Not Your Typical P.E. Class

March 31, 2014

Steve Kendall

“It looked like more fun than track, and it was. It gave me a chance to still be competitive while getting more fit. I love it.” ~Cody Jardine

Photos courtesy of Matthew Ettinger

Cody Jardine, Dave Ceron and Joey Tavis are representing their high school in the Open in the North East Region. The three are members of CrossFit Nashoba in Bolton, Mass., a school-affiliated CrossFit box.

The affiliate is part of the school community at Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton. Three small towns—Bolton, Lancaster and Stow—make up the school district in sleepy central Massachusetts, about a one-hour drive west of Boston.

Thanks to the efforts of health and physical education teacher Matt Ettinger, and the school’s wellness department, students and staff at the school have the opportunity to participate in and learn about CrossFit.

“The biggest positive effect I see (in the students) is improved self-confidence and self-image,” said Ettinger, who also coaches at CrossFit EXP. “Students feel better about themselves. They feel more accomplished, capable and confident. I also see a lot of positive social interaction. They cheer one another on, encourage each other and congratulate each other after workouts. CrossFit definitely builds community and camaraderie.”

Ettinger started doing CrossFit a few years ago, which drew the interest of a few students, including then freshman Ceron.

“I saw Coach E going through these intense workouts, and I was looking for a way to get in better shape for soccer season that fall,” said Ceron, now a senior. “He told me to come by, so that Friday I joined him for a workout. It was three seemingly simple movements—I think box jumps, burpees and pull-ups—but I couldn’t move on Saturday. I was back on Monday and hooked.”

Ceron continued with CrossFit throughout the summer and made the starting varsity soccer lineup after failing to make the junior varsity team the previous season. He credits his success to CrossFit.

Ceron’s success influenced classmate Jardine to give CrossFit a try, as well. While participating in track, Jardine often saw Ettinger and Ceron training after school.

“It looked like more fun than track, and it was,” Jardine said. “It gave me a chance to still be competitive while getting more fit. I love it.”

Two years ago, Ettinger approached the school about adding CrossFit as an elective. After some initial push back, the course was approved. The first year went well. Fourteen students participated in the semester course, learning concepts, methodology and nutrition. They kept journals to log workouts and keep track of their progress, learned the Olympic lifts and understood the community aspect of CrossFit.

The class expanded to two semesters this year with 32 students involved.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be a part of CrossFit,” said Tavis, a sophomore. “I am getting stronger for sure, but I am also working on some of the areas where I have weaknesses. CrossFit challenges every part of your fitness.”

After hearing about the Open from Ettinger and other staff members at the school, all three decided to participate in 2014 Open.

“Being able to compete at all has been great, but being able to do it representing Nashoba has made it even better,” Jardine said. “Part of being an athlete at our age is playing for your school and community, and we get the chance to do that.”

The three knew the Open would be a challenge, and they have been right, as many believe this has been the most difficult series of Open workouts yet. However, you won’t hear any complaints from the Nashoba competitors.

“I love the competition and to compare myself with others,” Jardine said. “The Open has been a challenge, but that’s what it is supposed to be.”

Tavis added: “The Open has showed me not only what I am good at, but also where my challenges are. It has forced me to really work at those weaknesses.”

“It’s fun to compete against myself,” Ceron said. “I want to be better than I was last week. I’m not all that concerned about how others are doing.”

While Jardine and Tavis credit CrossFit with improving their health and their eating habits, CrossFit has had a deeper meaning for Ceron.

“I was going down the wrong path when I started CrossFit,” he said. “I didn’t care much about school or life at that point. But through the passion Mr. Ettinger shows for CrossFit and health, I couldn’t help but be infected by that passion, too. He has helped me see there are so many great things to try to accomplish in life.”