Building Community: Friday Night Lights

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by DARIA SALAMON

Driving through the frozen winter landscape of Minnesota, on the way home from a long road trip, a song came on the radio. It wasn’t a great song, but the chanting chorus caught Matt Winchar’s ear: We’re all in this together.

This would become the motto for his gym, Undefeated CrossFit.

When it came to planning for the 2016 Open, Winchar and his leadership team at Undefeated wanted to build something that encouraged mass participation, rallied team spirit, and inspired a competitive drive amongst all of its athletes.

It was the genesis of Friday Night Lights.

Uniting the Gym

Uniting the Gym

Friday Night Lights would unite the gym, bridge the disconnect, and exemplify that motto — We’re All in This Together.
Winchar says he noticed a disconnect beginning to happen between the serious CrossFit athletes and the average Joe. A campaign was launched to get as many members as possible to sign up for the Open.

“We needed the Rx, the scaled, the masters, the teens, everyone. We heard excuses like ‘I’m too old’ or ‘I need to get in better shape first,’ but a funny thing happens when everyone else starts doing the thing you’re avoiding,” Winchar explains. “Those excuses disappear. Then the magic of the Open happens.”

55% of the membership is women, so Undefeated organized a ladies night designed to break down the Open and encourage women to get involved in the competition.

Coach Jessika Element, who co-planned the evening with competitive team coach Leonie Coulson, explains, “Participating in my first Open filled me with a deep sense of empowerment. I pushed myself further than ever before and came out feeling so accomplished. That not only led to a newfound confidence in the gym, but more so outside of the gym. Daily tasks all seemed like a dream after seven minutes of burpees. I wanted to share that with the other women at our box.”

Friday Night Lights would unite the gym, bridge the disconnect, and exemplify that motto — We’re All in This Together. Over 70 athletes registered, and many more have been swept up into the energy of the Open and have signed on to volunteer.

If members were going to show up to the party, the coaches were going to make it worth their while.

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