Profiles April 10, 2018

CrossFit St. Charles—The Healing Power of Fitness


About twenty years ago, Kim Wilkes found herself lying in bed, nursing her low-back pain while reading fitness articles that offered solutions to recovery. She came across an article that suggested focusing on making your whole body strong to remedy low back problems. She’d spent months trying to strengthen her abs in the hopes that would relieve the stress on her back. The realization that it was about more than just one muscle group was an epiphany.
The next day she hired a trainer and started her journey toward what would become a career in fitness. She fell in love with fitness and mechanics, “healing yourself is very powerful.” It took her about three months to fix her back. Once she was running on all cylinders, she started working as a private trainer and kickboxing coach. She started a workout program with a group of women from the local gym, training them by following When the weather turned cold, her athletes encouraged her to open a gym, so she did.
Kim’s experience with back problems has made her and her gym incredibly attuned to mechanics. It influences how the gym operates and, as one member described it makes them, “form focused.” The coaching staff at CrossFit St. Charles focuses their efforts not just on “coaching” but on educating and inspiring their members. They have an intentionality about the care they provide their members and a belief that if they create a caring environment, their members can get the most out of each session and out of themselves.
This attention to care and mechanics has created for them a really powerful community. And in an interview with Kim, she shared her philosophy on community, “A great community is not what you get, it’s what you earn, and the strength of that community is illustrated through how inclusive members are to new athletes.”
The freedom to spend more time with members and focus on the health of the community is made possible by the fact that CrossFit St. Charles follows the CrossFit main site programming. Ben Stroud, the gym’s manager, shared his approach to programming:

There’s this perception that for you to be a ‘real gym’, you need to do your own programming.

“We tried it, and when we switched to main site programming, we found we were more balanced and had more freedom to play with the complementary programming we do.”
St. Charles runs main site programming on a three-week delay and incorporates “level-up” work for their athletes that provides coaching on gymnastics and barbell skill work. On main site days off, they program workouts that incorporate mechanics they haven’t done in a while to make sure that their athlete’s experience is well-rounded.

The team at St. Charles went in search of a new tool to manage programming when they stumbled across SugarWOD. Before they started using SugarWOD, the team was using Trainheroic. Ben suggested that the process for publishing a workout was rather tedious before they moved to SugarWOD, “I would create the WOD, post the workout and lesson plan to a private Facebook group for the coaches, then post the workout to our WordPress blog, and then post to Trainheroic.”

Now everything goes into SugarWOD, and I don’t have to worry about it.

When the coaches decided to try SugarWOD out, they planned to try it out for a month but ended up signing up after less than a week. “The trial experience made it immediately clear—it smacked us in the face—all of the members were excited about it, and the decision was obvious,” said Kim.
Since they started using SugarWOD, the easier-to-use programming system has freed up time for the team and made it easier for coaches to collaborate.
Their members are also tracking their workouts more regularly and becoming more connected. The ability for their members to see results and encourage athletes who work out at different times of day is building relationships across classes.
“The excitement that SugarWOD created was an immediate effect.”