Austin Malleolo: I Support Steve’s Club
CrossFit is Community
“The first workout I did was Fran. I immediately laid down and spent the next half hour with my head in a trash can. And I was forever hooked.”
Austin Malleolo first came across CrossFit in 2009 and hasn’t looked back since. After that first workout, he signed up for his L1 Certification, and just a year later, he competed in the CrossFit Games.
A five-time CrossFit Games participant with finishes ranging from 6th to 38th, Malleolo is well-know in the CrossFit world both as an athlete, L3 coach, HQ seminar staff member, gym owner, and most importantly - as someone who embodies the CrossFit community.
For Austin, CrossFit is life. He lives and breathes CrossFit, and he's just as enthusiastic about it as when he first started. That's largely a result of the people that are involved in creating such an amazing culture.
“The community and the community mindset of those involved with CrossFit is incredible. It’s very rare that you ever come into contact with people in a CrossFit gym that you don’t want to be around. That’s extremely unique,” said Malleolo, who first started his journey at CrossFit Dewitt and then CrossFit Albany.
Today, Malleolo owns two of his own CrossFit gyms CrossFit One Nation in Needham and Waltham, MA and is the head coach at Reebok CrossFit One. Suffice to say, CrossFit has had more than a slight impact on Austin Malleolo’s life. “It’s so difficult to explain how much CrossFit has influenced by life.” Malleolo said, as he laughed. “These are my best friends, my family, it’s my job - although it’s really a hobby that I'm lucky enough to get to do as a job. CrossFit is incredible.”
In this day and age, especially as we get older, it's hard to find community. You’re no longer in school, or on a team, and CrossFit replaces that with the largest global health-focused community in existence.
“Walk into any CrossFit gym and you see people who have made dramatic life changes. You’ll see eclectic groups of people, from all different types of backgrounds, chest bumping and high-fiving. Someone can go on a business trip around the world and walk into a CrossFit gym and they're immediately welcomed. They already have something in common with the people in the gym regardless of beliefs, language, or anything else. Instead of going to the bar, people are hanging out at the gym and working on themselves at the same time."
CrossFit is such a positive force that it becomes a defining part of their lives. As people realize the impact it can have on others, they want to reach out to invite others into this community.
“As Coach Glassman says, 'fit people in strong communities have the opportunity to change the world' and I firmly believe that. We can make a difference in the world by starting with what we can change in our immediate surroundings."
“I was the epitome of a troubled teen. Broke all the rules. Got in trouble all the time. I spent the night in a jail cell. I did stupid things in college and got kicked out. I was sent to an outdoor program in the woods for several months to help put me on the right path."
"I understand the importance of being in an environment where someone, mom, dad, a coach, a teacher, believes in you. Without that, it’s hard to believe in yourself,” said Malleolo whose father was a beacon of support for him during his troubled youth.
“Without someone who cares about you, you’ll never care about yourself enough to make a difficult decision. When you see what they've sacrificed for you, you take things more seriously and become better at making tough choices for your own future."
Austin takes Coach Glassman's quote to heart and knows that through Steve's Club, he can give back to at-risk youth and help them become part of the CrossFit community.
“Unfortunately there’s a barrier to entry for these at-risk teens because of access and high membership fees. Some of these kids’ families can’t afford 3 meals a day or to keep the electricity on, let alone a $200 a month gym membership to create a healthy way of life. The kids struggle to find safety and support in their everyday lives, and don't know how to escape their current situation.” said Malleolo. “Through CrossFit, we can provide them with hope. The hope that comes with accomplishing something they’ve never done in their life and having the positive support of positive coaches and role models.”
Austin has been a long-time supporter of Steve's Club. Malleolo, who considers himself a nutrition nerd, first came across Steve’s Club online when he saw a video of Chris Spealler, an OG in CrossFit, with a bag of beef jerky, nuts, and berries - the original PaleoKit. After learning a little bit more about Steve’s PaleoGoods and Steve’s Club, Malleolo couldn’t help but get involved.
He and James Hobart came down to the original Steve’s Club location in Camden during their road trip in 2011. Since then, he's participated in several Beat the Street fundraisers and been a guest coach at Leadership Camp in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“I’m especially thankful for the opportunity to attend Leadership Camp. The gratitude those kids show to the coaches and those who run the camp is amazing. I think it speaks to their ability to be vulnerable due to the safe environment created by Steve’s Club and those who are behind it,” Malleolo said.
“I love going because it reminds me of all of the things that I might be taking for granted in my own life. That’s why I support Steve’s Club. It actually affects human behavior on a day-to-day basis. It’s not just a dollar sign. It changes people. It helps troubled kids and teens. It gives them the opportunity to take control of their life,” Malleolo noted emphatically.
Austin joined the Board of Directors for Steve's Club National Program in April 2016 and is working to further integrate the kids from the program into the broader CrossFit community. With more opportunities for these underserved youth to see that CrossFitters care about them, and they know they have that support behind them when they need it.
In sharing CrossFit with underserved youth, we're able to help them forge new paths in life. They become part of a virtuous cycle and the positivity continues to expand to influence other people in their lives.
Steve's Club is a pathway for improving the lives of at-risk kids and developing future leaders through CrossFit. By providing fitness, nutrition, and mentorship to at-risk youth, this community of fit people can truly change the world.
If you also believe in the power of the CrossFit community, join Austin in helping us Strengthen the Nation, One Kid at a Time.
You can make a donation anytime to help us reach more kids across the country, or volunteer to guest coach at one of our upcoming events or at a Local Club near you. Steve's Club is here to help you get involved!