Tom and Tara McBride, a Canadian couple, spent seven weeks during the summer in Jerusalem participating in a Crossfit internship. They said they enjoyed the neutral ground the gym brought for people from different walks of life, and they grew as coaches.
Tom McBride is a BYU-Hawaii alumnus who graduated with a business degree with a finance track. His wife, Tara, is a senior majoring in exercise sports science. They are both from Alberta, Canada, and have enjoyed receiving an education here at BYUH.
Tom said, “Living here and experiencing all the different cultures and different teachers from all over the world in such a tight-knit community has really been the best experience as a college student. It’s been so amazing. You get experiences here you don’t really get anywhere else in the world.”
Tara said apart from being an EXS major, she had already been heavily involved with exercise and sports for as long as she could remember. “I was just thinking about what I should do for an internship because graduation is coming up. So one night, I was just sitting down and the idea came to me to contact boxes.” She said a “box” is what a Crossfit gym is called.
Tara said she went on to contact boxes in locations all around the world; including Morocco, Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, New York, New Zealand, and Jerusalem.
Tom said, “Part of the challenge of figuring out school is asking ourselves, ‘What the heck do we love?’ And for us, it’s always come back to health and fitness.”
Tara said she had the opportunity to be coached by Mike Burgener, a Senior International Weightlifting and Olympic coach. She also has a weightlifting certificate and placed 12th in the world for weightlifting.
“There’s a Crossfit gym in Kahuku that we both co-own and work at. So I’m constantly coaching and being involved, not just here at BYUH, but in the community as well. We’ve both competed in all of the Crossfit competitions, both local and worldwide. We’re heavily involved in Crossfit and the lifestyle of it. We love it!” Tara said.
Tom and Tara both had unconventional beginnings in getting involved with Crossfit. Tara said, “I had never lifted weights or anything before but I was always really active. Triathlons, racing, surfing, all sports. You name it, I play it.”
Their origins in Crossfit started in Canada while they were living there for a year while Tom was working. “We went to all the gyms in the city we were near and participated in all the free trials that were offered. After a while, we ran out of gyms. So we thought ‘Ugh, okay we’ll try Crossfit,’” said Tara.
Tom said they enjoyed the environment: “No one was wearing headphones. There were no mirrors. No one got their phones out.”
Tara said they did the workout and it kicked their butts. “We both felt pretty fit going in, and it destroyed us. We fell in love with it right away. We went back the next day and people remembered our names. From that day we were hooked. So [that sense of community] started in Canada, and it hasn’t changed coming here to Hawaii.”
For the internship, Tara said they ended up deciding on Jerusalem because it would be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She was also interested because of the history of Jerusalem.
Tara said, “Obviously, Israel is a heavily religious area. You’ve got people with faiths in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and they’re all living together. Unfortunately, there is some conflict. But what’s awesome about Crossfit Jerusalem is the neutral ground for all of those religions to come and work out together without any judgment, without any conflict, and obviously with respect between everybody.”
“Coaching turned out to be a little bit of a challenge. Orthodox Jews study for a minimum of 40 hours a week. So they’re sitting and not doing anything with their bodies. We were dealing with people who almost never use their bodies.”
Tara said, “And at the same time, coaching is very hands-on. In many of the members’ faiths, [members of the] opposite sex were not allowed to touch each other. As a coach, it’s very useful to show people and move people in certain specific ways, and when you can’t actually move somebody, it becomes difficult. If they don’t understand you, and obviously if they only speak Hebrew or Arabic, and I only speak English, communication can be challenging. It definitely helped us grow as coaches.”
Tom and Tara said they also helped by teaching fitness classes, doing personal training, and aiding in projects to help spiff up the gym. “We helped with the platforms and painting the buildings and everything like that. We also helped clean,” Tara said.
During their time there, Tom and Tara said they were able to visit the Red Sea, Egypt, the old city, the garden tomb, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Temptation, the pools of Bethesda, Galilee, Capernaum, and Jericho. Tom said, “Seeing the sites I’ve read and heard about my whole life was incredible.
Tara said, “Looking over old Jerusalem and having those thoughts come into your mind like, ‘Whoa, Jesus stood here and wept over the city,’ or to think about how Lehi and his family lived here before fleeing, it was amazing. That country is just so beautiful. Everything about it.”
Tom added, “We were there during Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims, and so we were in Palestine in the homes of religious Muslims experiencing their traditions.” He continued, “You could tell they are just trying to be good to God and live the best life they can.”
Now that they are back at BYUH, Tom and Tara are continuing to share their love of Crossfit with others. Tom said, “We’re looking into hosting a fittest at BYUH competition. I think a lot of people just don’t even know we are there or they don’t know what Crossfit is.”
The McBrides say the best way to explain Crossfit is just for people to come in and try it. He said Crossfit teaches you correct techniques in gymnastics and weight-lifting.