Today’s episode began when I heard Justin LoFranco, the founder of morning chalk up talk about their organization’s guiding statement that “a giving community is a growing community”. That phrase has really stuck with me.

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In This Episode:

[02:22] Justin background in politics.
[04:37] Giving the gift of connection to others.
[05:27] One of the things I love about the Morning Chalk Up.
[07:32] Why a CrossFit affiliate doesn’t belong to the gym, it belongs to a person.
[08:34] Why this affiliate exists.
[09:30] How things were breaking at CrossFit Undisclosed.
[10:54] HowCrossFit Undisclosed is Sabastien’s home away from home.
[12:06] Measures he took to makes sure it continued to sustain itself.
[12:48] Some hoops he had to jump through.
[14:09] A conversation they had about the situation.

Read Full Transcript:

Read Full Transcript

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Speaking of communities, the story for today’s episode began when I heard Justin LoFranco, the founder of morning chalk up talk about their organizaton’s guiding statement that “a giving community is a growing community”. That phrase has really stuck with me.

What also struck me about that phrase is it is something Justin started to realize while he was working in politics.

1 - Justin on discovering GCGC in politics 3:55-5:41 background is in politics and
used to manage the social media channels for lots of elected officials and then and also those running for office so what I constantly was
seen on social channels was that individuals who are your supporters and fans that if you interacted with them and if you if you engage with them in a really smart dedicated and consistent way they began to to kind of gravitate more towards you and and they really got bought into some either ideas or the conversation at the very least that you are having online and so that kind of you literally years long lesson that that I learned translated to me that it that that we aren't the only voices in the room we being you know the you know, the ones channels you know, with big channels and big
followings in a broad sense we're not the only voices in the room, and that if you listen and are honest and respond and reply, you can build a much bigger audience. And so that's the audience building concept of mentality. But that stuck with me and that look, if we're if we're
sharing and showcasing other people's content we we are giving we're giving an opportunity for them to be celebrated. And for them to have
an opportunity to be seen to be heard in a way that is, is they may not be able to do on their own

If you grew up in the US, you know that we just started what has been dubbed “the season of giving”. And although the context of giving during this season has come to mean giving material possessions, there are plenty more ways we can give. We can give financial support, we can give congratulations and celebrate our community members, and we can give the gift of connection to others.

2 - Justin on the ways of giving 7:30-8:15 And, you know, we don't have oodles of cash to start dropping around. And that's not the point. It's not all about money either. You know, we've helped raise money for people in what we could. And so, no, we're not just such as about, like, giving cash and give you money. But, but sometimes it's, you know, getting support or connecting people with another person. You know, we do that a lot, which, you know, people email us and can you connect this to this effort in organization, sure, you want to get involved this great, I'm glad we could help and stuff like that. So, there's, there's a lot to it, you know, it's a giant nest and we've now of how that manifests itself. But that was just kind of a, you know,
sort of a first principle and I think very much it's still in effect today.

One of the things I love about the morning chalk up is that they give the gift of celebrating the accomplishments of all it’s community members, and not just celebrating crossfit celebrities.

3 - 6:08-7:07 you read the morning track of on a daily basis, you'll you'll see that we celebrate the little successes as much as a big successes. We're all on a fitness journey of our own. And, and we'll see, you know, first muscle up PR is in there, 100 pound clean prs and then you'll see 350 pound pound PR next next one another and it's it's more likely that we are writing a major feature story about somebody who you've never heard of before, then we are writing about somebody who's a notable games athlete or I notable personality and fitness community.
And that's that's how that concept manifests itself. It's that it given communities are growing community. And that if we're, if we're, you know,
not working hard to be famous, if we are working hard to champion a great community and celebrate who they are
the great things that they're doing that it will grow and not just grow for us, it'll grow for them.

One of the ways I realized the idea that a giving community is a growing community manifests is in the generative nature some gifts have. Gifts beget gifts because people tend to pay an unexpected gift forward. And this makes the whole community a better place.

One story Justin told me that perfectly highlights this is the story of CrossFit Undisclosed. Crossfit Undisclosed is a CrossFit affiliate on the joint Air base Al Udeid in Qatar.

The nature of being on an airbase makes Undisclosed a unique affiliate, right down to the fact that the actual affiliation has to regularly change hands. A CrossFit affiliate doesn’t belong to the gym, it belongs to a person. Here’s Sebastian Paz to explain the situation.

4 - Sebastian on the difficulty w/ Affiliation 6:05-6:48 So there's a lot of thousands of people coming and going, you know, and so, really the, the, I guess the ownership of the affiliate changes hands, you know, if not yearly, you know, a lot more than that. So, there's always at least a level one that is in charge.
And so they, you know, one person is in charge, and then whenever that person is supposed to come back stateside, you know, their deployment is over, they, you know, physically and legally hand that off to whoever's there that they trust, or that they know, to carry on the torch, so to speak.

Another challenge at CrossFit undisclosed is that because it is on a military base, they do not and cannot charge membership fees. And they also cannot pay their coaches. This affiliate only exists due to the gifts of its members and coaches. But

5 - Sebastian about its a non-profit 2:07-2:51 So it's a, it's a different process to become an affiliate as it normally is over here stateside.
So it's so nonprofit, technically, so you can't charge for services or, you know, trainings or anything like that. So everything is volunteer based, as far as the coaches and, you know, things like that, and also free of charge to any and all members that want to participate, you know, as long as, you know, safety and things like that are kept. So, the problem with that is that, you know, funds, you know, where's the equipment
come from, what happens is something breaks and things like that

And things were breaking at CrossFit Undisclosed.

7 - Sebastian painting the picture of situation 12:22-13:26 But, uh, yeah, the, the equipment, you know, we have contacts boxes, where we store the equipment. So, just that, you know, think of, like, military grade, kind of, like boxes, you know, where we would have to lock up all our equipment. So, I wouldn't directly rain on it overnight, or the, you know, to somewhat secure so I wouldn't get lost or stolen or whatever. So,
we had a bunch of just like, storage boxes. And, and the rig was obviously exposed to the sun and the rain and all that.
But yeah, everything was was rusted, you know, there was a, like, the, the benches were handmade by members there, the boxes, the majority of them are handmade as well, but there were falling apart the app mats where the leather was cracking and, you know, the wall balls were also coming on than the rope, there was only like, one or two ropes. And those were completely shredded to the point where it was giving people a rash, you know, by using it,

And it wasn’t just that the equipment was falling apart, but they lacked the equipment to do most programs, and struggled to even participate in the open. They had to go out and find a way to borrow the equipment if they wanted to do the workouts!

Sebastian told me that even though things were falling apart at Undisclosed, it was his home away from home, and he wasn’t alone in feeling that way.

9 - Sebastian on what Undisclosed meant to him 8:01-8:54 So, when I first got there, you know, the first thing that I did was a
find the gym and try to get plugged in, you know, I know that being deployed, I mean, away from my family. And, you know, being in the Middle East, like, I didn't want to deal too much with, like, emotions, or being away from from home. And I was there throughout the holidays. So like, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, you know, my birthday, and all kinds of like, family birthday. So I wanted to get to get plugged into a community, which is the beautiful thing about CrossFit, that the community is like, nothing, nothing else out there. And so it was meaningful in the way that I found the family found a place that, you know, to call home away from home, and just get plugged in.

Sebastian recognized that because of the nature of the situation with affiliation, lack of funds, and coaches and members turning over every 9-12 months that someone needed to take initiative to make sure home away from home could continue to sustain itself.

10 - Sebastian on how giving back was best thing for him 8:55-9:18 And, you know, the best thing that happened to me at CrossFit undisclosed was that I had an idea to give back. And I was able to do that. And, you know, it turned it turned into something that was really amazing, and just changed the, I guess, the direction of CrossFit undisclosed for for years to come, you know,

The way that Sebastian was able to give back was by holding a competition called the Deed throwdown and a fundraiser to make it possible to improve the facility. But of course, being on a military base meant there were some hoops to jump through just to make this happen.

11 - Sebastian on the comp/gofundme 9:31-10:33 o the GoFundMe campaign was attached to
the competition that I ran. And so the idea was to have a comp, an in house competition, and anybody on base, or anybody that was there could compete in and along with that, you know,
we were going to have the fundraiser. So, you know,
obviously, being a
middle United States military base on another country, there was a lot of political,
I guess, hoops that I had to kind of jump and
navigate. So
it ended up ended up, we ended up having two separate the competition from the fundraiser on paper. And so the competition and that are being just a volunteer thing of free of charge, just, you know, if you want to compete, just sign up, and then you're good to go. But then the, the fundraiser was kind of behind the curtains, really, you know, on paper, not attached to the, to the,
to the competition, but really, that's where all the funds and that's where, you know, all the equipment that's there now that will be able to purchase came from,

And this is where the morning chalk up came in. Sebastian emailed Justin, and they had a conversation about the situation. [three clips to follow without narration between]

12a - Justin on initial conversation with Sebastian 10:06-10:45 So he said, Look, man, this is super cool, there are a troops overseas you're, you know, using CrossFit for their employment to stay in shape. And to
to be in, you know, the tip of the spear and so I was like these guys they don't even have literally don't even have like boxes to they're doing it on like makeshift boxes,
I can't even remember wasn't something it wasn't palette, but something else that they were using, and, and literally, that you could see, like duct tape on the rigging. And I'm like, This is crazy.

12b - Justin on how MCU was able to help 11:12-12:00 And I was like, we've got to be able to step in and support them. So we wrote a feature story that just
said, look like
this is something that we should all be able to get behind. There's enough of us here to be able to raise a good chunk of change for these
for these men and women were, you know,
serving our country overseas. And
I think it's something we should do, and we're going to be the ones right, first check. So I can't remember what we donated, but
wasn't, wasn't that much money, I think was maybe 100 bucks. And, you know, we just
contributed to the GoFundMe, but you know, we basically blew past article
by midday that day, and they raised on as they should have been, there was an opportunity to do it kept going for a couple more weeks, I think total now they may have raised me somewhere between five and six grand total.

12c - Sebastian on MCU role 11:31-11:45 Justin came in clutch. And he really helped us to connect to not only for the, you know, the community to, to know about us and support us, but also to connect with others, like companies and, you know, just get more support period.

The support Sebastian received also came from the local community at Al Udeid.

13- Sebastian on the competition volunteers 20:35-21:18 I had, I mean, like 2020 or 30 volunteers, you know, and to be honest, the majority of them weren't even cross fitters. So, the community even, you know, beyond CrossFit, came together to give back from their time and their, you know, put a lot of effort in to make this happen. Why, because they understood the big picture, you know, it was about the community, it was about the people there now, and the people, the thousands of people that were going to come, and they were going to be able to use the new equipment, you know, safely and, you know, scale that they needed to, and, you know, they didn't have to, you know, shy away or be nervous about it, but everything was there available for them

As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, gifts beget gifts, beget gifts.

14 - 11:19-11:26 I just thought that I would want to do something to leave this place better off than when I got there

Because of the fundraiser CrossFit Undisclosed is now able to reach more people on the base.

15 - Sebastian on how they were able to serve more people after 15:07-15:35 a lot of just inexperienced people that wanted to learn, so I was able to get a few training bbls so they could safely practice technical moves before they would move on to, you know, 35 pound or 45 pound barbell. And also, you know,
wall balls, newer wall balls, and then wall balls that were also lower and wait for people to scale. And again, you know, learn those techniques.

They were also able to participate in the Open without having to go off base to find equipment!

16 - Sebastian on how they were able to do the open 16:24-16:43 So I wasn't there through the open. But they were able to do it after I left with with that equipment. So the,
during that open year, we had the rowers, which now they were able to actually use because we had them and then there was a lot of the dumbbell movements with which now they were able to do as well, because of that,

And the torch has been passed on.

17 - Sebastian’s hope for the future 18:54-19:10 So, you know, my hope in as well as coach needs hope was that they were be able to use that momentum and that structure and continue to at least do that one competition the yearly to bring some funds and maybe even more,

It was cool for me to see that CrossFit Undisclosed just had their second Deed throwdown fundraiser, and the stage has been set for them to be able to continue to serve more people on the base safely and effectively.

So I want to ask you- what can you do during this season of giving to help your community? And how can you give in a generative way?

We just opened up our Free Beyond Macros Community page to both give back to everyone who listens to this show, and grow a community full of learners and givers. If you want an invitation to that community just email [email protected]

If you want to stay in the loop about the greater CrossFit community, and learn about opportunities to give back to that community, I highly recommend subscribing to the Morning Chalk Up at morningchalkup.com

And to stay up to date with CrossFit Undisclosed, and to find ways that you can give to that community, you can find them at crossfitundisclosed.us or follow them on social media by searching for CrossFit undisclosed.

I hope you enjoyed this episode, and are inspired to find a way that you can give. Whether it be financial, by celebrating somebody who needs to be uplifted, by connecting with people in your community, or in any way that feels right for you.

And if you are interested in learning about the gift economy- check out Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics.

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you again next week.

Connect With Our Guest

Morning Chalk Up

Justin on Instagram and Twitter

Sebastian on Instagram and Twitter

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