Did you know we’ve been running a fully inclusive CrossFit program at our gym for the last 5 years? It's something we are very proud of, but maybe don't talk about enough!
So let's dive in!
What is our Inclusive Class? It's a CrossFit class where people of all abilities workout together. Whether the athletes are neurotypical or have intellectual disabilities, like Down Syndrome, Autism or more, we all tackle the same tough WOD. Just like any other class we scale to meet our athletes where they are. We provide support, guidance, and coaching to every member in the class. That's the beauty of CrossFit. "Our needs vary by degree, not by kind." The goal for anyone and everyone is to maintain functional capacity throughout their lives.
Who is our Inclusive Class For? EVERYONE! We encourage ALL our members to come workout and participate. The goal of the class is like any other class: To have fun, to learn, to get fit, and to build lasting relationships. The only reason we put it on the schedule is to let the Adaptive Athletes know there will be extra supports available so that everyone can be successful.
When is our Inclusive Class? Tuesdays at 4pm and Saturdays at 11am. Classes are busy, so make sure to sign in early!
New to All Level CrossFit? We would love to have you! Please call the gym to inquire about your first class or our adaptive program at (226) 799-1552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you started anytime.
Where is the class? We are located at 1821 Provincial Avenue, Windsor, Ontario N8W 5V7. Go to the back parking lot and look for the double glass doors with our logo.
History of the Inclusive Class? Let's go back in time 5 years to when our Adaptive/Inclusive class was just an idea:
One of our OG members, Matt Seguin, told me that he and his wife had a daughter, Hazel, who had Down Syndrome. Hazel was about 4 at the time. In 2017, Steph (who coaches here now), started a foundation, Chasing Hazel, to advocate for inclusion, and raise money for programming, and resources for people with Down syndrome, and their families in our local community. You can read more on the CHF website here. I immediately offered to help in whatever way I could #supportlocal
In the meantime, Steph had noticed a gap in programming availability, specifically in the 20 and up age group. Moreso, in the area of inclusive sport/fitness. Most of the available programming was segregated. It did not meet the requirements for “true” inclusion. Which means neurotypical people AND people with disabilities are all together in the same space with relatively the same goals. Each person receives the supports and accommodations they need to be successful. Everyone is working together.
In 2018, Steph came in and took me up on my offer to help and asked if All Level would be interested in starting an inclusive program. My answer was “YES” and it was a scary one. I had never trained anyone with Down syndrome before but Steph assured me she would help. It went from a “scary yes” to a “LET’S DO THIS!”
Steph and I teamed up. And a very short time later we had 4 athletes in the door for a pilot program (most of whom still attend the gym regularly). They came 2x a week for 8 weeks. It became clear very quickly that this could really fit nicely with a ‘true inclusion’ model. We ditched the segregated mindset, and started the forward thinking process of how we could maintain the integrity of the programming for ALL MEMBERS to work together in the same class. A model which has shifted and changed so much over the last 5 plus years. And at the heart of every single conversation was, “how can we do better to suit the inclusive needs of some of the most amazing humans on the planet?” Which still remains our goal to this day. Every single coach here at All Level wants to have a space for everyone to contribute, and belong so that all our lives can become enriched. We want a place for ALL people to come together to meet their individual fitness goals. We want a place where authentic relationships can be fostered. We work everyday to uphold our gym motto which is…AUTHENTIC - DRIVEN - INCLUSIVE.
OG Members with Down syndrome: Going back to our pilot program members. Julia, Adam, and Iesha…they still remain very active members of our gym. You will see them joining the Inclusive classes as well as any other class on the schedule they would like. They have and/or are receiving personal training. They have even progressed in their skills so much over the last 5 years they have all earned spots on the leaderboard in the CrossFit Open since CrossFit HQ added the 8 adaptive divisions 3 years ago. We could not be more proud of them and all our Adaptive members who continue to show up each session with a great attitude and positive outlook on all the challenges we throw at them. They literally CRUSH every single session!
Shout Out to All Level Members: A quick but extremely important note to end on. We could NOT be more proud of the members we have who are in here everyday helping us to uphold the values we stand for. You allow us to really lean into the INCLUSIVE value and create a space where everyone is accepted for exactly who they are. Whether you have been to the inclusive class or not, you each have your own way of supporting the community in general and we are grateful for all of it. If you’ve ever supported CHF, or you have considered the language you use, you’ve shared a post about our adaptive athletes, or you have stepped off the floor to give space to another athlete - YOU have helped us maintain the integrity of our program. If you haven’t been to the Inclusive class yet, PLEASE COME OUT!! The class is open to ALL MEMBERS and we encourage you to come be a part of this super cool aspect of our gym. Sign up early, it fills fast!! We promise you will leave with a good pump on and an even bigger smile.