Disclaimer: This is a long post. Please take the time.

As with many CrossFit gyms, we do our best to promote positivity within our communities. And so we post a “Bright Spot Friday” on our community page. A place for our members to share positive happenings in their lives. One member in particular felt that sharing his story of positivity could benefit so many more outside of our community, and asked if we could further its reach. So what you will read next is both our perspective and his perspective.

Our perspective

This week we have the CrossFit Games. A competition comprised of elite athletes from around the world. Extremely impressive and fun to watch. But there has always been a running dialogue, CrossFit is not just about the elite athletes, it’s mostly about the “average joes”, showing up everyday and putting in the hard work to improve their lives.
This is not meant to take away from the Games athletes, but rather celebrate all those that choose to improve theirs lives by taking care of their bodies. We only get one vessel and we should do our best to keep it running well.
And in order to push ourselves, we all must find our own reasons or motivation. That can be tough at times. Life ain’t easy!
Scott, an avid 8am’er, is particularly motivating to me, because he has Parkinson’s. And for those unfamiliar, Parkinson’s can have a variety of symptoms, seriously impairing one’s physical functions. Which can make any normal daily activity difficult.
So, one can see where the idea of CrossFit would seem out of reach. Full of high intensity, very technical movements. A difficult task for anyone to undertake. Let alone someone dealing with the complications of Parkinson’s.
Scott is young, and has a beautiful family, including two very full of energy toddlers. Succumbing to the symptoms and just relying on medication to manage them, was not an option. He wanted to do more, be on the attack, not the defensive. And one day, he came across an article, CrossFit as a tool to improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s. That is when Scott reached out to us, we discussed his situation, and we decided, let’s do this, let’s attack the issue.
And that is exactly what happened, Scott went through foundations, learning very unfamiliar movements, and started attending class regularly. Despite the difficulties, and what at times seemed like a constant uphill battle, he continues to push forward.
It wasn’t too long before the rewards of all his hard work started paying off. His symptoms lessened and quality of life improved. Making it “easier” to keep up with a pair of toddlers.
But this isn’t where the story stops. Living with such a disease can be difficult not just for that person, but those that surround them. Naturally Scott had anxiety, maybe a degree of fear, about having the hard conversations with those that care about him and his family. Revealing to them something very personal, as well as leaving him vulnerable. One never truly knows how others will react to the news, or perceive you after the fact.
It was the confidence that Scott developed through CrossFit that gave him the courage to do so. To have those hard conversations. To allow himself to be vulnerable. And in doing so, he was able to put that fear to rest, having been well received.
I can only imagine what is like to walk in Scott’s shoes. Dealing with what he does. But I do know, he has the support of an amazing family, and the support of the Clipper Community. In turn, I want to thank Scott for his hardwork and giving others the motivation to push through their tough days.
Scott wanted share his story with everybody, in the hopes that others might realize there is a path to improved quality of life. No matter what, it is always worth the fight.
Thank you Scott Kaufman.

Scott’s Perspective

Hi everyone, I just wanted to respond to Matthew Ropke‘s amazing post by telling the story of my first meeting with him. It was a little more than a year ago, and I had already had Parkinson’s for roughly 8 years. So I had been through some rough times, and the disease had progressed to the point where it was definitely getting more difficult to do things. Given the infamously intense nature of Crossfit, the decision to sign up for that first meeting was extremely hard, and actually showing up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

When I did show up (this is when we were still at the Mill Centre), my fears were not particularly allayed. Matt looked like a “Mr. CrossFit” cartoon character or something. I almost turned around and walked back outside on the spot. But, as we all know, Matt is the gentlest of giants, and it wasn’t very long before he had me feeling comfortable. It’s a really special gift he has – I’m sure everyone reading this would agree 1000% with that.

I told him right away that I had Parkinson’s and, while I could see that it threw him for a second (it’s not the easiest or most common thing for people to hear), he very quickly reverted to his normal self. That is, he was kind, understanding, empathetic and above all motivating. I almost instantly felt like I could really accomplish something, though I think we both knew it would be hard.

And then came the first Foundations session. He didn’t take it easy on me, that’s for sure! And I could barely do anything – he had me try jump rope (couldn’t even do one jump) wall balls (tired after a handful), pushups (ditto), and (gulp) box jumps, which I’m still not sure didn’t kill me. I was not going to be mistaken for an elite athlete, that’s for sure.

But Matt was unphased and encouraged me from the beginning to keep at it, but more importantly, he always made me feel like I belonged here, like my presence was not just incidental but somehow necessary. And that is really the reason I’ve kept coming back. I wonder if we all appreciate enough just how special Matt’s ability is to cultivate that atmosphere in the otherwise cold setting of a gym. (Though in the summer I started the last word I’d use to describe the Mill Centre space is “cold”.)

Anyway, I am glad my story is out there, and am really glad Matt is the one to have told it. I have made great strides since I started, that’s for sure, but not a single one of them would have been possible without Matt’s quiet but rock steady support and leadership. We are all lucky to have him.