Matt Chan: I Support Steve’s Club
There is one thing that Matt Chan wants to make perfectly clear: He could not be more impressed with Steve’s Club.
He is one of the many supporters within the CrossFit community that has contributed to bringing fitness, nutrition, and mentorship to at-risk kids and considers himself privileged to have seen Steve's Club grow over the years from a small program in Camden, NJ to be a nationwide program teaming up with CrossFit Affiliates across the country to create change on the local level.
And it is not easy to impress someone of Chan’s caliber:
- Retired Firefighter in the Denver area
- Successful business owner and entrepreneur
- Prominent member of CrossFit HQ Seminar Staff
- 6-time CrossFit Games individual competitor
- Adventurer, explorer, and outdoor enthusiast
Matt Chan grew up on the south side of Chicago in a family that has fully encouraged his love of athletics. “I grew up in a very supportive household. My parents saw sports as an outlet for the energy I had as a kid and realized it would be a great way for me to channel this energy. They were willing to drive me all over to be mentored by some great coaches.”
This support paid off as Chan went on to play water polo at Western Illinois, where he helped the team to finish as the #9 ranked team his senior year. But it wasn’t until after graduation that Matt set down the path that would eventually lead him to the podium at the CrossFit Games in 2012.
After moving out to Winter Park, Colorado and living the life of a self-proclaimed “ski bum” for a couple years, Chan began volunteering as a firefighter in 2004 before taking the job on full-time in 2007. It was around this time that Chan was introduced to CrossFit as an alternative method to training that he found more beneficial to his life as a firefighter.
“The movements were much more exciting than bodybuilding. I really enjoy the variety. I can do any workout, but I think it’s the variety that kept me coming back. I just fell in love with the training methodology,” said Chan, a L4 certified coach who recently sold CrossFit Verve in Denver, CO which he started with his wife, Cherie, in 2008.
The support for Steve’s Club is a shared passion for the Chan’s. Cherie Chan was one of the guest coaches at the 2016 Summer Leadership Camp. At Camp, she led the athletes on a hike and workout in the hills of Pennsylvania while sharing life lessons and connecting with the kids. She shared how indebted she feels to CrossFit for many of the blessings in her life and reminded the teens that paths in life may not be straight or easy, but it's about staying true to yourself and appreciating the good people you meet along the way.
Like his wife, Matt attributes CrossFit with helping him find a balance and gratitude in everyday life. “In addition to the training methods, CrossFit really helped me find focus, purpose, and center myself. I think that was missing from my life. And I think that is what a lot of athletes that Steve's Club helps are missing. From CrossFit they can begin to rely on and appreciate the structure and consistency. They can lean on it,” Chan shared.
“For these kids, they know that the gym doors will always be open. The bar will always be a 45-pound bar. It is not going to judge them. It is not going to treat them differently. If they didn’t have this outlet of physical activity, or something to excel in, they may choose another activity that isn’t so ideal.”
Matt offered a key insight that explains why so many people, Steve’s Clubs’ athletes included, see so much success in other areas of their lives after beginning CrossFit. “I think it all starts with setting goals. Once you achieve those, and you have the confidence to set new and more challenging goals, you do. Then, when an individual has success in one area, it makes them hungry to be successful in others.”
This may be why so many youth involved with Steve’s Club show up for the first few months, see initial success in the gym and soon begin to see improvements in school, at home, and at work. Through CrossFit, they're creating thought patterns and habits that will determine their future success and help them in their most challenging moments.
Chan is no stranger to setting goals and overcoming challenges, no matter how big or small. A bicycle accident in July of 2014 partially severed Chan’s femoral artery while in the wilderness of Colorado, leaving him in a dire situation. While there was much uncertainty at first, Chan made it to the surgery table. From there, he made it home and began his journey back.
While the doctor only gave him a chance to return to 90% of his old form, at best, before 2014 ended, the same year as the accident, Chan matched a personal record with a 445-lb squat. The same leg that was closed shut with 26 staples only a few months prior.
Matt first met Steve Liberati in 2008, when Liberati was in the very early stages of Steve’s Club. As the program began teaming up with CrossFit Affiliates to set up similar Clubs in other parts of the country, Matt continues to be impressed with all that the Steve's Club National Program (SCNP) team are willing to do to change the lives of underprivileged youth.
“One of the things that I’m most impressed with is what Steve and his team have done. Not only is he doing incredible things with the kids in Camden and across the nation, but he’s helping support that amazing endeavor by dedicating a portion of the proceeds of Steve's PaleoGoods while changing the availability of healthy snacks. It’s really amazing and I’m so happy to be involved.”
An avid outdoorsman, Chan spends much of his free time in the winter skiing and was inspired to borrow a page from Steve’s book and combine his passion for skiing with giving back. Matt Chan is teaming up with Flylow Gear to donate 10% of all sales to Steve’s Club when someone uses the 15% off discount code: mattchan16.
It’s a win-win for all involved. “Everyone gets a deal on the best ski and snowboard threads on the market and I get to raise money for my favorite non-profit, all while supporting an independent, homegrown company from Denver, Colorado,” said Chan proudly.