Boston Iron Kids Club
Any CrossFit athlete knows the feeling of failing and bailing. The bar rattles as the bumper plates bounce off the mat. Your face goes flush from both the expended effort and the emotional upheaval of missing the lift and your brain reels as it tries to figure out what went wrong.
Every Steve’s Club coach knows this moment of failure is where the magic happens. Watching and coaching athletes as they deal with a setback, is the hub from which all the goals and missions of this organization radiate.
Tina Ramos, owner and founder of Boston Iron and Grit and founder of Boston Iron Kids Club (a Steve's Club program), knows that lifting and pursuing fitness goals have a lot of similarities to overcoming struggles in other areas of life.
Steve's Club coaches and volunteers are passionate about CrossFit and know that it's a powerful vehicle for giving kids a way to manage some of their life challenges. Fun fitness is the hook to get them moving and slowly they begin to realize that they can do even more than they imagined, if they commit to their goals and work hard.
But overcoming challenges isn't just for the kids and teens we serve. Recently, circumstances forced Tina Ramos to make some big moves both at her affiliate and with her Steve’s Club program. She had to make drastic personnel changes and start back almost from square 1.
“There are a lot of hard learned lessons in business ownership.” Ramos said. “I thought what am I doing? I feel like I'm failing at all of this.”
“But I came back to the only reason I opened my gym was to support a Steve’s Club program for at-risk kids and teens in my community.”
Ramos, a Harvard educated former school counselor, didn’t come to Steve’s Club through the usual route of discovering CrossFit, becoming a coach, starting a gym and then learning of Steve’s Club and adding it on. No, Ramos became aware of Steve’s Club in the early days of her CrossFit journey. It was the idea of Steve’s Club that motivated her to leave her job in education, become a coach and start her own gym.
“From the very beginning, within the first three months, I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Ramos said. ”So I left my school counseling position, got my level 1 and applied to be a Steve's Club program.”
Ramos’ first experience with CrossFit was with the Boston affiliate CrossFit New England. The positive support of the community drew her in and paralleled her earliest experiences as an athlete.
Ramos attributes much of her life’s success to her high school track coach, Mr. Kyser.
“If I hadn’t had Mr. Kyser, I don’t know if I would’ve finished High School. I don’t know if I would have gone on to college.” Ramos said. “I know that having the right role models and the right mentors, was so important to me staying off the streets and going to college.”
It's those role models and positive experiences that she wanted to pay forward to underserved youth in Boston. Tina's goal with Boston Iron Kids Club is to create a community and support system to nurture disadvantaged kids and help them become future leaders in the community.
After acquiring her level 1 and coaching in a gym, she came to understand that the only way she could realize her goal of implementing a Local Steve’s Club was to open her own affiliate. “That was the scariest step.”
Nevertheless, Boston Iron Kids Club held their first fundraiser "BEAT the Streets" in 2014, and in 2105 raised $14,000. When faced with some operational challenges at her gym this past November, Ramos had to “rebuild, regroup and refocus.” Throughout this process she relied on the CrossFit community and her commitment to Steve’s Club.
“I felt like quitting in November but I started calling other CrossFit Affiliate owners and I was introduced to Brandon Peterson the owner of CrossFit Free. We met and now he does our programming and is my business advisor. He has also agreed to join our BEAT The Streets fundraising initiative and I'm super excited to get the 2017 fundraiser organized!”
Ramos also continues to develop her relationship in her local community. Boston Iron Kids Club partners with the 3 Point Foundation to work holistically with inner city youth on both their fitness and academic performance. She also recently started a pilot program with a local high school to train even more kids.
Ramos feels stronger for the failures she experienced, the obstacles she surmounted, and is back at it with more dedication than ever to improving the lives of kids, one kid at a time..
Steve's Club at the core is about acknowledging that we're all on a journey, with many ups and downs, and it's a lot easier to go through it with other positive people who care about your success. If we can give that gift to at-risk kids, who might not have that in their lives, then we're contributing to making the world a better place.
Tina and all the other Local Club coaches nationwide are making sacrifices each day, week, month, and year to make this mission happen. We're proud to have such amazing leaders and volunteers.