We just held our 100th OUTWOD of 2019! WHOA. It’s a pretty big milestone for us and, as fate would have it, this 100th event happened to fall in our founder’s hometown of Austin, Texas and at his home gym, CrossFit Jaakarhu! No, really, it truly was a coincidence, but we think it was meant to be. As part of the celebration, Will Lanier sat down to chat with CrossFit Jaakarhu co-owner and all-around badass, Jess Estrada.

Will: So Jess, tell our beautiful OUTWOD family a little bit about yourself…
Jess: I grew up in San Angelo, TX. I did gymnastics as a kid for a few years before taking a break to try other sports. I eventually went back to gymnastics my sophomore year of high school and competed for our high school varsity team. I continued my fitness at Texas State University by joining the Triathlon Club Team. I competed in Triathlons and Duathalons from 2002-2009 until I found and fell in love with CrossFit.

Will: How did you start CrossFitting?
Jess: I was introduced to CrossFit by Melisa Rehm and Karen Pierce who invited me to some community workouts which were fun, but I wasn’t quite convinced. They ended up talking me into doing a “Fight Gone Bad” Fundraiser. I wasn’t really familiar with the movements but was fit so I did the beginner division – and it was God awful. I told them I would not join CrossFit but I would try out the 30 min Kettlebell class that their gym offered. I did that class for 9 months before I decided to join CrossFit in 2010. It didn’t take long to realize that this is what I wanted to be doing and eventually compete in.

Will: You know I love CrossFit Jaakarhu. How long have you run your own box?
Jess: Michael Winchester (my business partner) and I have had our gym CrossFit Jaakarhu in Austin, Texas since October of 2014. We just celebrated our 5-year anniversary!

Will: I know it’s great, and that’s why I became a member here, but what should people know about the CrossFit Jaakarhu community?
Jess: We have an amazing community! We pride ourselves on being an all-inclusive gym. Everyone who walks through our doors is welcomed by the coaches and the members because our goal is that they immediately feel comfortable and at home. We are a community that supports and respects each other. We encourage our community to build each other up and push each other to show up and work hard.

Will: So when/how did you first hear about OUTWOD?
Jess: I think it was through social media? Then I got involved in OPEN+ (now OUT in the OPEN) for the 2018 CrossFit Open. I attended my first OUTWOD at CrossFit REP, met you, and knew immediately that this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.

Will: You’ve hosted OUTWODs before… what do they mean to you and your gym community?
Jess: It is truly an honor to be able to host an OUTWOD. It is an opportunity for our gym to come together and celebrate our LBGTQ community. Like I said earlier, we are an all-inclusive gym and all of our members are in support. We have a big LGBTQ community as well as a very large group of allies. What OUTWOD is doing for LGBTQ+ young people through its OUTAthlete Program is incredible and we as a community are more than happy to support and represent.

Will: What’s the most fun/best thing about having an OUTWOD at your box?
Jess: Bringing other communities (CrossFit gyms and their members) into our space to celebrate and sweat together for a good cause.

Will: What would you say to other box owners who might want to have an OUTWOD at their gym?
Jess: I believe that CrossFit as a brand has always been a very accepting community. CrossFit gyms should be a safe place for people of all backgrounds to share in a common interest of a healthier lifestyle. It is a place where in that hour nothing else matters except having fun, supporting one another, and working hard. I think all gyms should host an OUTWOD to show appreciation for the diversity and acceptance that is part of the CrossFit lifestyle.

Will: This has been OUTWOD’s biggest year ever. We held 69 events in 2018 and now 100 in 2019! What did you think when you heard CrossFit Jaakarhu was going to be the site of our 100th OUTWOD of 2019 and what does it mean to you?
Jess: Only one thing came to mind – We have to make this the biggest and best one yet!