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Game Changers 2017: Heidi Jones of Squad WOD

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“I was always a tomboy,” says Heidi, who was raised in Indiana the place she says “basketball is religion.” She performed sports activities year-round, ran monitor in highschool, and went on to run long-distance at Ball State University, a Division-1 faculty. By the time she graduated, Jones transitioned into marathon operating, and has since run greater than 20 marathons. “Running has always been my best stress reliever,” she says. When her friends began commenting about how they “could never do marathons,” Heidi was set on convincing them they might—and coaching them to assist get to the beginning and end strains. “I loved seeing how it changed their lives,” she says. “I got to help them discover those ‘a-ha’ moments.” (Kick-start your new, wholesome routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

Eventually, Heidi found CrossFit. She started understanding at CrossFit NYC, and her operating background helped her land a place because the health club’s endurance coach. But on the weekends, she would head to the field to do her personal exercises—and shortly, individuals needed in. “I’d be there doing my own thing, and women would ask to join me,” she says. “It turned into an awesome girl gang.” Heidi began a Facebook group for the women to share memes and recipes and help one another, and instantly felt a strong bond. “I noticed something so special about a women-only crew within a CrossFit gym,” she says. “We were cheering louder, high-fiving more, and hugging more. It was a different vibe than the co-ed classes, and I knew there was something powerful there.”

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From there, Heidi left to take a brand new job at BRICK New York, one other CrossFit fitness center, the place she labored as much as 80-hour weeks. She liked the position, however missed having the pliability to do what she needed, which was work with an all-women group. So she took a job at CrossFit Solace, and referred to as 15 of her greatest CrossFitting girlfriends to say, “Come on Sunday, there will be a workout, there will be pictures taken, and I’ll explain the rest later.” Her girlfriends confirmed up—and that was, although she didn’t understand it on the time, the beginning of what would turn into Squad WOD. “I wasn’t sure where it would go or how it would grow, but people started telling their friends to show, and by the fourth meet-up, we were at max capacity.”

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Today, Squad WOD has advanced into an all-female exercise and speaker collection. “It’s about women getting together, working out, and empowering each other,” Heidi says. “It’s easy to look at someone succeeding in their life and think, ‘But she doesn’t have this stress I have’ or, ‘She isn’t dealing with this thing I’m dealing with,’ or, ‘She doesn’t have boyfriend problems or rent problems.’ And that’s never the case. We need to strip down what’s holding us back.”

Heidi hosts three to 4 month-to-month occasions at gyms round NYC that may maintain as much as 60 individuals. The 90-minute, judgment-free occasions value $20–30—all of which matches to a delegated charity, such because the Sadie Nash Leadership Project or Girls on the Run. But it’s not only a exercise: Each occasion kicks off with an icebreaker exercise so the women can get to know one another and turn out to be snug within the room. From there, Heidi says a number of motivational phrases and introduces the occasion speaker—then the 35-minute, all-levels-included CrossFit-style exercise begins.

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After the exercise, the group reconvenes for the speaker and Q&A portion of the occasion (Jen Widerstrom of The Biggest Loser was a current visitor speaker). “I want the speakers to show women that getting to their level of success wasn’t easy and still isn’t easy,” Heidi says. “I want people to be comfortable talking about being uncomfortable. So we go deep into the shadows we all live in from time to time, and talk about the struggles that got us here.” Oftentimes by the top of the occasion, there’s “not a dry eye in the house,” Heidi says.

So now that Squad WOD has sellout crowds at occasions in New York City, what’s subsequent? “I want this to be nationwide,” says Heidi. “I see Squad WOD events happening in bigger cities, and retreats are on the near horizon. I see tours with motivators—and I want to have Sheryl Sandberg as a guest speaker!”

No matter how a lot Squad WOD takes off, Heidi by no means expects success to be straightforward. “There’s no magic sauce,” she says. “It’s about rolling up your sleeves and putting in a massive amount of hours to make things happen. I really believe we’re at the beginning of another women’s revolution in this country—we are forces to be reckoned with on our own, but when we combine forces, the world is ours.”

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