lakewood crossfit forms powerful partnership with cleveland big brothers big sisters

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program designed for people of all ages and fitness levels. Jillian Neimeister and Tricia Tortoreti, owners of the recently opened Birdtown CrossFit in Lakewood, believe the program can empower the lives of Cleveland's teenagers in ways beyond physical prowess.

During a fundraising campaign to help purchase equipment for the gym, the pair promised to donate a one-year membership to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland for every $2,000 raised. The duo ended up raising $7,260 through their campaign, equating to three memberships for teens affiliated with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

"Our intention is to introduce teens to a larger community of people who are committed to health, and a network of Clevelanders who may encourage and support them," says Tortoreti, a "Big Sister" with the organization for the last five years.

"We're happy to engage a different audience around the benefits of mentoring," says Big Brothers Big Sisters president/CEO Gretchen Faro regarding the partnership. "Fitness is clearly a need for our community."

The business partners expect that participating teens will come to the gym with their Big Brother or Big Sister, but membership affords them use of all classes on offer. CrossFit is not a typical gym, relying more on jump ropes and barbells than elliptical machines and treadmills. The Cleveland-based CrossFit is located in the Lake Erie Building in Lakewood's Birdtown neighborhood.

Partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters was an easy call for Tortoreti. Her 14-year-old "Little" was eagerly searching for after-school activities that didn't involve video games or just hanging out with friends.

"CrossFit can do so much for you besides making you more fit," says Tortoreti. "We have a great community spirit here."

SOURCES: Jillian Neimeister, Tricia Tortoreti, Gretchen Faro
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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