Crossfit Illumine Teaches Kids About Health, Perseverance and Failure

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Kids at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School perform various patterns in an agility ladder during a Crossfit Program.

Since you’re a Chicago Athlete reader, I don’t have to explain the importance of fitness to you – it would be a little like preaching to the choir. But, what are we going to do about our city’s next generation? Most kids don’t get gym class every day like I used to. In fact, the lucky ones only get to let their engergy out during the day twice a week.

I’m not the only one who recognized this problem though; I had the opportunity to tag along with a couple of guys that are trying to incorporate more activity during the school day for kids on the south side of Chicago.

Brian Alexander and Dave Lopez of Crossfit Illumine in Niles, volunteer their time twice a week to offer a Crossfit inspired recess program to fifth to eighth grade students at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School. These two are committed. They pack up different equipment each, drive 40 to 60 minutes, coach a program for 20 to 25 minutes and drive back. They’ve even brought in speakers, such as former American football running back Walter Mendenhall, to potentially inspire kids to care about their health.

Approximately 20 kids have chosen to participate in Brian and Dave’s workout program over having free time during recess. The kids work hard, learn new skills and hopefully improve their self-confidence during these activities.


When I went to Mahalia Jackson on Thursday, the kids were working on their running skills; they were to run various patterns through an agility ladder, which varied in difficulty. You could see the concentration on their faces as they made each attempt, and while they were difficult at first, the more they practiced the easier to got.

This particular activity was a lesson Brian and Dave wanted to pass on to the kids: when something is difficult, they need to stick with it and keep trying and it will get easier. Hopefully, the kids realize this message is relevant in all aspects of life, even in their schoolwork. Brian and Dave also have a great philosophy that teaches the power of failure: “if you are not failing, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not challenging yourself.”

“Being able to see the difference we are making is amazing. If we can inspire one kid to do something different, to see the world differently, it will all have been worth it,” Brian said.

What impact are you making today? Go out and inspire, Chicago Athlete readers!