At CrossFit Monroe, even the fundraising efforts have strength and endurance.

As the gym winds down its November giving campaign supporting the Wounded Warriors Project, it is simultaneously gaining momentum with its Christmas toy and gift drive supporting Treehouse, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the lives of kids in foster care.

Initiated by CrossFit Monroe co-owner Claire Winston, the holiday giving campaign kicked off on Friday, Dec. 2. As of Thursday, Dec. 8, it had already raised $5,000 toward its $12,000 goal.

“We have very generous members,” Winston said. “Everybody is just very into helping the community and blessing others as they’ve been blessed. That’s the vibe you get around here.”

Winston owns CrossFit Monroe with business partner Amber Andresen, the two purchasing the gym from previous owners Mike and Maj Hudson earlier this year. Andresen and Winston are both level 2 trainers and USA weightlifting sports performance coaches, with experience in competitive CrossFit challenges.

The idea behind CrossFit is to maximize health and wellness through functional fitness routines that combine gymnastics, running, rowing and Olympic-style weightlifting. The combination builds custom, high-intensity workouts that feature a strategic blend of cardiovascular fitness and strength training. CrossFit is a challenging, results-oriented fitness regimen that offers a close-knit community environment, Winston said.

CrossFit boasts a supportive, accountability-based atmosphere, as athletes tackle the Workout of the Day (WOD) at their own level and pace. CrossFit has been transformational for Winston, a CrossFitter since 2012.

She encourages everyone to come down and see what it’s all about. Athletes at all levels are welcome anytime, she said. CrossFit Monroe is located in Monroe’s industrial area near Jump, Rattle & Roll.

“We’re just such a fun-loving, giving group of people,” Winston said. “Come get fit with us, we’re all doing it together.”

In addition to accepting monetary donations to support foster kids through Treehouse, there is a bin inside the gym to collect wish-list items, including toys, warm clothes and books.

CrossFitters are big on giving back, Winston said. In addition to helping support foster families and veterans, CrossFit Monroe advocated for a drug-free community during Monroe’s Red Ribbon Week in October. In September, CrossFit Kids Monroe held a row-a-thon to help raise money for a Louisiana CrossFit gym damaged during heavy flooding.

The Wounded Warrior Project was another cause near and dear to Winston’s heart. Wanting to do more to support veterans, Winston and Andresen recently completed an adaptive fitness-training program that enables them to coach adaptive athletes. The training was offered by the Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maximizing inclusion for all athletes. 

The class included instruction on how to coach athletes who train in a wheelchair, along with athletes who have PTSD and other mobility-related challenges such as missing limbs. Going forward, Winston and Andresen plan to offer free Wednesday workouts for veterans.

“We just went through the certification process to train those athletes,” Winston said. “I personally have experience with PTSD, so I feel like I can really help somebody in that sort of situation.”

And the adaptive training isn’t limited to mobility-related challenges. She and Andresen are now equipped to coach athletes with multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP) and spinal injuries — any type of permanent physical constraint that must be accommodated and adjusted for. The adaptive coaching is in alignment with ongoing efforts at the gym to cater to all clients and fitness levels, as is the gym’s new Master’s program, which targets athletes age 60 and up.

It’s about individualizing the coaching, she said.

“It’s just not cookie-cutter anymore,” Winston said. “I just think we’ve got to put more thought into what we’re doing.”

For more information about the Treehouse giving campaign, click here. To learn more about CrossFit Monroe, visit crossfitmonroe.com.