March 28, 2012
Division and Kitchener: Stronger Together
By Kate Rose

“It’s all about making it by fun, bringing the community together and getting the athletes to push harder,” says Mittleholtz.

Photos courtesy of

Coming together for competition is a common CrossFit theme. This is just the case with CrossFit Kitchener and CrossFit Division.

Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, known to locals as KW, is technically two cities, divided by one major road – Union Street. Kitchener is the historic, blue-collar community; Waterloo boasts a strong technological and academic bent, with the likes of RIM, Google, CIGI, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. For many people living in the area, however, the city boundaries are non-existent.

Joanne Mittelholtz and Dave Velikov, the owners of CrossFit Kitchener and CrossFit Division, respectively, made a decision to join forces for the Open. Competitors from Division and Kitchener gather at the 5,000 square foot box in Kitchener to compete. For Workout 12.1, 60 competitors gathered at CrossFit Kitchener, and brought along many supporters. 

The place was rockin’, with a professional photographer in attendance. The Open provides both with a way to give something memorable to their members. “For letting us make you hurt in ways you never thought possible, thank you for letting us create daily workouts that make you burn, sweat, groan, and for some, even slobber a bit,” says Mittelholtz. “In other words, thank you for letting us let you achieve more than you ever thought you could.”

The joint event is illustrative of their mutual approach to business. The owners don’t see each other as competitors; the area is large enough to support several affiliates. Both agree. “It’s all about making it by fun, bringing the community together and getting the athletes to push harder,” says Mittleholtz.

Both gyms, separately, boast healthy community-building perspectives that expand beyond the walls of the affiliate. CrossFit Division athletes were strongly encouraged to participate in the Open, just so they could “experience the competition aspect outside of our box. We are a small piece of the big picture,” Velikov says.

Joining forces was just one way of achieving this goal.

CrossFit Kitchener has always prided itself on its diverse membership and reaching out to the community. The gym, 247-members strong, has several trainers who have been with the affiliate since the beginning in Mittelholtz’s basement. There are regular high school co-op students working at the gym, and frequent fundraisers for local charities.

Coming together, Division and Kitchener are set on not only enhancing the Open experience, but also “building stronger athletes and better people.” It’s not just about the numbers or the reps. This perspective has helped to develop both affiliates to run a stronger Open event and to build better people.