Working Out for a Cause-Strong, Agile, and Resilient…

When someone asks me why I like CrossFit, I have a hard time zeroing in on just one thing. It’s absolutely a great way to build strength, set goals, and push the body to its limits. But more than that, it’s a community of people that come together – we lift each other up – we motivate each other – we work side by side to complete each challenging workout of the day (WOD). Whether we scale or do the prescribed workout, it binds us together because we all give our maximum effort – we get stronger together as a team.

The 115th FW CrossFit military affiliate, CrossFit Ti brings together Airmen, both enlisted and officers, who hail from several different career fields and walks of life. But when we walk into the CrossFit box, we’re all just there, focused on the WOD, cheering each other on, and motivating each other to get one more rep. On Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, 30 CrossFitters tackled a two-part WOD to raise awareness for breast cancer. It wasn’t just a random workout; it was designed with a goal in mind. Part I of the WOD started with each athlete doing all of the work on his/her own. Part II was with a partner – symbolizing when you experience adversity, like being diagnosed with cancer, often times initially you feel alone but in the end we are all here to support each other no matter what. ~Master Sgt. Maria Chew


Did you know, breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men?  As soon as I learned about the possibility to workout for a cause, I knew CrossFit Ti should be involved: working out to beat cancer, raising money to assist women and men through the process of breast cancer detection, treatment and post treatment.

In only 20 short days, members of CrossFit Ti created a donation page, fliers, designed T-shirts, and ordered cupcakes and balloons. And then on one of the first chilly afternoons of this fall season, CrossFit Ti held its inaugural breast cancer awareness workout.

Although extremely nervous, I started the workout in great spirits. I was cold, but ready. 3…2…1…I ran up to my barbell and completed the first round of the exercise. Approaching the barbell for the second round was when I knew I was not physically prepared for this. I did what I had to do! I made adjustments, I asked for help and I finished the workout. I was not alone, my son, Lucas, was prepared to cheer his dad on-so, as I began to “bonk,” Lucas jumped in and encouraged me, did all of the burpees with me, and made sure I had support to the end.

Senior Master Sgt. Paul Opper and his son, Lucas pause for a picture during the Breast Cancer Awareness workout at CrossFit Ti.

After the workout, we came together for a group talk discussing in depth the concept of the workout. Not only was this a great workout, but it also has personal significance to me. In 2011, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She endured countless chemo therapy sessions, radiation treatments, doctor office visits and a medication list that reads like War and Peace.  Since then she has had two recurrences and is currently fighting the battle. Through her current fight, she has had friends and family come from all over the United States to be with her during these treatments. Stephanie is “lucky” though, she has great medical insurance and access to world-renowned treatment.

Not everyone has this type of access, so if we can help an organization help those who really need it, then why not? The CrossFit TI event raised more than $1600 for Barbells for Boobs and over $400 for the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.  ~Senior Master Sgt. Paul Opper

CrossFit is more than a physical workout, for me. I have to stay mentally engaged always. Each time I get ready for a WOD, I prepare myself mentally by reviewing the workout, practicing each movement, and reminding myself to maintain good form. I also know that I’ll keep track of my progress; counting when I’m tired takes additional effort and it helps keep me focused on what I’m doing. And when there’s a partner WOD that adds a whole new realm of focus – something happens on the inside of me – I’m able to broaden my focus and push myself a little harder than I knew I could.

I’ve noticed a shift in my mindset, and as I look around at my fellow CrossFitters, in CrossFit Ti – I’m noticing a shift in their mindset as well. Things we used to say we couldn’t do are now possible. With each workout we finish, we are empowered and our confidence in growing. We are Strong, Agile, and Resilient! ~ Master Sgt. Maria Chew

Tech. Sgt. Spring Miller and Master Sgt. Maria Chew, right, complete part II of the WOD together.

CrossFit Ti is a military affiliate that operates out of Traux Field in Madison, Wisconsin.  CFTi is comprised of members of the 115th Fighter Wing. CrossFit Ti is not endorsed by the United States Air Force and is not affiliated with the Department of Defense.

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