February 24, 2012
Inked in Belief: Jason MacDonald
By Vera Ilnyckyj
The UFC fighter has set his sights on the 2012 Affiliate Cup.
The UFC fighter has set his sights on the 2012 Affiliate Cup.

“If you really believe in yourself, the sky’s the limit,” says UFC fighter Jason MacDonald of CrossFit Red Deer North. The word “believe” is inked onto his hand, a constant reminder as he goes through life.

MacDonald's goal for 2012? Qualify for the Affiliate Cup.

That mindset has helped the 37-year-old athlete over the past several years and brought him much success in his personal and professional life. He has trained in mixed martial arts for 13 years, fought in the UFC since 2006, and established his own successful CrossFit box. Now he’s taking on another challenge: the Open.

The Nova Scotia native has always been athletic, but his athletic background isn’t what you’d expect. Years ago, MacDonald played volleyball for Mount Royal College as he worked to get a degree in criminology.

It wasn’t until later, while working at Bowden Penitentiary in Red Deer and training, as well as competing in mixed martial arts (MMA), that MacDonald learned about CrossFit. 

Initially he just “dabbled” in CrossFit, training on his own with no real instruction. Five years ago, he committed, attended a Level 1 Seminar, and opened up a combination CrossFit and MMA box.

Recently, MacDonald’s involvement in mixed martial arts has begun to wind down. He closed the MMA portion of the gym and will have his last UFC fight this May. As one door closes, another opens. He says he looks forward to focusing strictly on CrossFit training and coaching.

Having something to work toward is essential to MacDonald. The challenge of CrossFit keeps him motivated. “There are so many elements in CrossFit, so many skills you can get better at,” MacDonald says.

Given his fighting background, MacDonald’s main challenge is gaining strength; he already has the endurance needed to get through a 15-minute fight. Currently, MacDonald is working on increasing the explosive power required for elements such as the snatch.

His friend and fellow athlete, Tommy Hackenbruck, has helped by programming strength training for MacDonald. He has upped his snatch from 155 to 185 pounds.

In addition to strength training, MacDonald does CrossFit workouts five days per week and trains for the UFC twice a day.

Coaching at CrossFit Red Deer North has helped motivate MacDonald to continue improving and training hard. “I lead by example,” he says.

Coaching and motivating others comes naturally to MacDonald and he’s a huge believer in working to build a community. To prepare for the 2012 Open, MacDonald and his athletes met up to set their goals.

“It was an amazing bonding experience,” MacDonald says. They came away from it knowing the dedication of their team, excited to get started, and even inspired a few others to join along the way.

Their goal this year? To qualify for the 2012 Canada West Regional as a team.

He wants his athletes to have fun, make friends, get a great workout, and challenge themselves each time they’re in the gym. He believes in the power of CrossFit to change people’s lives and he’s committed to making this challenge come true.