The mission of Ignite Jax is to combine fun, effective exercise using the CrossFit model with the best academic enhancement possible.
Josh Krehbiel, owner of CrossFit 904 in Jacksonville, Fla., is trying to prove that exercise makes you smarter through the CrossFit-based program “Ignite Jax” for kids in school, as well as people with special needs and acute brain injuries.
Ignite is a movement-based learning program founded in 2008 at Catalyst CrossFit in Canada.
The mission: To combine fun, effective exercise using the CrossFit model with the best academic enhancement possible based on three simple concepts:
1. Children naturally learn through play and movement. Such activities build gross- and fine-motor skills that lead to thought structures.
2. Successful learning begins with an awareness of imbalance. This experience is followed by experimentation, the creation of new associations in memory and a new level of equilibrium that brings a task to closure and stores it for future reference.
3. Learners of any age can come to a roadblock. This happens when stress, injury or anxiety interfere with their natural inclination to take action, so as to achieve new balance, specific activities can support or restore the impulse to move.
“I discovered the national Ignite program while I was reading a blog by founder, Chris Cooper,” Krehbiel says. “After learning more about what they were doing by taking CrossFit workouts into the classroom setting, as well as partnering with people through rehabilitation-type programs for kids with autism or people with traumatic brain injuries, I was intrigued.”
He became an Ignite affiliate — creating Ignite Jax for his own box.
While Krehbiel’s CrossFit 904 hasn’t been open a year yet, he says Ignite Jax offers something no other box in the area does — integrating CrossFit training with learning.
“Ignite Jax has helped me differentiate myself in the community here in town. Jacksonville has a huge CrossFit following with over 15 affiliates in and around the city, so I wanted to stand out a little,” Krehbiel says. “The program is all about helping people achieve their fullest potential both in mind and body.”
He adds: “Personally, I feel that at some point, CrossFit is going to become a regular workout program … The big question from there, is how do you bring in more members? By offering other services, like Ignite Jax, you will be able to differentiate yourself from all the other affiliates in your area, and will also see a great deal of emotional reward from the people you will be helping.”
Currently, Ignite Jax is still in the preliminary stages, promoting and trying to gain interest from individuals in the CrossFit and Jacksonville communities.
“So far, I have had one official client who was a recovering stroke victim who had great success with the program,” Krehbiel says.
“I think the biggest reason it has not completely taken off yet, though, is education. It takes a great deal of money and time to educate an entire population on what exactly it is that we do. They have seen exercise programs for kids and they may have seen tutoring/enrichment programs, or even occupational therapy and physical therapy programs for kids, but nothing really exists that combines the two — exercise with learning new skills, facts or routines.”
Krehbiel is not letting the initial lack of interest get him down. He is determined to help people from a wide range of ages and abilities through the program. Additionally, Krehbiel has a vision to open small Ignite studios throughout the area that will be set up like CrossFit affiliates, but on a much smaller scale, for kids with special needs and will include after-school tutoring.
“As a child, I was always bored in the traditional classroom setting. Ignite Jax takes the boring nature … and throws it out the window by breaking up the work with CrossFit-based training,” Krehbiel says.
“Ignite Jax’s enrichment camps are one-part education and one-part fitness. We take a regular CrossFit style class and build a lesson around it. Math and English are the most common lessons, but the sky is the limit in terms of what can be taught: public speaking, creative writing, guitar lessons and beyond. The key is getting the brain primed for optimal learning and keeping it that way,” he says.
Additionally, Ignite Jax’s acute brain injury program is designed to help people who have experienced a stroke or injuries from car accidents re-learn how to use their brain.
“As a CrossFit coach, I try to teach my regular members how to properly move. The way we move as an infant or toddler is not the way we move as an adult. Well, someone with a brain injury needs to learn how to move properly again, as well. Re-teaching them how to move can help in other areas of their life that might have suffered as a result of their stroke, car accident or other traumatic event,” Krehbiel says.
So what will a typical Ignite Jax session look like once it is up and running?
Krehbiel says, for most every client, sessions are based on the Ignite seven-step method:
1. Set the environment by discussing the individual’s basic needs like sleep, food, safety, etc. If their basic needs are not being met, it is going to be difficult for them to truly learn that day.
2. Increase the heart rate through a basic CrossFit style warm-up.
3. Perform focus drills. Depending on the individual’s goals and needs, this could be anything from eye focus drills to handwriting skills.
4. Teach the lesson of the day — from learning how to lunge again, to working on math problems or learning how to remember a list of things to do.
5. Movement challenge with a CrossFit workout.
6. Anchoring to reinforce and conclude the lesson of the day.
7. Cool Down: stretching, water, discussion of the lesson and time for reflection.
“CrossFit's role may seem simple, but it's critical in impacting brain function,” Ignite program co-founder, Chris Cooper from CrossFit Catalyst, says.
“One of the biggest things I learned during this whole process of creating Ignite Jax is how to be a better coach. I have been challenged to realize that everyone is different and everyone learns differently. Understanding how a person learns and what their background is in terms of sports, career and education, can make all the difference in getting them to reach their full potential,” Krehbiel says.