Wylie Belasik

wylie_fullWylie comes from a background in non-profit and sport activism, having promoted sport  and active lifestyles as a tool for social change across the country.

“God, Drugs and Loving Myself”

In 2008, I was entering information from a survey that I had given an individual who was experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.  The survey was a simple one and on it, the final question was ‘Please list three factors that you believe contributed to your state of homelessness’.

The response was clear and heart-breaking.  The man had written, ‘God, drugs and loving myself’. It struck me that the individuals who we are most often trying to help are not unclear on their needs or situation. We are hard-wired to want to be proud, strong and contributing to the fullest extent of our capacity. However, sometimes, circumstances intervene, our lives shift and we lose sight of what we can offer to each other.

I believe in sport as a tool for social change. I believe that when we sweat and push ourselves, we see who we are meant to be and can share that with others. That’s the root of a healthy community and what I’ve spent the past 10 years of my life building.

In 2007, I helped launch a nonprofit here in Philadelphia – Back on My Feet, starting running programs at homeless shelters and served as their Vice President of Programming until 2012. My job was expanding the program to nine cities around the country. After that point, I moved to Colorado to work with another nonprofit, Phoenix Multisport, using sport as a tool to engage individuals in recovery from substance abuse in a healthy and supportive community. There I helped develop a strategy for growth into cities outside of Colorado. Along the way, I’ve also had ideas I thought were perfect be ripped apart and been humbled by remembering how much there always is to learn.

I also love the quote by the Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron, “fail better”. To me it means that we have to push ourselves, to try and sometimes fail – but only through that path will we really learn who we are and where our capacity extends.

That brings me back to the man’s answer on the survey. My hope is that I can listen and be present enough to the community around me that I can provide a path for what people need. That man didn’t leave the question blank. He, and I believe everyone, deep down, knows they can be the best version of themselves – it’s about creating that space. That’s my passion.

What makes CrossFit Center City different?

The basis of what we do at CFCC is providing general physical preparedness for the rest of your life. While that does mean being able to help a friend lift a couch and chase your kids around a park, it’s equally about helping you become proud of your body and a part of an amazing community.

CrossFit often uses the phrase of creating elite fitness. At CFCC, we believe that process is as much about our community as it as about what the workout of the day. CrossFit is about being the best for yourself, but also your friends and coworkers. It’s knowing how much more you can do that you learn one rep at a time in our basement of dreams.

What motivates Wylie?

Honoring the community that embraced me and knowing how sweaty hugs change the world. Growing what we do at CFCC means that more people get access to their full potential as well as the best coaching in Philadelphia. I’m tremendously proud of our coaches and how every day our members are supported in reaching their goals in health and wellness.

I also love that CrossFit allows for us to learn how to grow by failing. So often, we are encouraged to take the more predictable, well-traveled path in life. The safe income over the start-up, being comfortable over being uncomfortable. There is a quote that I love which says how we only truly learns on the margins of our experience. By trying things that we struggle with today and maybe really.hard.. We’re able to become strong enough to achieve that and more tomorrow. The fact that with CrossFit we can offer that to everyone who walks in our door and then walks back out with a smile on their face is a tremendous gift.

What does the future look like for CFCC?

I’m intensely proud of our coaches and community and my responsibility is to provide whatever each needs in order to thrive. Last year, we also launched a nonprofit within CFCC, UliftU. With UliftU, we are providing job training opportunities for the homeless and unemployed to work in the health and wellness industry.

It’s no secret that Philadelphia hasn’t always been known for health (hello, cheeseteaks). As a result of that, there are many opportunities to change that history in this city. Through both our space on Chestnut St and initiatives including UlfitU that will operate beyond our door, we’re re-writing what healthy and positive change can mean in Philadelphia.

Certifications and athletic experience:

  • CrossFit L-1 Trainer
  • CrossFit Endurance
  • Two time Ironman World Championship qualifier (raced it in 2013)
  • One time Ironman 70.4 World Championship qualifier
  • In 2014 was ranked top 50 in the world in the Ironman world rankings for age group 30-34
  • Marathon PR of 2:31, Half marathon PR of 1:11
  • Completed the Wellington to Auckland Bike Challenge in 2011, a week long, bicycle stage race in New Zealand

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