. Scott loved challenging himself with his workout routines, always switching from bootcamp to bootcamp in search of something better. He had heard about CrossFit in 2014 and spent weeks putting off actually attending. As he sat in his car contemplating what he would do, he almost convinced himself to leave but didn’t.
“I borderline didn’t walk in the door… what a different life I would’ve had,” are Scott’s words four years after starting at Undefeated CrossFit. Scott was looking for a workout routine that would allow him to build strength as well as increase his conditioning. During fundamentals there is usually a big learning curve as you are introduced to all the different movements involved with CrossFit. For Scott, this was very enticing; there are so many movements to learn and master that there is always a new challenge. Seeing others perform complex gymnastics movements made him want to be able to do them as well. After four years and a lot of hard work, Scott can now complete almost every workout as prescribed.
CrossFit gyms often get labeled as being “cult like,” but Scott sees this as a compliment. What he loves the most about Crossfit and Undefeated is being a part of a tight-knit and encouraging community. Because of the closeness of the members, there is no judgement; the workout of the day is a common denominator that brings everyone together no matter what fitness level you are at. “I don’t feel like I am ever alone when I come to Undefeated.” Scott frequents the 3:30pm class where him and good friends Tristan Penner and Kennedy Krakalovich are always heated in friendly competition. This competitive atmosphere has led to tremendous increases in each of their abilities inside of the gym. Where Scott was once the one seeking advice on certain movements or how to approach workouts from others, members have now started asking him for tips. This creates a great sense of accomplishment and validates all the hard work that he has put in.
Scott is a father of two, a husband, and a business owner. Being quite the competitive person, Scott enjoys signing up and competing at many local CrossFit competitions with either Tristan or Kennedy. He loves that CrossFit is able to prepare him for the everyday aspects of life and feeds into his competitive side. Scott’s hobbies outside of the gym include curling, traveling, golfing, and cheering loudly at Jets games.
Three years ago, a fifteen-year-old Kennedy Krakalovich loved running. Running was Kennedy’s favourite form of exercise until she discovered CrossFit. After binge watching numerous CrossFit Games events on YouTube, Kennedy was able to convince her mom to sign her up for her very first class at CrossFit 84. The next day she could barely walk and was hooked.
Coming from a running background, Kennedy did not initially like the weightlifting and gymnastics components of CrossFit. Flash forward a few years later, and Kennedy holds the youth snatch and total records for her weight class in Manitoba! For a few years Kennedy was very invested in weightlifting, attending Undefeated CrossFit’s Barbell classes frequently and competing in many weightlifting meets. In 2016, Kennedy qualified for Junior Nationals. For a few years, Kennedy also trained with Undefeated CrossFit’s competitive group, Unleashed. During this time, she made a tremendous amount of progress, specifically in the strength aspect of CrossFit. Kennedy is quite the competitive person and is known to compete at many local competitions.
Kennedy feels that starting CrossFit at a younger age, and being one of the youngest members, has given her many opportunities to grow and develop her independence. Many of her closest friends at Undefeated are older than her and have become mentors for her along the way. She loves that CrossFit teaches young girls that being strong and athletic are sought after traits and that CrossFit encourages a positive mindset. Kennedy is studying computer engineering at the University of Manitoba where she finds herself being one of only a few girls in the program. She finds inspiration from fellow Undefeated members, Jeanette Bautista and Kate Nizio, who are computer science teachers at U of W and Fort Richmond Collegiate.
Since starting university last year, Kennedy’s focus has shifted from being a competitive athlete to school. She does an amazing job at balancing her busy school schedule and getting to the gym four to five times per week. You can usually find Kennedy in the 3:30pm class with her favourite gym buddies Scotty and TP; where her focus is on beating them in the daily workout.
“All this is kind of CrossFit cliché, but it’s all true.” – Tristan Penner
It took two years of watching the CrossFit Games and for his friend and fellow member, Spencer Schellenberg, to convince Tristan to finally walk in the doors of our CrossFit Gym. After his first WOD (team, no less) he spent several minutes in the bathroom trying not to throw up after he had finished the workout. But, he was hooked.
Now after three-ish years of being at Undefeated Tristan has made tremendous progress and has strongly made his mark on the community. Being quite the handyman and artist, Tristan is one of our go-to members for creativity. You know that sweet front desk tiger painting with the motivational words? That was done by Tristan.
Upon starting at Undefeated Tristan was quite intimidated. However, he soon realised that, “no one cares about your skill level or body type, so long as you’re trying your hardest. That’s all that matters!” Tristan went on to explain that there has only ever been two or three instances since joining Undefeated that he has regretted coming to the gym. “I’ve only left feeling unfulfilled a handful of times, knowing that I didn’t put forward my best effort. It still annoys me.”
Tristan and his wife Eliza are both members at Undefeated. Their daughters, Adelaide and Lyra, regularly participate in our CrossFit Kids program and love Coach Cody. Tristan and Eliza frequently trade off family duties so that the other person can get their workout in. Rounding out the family is Anne Penner (Tristan’s mom), who at 63 years of age has been at Undefeated for 8 months. You can find her always smiling, no matter the workout.
Being at Undefeated has brought on a new level of confidence for Tristan. Looking back on his first few workouts he has made tremendous improvements and has realised he is capable of doing far more than he thought he could. He recalls the first time he did the infamous Hero workout Murph; “the first time I did Murph, I thought I was going to die. When it was finally over, I realised I can do this.”
One of his favourite parts about being at Undefeated is the opportunity to push himself physically and mentally along side other like-minded individuals. “I never push as hard when I workout by myself. But along with the competitive aspect, which I absolutely love, the added bonus is the huge improvement in my mental health and energy levels.”
Outside of the gym Tristan likes to keep himself busy and active. He loves going out for a ride on his mountain bike, working on his car and spending time with his family. Tristan is a shop foreman at Wallace Perimeter Security where he uses his fitness every day.
When talking with Marshall about his first four months as a member at Undefeated CrossFit the same theme kept coming up: community. Coming from a competitive sporting background playing volleyball and basketball in High School and then continuing to play Volleyball at the CIS level with the University of Winnipeg, group fitness really resonated with him. “You get hooked on the group atmosphere, you can’t push that hard on your own.”
Prior to CrossFit, Marshall’s fitness routine was fairly standard. He would run and hit some weights in the Vincent Massey High School weight room where he has been a Phys. Ed. teacher for the past 8 years. Marshall was growing tired of his same old routine and was looking for something different. He signed up for Fundamentals in late March of 2018. His initial goal was to lose weight (15lbs lost so far) but has had other positive changes such as adding 100 lbs to his max deadlift. “100 lbs gained through increases in strength and improved confidence on technique” he says.
Another unanticipated benefit Marshall has noticed is the ability to change how he teaches using some principles of CrossFit that he has learned here at the gym. He has restructured how his fitness classes look with some students having tremendous results. Marshall loves the fact that there is a method to the madness; that proper programming is in place to drive results.
At school Marshall has access to well a equipped facility and on days he can’t make it to the gym he simply looks up the programming for the day on the Undefeated blog and tackles it solo. Although he’ll admit those sessions are never as good, you just can’t duplicate the intensity of working out without others surrounding you to push your limits.
Marshall is also the boys’ volleyball coach at the school which takes up a lot of his time come September and into the fall months but during his summer holidays Marshall can be found almost everyday out on the golf course. He is an avid golfer and has played for most of his life. Moving forward with CrossFit, Marshall’s goals are to keep losing weight and continue getting in better shape. Over time he has realised the value of investing in his health and wellness and wishes he would have done it sooner.
It took a while to get Marshall into Undefeated and he credits friend, colleague, and long-time Undefeated member Sonja MacAulay for finally convincing him. “She really was the one who encouraged me to join, telling me that the unintended competitive aspect would be something I’d enjoy. She ultimately was the one that got me past the negative CrossFit stereotypes that exist. Sometimes you need a friend to drag, encourage, bring you along to find something you’ll really enjoy.”
Looking and feeling good are probably what makes all of us tick. We do so many different things to achieve this, we sleep, do drugs, drink alcohol, smoke, eat crazy amounts of food, put weird wraps on our bodies, buy juicers, blenders, sign up for gym memberships, go shopping for work out clothes, take selfies etc.
This is a small list of the things I have done in my life to try and look and feel better. My whole life I’ve heard diet and exercise is the answer but like me, I’m guessing some of the other people out there are stubborn as fuck at times. I’ve spent years trying to find the best way to look and feel good.
Having exercised over the past 10 years on and off I wasn’t a complete stranger to this, but I also thought I knew more than I did. Since I wanted to appear to be the “healthy guy”, I would keep my image a certain way. I’ve always wanted a 6 pack and have never had one but walked around like I did because I thought I knew best.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. I gave diet and exercise a chance, and it worked.
Nearly 3 years ago I was getting over another injury and starting to feel good enough to get back into the gym, I called up a good friend, Jamie Swaile, and asked him if he wanted to start working out and stubborn Jamie made me try his gym cause it was “the best”. I walked in to Undefeated CrossFit kinda excited, kinda nervous about the workload and kinda embarrassed about how I looked. Well, as luck would have it my first class was with coach Alex and he was a fucken stud. He spent quite a bit of the class making sure I was alright, he answered all my questions and made me feel like I could do it. I was sold and signed on the dotted line.
I flew through the fundamentals classes and I was onto the Fitness section of my CrossFit life. I spent months and months in this section, watching others do the Sport stream and destroy my times. Watching the “vets” do muscle ups while I struggled to complete 10 Burpees in a row and then do a box jump. The two things I had going for me then was I was open to walking through the doors and I was committed to listening to what the coaches told me to do. I started off that first month coming 3 days a week but since then, outside of injuries and vacations I have been dedicated to 5 days a week training for 3 years.
I think it was when I made the transition to Sport programming that I actually fell in love with CrossFit. Although performing at a very green level, I was coming to class and being coached by the best coaches in Manitoba; I learnt how to Olympic Lifting, advanced Gymnastics and I learnt how to fight through those dirty met cons that put us all on the floor. It was incredible.
Each coach spent time with me and taught me something that I still hang onto. This group changed the way I looked at a gym and made me feel like I was special to them even though there were 11 others athletes in the class. Even today I get corrected on movements and although at that moment I just wanna lift more weight, I appreciate them for doing it.
There is nothing else I can say about Undefeated CrossFit aside from the fact it changed my life. I tell people all the time, find an exercise platform that you love and you will do it. I’ll wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is make sure my gym bag is packed. When you love something it’s easy to do. When you have the best coaches around, it’s easy to do it right. This is where my transformation of feeling good happened.
Fast forward to about 7 months ago when I was coming out of the CrossFit Open. I was in shape no doubt about it, but I was still over weight and I couldn’t do the more advanced movements that I wanted to do. My max pull ups were around 2-3, I couldn’t do a handstand pushup and I was still exhausted after met cons. I had made a new years resolution to have a 6 pack by the end of this year. I weighed about 220 lbs and knew if I was going to do this I was going to need some help. Around this time Jamie was getting a little cocky and said that he could have a 6 pack within 4 months, I made fun of him of course and we ended up making a friendly bet for 1000 bucks that he would/wouldn’t have a 6 pack by July 1st 2017.
All of this brought me to a point where I was sick of looking the way I did and I was scared that Jamie would be walking around with a 6 pack before I would. I was a little defeated at this point not knowing what to do. I reached out to Lifestyle and Performance Nutrition. This is where my transformation of looking and feeling good happened. I got all the package materials and was a little scared about the price (much like when I first started at Undefeated). I got over that and asked myself how much my health is worth and signed on the dotted line.
Since joining the program, I want to share my results. I weighed about 200 lbs the day I started, the other day I weighed in at 184. I struggled to complete quite a few exercises like pull ups, chest to bars etc. Although I am not at the level I’m wanting to be at, I can pretty much do any workout on the board.
Lets just say that the results of this program are there. If someone told to me at the start of the year that I could pay 500 bucks for a 6 pack, I would have driven to the bank and withdrew the cash right then. I can’t even begin to explain how easy this was to look good and feel better and know I earned this.
I don’t wanna take away from the program by over simplifying it, but that is what the beauty of Lifestyle & Performance Nutrition. You get a coach (one who actually knows what the fuck they are doing and can make an impact), they prescribe you specific Macro Nutrients that you are should to hit on a daily basis consistently, and then once a week you check in with them with the material/information that they ask you to provide. It doesn’t take 10 hours of work a week, or an elaborate strategy that eats away at your life, its simple. Here is the some of the magic in the program to me:
I will say like I did at the start, I searched for years how to find ways to look and feel good, I didn’t ask anyone for help and thought I knew everything. It is when I was able to realize that its ok that I don’t know everything, and that there are people out there that do and that specialize in what I am looking for, that I was able to reach out and ask for help.
We are all different people with different motives and means of joy in life. I will say that if you are looking for something that works for you to make you look and feel better, give Undefeated CrossFit a go, and Lifestyle & Performance Nutrition a chance. It works!
I have attached a photo of my journey for those of you who are still on the fence.
We are Undefeated
This week’s athlete of the week is David Alberto and it’s a double whammy. Earlier in the week I asked Dave if he would be willing to share his story with the CrossFit community. Dave has a story to tell that all of us will be motivated and inspired by hearing. He’s made a commitment to changing his life in the most positive ways and thankfully, coming to Undefeated is part of his journey.
Before we share Dave’s story with you, myself and the rest of the coaching staff at Undefeated would like to congratulate Dave on being athlete of the week for 16.3. He comes to the gym with a positive attitude and has become a core member of our Barbell club. He actively seeks out ways to be better and exemplifies dedication. Congrats Dave, you win a fit session at Lululemon which includes a free outfit!
Now here’s Dave’s story, in his own words.
When people ask me when my weight loss journey started, I have a simple answer: February 2nd, 2015. That is the day that I fully committed to changing my life for the better.
I’d made numerous attempts at getting healthy over the years, but they always seemed to hit brick walls or generate early plateaus that I couldn’t get past, no matter what I did. In every single one of those instances, I now know that it is because I didn’t really commit to all aspects of the change. Specifically, I didn’t commit to the hardest part of making this change, which is changing my diet. It’s easy, for the most part, to get to the gym and work out. I have been told by more than a few people that I am in the gym or exercising too much. Eating right can be more difficult than any workout I’ve ever had to do.
The reason I decided to make this change was for my health, but I did it initially out of fear. Having a doctor tell you that you’re on a crash course for an young death based on your lifestyle and habits is a great way to snap your mind right.
In November of 2014, I’d just completed a physical with a new family doctor. He was very direct in what he thought of my habits and lifestyle; lots of easy pre-made food from grocery stores, greasy fast food, and sugary drinks littered my diet. That, along with limited exercise (soccer 1-2 times a week as a goaltender) had my health in a freefall. I was pre-diabetic, I weighed in at 350 pounds, and I was recovering from my SECOND torn knee ligament in 3 years. I made the decision right then and there to make a change for the better. I would start my changes, in earnest, on the day I received clearance from the doctor about my knee.
Two weeks before my appointment, I stopped drinking pop, and I noticed an improvement to my energy levels within two days. On February 2nd, I received a clean bill of health (as much as it could be clean) and I started my journey that morning.
My first nutrition and workout plan was simple, and I cleared both the exercise and diet with my physiotherapist before I started. Honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to stick to the initial plan that I drew up—short on protein, not nearly enough food for what I was planning to accomplish. She straightened out my initial concepts and turned it into a great plan.
What was her plan? Well, it was simple. Below, you’ll see what was essentially my day-to-day activity from February until July. My cardio methods changed, but I relied on the pattern and stability of this plan to keep me going:
I decided to take the summer off of lifting and just spend the time running with a buddy and, well, enjoying my summer. During my off time, I was researching different ways to improve what I felt was plateauing performance and I came across a reference to CrossFit in one of the comments on a bodybuilding.com article.
Believe it or not, up until that moment I had never heard of CrossFit, even in passing. So I decided to do some research and started to watch YouTube videos. The next few weeks were lost in watching more videos, reading about athletes, and developing a fairly deep interest in the sport side of CrossFit.
I started to look for a box in the city, and when I found out how many of them there are, I began comparing prices. I’m sure that my first thought was the same as most peoples: “That’s pretty expensive!” But I really wanted to try it, so I decided that I would go for a month and then started to look more in depth at the different boxes in the city.
What ultimately hooked me on Undefeated was the “We’re All In This Together” video on the website. Reading the athlete bios on the community page, I understood that this was about more than just a place where people work out.
I decided to go to the free trial class and see how different it actually was. My first class was with Coach Dan, and let me tell you, I had never experienced anything like that before. At the end of that hour, I felt something that I had only ever had when I was kickboxing, and even then I can’t explain how different I felt. I dropped my credit card at the end of that class and kept on coming in.
At first I thought, “I’ll go for the month and learn how to fix those little nagging problems that I have in my technique.” I think, even then, I knew this was going to be something I could latch on to.
During fundamentals I was always thinking to myself “you can do this, you can do this,” to keep me going. Coach Cody was no joke with those workouts. I remember when I finished, Cody recommended that I try out the barbell programming. The very next day, I came in for my first regular class, and Coach Chris introduced himself and said the workout was going to be fun. He called everyone to the white board and said “Okay guys, we’re going heavy,” with a huge smile on his face. The WOD that day was tough: two long (for me) runs, with bodyweight movements sandwiched in between. Chris was right there, helping me through the first run, keeping me moving and motivating me not to stop. I don’t remember what time I got on that workout, but I will remember Chris being there forever.
In that first month, I hit or bettered almost every single lift I had ever kept track of with ease. I felt like I was already unlocking so much of my potential, and I had barely even scratched the surface.
At that point, I was committed. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I walked into the gym and gave myself over to the program and let the coaches guide me. After a month I had added 40 pounds to my back squat and 80 to my deadlift; it’s amazing what a little bit of technique will do for you.
After a month or so, I remembered that Coach Cody had suggested barbell to me. I decided to give it a try and fell in love with it. The first few classes felt like learning to walk all over again, but Coach Quinn really walked me through the process, challenging me and encouraging me the whole way.
I’ll be competing in a weightlifting competition at the beginning of April; something I didn’t think I would ever do.
Undefeated has become like a second home for me, and I don’t know if I would have been able to do this without the help and guidance of the coaches and other athletes at the box. It’s not just having someone there to do the workout with, or having a coach to spot the minor (or major!) flaws in your technique, but the community as a whole. Our willingness to just talk openly and laugh about the little things. Every time you think you get a handle on something, you are pushed a little harder. The drive that the coaches bring out of me is beyond anything I ever thought possible.
One year, 75 pounds lost, and a lifetime ahead of me. I couldn’t possibly see myself anywhere else.
Over time, all CrossFitters are faced with the daunting question of whether or not they will compete. Whether it’s from your coaches or your fellow athletes, there is no escaping it. With FrostFit right around the corner and the Open a mere 6 weeks away, the gym is abuzz with anxious energy. Sunday open gym has been busy with excited teams preparing to show their stuff to the CrossFit community at Winnipeg’s largest competition next weekend.
The idea of competition evokes a whole host of conflicting emotions for athletes. Fear, excitement, panic, pride, doubt, confidence. Everyone perceives it in their own way. No matter how you frame it, putting yourself out there up against an unknowable outcome is a tremendously brave (and at times, nauseating) endeavor. At the beginning of training season last year, Undefeated athlete Kayla Sterling certainly hadn’t dreamed of competing in CrossFit’s biggest event. She began her foray into CrossFit in the late fall of 2014. After giving up competitive gymnastics, Kayla found herself on the hunt for the physical release and camaraderie that she felt leaving her gymnastics community. Her parents plead with her to find something that would fill the void. It was her Dad that brought her to Undefeated. Kayla admitted that after watching videos online, she had been too apprehensive to try CrossFit on her own. “Yes, it was as intimidating as I had imagined, but it also looked pretty badass. The music was super loud, weights were dropping and there were many shirtless people”. After attending a trial class, Kayla was hooked. Fortuitously, 2015 saw new Teen divisions added to the Open, and with some gentle cajoling from her coaches and fellow athletes, Kayla decided to give it a shot.
Overall, Kayla feels that the Open competition was a new and unique experience. Every week, athletes from around the world gather around their internet devices, feverishly hitting the refresh button in anticipation for the workout announcement. Kayla was no different. “On the first Thursday night of the announcement of 15.1, I was in front of my computer; watching Rich Froning and Matt Fraser be the first to attack the workout. Right away I started to strategize my rep scheme and approximate what my max lift would be.” When it came time for the workout, “I had that extra boost of adrenaline, I stuck to my rep scheme and managed a c+j pr.” It was like no competition she had ever experienced. Kayla shared that the workouts in the 2015 season illuminated weaknesses that she would need to improve on if she wanted more. “It made me realize that I had the potential to make this my sport, my passion and my next great thing; but I would have to dig deep and work on my overall fitness not just the stuff I like.”
Ultimately, Kayla ranked 5th in the 16-17 year old Teen division for Canada West. Not a bad first showing! Although 2015 marked the last year Kayla would qualify for the teen division, that isn’t slowing her down. Kayla is brimming with positivity, enthusiasm and spunk. She’s meticulously hardworking and steadfast. With this year’s CrossFit Open season before us, she now trains 5 days a week with Unleashed, Undefeated’s competitive group. Working out alongside some of our gym’s Regionals veterans, she is constantly being pushed past her comfort zone to improve and achieve new milestones. Her goals for this season include more exposure into competition and will see her compete alongside fellow teen athlete Bailee Rochon next weekend at FrostFit (team BuffStuff).
In the many conversations that I’ve had with athletes about what motivates them to compete, the one answer that repeats itself endlessly is; wanting to know where one stands amongst one’s peers. Hell, you’ve been working hard, It makes sense to see how that hard work has paid off. Kayla said that she draws her motivation from many places. Not only does she want to be the best version of herself, she is also determined to show her family that their support in her is paying off. Additionally, Kayla reported, “I’m motivated by the people I train with and wanting to keep up with them and grow alongside them. Definitely on those days where I’m lacking that mental and physical motivation of my own to either get to the gym or finish a long workout, I know that I can depend on all these people because they are my biggest cheerleaders much like I’m theirs. I am accountable to them just as much as I’m accountable to myself”.
And it would appear that the sentiments are mutual. Teammate Bailee Rochon had this to say about her training partner, “Even though we’re constantly laughing, Kaylas’s training sessions are always given 100% effort. She’s someone I look up to. One day I can only hope to have the drive she has. Kayla is the most kind-hearted, nicest person I’ve met, her motivation and determination pushes me to become not only a better athlete but also, a better person. I am so grateful to have met Kayla and it means the world to me that she’s by my side during our Crossfit journey together”.
Kayla’s successes were only made possible by a daring jump into the unknown. It can be scary, but the rewards can be remarkable! If you’re still not sure, that is ok! If you are sitting on the fence and wondering if you should do the Open or sign up for the next local comp, talk to your coaches. We can help you decide if you’re ready to take your love of this sport to the next level. If you can put your expectations aside and enjoy the process, you’ll come to fully understand that everyone has to starts somewhere and that you’re sure to surprise yourself! And, in case you were looking for a little more motivation, make sure to come and cheer on all the great athletes representing Undefeated at FrostFit, January 16 and 17th held at CrossFit Winnipeg!
Written by Coach Jessika Ellement
Written by Jessika Ellement
Over the past few months, Undefeated has undergone a monumental facelift. From new members, programs, staff and equipment, we are now staring at Undefeated 2,84. In no small part, the community here has played a huge role throughout this journey. In this edition of “Meet Undefeated Athlete”, we highlight one of our Coaches, whose drive and momentum, has made a substantial contribution to where we are today.
There can be no doubt that when you interact with Assistant Head Coach Daniel Peri, his passion for CrossFit and the Undefeated community runs deep in his veins. His involvement and vision for Undefeated has made an invaluable impact on the gym.
Daniel grew up playing sports in high school and enjoyed a partial scholarship for the University of Calgary in volleyball. Upon graduating and making his way into the workforce, his focus on athletics was placed on the backburner. Daniel moved to Winnipeg for a job in 2001. With his career now taking priority, he shared that weight gain slowly started to creep up on him. He explained that after seeing a photo of himself, he knew it was time for a change. He was missing the active lifestyle, and decided to hire a personal trainer. Daniel explained that his trainer “spoon-fed” CrossFit to him during their workouts. He knew then, that CrossFit was where he belonged.
Not long after starting at Undefeated, Daniel jumped in with both feet. He was a member of the inaugural Undefeated Coaches Internship Program in 2013 and obtained his level 1 Certification training from none other than the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games female champion, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet in Montreal. Since then, Daniel has taken a keen interest in continued learning and has received certificates in CrossFit Gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting, and most recently CrossFit Level 2.
By day, Daniel works for one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies. His experience with management and relationship development has been an enormous asset to the team at Undefeated.
He self describes as “extremely pragmatic and logical”. With a keen eye for insight and business growth, Daniel has taken the initiative to make Undefeated better than ever. Whether it’s patching holes in the walls, volunteering to coach the regionals athletes, cleaning the floors, or welcoming new members, there is no task too big or too small. Daniel possesses an ability to help athletes believe in themselves and to push themselves past their comfort zone. Daniel said, “We have to remember, CrossFit can be intimidating. Every time a new member that walks through that door, it’s a milestone for them”.
Daniel’s contributions to Undefeated have been most deeply appreciated by owner Matt Winchar. Matt shared, “Daniel’s enthusiasm towards CrossFit, coaching, and everything in between has been a blessing. His understanding of Undefeated as a business and brand has allowed him to step up and handle situations and circumstances that would normally be on my plate.”
For Matt, promoting Daniel to Assistant Head coach was a natural decision. Matt explained that Daniel’s presence in the gym has allowed him to focus his energy on making Undefeated bigger and better than ever. Programs like Cubs, Barbell, Sweatshop, Unrivaled and Friday Night Lights, an upcoming run club and Undefeated’s presence within the greater community would not have been possible without Daniel’s ability to take on the additional responsibilities. Matt has been able to re-direct his energies to bring innovation and growth and to make Undefeated the community that he always dreamed of.
When asked what fuels his passion for the gym, Daniel explained that it’s the community that motivates him. He shared that Undefeated has been a place of safety, inclusion and solace and a place worthy of investment.
When he’s not at the gym, Daniel spends his life travelling, sitting poolside and enjoying time with his husband Ian and their loveable dog, Oliver. We look forward to seeing all three of them a lot more around the gym this summer!
Written by Coach Jess
As we count down the days until this year’s Open, we thought we would share a little bit about what Undefeated CrossFit has been doing to get ready for this year’s competition. We’d like to spotlight the Undefeated CrossFit Competition Program and what they have been up to. First, the story of how the group came to be.
Rewind to the Open, 2014. After 5 weeks of grueling workouts, Undefeated CrossFit qualified for Canada West Regionals competition, held at the Olympic Oval in Richmond, B.C . The weekend was full of excitement, PR’s, hard work and a lot of lessons learned.
After Coach Matt witnessed his athlete’s accomplishments, he came back inspired. He knew that with the right planning he could make Undefeated’s competitive athletes perform even better. The goals were set: To qualify two individuals and two teams for Regionals in 2015. With an eye on the future and a lot to accomplish, the Undefeated CrossFit Competition Program was born.
In September 2014, an open call was put out to capable Undefeated athletes who were interested in stepping up their game. A lofty commitment and list of mandatory attributes were laid out. As Matt explained this criteria was necessary because, “If someone isn’t quite ready for the volume and intensity of this style of training, they’re likely to do more harm than good. The workouts would be scaled down so much that the purpose would be lost and, more time would be spent on coaching movements at the expense of intensity”. An important point to note as this group is pre-dominantly un-coached. Matt continued, “We don’t want anyone to feel (UCCP) isn’t for them. It is for them, but maybe down the road when they’ve spent a little more time with our regular programming”. CrossFit believes that in all things, the hierarchy of mechanics, consistency, and intensity must be followed. This is the conviction that the foundations must first be learned correctly, and then performed consistently, well before introducing intensity. If our Fundamentals and Fitness/Sport Streams represent mechanics and consistency respectively, the UCCP is Undefeated’s intensity representative.
The UCCP team is made up of 23 dedicated athletes. Collectively, this group adopted the Invictus CrossFit programming. Coach Matt explained, “I love programming, but as a member of the UCCP, I knew I wouldn’t be able to program for myself. Besides, CJ Martin and his Invictus programming have taken many athletes to the games, so I won’t even try and pretend I can do a better job than him.” The Invictus workouts see the group working out 5 days a week, with sessions lasting around 2 hours. Matt shared that the programming speaks for itself when you look at Undefeated’s showing at this year’s Frostfit in the Rx division, with the women sweeping the podium, and men placing first and third.
In order to help with facilitation, the group was assigned team leaders whose role was to make sure the athletes were logging their workouts, and to support each other while keeping the team in a positive mind set. When you train at this intensity and volume, having the support of the team becomes crucial in order to stay positive. The members shared that the team has become a lot like a family.
Because of this level of intensity, the group has undergone many positive changes, both physically and mentally. Not only have the athletes seen dramatic increases to their performance, their confidence and determination has also grown.
When I asked about some of the drawbacks to this style of training, many of the athletes stressed that the time commitment was a big one. Additionally, not getting to interact with members in the others streams is also a downside. Some members said that although the training has been quite rewarding, they are looking forward to participating in regularly scheduled classes again to have the chance to spend time with the other members.
Matt reported, “This is our 4th Open at Undefeated and we’re still working on making this thing better each year. First and foremost, I want this Open to be enjoyable for everyone. With the new Scaled division, I hope that all of our members step up and take part. We’re really hoping to make this the biggest community event of the year. We’ve taken inspiration from Invictus and will be holding our own Friday Night Lights.” Matt explains that this will be the opportunity for all of our athletes signed up for the Open to, “throwdown as one big family”.
This event takes a lot of planning and coordination and we are hoping that members, families and friends will want to help with judging and video-taping our athletes. Stay tuned for ways that you can get involved! We are looking forward to seeing what the UCCP and Undefeated athletes can accomplish this year! Make sure you come down to Friday Night Lights to check it out!
I want to give huge Thanks to UCCP for having me out to a workout and to Matt W., Jess Y., Chris M., Sarah L., and Leonie C., for their contributions and input into this article.
Written by: Jessika Ellement
Whether you’re a couch potato looking to get fit, or a former high school athlete, CrossFit offers a diversity, challenge and fun that everyone can benefit from. For many former athletes, CrossFit fills the void that retiring from a sport has left. Since it is February and love is in the air, we’d like you to meet Jo and Damien Godard. A wonderful couple, who met in sport and have re-kindled that connection after a prolonged hiatus away from the action.
Jo-Anne (40) and Damien (38), met while training at the same boxing club in 1996, where they competed as both amateurs and professionals in the sport. Jo shared, “We were teammates and training partners for the majority of our boxing lives.” Since retiring 12 years ago, Jo and Damien have been in search of something that would fill the void. Mourning the loss of the social aspect that boxing offered, the couple dabbled in and quickly lost interest in the Globo gym routine. They knew they would have to find something new and exciting in order to stay interested.
Jo was first introduced to CrossFit by a former colleague in the spring of 2014. “We were both looking for something to fill that empty spot and wanted to stay healthy and active as well as being challenged.” Jo continued, “I was the guinea pig”. After some time, she was able to convince Damien to give it a try.
As it goes for many, starting CrossFit can be a daunting task. For Jo and Damien, the obstacles that they’ve articulated are those faced by many former athletes. Damien shared, “Checking my ego and competitiveness at the door (has been a challenge). It is very humbling to go from a sport where you know what you are doing to a sport where you are a beginner.” This rings even more true when you move from a sport that specializes in specific skills and technique, to CrossFit – a sport that specializes in not specializing. It’s safe to say that the only mastery one feels in CrossFit is finding comfort in discomfort. Jo added, “(I’m) trying to remember that I am not the athlete I was 10 years ago and that’s okay. I am on a new journey and I am not starting where I left off.”
For Jo and Damien, CrossFit offered some crossover from their former sport. Boxing teaches many of CrossFit’s 10 general physical skills; speed, accuracy, agility, balance, strength, stamina, cardio endurance, coordination, and power, all in varying degrees. In addition to the physical similarities between the sports, the couple added that training with a team while working on individual success is an aspect that they are also familiar with. Jo added, “There is a lot of sweat and sometimes tears in both (boxing and CF), but way less blood, stiches and black eyes.” Laughing, she continued, “Both sports are very psychological – you could beat yourself before you even start your fight, WOD, or competition.” A phenomenon we have no doubt all experienced from time to time.
At Undefeated, we pride ourselves at being a competitive gym. We hold that competition, whether against ourselves or others, pushes us to be better than yesterday. For Damien, the seduction of competition won him over. He took the plunge at this year’s FrostFit in the scaled division with fellow Undefeated athlete and first time competitor, Will Kinsmen. Will stated that they didn’t know what to expect out of their first competition but said, “I knew I had one hell of a competitor as my partner in Damien. He brought a very calming presence to the warm up area but when 3,2,1 go was said, he became an intense and determined individual. During the burpee ladder specifically, I remember having to make eye contact with him on every rep. He had this look in his eyes as to say, ‘you better keep moving kid’. This pushed me very hard and we had our best event finish taking 4th.”
Jo said that she loved watching everyone compete and cheering on Damien as his team placed 8th overall in their division. Enjoying the experience overall, Damien said that he would even consider future events as they came up. When asked about competing herself, Jo stated, “I have so much to learn and just want to get into a consistent routine and make personal improvements.”
As newer members to Undefeated, Jo and Damien expressed a genuine fondness for the atmosphere, “We love seeing all the talented and committed members, it is real motivation. It’s nice to work out with the same people regularly and get to know them and their stories. There is support from other members which a makes it like being part of a team. It’s also fun to watch others reach their goals. The coaches are top notch and the facility is fabulous. It’s great to be able to come in a little early or stay a little late to work on things without being in the way.” The couple shared that they are grateful for being welcomed into the community.
In terms of success, these two have seen improvement to their overall fitness. Additionally, the two said that sharing in the spirit of sport again has been a rewarding experience. “It’s fun to see each other doing a new sport. We celebrate being active together again and watching each other reach PR’s and learn new skills”.
When they are away from the gym, Damien is a Branch Manager and Jo is a Benefits Administrator. They enjoy travelling and spending time on their motorcycles. They are a joy to have in class and an all-around great couple.
Written by Quinn Taylor
Mason is a member of the Undefeated CrossFit Competitor’s Program. He has been doing CrossFit for 3 years. This will be his third year competing in the Open. Last weekend, him and I finished 7th in the Rx division at FrostFit, out of nearly 20 men’s teams. He has done two Olympic weightlifting competitions. His current competition PR’s are 63kg in the snatch and 84kg in the clean & jerk at a bodyweight of 72kg. This weekend, he will be looking to crush these PR’s at Nationals…
… Junior Nationals.
Oh yeah, Mason is 15 years old.
Before finding CrossFit, Mason was a competitive lacrosse player, playing for team Manitoba for three years. It was a lacrosse coach that first suggested he try CrossFit. Mason has barely looked back since. CrossFit quickly became his sport, a place at the CrossFit Games his long-term goal, and he began training every day. He and his dad built a gym in the basement to make sure he never missed a workout. Up early to get his squat program in before school, then straight to the gym in the evening. His passion has been infectious for his family. Mason’s dad Curt is also an avid CrossFitter, and his older brother Matt is just getting started and loves it.
Mason’s drive and dedication are unmatched. His maturity has developed well beyond his years. Mase is that unique brand of competitor who is driven entirely by an internal fuel for self-improvement. It’s never been about beating anyone or being the best in the room; it’s always been about being better than yesterday. He knows his personal bests by heart. If he misses a lift, which is rare, he will make it the next time.
A year or two back, Mason was doing the group WOD just like any other day. We were doing chest to bar pull-ups, which, at the time, were a weakness for him. It was a busy class, and I took my eyes off Mase for a little while to help some other athletes. All of a sudden, I look over to see Mase flat on his back. He was winded and shaken up from falling backwards off the rig. I rushed over and once he caught his breath, he assured me that he was fine, and that nothing was broken. I was naturally worried about him, and went to speak to his dad. Curt just laughed, and told me that this was his second fall of the workout. No one had even seen him fall the first time. He had just dusted himself off and gotten back on the bar. Nothing was going to stop him from getting those pull-ups.
I am proud to have been one of his first CrossFit coaches, and even more so to now call myself his training partner and teammate.
Mason competes in the 77kg category of the Canadian Junior Championships this Saturday, January 17, 2015, at the Canad Inns Polo Park, Ambassador Room #1 at 2:30pm.
Nearing her one year anniversary at Undefeated, Mel has truly embraced the CrossFit life. As a second year Dental student, Mel knows what it means to be motivated and goal oriented. Her approach to CrossFit is no different. You can often find Mel coming to class early, staying late, or on the weekends working on pull ups, handstands, or squats. Meet Mel Phaneuf, Undefeated Athlete; mindful of the process and never forgetting where she’s come from.
Growing up, Mel confessed she was not overly athletic, but participated in sports and dance to some degree. At 17, in pursuit of overall health, she obtained a gym membership and began her journey into fitness. “My ‘workouts’ initially consisted of 45-50 minutes on the elliptical and I finally starting to feel healthier.” Mel then discovered Bikram yoga, which helped to improve flexibility, but time the commitment became unrealistic. Through the internet and fitness magazines, Mel self-educated and began to lift weights. “I love reading about nutrition and sports science; how the body works.” After years of the same routine however, Mel found that her progress had hit a plateau and was in need of a new challenge. “I was originally made aware of CrossFit a few years ago, watching a re-run of the Games.” After she and a friend tried one class, she signed up on the spot.
In her time as a CrossFitter, Mel has already made some insightful discoveries. When asked about her successes and accomplishments, Mel said, “Appreciating that progress is a process. I’m not going to be able to cross off all of my PR goals and movements on my ‘list’ immediately, either. And I’ve learned to love the process too! I keep a journal of all my workouts so that I can remind myself how far I’ve come, and to also help my progression.” Mel continued, “Realizing that not every day is going to be a “good” day (was an unexpected challenge). I am happy with my overall progress, both in my abilities as well as physically. I’ve come a long way from the unconfident, uncoordinated chubby kid who was always picked last.”
In the summer, Mel enjoys playing rec league softball and bartending part-time at the Goldeyes stadium. During the school year however, she trades in her glove for text books. As a busy University student, Mel remarked that sometimes her greatest accomplishment is simply making it to CrossFit. “I’m at school on most days from 8am-5pm. On top of hours of lab work and studying, I still make it to the gym at least 5 days a week. I definitely do have days where I’d love nothing more but to hit the couch and stay there, but then I remind myself that if Julie Foucher, being a med student and accomplished CrossFit athlete, can compete in the Games and train for it while going to medical school; I can at least make time and effort to go to a one hour CrossFit class. In the end, it’s easy to make time for something you truly love doing.”
While on the subject of Games athletes, the Reebok CrossFit Games organizers are making improvements to the events in 2015 to improve the accessibility of the sport. Some of the changes include new divisions in the Open workouts that will include a teenage division, for those athletes 14-17 years of age, as well as a scaled division. When asked if Mel had plans to compete in the upcoming CrossFit Games Open workouts, she said that she was thinking about it. “It was really fun watching everyone who competed last year when I first started at Undefeated. The excitement was contagious!”
Mel admitted that her initial thoughts of CrossFit were those of intimidation and believed that only highly competitive “athletes” could take part. “Today, I realize that anyone can do CrossFit. I feel that I am in better shape now, mentally as well as physically, that I have ever been. I have gained confidence in my physical abilities as well as in everyday life. I know that through hard work and perseverance anything is possible.”
Mel credits a big part of her success at CrossFit to the Undefeated community. “I love the support. Having trained most of my ‘gym life’ on my own, I love how every WOD is a team effort; we start together and we finish together. I also appreciate having great coaches who guide me and help me become a better CrossFitter day after day.” She added,” My biggest goal is to maintain everything in balance. Being able to make it to CrossFit as my ‘me’ time while going to school, handling school work, making time for social activities, my boyfriend, and many other things, makes me beyond happy; and this is something I’d like to perfect and keep up. This is probably the first year where I haven’t hit a wall or felt too overwhelmed to make it to the gym during midterms and finals; and I’m positive that I’ve got CrossFit to thank for that.”
Mel’s story gently reminds us that that CrossFit is a long and winding road with no tangible destination. Pursuing an unattainable finish line littered with pit-stops and detours along the way, we never truly ‘arrive’. This is the beauty and the beast of CrossFit, and the very thing that keeps us going.
Written by Jessika Ellement
For some athletes, the box is place of refuge. An escape from the demands of everyday life, be it career, relationship, family, you name it. A place to unwind. For others, the box is a place to connect with people, to share their successes and challenges with likeminded individuals, a place for acceptance and community. As our box continues to grow, we are seeing more and more “CrossFit Couples” tackling the WoD’s together. Jarrett and Kelsey, long-time Undefeated athletes are a fine example of a CrossFit Couple. You’re guaranteed to have a good class with these two present. If you haven’t already had the pleasure, please meet Undefeated Athletes, Jarrett and Kelsey.
Although their stories vary slightly on how they met, it’s safe to reveal that both versions involved New Year’s eve almost 4 years ago, Kelsey’s parent’s hot tub and Jarrett in his birthday suit. Kelsey remarked, “It’s been kind of sort of happily ever after since then”.
Both Kelsey and Jarrett began their foray into CrossFit from two very different places. Kelsey remarked that she had never been involved in sports growing up and that Jarrett refers to her as a, “non-athlete”. Jarrett, however, had been a competitive hockey player and involved in fitness for most of his life. The two shared that, after some failed attempts at working out together at the Rady centre, it was Kesley who convinced Jarrett to give CrossFit a shot. Jarrett shared that he was not initially sold on the idea of CrossFit, “I actually thought what every close minded weight lifter thought about CrossFit; kipping was bullshit and I had zero interest in doing any kind of gymnastics. But, then Kelsey had heard about it and really wanted to try it so I eventually gave in and besides the first class was free and I guess the rest is history.”
When asked what some of the benefits are to working out with your partner, Kelsey had this to say, “It is nice to always have someone to workout with and to have something we both love and can do together”. She acknowledged that CrossFit can be time consuming and so being able to work out together enhances their relationship. Jarrett added, “Kels would probably say not having to drive herself to the gym is a benefit. But it is fun to work out with your partner, to watch them accomplish something they’ve been training for for so long and to see them get excited about it. You can also stare at their ass and not be a huge creep…. just a little bit creepy.”
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Kelsey and Jarrett shared that the sport they have grown to love has also strengthened their relationship in a number of ways. Jarrett remarked. “It’s something we are able to do together and have in common. What is it they always say? ‘a couple that lifts together stays together’. Also, it makes you look pretty good naked so everybody is also happy under the sheets”. Kelsey added, “We never…ever have nothing to talk about because we could talk back and forth about CrossFit stuff for a long time. I know some people who do it without their partner say they get in trouble for talking about it too much”.
Some of the greatest aspects about this sport are being able to cheer on your fellow athletes, to celebrate in their PRs, and to feel the loving push of the community gathered around you when you’re 130 wall balls deep into “Karen”. Jarrett shared that he was proud of Kelsey for going to the gym, and being able to put aside the belief that lifting weights would just make her ”too big”. Kelsey remarked that her proudest moment for Jarrett was being able to go with him to the 2014 CrossFit Games Regionals competition and cheer him on as representative for Team Undefeated. She added that seeing Jarrett’s drive and determination to continue to improve himself, motivate and inspire her to do the same.
Outside the box, Kelsey is a fourth year Education student at the University of Winnipeg. “When I have the time I also love to cook and even when I fuck up Jarrett will still eat it. My other passion would be wine… I love wine almost as much as Daria.” Kelsey shared, “CrossFit has taught me that I can do things if I actually try. Sometimes I don’t push myself hard enough and CrossFit continually teaches me to keep going and to push myself which also relates to my life outside of the gym”.
Jarrett owns and operates his own waste removal company. “You could say at the moment I am a glorified garbage man. Shit job, but it pays.” When he’s not at the box, Jarrett reports you can find him doing 1 of 5 things, “Hanging out with Kels, playing hockey, working, binge drinking, or playing vids”. A strange and little known fact about Jarrett is that he can fold his ear into itself.
As CrossFit continues to grow, websites dedicated to WoD dates are popping up all over the internet, such as WODdate.com. I asked these two how they felt about CrossFitting singles meeting online for WoDs as their first dates. “Personally I would be mortified, but I think it would be hilarious and we should consider setting this up” Kelsey said with a laugh. Jarrett added, “It could be a good idea, although your date could see you make some awful faces. And maybe try not to lift too heavy the first go since you wouldn’t want to fluff in front of a lady on the first date. Other than that you don’t even have to miss a workout to go elsewhere on a date and they’ll either hate you or love you for what you just put them through. It’s really a true test.” Both athletes recommend that people workout with their partners. “I think it allows you to bond, and have something in common” Kelsey stated. She added that because of their busy schedules, this allowed them time in the evening to hang out with one another on a regular basis.
You may be asking yourself, what the downsides of working out with your partner might be. Kelsey explained that because she and Jarrett are not always on the same programming, during competition training, they seldom get to work out together. On another note, Jarrett added that, “When you’re in the doghouse, there is no escape”. As the box comes to mean a lot to an individual what happens in the event that a couple breaks up? Who gets to keep the box? Although Kelsey and Jarret declined to comment on this, whether you’re a well-established couple, or seeking your first WoD date, it may be something to consider writing in to the fine print of your relationship!
Written by Jessika Ellement
When I first joined Undefeated over two years ago, I spent a lot of my work outs with the 6:30 crew. Over time, my schedule shifted and made the 6:30 class unreachable. I realized that the good people that I used to spend my favorite hour of the day with had vanished from my routine and life. Missing them, I thought it would be fitting to highlight these great athletes and give everyone a chance to put faces to a few of those first names we see on the WOD board: The ‘dirty 6:30’ crew, a group who seldom venture out into the world of the primetime athlete.
5:54 am. Alarm goes off. Reluctantly, I wake up reminding myself that I asked for this. I throw on my gym clothes, make coffee and jump in the car. The air is cool and damp with morning dew. As the sun lazily breaks the horizon, I arrive at Undefeated, and the parking lot is a ghost town. The gym windows are dark. An eerie calm looms heavily at this hour and I’ve always loved the notion of stealing a few extra moments in the morning while most of the world slept. Before I can get comfortable enough to sneak in a quick nap, the coach arrives to let us in. Rapidly, member after member funnels through the door. Although there are some new faces, at least half of the athletes are my old workout friends. It’s like a reunion, and yet feels like no time has passed at all. Before too long, we are warming up and time for banter and reflection comes to an end as our bodies prepare to be assaulted by this particularly brutal early morning WOD.
6:32 am. 8 minute EMOTM power snatch and snatch. There are 8 of us in the class. Being the curious creature that I am, I want to find out more about these athletes and what motivates them to work out at this hour. So, shamelessly, I ask. Rob is a new face to me. He has been with Undefeated for about 6 months, and is a father to a 5 year old son. He shares that he’s been a morning workout person for the past 10 years. He explains that as a way to change some old bad habits, he adopted a new lifestyle that saw him going to bed earlier so that he could make time for fitness in the morning. Rob admits that his affair with CrossFit was not love at first sweat. Previous injuries and subsequent surgeries made movements like overhead squats quite difficult and only through persistence and determination has Rob experienced improvement.
Clair is also relatively new to Undefeated. She offers that having a friend to be accountable to is perfect motivation in the morning. Her friend Jenny adds that it was Clair that convinced her to try CrossFit in the first place. Jenny, a graphic designer, confesses that she is not necessarily a morning person, but rather works out in the morning because it fits her schedule. I ask Jenny if she had any tricks for getting to the gym in the morning, “I sleep in my gym clothes”. Why didn’t I think of that, I ponder to myself.
“It’s too early to really question what’s going on.” A good friend, Delaney says. “The alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, and thirty minutes later I’m sweating it out before my brain even clues into what’s going on. I’ve always been a bit of a morning person and love having my workout done by 7:30.”
Spencer is a longtime 6:30 crew member. He says, “There are three things that get me up in the morning. The first is the prospect of a new day and the excitement that comes from learning and making deliberate progress on all of my life objectives. The second is the quest to bring the six-pack back. And thirdly, if I don’t get out of the house before my wife and kids wake up, there’s a 1% to zero percent chance I will have time to work out again.”
6:45 am. 16 minute EMOTM max reps push press and muscle ups and I’m already half way through my coffee. This is going to burn. Although their reasons for attending the 630 class vary, one thing that all of the 6:30 athletes have in common in a connection to their fellow members. Rob remarks, “When you go to a 630 class you know the people there are like you, like their routine, want to work out, and are maybe a little crazy?” Spencer adds, “The dirty 630 is generally an optimistic and cheerful group where strong relationships are built because it’s often the same members coming consistently. One of the coaches told us that our nervous systems don’t really wake up until later in the day and every time one of us achieves a PR we carry the belief that if our nervous system was wide awake we could probably lift 10% more than that”.
Jenny reports that getting to complete her workout first thing in the morning sets the tone for her day. She explains that her productivity and creativity are higher on the days that she works out in the morning. This is something that I too have experienced.
7:05. 20 minute AMRAP Burpee box stepovers, 500 row, and kettlebell swings. I can do anything for 20 minutes?!? No time for complaining now. 3…..2….1….. Go!
I ask longtime 6:30 coach Kristen for her perspective on this unique crew and morning workouts. “Coaching the morning crew is always fun. I honestly roll out of bed, get dressed and head to the gym to get it open for the athletes. Warm ups are crucial since the body has been sleeping for hours beforehand, to prevent injuries, aches and pains. For any of the other classes, most of the athletes have been awake and (hopefully) moving all day “. She says that by setting her alarm at 5:55, she ensures that she will get out of bed to see these athletes, and adds that these athletes rarely make it to other classes.
Kristen continues, “The morning crew are in a league of their own. It takes a very driven person to roll out of bed while it is often still dark out to work as hard as they do multiple times per week. Morning person or not, it takes dedication.”
Not only a CrossFit coach, Kristen is also a Chiropractor, running enthusiast, and nutrition guru. I ask if she could shed some insight into the benefits of the early morning workout. Kristen responds, “You don’t get to ponder all day as to whether or not you can come up with enough excuses to not get your workout in. You get to the gym without a second thought. There are also benefits (fat loss, insulin response, muscle gain) to working out while fasted (without food) as long as hormones are properly balanced. And that’s easiest accomplished first thing in the morning. You have the rest of the day to get whatever you need done. You’ve accomplished so much more than most people have by 8am.”
7:25. A sea of bodies litters the gym floor. Slowly catching out breaths, one by one, we pry ourselves from the ground to roll out. We exchange high fives as each of us sets out on our separate paths to start our day. Every 6:30 member will tell you that there is something special about looking at the clock at 7:30 am and having your workout complete, knowing that most people still haven’t had the opportunity to hit the snooze button for the first time. What is glaringly obvious with this group of athletes is that they have made their fitness a priority, and even if it takes waking up before the crack of dawn multiple times per week, it is a sacrifice worth making. If you’ve ever thought about trying out the 6:30 class, you now have even more opportunity as Undefeated has added another 6:30 timeslot to the schedule. Although it may not be for everybody, I challenge every athlete to try it at least one time. You never know, it might be an extra edge to your training you didn’t even know you were looking for.
Written by Jessika Ellement
CrossFit. It is defined as, “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”. After learning a little bit about Daria, it is no wonder that CrossFit was an attractive choice for her. Daria leads an astonishingly full life as a novelist, screenwriter, humanitarian, Mom, teacher, world traveler, and overall hilarious human. The parallels that one can draw between the definition of CrossFit and Daria’s escapades are countless.
The fork in the road that led Daria down the winding path of CrossFit began at a Globo Gym over two years ago. Daria recalled, “My personal trainer, Zack (now owner of CrossFit Rocked), lured me over to Undefeated. He was gaga about CrossFit. I was curious about what could get someone that fired up. Of course, I immediately saw the addiction.”
As a longstanding member, Daria shared some insights about Undefeated, “I have made some really great friends with both the athletes and coaches. And it’s funny because in a decade of going to other gyms, I hardly ever talked to anyone. And I’m a super social person! I think Undefeated wants and demands the absolute best from its athletes”. Daria credits Matt for keeping the programming varied, rewarding, and challenging. “I’ve noticed [the] streamlining of the programming for fitness-focused vs. competitive athletes. At first, I didn’t really know how I would fit in. But I started training with the girls who had aspirations to get to Regionals. That pushed me to a new level. “
With an intense schedule, I asked Daria how she manages to keep it all together and make time for her training. Laughing, Daria admitted, “Liquor. Lots of it.” She continued, “Okay, seriously, when I’m in the gym I want to train more, when I’m goofing around with my kids on the trampoline I want to do that more and I always need more time to write. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to do everything, but I do none of it well. But then I’ll be sitting on my deck at the end of a long day, drinking a glass of wine, and I think – wow, today I PR’d my back squat, took my kids swimming and edited a chapter of my novel. So, I didn’t get around to cleaning the bathroom; no one has come over and caught any communicable diseases…yet. It’s a good day.”
In addition to getting handstand pushups, doubleunders and Rx’ing most of the workouts, Daria feels that one of the greatest successes is feeling “twitchy and weird”, when she is not able to make it to Undefeated 4 or 5 times a week. For every athlete, each success comes with a laundry list of challenges and goats. When asked about hers, Daria laughed and shared, “Trying to keep up with all the 22 year olds. Sometimes, when I’m doing 150 wall balls, I think, maybe I should try lawn bowling. I’m a comedy of CrossFit errors.” She added, “When I was learning to do pull ups, I snapped the band into my vag so hard that I rendered it unusable for a few days (my vag, not the band). A couple of weeks ago I got the skipping rope caught in my pony tail during a WOD and lost my shit trying to shake it out.”
With a need for constant learning, meeting new people, and expanding her understanding of the human condition, I asked if her experience with CF has added to this is any way. She shared, “I basically thrive on failure and fear. It really sucks when you are in the throngs of it, but writing and the rejection that often comes with it, has taught me that the most stellar successes really start to happen when you force yourself into those scary places of uncertainty and vulnerability. The kind of traveling and hiking I do usually involves a fair bit of the unknown and testing one’s limits. But so does CrossFit! […] I try to live a life that is wrought with emotion; if I’m uninspired or bored then I change things, pronto. CrossFit really feeds into that. I think that’s why everyone is so addicted to it. CrossFit attacks boredom and infuses the energy and thrill that is sometimes lacking in everyday life. It’s full of moments of fear and disappointment, but also triumph.” Daria shared that she has learned a lot from watching other athlete’s handle their failures and success. “There have been times when watching someone else has inspired me to pick up my own stubborn bar again.” She currently has her eyes and focus set on the ever elusive and seemingly mythical muscle-up.
Daria’s CF addiction has certainly spilled over into her life outside the box. “I handstand wherever I go – Chicago, on the Serengeti in Africa, in front of The London Guard, Cape Breton Island, Vancouver Island! I started this project that puts water tanks at elementary schools in Tanzania. I did a handstand at one of the tanks we built! And then I tried to show this girl (who now goes to go to school instead of collecting water) how to do doubleunders! That was pretty awesome!” She claimed that her family thinks she is a little crazy, and when her kids get a little out of line they are, “mercilessly punished” with burpees rather than timeouts.
Behind the scenes, Daria and her husband have been preparing for a grand adventure in the New Year. “We’re yanking our 5 and 7 year old out of school hitting the road for a year. I need to shake things up a bit. People always ask me where we’re going. I really like buying one way plane tickets, just showing up and rolling with it. I’ve had some extraordinary experiences this way, but the kindergartener may not be so into that. We did book plane tickets to New Zealand, and then we’ll probably visit Fiji, American Samoa and Southeast Asia. After that who knows? (Anyone out there looking to host some vagabonds?)” I asked her how she hopes to maintain her CF fix. “Well, of course I’ve been googling CrossFit Fiji, CrossFit New Zealand etc. I hope to drop into some boxes all over the world in the upcoming year…but I doubt The CrossFit World Box Tour will fly with my family! I always do the CF body weight work outs off the site when I travel. I’m a bit sad as I’ve had some real breakthroughs and personal PR’s lately and then there’s that damn muscle up. I worry when I come back I will be starting from scratch. But I’m sure when I walk back into the box it’ll be like I never left and I will undoubtedly get my ass kicked to the moon and back. And that’s the way I like it.” Daria is currently in the midst of signing a deal for a travel memoire, but in the meantime, you can check out her adventures on her blog and follow her as she handstands across the globe!
Written by Jessika Ellement
Undefeated’s youngest athlete, Bailee, grew up training competitively for gymnastics. When that chapter of her life came to a close, she spent a period of time feeling unsure about what to do with herself. One serendipitous evening this past winter, Bailee joined her Mom and Step-Dad, Leif, at a friend’s house for a Jets game. It was there where she met Coach Cody. Learning of the young lady’s background, Cody and the others showed Bailee clips of the CrossFit games and convinced her to give it a try.
I asked Bailee if she could recall her first WOD, “I have no idea. I know I did sled pulls and the rest was a blur. All I remember is the next day I could barely walk down the stairs.” I know we can all recall what that was like. Her first impression of CrossFit was that of disbelief. “People do this for fun?” All joking aside, Bailee quickly understood the reasons behind growing popularity of the sport. “After my first class with Justin it felt good to be pushed again. I’ve been coached by a lot of coaches, and he is one of the best. Matt looks out for me and sets goals for me. It’s an awesome feeling to know I have older role models looking out for me. I was getting tired of competing with the people next to me on the treadmills at the gym, and hadn’t found a sport or activity that fit the void I had from my competition days in gymnastics, until CrossFit.”
Even at her tender age of 15, Bailee knows coaching. After years of being a gymnast, she now works as a coach at Springer’s Gymnastics, “I love coaching and seeing my girls accomplish new skills.” When she is not coaching or training, Bailee likes to hang out with her friends. “My friends think that I am ‘jacked’, and they are happy to see that I have found something that I love just as much as gymnastics. Sometimes I think they might even get a little bored because I talk about it all the time.” It’s true, the first rule of CrossFit, is that you never shut up about CrossFit.
Bailee remarked that her greatest success has been with her Olympic weightlifting. If you haven’t seen the video of Bailee snatching 75 lbs on her first day, prepare to break down and cry. “I have more and more confidence each time I walk up to the bar.” She identified a lot of crossover between her gymnastics training and CrossFit. “The movements we conditioned were chin ups, rope climbs without legs, leg lifts (toes to bar), pushups, hollow body hold, handstands etc.” Bailee noted a few differences between the sports, namely that in gymnastics, all movements must be done strictly (without kipping). Bailee said that it brings a smile to her face when she sees familiar movements come up on the WOD board, like handstands and other gymnastics related holds.
This vibrant teen joins a long list of CrossFit athletes with a gymnastics background including Canada West’s fan favorite Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and two-time CrossFit games champ, Annie Thorisdottir to name a couple. Since starting in the midst of the CrossFit Open buzz in February 2014, Bailee looks forward to a day where she can compete at a high level in this sport, “My number one goal is to make it to Regionals before I turn 18. I was previously a national athlete for gymnastics, and would love to get back to that point with CrossFit. When it comes to competing in 2015 Open, honestly don’t know how old I have to be or what a competition looks like yet, but if I am ready and I can, I would love too.” Luckily for Bailee, the CrossFit games rule books states that as long as you’re able to perform the workouts as prescribed and you are at least 14 years of age, you may compete in the Open.
Working hard and playing hard, Bailee says she is always hungry. Greek yogurt, fruits, rice cakes and peanut butter and seaweed make up a large component of her snacks. She made sure to note that from time to time, she still likes to, “pig out”, drinking slurpees and eating candy.
I asked Bailee’s Mom, Nicole about her impressions of Bailee starting CrossFit, “After Bailee stopped competing and training at her gymnastics club, she was lost. She knew she needed a change but missed her coaches and teammates badly. She played in one basketball tournament, did one class in cheerleading but nothing fit. The best part of trying CrossFit was Coach Justin helping her out the first day. He was amazing, pushed her to succeed and cracked her up. That was enough for Bailz, she had connected with a coach again and loved CrossFit. For the first time since gymnastics, she fit somewhere.”
On top of finding a sense of belonging, Nicole shared that Bailee is happier, has a newfound confidence and positive role models which are helping her to make responsible choices and decisions in her life. Nicole had overwhelmingly positive things to say about Undefeated and the acceptance that her daughter has felt into the community. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am happy that we have the CrossFit village helping us.”
In response to asking when we would see Nicole into the gym for a WOD, “Ha! This is Bailee’s time to shine. We love watching her success”. We do too, and are excited for what has yet to come!
Written by Jessika Ellement
As Undefeated CrossFit has come to mean many things to many people, it seemed only right that we find out a little more about the man behind the box. In our ongoing spotlight of Undefeated Athletes, Meet Matt Winchar; Owner, head coach, programming guru, and all around CrossFit badass.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Matt has spent the majority of his life in this city. In his early twenties, Matt ventured to Toronto where his profession in the realm of fitness would begin. He started as a personal trainer in a “globo gym”, training mostly lawyers, bankers, and the like. As Matt continued to gain experience, and research the science of fitness, it became apparent to him that the traditional bodybuilding routines weren’t working for his clients. Matt shared, “I was looking for something that suited my attitude towards fitness. I wasn’t lifting to get big or to get abs. I was lifting because I wanted to be faster and stronger. That’s when I found CrossFit. ”
After three years of living in Toronto, Matt felt that the experiment of being away was nearing its end, and was ready to return to Winnipeg. Wanting his homecoming to be a step forward, Matt knew that he needed to turn his personal training experience and knowledge of the fitness industry into something new. “I had learned every aspect of the business and figured I could put the experience to use. Most people don’t know this element of my story, but I was on the fence for months. One day, as I was biking home from work, a pedestrian ran in to the street and collided with me on my bike. I flipped over the handle bars and totally garage sale’d. Shoes went separate ways, back pack another, it was a surprise I got up unharmed. But it was at that instant I committed to leaving the city and pursue opening my own gym.”
Since opening in the fall of 2011, Undefeated has undergone some incredible growth and change. From the tiny box on Ebby Street, to its beautiful new home on Waverly, it is clear that Matt has committed to keeping Undefeated at the forefront of the CrossFit gyms in Winnipeg. But the improvements aren’t just in new equipment and location. Undefeated athletes have been improving in big ways as well. When asked about Undefeated’s progression forward, Matt shared, “I never quite understood the randomness of [CrossFit programming]. Sure, routine is the enemy, but shouldn’t there be an underlying rhythm to the chaos?” Matt continued, “I followed a ton of gyms and studied their programming but couldn’t find a reason why they were doing what they were doing or where the program was going. I don’t think I was the only one with this observation and in the last couple years I have seen a huge shift in the way coaches perceive CrossFit. The good gyms are programming with a purpose and the bad ones have nowhere to hide. CrossFit is evolving not only as a sport, but as a business and if you want to stay on top, you need to educate yourself. I have travelled all over North America just to learn how to be a better coach to my athletes. Then I run a three month internship for prospective coaches so that I can relay my knowledge to them, and from them to our athletes. It’s a trickle-down effect and I firmly believe that unless the foundation is strong, everything else will fall apart. “
With so many roles to juggle, the life of a box owner can be a hectic one. When asked how balances the gym and his own training, Matt offered, “I don’t. Honestly, it’s a daily battle. Trying to find the energy is sometimes impossible. Sometimes you’ll pick up a barbell and it weighs twice as much as it should. Or I’ll sit down to program and my mind is a complete blank. But what keeps me going is the notion that there’s more to come. That my athletes can be better than they are and that I am at the helm.” He continued, “There’s an understanding that owning a gym and developing your athletes precedes your personal fitness. I would for sure be way fitter if I didn’t own Undefeated, but that’s part of the deal and the mark of a good coach in any circumstance. Can you put others before yourself?” If you’ve ever had the chance to email Matt about a CrossFit question, you’ll know that he takes the time to discuss the science behind CrossFit, and how CrossFit can be made to work for the individual athlete.
On the personal side, when he’s not at the box, Matt likes to listen to records, BBQ with friends, enjoy a beer, and likes to visit Vancouver whenever he can. As far as what we would find in his fridge, “You’ll find bacon, eggs, greek yogurt, apples, bananas and peanut butter. I’m not paleo, I never could be. Life’s short and this isn’t practice for the next one. If I want to take down an XL pizza, I’m going to do that.”
On a side note, I asked Matt what some of his gym ‘pet peeves’ were. Aside from the more typical answers like leaving ab mats out, dropping barbells with only tens, not cleaning up your own blood, and incorrectly putting the skipping ropes away, Matt had a more serious message to share. “My biggest peeve is the “I can’t” attitude. Unsurprisingly, that attitude also goes hand in hand with “no success in CrossFit”. What I would like to see more of is someone who went for it but didn’t get it, rather than didn’t try at all. We are confined to the boundaries of our experiences and exercise is no different. If we can frequently expose our athletes to the possibility of failure, and show them success, we will see a revision of attitude. At the end of the day, this makes all the difference.”
With an endless list of possibilities, Matt shares his thoughts on why he loves the Undefeated community. “The lack of ego and the endeavour of our athletes to keep our gym a home for all and not just some. We had a shirt that said “Sink or Swim” on the back, and it wasn’t about being tough and bad ass. It was about being part of the momentum or being an anchor. The anchors don’t tend to last very long at Undefeated.” Speaking of momentum, Undefeated’s performance exceeded Matt’s expectations at this year’s Regionals. He shared that he will be putting together more dedicated programming to helping all athletes reach their potential and hopes to be sending two teams in 2015. He looks forward to seeing all of the hard work that our athletes put in continue to pay off. And although there is not a lot of time for himself these days, a coach’s greatest accomplishment is in the success of their athletes, no matter how big or small.
Selected as the male alternate for the Undefeated team only one year into CrossFit, Alex found himself rubbing shoulders with some of the best CrossFit athletes at the 2014 Canada West Regionals. Inspired, Alex watched on with a sense of desire and determination. “It was a huge eye opener for me from start to finish. As a young CrossFit athlete, I really wasn’t aware of the work that needed to be put in to be successful at that level. Nothing has motivated me more than watching top level athletes leave it all out there, it made me want to come back and train extra hard and just be better at everything”. Rewind to 8 months ago, and Alex never would have guessed he would have been sitting among elite level athletes.
Alex grew up playing sports competitively. After high school, he found himself less involved athletically, and dangerously bored. With boredom came bad lifestyle choices that saw him falling out of shape and drinking on a regular basis. Alex shared that when he wasn’t drinking, he would just lie around, hung over. At his lowest point, Alex was caught driving under the influence. With his license suspended, Alex knew he was in trouble. Realizing he had to make a change, he turned to Undefeated CrossFit as a way to focus his energy and invest in his future.
Alex recalls his first impressions of CrossFit, “It was terrifying at first because of how good everyone was and how terrible I was at even the easiest movements. Once I got out of the fundamentals, and started doing real WODs with everyone, that’s when I figured out what the community was all about. Having that kind of support is what I love about CrossFit and is what gets me through so many hard WODs”.
Alex has both his sister and Mom to thank for being continual inspirations in and outside of the box. “Sure, seeing Froning snatch 300# is pretty motivating, but seeing my sister Haley snatch 100#, or my Mom tough it out during a running workout (she despises running,) is what motivates me and keeps me going when I am struggling. I love helping them and seeing them progress”. Alex attributed a lot of his success (and transportation) to the ladies in his life. He credited his sister as the only reason he is able to eat a remotely healthy diet.
When asked how CrossFit has impacted her brother, Haley had these emotional words to offer, “He has become a different person, a better person. He’s learned commitment and found a new motivation and passion. His work ethic has improved so much, and his attitude towards life in general has become so much more positive. CrossFit has given him a new outlook, and new positive role models to look up to. It’s kept him sober for almost 8 months.”
With a new lease on life, Alex, now 21, has jumped in with both feet. He has been working as an arborist over the summer months to save money for school in the fall, where he hopes to take a degree in Kinesiology at the University of Manitoba to compliment his business diploma from Red River College.
Moving forward, Alex stated, “I think going to Regionals benefitted me a lot because now I have a good grasp on how hard I’m going to need to work this year, and what the competition is really like in Canada West. As for the weekend of Regionals, it was unreal. Nothing has motivated me more than watching top level athletes leave it all out there. It made me want to come back and train extra hard and just be better at everything. It was an honor for me to be picked and considered at the same level as some of the people that weekend”.
Alex is also looking forward to gaining further experience as a Coach Intern. He explained that helping others excel and improve fills him with great pride.
His story speaks of inspiration, overcoming challenges, and resiliency. From the ashes of a shameful experience, the Undefeated CrossFit community has helped Alex push through to see the potential he had always possessed. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a box to raise an athlete.
Written by Jessika Ellement