CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
The Outlaw Way – Para Bellum Camp
CPTN Certified Personal Trainer
CPR/First Aid Certified
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; Founder 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.