At the close of CrossFit Games Open, CrossFit Connection is ranked 7th in Canada East. Jason Bird, who co-owns the box with business partner Ruth Sheridan, says this is just a pleasant bonus. While there are certainly some strong individuals on the team, Bird stresses everyone is equal on Saturday afternoons, when his affiliate did the Open events. “There are no superstars. The Open is about being supportive of one another and helping everyone to accomplish new things,” says Bird.
Bird is especially happy with how the Open has brought a new level of excitement and camaraderie to the gym. “Competition can be so amazingly positive, but so negative if you treat it the wrong way,” he says.
Bird says he downplays the competitive aspects of the Open to his members, instead stressing. “It’s about being proud of your accomplishments and not beating yourself up because you can’t do this or can’t do that, but celebrating what you can do.”
"People who have never done anything competitive, never played any sport... it works for them, and it changes who they are inside and out"
This attitude is reflected in the gym's daily blog, which highlights the accomplishments not only of Connection’s top scorers, but also of those who achieved their first toes-to-bar or double-under while under the pressure of the clock. It is the accomplishments of these people Bird finds most rewarding about his job.
“The already fit people that come through the door often have already been successful in athletics and are used to being good at something, so it doesn’t have as big an effect on who they are and their place in life,” he says. “But people who have never done anything competitive, never played any sport, and are maybe a bit overwhelmed and scared of this CrossFit thing, they try it, and it works for them, and it changes who they are inside and out. It changes the way they walk, it changes the way they talk, and it makes them more confident in the gym and in life. It carries over into so much more than just the way they look.”
Bird says his own CrossFit discovery story is a typical one. A former university football player, he dabbled in running, weightlifting and Ironman triathlons before stumbling upon CrossFit videos on the Internet and deciding to give it a try. His first workout was also typical. “You think you’re good, and five minutes in you’re in a world of hurt and can’t understand what’s wrong with you,” he says.
This light bulb moment was the beginning of his love for CrossFit, and led him to open Connection.
Three of Connection's team members are showing strongly in their individual rankings. Adrian Lui sits 4th in Canada East on the men's side, and Christine Kluge is in 11th on the women’s side after only training with CrossFit for one year. Masters competitor Lynn Stratten is also in 12th place in the world in the 60-plus Division, earning her opportunity to compete at the CrossFit Games.
Regardless of how CrossFit Connection places in the upcoming Canada East Regional, Bird’s passion for fostering a supportive community and for celebrating accomplishment of any size is evident.