Adaptive CrossFit helps disabled vets thrive

Eric Dehm
May 31, 2018 - 1:33 pm

Photo courtesy Adaptive Crossfit

CrossFit is one of the most popular athletic activities in the nation, and it's growing. Competitions in the sport now fill up stadiums, and in any major city it's hard to walk a block without finding another CrossFit gym, and that's only a slight exaggeration. In Washington DC, for example, a city of 68 square miles there are at least 15 CrossFit facilities within the city limits, meaning there's a gym about every four square miles.

There's already a huge pool of CrossFitters across the country that enables the high number of gyms, but if Navy veteran Alec Zirkenbach has his way, it's going to grow even more as the Adaptive CrossFit program takes hold throughout the country. As that happens, more disabled CrossFitters will come into the fold of his preferred sport, particularly disabled veterans like himself.

The former Surface Warfare Officer was medically retired following a devastating leg injury while on duty and went through an extended period of inactivity while he healed. Prior to his injury, he had begun training in CrossFit, and having enjoyed the experience wanted to see if he might still be able to train as a way of getting back on his feet. He would come to find that yes, there are ways for the disabled to take part in the sport and credits Adaptive Crossfit with getting his life back on track. 

"I'm more fit after my injuries and now that I'm technically disabled," Zirkenbach said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show. "And that can be the case for any service member who's transitioning out, I recommend finding a good CrossFit gym and checking it out... I think that would be a great process for any vet, but especially our disabled community."

Zirkenbach now travels across the country with Adaptive CrossFit teaching CrossFit coaches and trainers how to properly prepare disabled athletes for success in the CrossFit world. Proper training is something he believes is important for the succcess of anyone in any activity, and he says that CrossFit is set up to ensure the typical athletes are doing what they should do. Zirkenbach is trying to ensure that as many gyms as possible have the tools to also be prepared for the exceptional athletes in the disabled community as well.  

"This training we're providing for coaches is a way for any gym to be able to provide great training for our service members...those that have an injury or have a permanent impairment, I know it's even tougher for them to think that there's a safe, effective place for them to train. But that's my goal with this education that we're providing, is to have that so that those athletes can go into any gym really."

Photo courtesy Adaptive CrossFit

Contact us about this article or share your story at