Enter a CrossFit gym on a Saturday morning and this what you’re likely to see: Upwards of 30 people in constant movement, swinging from things, lifting heavy things, dropping heavy things, breathing hard, cheering each other on, and giving it their all both physically and mentally. Though it’s an individual effort by each participant, it’s also a collective one. The spaces for these gyms range from warehouses to urban city storefronts, all modified to suit the basic needs of the athletes and the workouts they do. The people who are there come from a variety of backgrounds. They include war veterans, former college athletes, moms, amputees, cancer survivors, doctors, and police officers, to name a few. More often than not, included in this scenery is a gym dog (or two, or three, or more).
CrossFit gyms are widely known for being dog friendly. Gym dogs have a variety of roles in their respective gym communities:as pre/post workout coaches who alleviate anxiety or diffuse disappointment, therapists to calm and console, and the welcome committee, greeting every person who comes through the door with a wag of a tail or a kiss on the face. The dogs – like the coaches – are there on a consistent basis for the members and become an integral part of a CrossFit gym’s daily life. They, along with the stewardship of the members, make the gym feel like a home away from home.
Interestingly, a high proportion of gym dogs are rescues. One could hypothesize that there is something about adopting or rescuing a dog that resonates with CrossFitters. Maybe it’s the openness and inclusivity of CrossFit communities that makes them willing to give a rescue dog a chance. Or perhaps since CrossFitters have an innate desire to cheer on the underdog during a workout, they naturally see that rescue dogs are also worth believing in, no matter what circumstances they came from. There are countless stories of how people’s lives transform through CrossFit, so it follows that CrossFitters would be inclined to believe that rescue dogs are capable of new beginnings, too.
Project Blue Collar wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for CrossFit. The two of us met at a CrossFit gym (Cincinnati Strength/CrossFit Steele Place) and quickly found out how dog-friendly the sport is. For Carole, who fosters for Stray Animal Adoption Program, it has become a virtual adoption site as she has found homes for several of her foster dogs with gym members. For me, it’s been an opportunity to both network for dogs and place several with gym members from the no-kill shelter where I volunteer, Save the Animals Foundation (STAF).
Just like we want the world to know how priceless rescue dogs are, we also want the world to know what the CrossFit community has done to foster such a welcoming environment for rescue dogs. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited to be a presence at the upcoming CrossFit Central East Regionals on May 16-18. We plan to donate 20% of our sales over the weekend to our rescue partners Athletes for Animals and Pets For Patriots. It’s our way of carrying on the spirit of giving back that is both central to the sport of CrossFit and Project Blue Collar.