A Review: Redemption WOD

It seems like each week we’re bombarded with requests from nonprofits to donate money to a specific cause with the hopes of it leading to a bit of progress in some way.  

It’s not a bad thing, but unfortunately, because of this, sometimes the organizations that I think need the most attention often get washed out by the reverberating static. As a result, this is my attempt at helping Redemption WOD make some much needed noise.

What It Does:

Redemption WOD uses the money it raises to provide scholarships to people in recovery who suffer from addiction. The long and the short of it: You pay money to participate or compete in their work out. That money is used to fund Crossfit membership fees for individuals who are recovering from addiction and cannot afford to pay for a Crossfit membership themselves. That money is also used to help families in need.   

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Crossfit or high intensity exercise in general, there is a ton of science to support what Redemption WOD is attempting to do.

The journal Frontiers in Psychiatry released an article in 2012 titled, “Exercise as a Potential Treatment for Drug Abuse: Evidence from Preclinical Studies,” that addresses some of the evidence, and it explains how exercise helps reduce the risk of a relapse.

You can find it by clicking HERE

About the Founder and Redemption WOD's Start:

Carlos Gibson is a full-time trainer at Crossfit T1, a Crossfit gym on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After losing his brother and two close friends to addiction, he decided to take action. As a result, Redemption WOD was born.

The term WOD is an acronym from the Crossfit world which stands for “Workout Of The Day,” and the workout for Redemption WOD is as follows:

7 Burpees

14 Box Jumps

21 Kettlebell Swings

The athlete must complete as many rounds of this circuit as they can over the course of 20 minutes. They are to rest as needed, though it is encouraged that the athlete does not rest.

I had the pleasure and the privilege of competing in the first ever Redemption WOD a few years ago, and I can confidently say that it’s probably one of the most miserable Crossfit workouts I’ve ever done (and I’ve done many - from Fran to Murph to DT to Cindy, Redemption WOD is right up there with being one of the most brutal).

A Snapshot:

Since its beginning, Redemption WOD has been able to accomplish some pretty amazing things. They have:

  • Awarded scholarships for USA Weightlifting LEVEL 1 Certifications AND Crossfit Trainer LEVEL 1 certifications.
  • Sponsored memberships to Crossfit gyms for adults in recovery.
  • Provided financial assistance to dozens of families in need around the holidays.

… and after speaking with Carlos, it seems like this is only the beginning for Redemption WOD and his team.

My Story:

At the start of my senior year of high school, I lost one of my best friends. He was my cousin on my mother’s side, and I’d spent summers hanging out with him in Northeast Philadelphia growing up. As we grew older, Mike had become a mentor and hero to me. 

He’d gotten me into skateboarding and music and art, and truthfully, I don’t think I would be the man I am today without him in my life.

However, by the time I’d reached my junior year of high school, I’d started to see less and less of him, as he’d moved to West Chester, PA to attend West Chester University. It wasn’t until the start of my senior year of high school did I find out that Mike had fallen on hard times and, as a result, had spent several weeks in rehab that summer.

“Pills,” was all that I’d been told.

That Thanksgiving weekend, when I’d gotten the news that he’d died (he'd come home and attempted start his Junior year at WCU) , I was told that his addiction didn’t have anything to do with his death. They’d all said that, well, he went to sleep that night with a few beers in his belly and there were no real traces of much of anything else. It was just, “God’s will,” - that sort of thing.

But truthfully, I have never been all that satisfied with that answer…

I can’t help but think that maybe something else could have happened. Maybe he could have gotten involved with something in an attempt to, in some way, re-chart his course. Maybe I could have done something differently. Maybe I could have said something. Who knows?

I think we can all agree that I can’t bring my cousin back from the dead - even though maybe I try to pretty frequently. I get it. He’s gone. But that doesn’t mean I can’t contribute in some way to help build the lives of those who may be one step away from losing themselves.

The Truth:

When I hear about Carlos’s story, I find myself reliving things from my past; I find myself thinking about people who I’ve grown up with who are no longer with us (breathing or not). And I can’t help but think that if we all became a little more aware of what was happening around us, maybe we could make things a little better. Maybe we could progress. Even now, as I’m writing this, I can’t look away from the hard truth that where I live is slowly becoming a public health nightmare. In 2015 alone, New Jersey saw 781 heroin deaths. That’s double the number from 2010. (For more information, click HERE)

... I can’t help but think that we could be doing a better job at preventing this number from climbing.

Ultimately, though, understand that it’s not just about raising money. It’s about raising awareness, and it’s about creating a community. It’s about being caring and patient and compassionate. It’s about coming up with a plan.

And Carlos Gibson has a plan.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling, you need to know that you are not alone in your journey and that there are forces at work outside of your peripheral that are making attempts at grabbing ahold of you. They want to help.

If you aren’t struggling, but you know someone who is, encourage them to find help or, at the least, have them take a look at Redemption WOD. 

If you need to get in touch with Carlos, reach out to Crossfit T1 or the Redemption WOD homepage. If you'd like to help the organization, check out the website, buy a shirt, donate, compete in an upcoming competition, or, if you're a gym owner, host one yourself. There will be an event coming to Crossfit Vae Victis in Berlin, New Jersey this summer, so keep an eye out for it. I know I will. 

I'll see you all at the next WOD.

Be well, 

- C