CrossFit Gave This Athlete Fitness & Community Amidst Adversity
CrossFit athlete Jamie Moore was two years old when his family first learned he was deaf. While he was too young to remember his parents’ reaction, he is told they were shocked at first. “They didn't know what an opportunity was in front of them.”
Since then, Moore has never backed down from a challenge, not in his life and not at the gym. He feels comfortable amongst the concrete and ropes at his local CrossFit box in Newton, Massachusetts. And while some may wonder what hurdles a man who was born deaf faces in the gym, Moore feels his biggest challenge lies in pushing himself to – and overcoming – failure.
“You just lay it all out on the mat, and through that failure you learn,” says Moore, who speaks to us through his interpreter. “You walk out with your head held higher than when you walked in.”
Since his youth, Moore has been an avid athlete. Throughout high school he played on various varsity teams, ranging from baseball to lacrosse. Hockey, however, had been his biggest sport growing up (an obvious product of his Canadian lineage, he notes).
It was hockey, in fact, that initially brought Moore into CrossFit Newton, where owner Gil Cohen warmly welcomed him and the rest of his team for cross-training.
They didn't know what an opportunity was in front of them.
“I immediately felt this connection with the CrossFit ideology,” says Moore, remembering the first time he walked into the temple of asphalt, bent metal and graffiti-strewn brick.
“Though it wasn’t much of an issue, I think I was probably the first deaf person to go in,” he adds.
The Big Cheese
Growing up, Moore experienced plenty of moments where he was the only deaf person in a crowd.
“We often have to explain our lives as deaf people to those who are not deaf,” he says. “I think of deaf people’s lives as Swiss cheese – there are holes that they need to fill in.”
It is a well-known fact in the deaf community that many children are language-deprived and not given the opportunity to learn their native sign language. Given the amount of information that is designed for those who are hearing and receiving their information through auditory stimulus, it can be difficult bridging those gaps.
“Being in a CrossFit gym, I feel like those holes in my Swiss cheese, that wealth of knowledge that I might not have had access to because I was deaf growing up in a hearing world, are gone.”
Being in a CrossFit gym, I feel like those holes in my Swiss cheese, that wealth of knowledge that I might not have had access to because I was deaf growing up in a hearing world, are gone.
It didn’t take long for Moore to thrive at CrossFit Newton, given that CrossFit’s class structure is designed to be visual. Through the coaches’ visual cues and prompts, he quickly became more familiar with the vocabulary and the different movements; the white board proved a trusted resource as well.
He participated in group classes from the start, and soon found himself part of a community that would provide him with an accessible fitness routine, as well as a sense of comradery amongst fellow athletes.
“Even though I'm differently abled, and though there are some modifications that must happen with our communication style, it's clear that they are committed to me regardless,” explains Moore.
While Moore has found this sense of community at his local CrossFit gym, he understands that it can be intimidating for anyone looking to take the first step. That challenge, he argues, is a great opportunity to overcome adversity and expand one’s horizons.
“People get a chance to not only connect as humans on that level, but also to learn about each other and develop this mutual respect for what everyone brings to the table.”
“Honestly, I can't say that there's been one time in my life being a part of the CrossFit community where I felt judged.”
I can't say that there's been one time in my life being a part of the CrossFit community where I felt judged.
One of Many
Having been at CrossFit Newton for several years now, Moore hopes to break down the barriers that many deaf athletes face when looking for a place to train or a way to participate in sports.
“We all have weaknesses,” he says. But regardless of those weaknesses, and regardless of age, shape or ability, Moore believes CrossFit provides everyone with an opportunity to be their best self.
“It’s not like I’m Jamie, the deaf athlete coming in. I’m just another athlete. I’m showing you respect, and you’re showing me respect right back,” he says. “All that matters is that we’re both putting everything we’ve got into this workout right now.”
It’s not like I’m Jamie, the deaf athlete coming in. I’m just another athlete. I’m showing you respect, and you’re showing me respect right back.
To Moore, CrossFit has emerged into an opportunity to connect and engage with a larger community, and get a great workout in the process.
Though he can’t hear the music, he says that with good wood floors and the bass turned up, he can feel what you feel. And once he’s warmed up, he’s not worried about the music or what separates him from the other athletes. His only focus is on the programming in front of him and rising above his weaknesses.
“That's why I still love going to my CrossFit box – the challenge is still there. Every day I have the chance to overcome it,” explains Moore. “Then, the rest of my day, I'm finding myself overcoming other challenges because I've set myself up for success.”
That's why I still love going to my CrossFit box – the challenge is still there. Every day I have the chance to overcome it.
Jamie is wearing the Reebok CrossFit O'Nano.