Athena Perez, a figure in the CrossFit community, established the We Belong CrossFit Instagram page with the aim of promoting awareness about obesity and inclusivity within the CrossFit community, and to provide support for larger bodied athletes. Over the past two years, the We Belong community has grown and evolved, leading Perez to develop a course for CrossFit trainers on how to effectively work with larger bodied athletes. This initiative was largely influenced by the experiences and feedback of plus-sized members within the community, who often faced challenges with clothing and coaches lacking the necessary knowledge to provide appropriate progressions and scaling.
Perez’s advocacy for larger bodied athletes is not new. She embarked on her own CrossFit journey by losing over 200 pounds and later authored a book titled “Lifting The Wait”. In 2020, during the global pandemic, she opened Scaled Nation CrossFit, an affiliate aimed at attracting those who might be intimidated by CrossFit. Perez also collaborated with apparel company Born Primitive to create fitness clothing for larger bodied athletes.
The course, “Working with Larger Bodies”, is designed to educate and empower coaches to understand how to work with larger athletes. It covers not only physical training and progression through common CrossFit movements, but also how to create a welcoming gym environment for larger bodied individuals. Perez emphasizes the importance of understanding and connecting with larger bodied clients, stating that the best coaches coach the athlete, not just the movement. The course aims to bridge the gap and enhance understanding, so that coaches can effectively guide these athletes. Perez firmly believes that CrossFit is for everyone and that with better awareness in coaching, more people can be reached.
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Once tipping the scales at nearly 500 lbs, I've flipped the script and whipped up a life-changing seminar to help fellow coaches and gym owners, on my own terms. I spill the "beans" on my rollercoaster ride to health, my expertise in working with larger bodies, and toss in a mix of resources, tips, and more. Buckle up!