Jam and snap... or as I like to call them together, “JNAP”. It’s what every Nordic skier wants more of.

After 3 years of the same ski specific strength routine in the gym, I decided to try something new.

CrossFit. Although I did see gains with my old routine, I felt that I was not reaching my full potential. Now, before we get started, CrossFit has gained a cult status with many in the exercise world and yes, there is a lot of variety between CrossFit gyms or “boxes” as they are known within the CrossFit community. Picking the right box can make or break your CrossFit experience.

For me, the choice was Bytown CrossFit, in Hintonburg. I found the coaching to be  superior and extremely technique focused. They are a fully-inclusive environment and have a flexible schedule, with classes throughout the morning, day and evening.

Most importantly, they were willing to work with me understanding that CrossFit was secondary to my ski training and were very accepting and supportive given my Olympic aspirations.

Being relatively new, I’m still putting down the foundations for fun skills like handstand walking, endless wall balls and skipping rope double-unders. I’ve experienced unexpected and welcome things like an increase in mobility and becoming proficient at picking up large, odd and heavy objects. I have already seen success in developing new skills, like fast rope climbs, muscle ups and kipping pull ups. But without question, the vector through which I gained so much JNAP this season was because of the Olympic lifting. Cleans, Jerks and Snatches. All very large, multi-jointed, technique-oriented lifts.

Aside from the physical gains, the social experience at Bytown CrossFit is one of thebiggest benefits. In my observation of the Nordic skiing community (and other elite sports in general), is that many developing teens and young adults face challengescoping with the expectations of being a high achiever in every domain of their life.

Having the exposure to a different environment or group can provide a healthyparadigm shift or a different lense through which to gain new and positiveperspectives. I found Bytown CrossFit to bea very encouraging, supportive andinclusive environment without judgement or unhealthy competition. To sum it up,having something besides skiing to focus your life on, like CrossFit, will not onlymake you better skier, but make you a more well-rounded and well-balanced individual.

Lastly, the society we live in can be a cruel one. Especially when it comes to the societal pressures of conforming to conventional North American standards of beauty. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many women go to unhealthy lengths to obtain a certain body-type. With the recent publicity on eating disorders in the Nordic community, it has been revealed that many female skiers are suffering unhealthy weight loss to achieve faster speeds or a certain standard of beauty.

CrossFit is helping to redefine what constitutes traditional female physical beauty and strength. The Bytown CrossFit community has some of the best examples of what a strong, fit, capable and healthy women can look like.

So all skiers now, please use that month off in April as anatomical adaptation forCrossFit and sign up for the introductory foundations class at Bytown CrossFit. It will take the whole month to train you how to move properly and safely so that you can experience the immense benefits of what CrossFit can do for your skiing and your life.

Thanks for reading,
Mark Rajack