Looking at the CrossFit Altitude roster, you might think the gym is built around competition. After two Open Workouts, the Altitude team is first in Canada East; three members (Jay Rhodes, Jacey Van Der Marel, and Jennifer Morris) are ranked in the top 10. Every year, they post a contending team: last year, Altitude won the Canada East Regional.
Morris, who owns CrossFit Altitude, insists that's not the case. “I try not to push the competitive part on people,” she explains. “I don't like any sort of divide between the 'elite' and the 'beginner.'”
“I don't like any sort of divide between the 'elite' and the 'beginner.'”
Her trainers – high-level competitors themselves – are handpicked based on their ability to relate to a large range of clientele. “I want people to see what I saw when I started CrossFit: that this is what they've been looking for,” she says. “We're a big playground for adults where they can do whatever they need to get in the best possible shape.”
A former competitive track athlete and speed skater, Morris has learned from experience that team expectations must be set early. “We called a meeting for everyone who was serious about competing. I asked them, ‘Do you want to participate, or are we trying to win?’ The consensus was that we wanted to win. So we choose our team that way, not necessarily by finishing order in the Open. We want to put our best foot forward, and make sure that our team has all the holes covered.”
That makes for a better team, Morris says. “Everyone knows their place. They know they have to try hard and finish as high as possible [in the Open], but they'd better be working on their skills or they may not make the team.”
And what a team they have built. Even if their high-ranking individual competitors like Rhodes, Morris and Van Der Marel compete solo, Morris is confident they still have the depth to win at the Canada East Regional.
Chris Lindley and Mark Williams were both on the Altitude team last year. “Scott McQuin is very strong; Vic Ginnan is really good,” Morris says. On the women’s side, they're just as talented. Christine Scozzari, Britney Holmberg, Perry Hanlon, and Katie McQueen are all solid performers.
“If I go individual this year, that means I can be the coach for the team. I can be there for them instead of just participating with them,” she says. “It also means I can give the experience to someone else.”
Morris is all about creating opportunities for her athletes, and she wants them to stay as excited as she was when she first found CrossFit after a friend posted his “Angie” time on Facebook years ago. She's committed to keeping people around for the long term. “We stress safety first. We keep a therapist around to help people modify workouts if they're injured. We don't lose clients.”
They don't lose competitions very often, either. A perennial threat in Canada East, CrossFit Altitude is looking to reach new heights at the Games in 2012.