In HD Videos, Rest Day/Theory

November 11, 2012

Video Article

A couple of years ago, Mike Ute started doing CrossFit in a 7-foot-square space in the gym on the Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyo. He found the one barbell in the entire place and some old bumper plates, and he did Fran.

“I started to believe that CrossFit was going to be the way for everybody to become more fit,” says Ute, of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

Then he told his friend of 10 years, Cody O’Neal. At 6 foot 8 and 344 lb., O’Neal was facing grim news: his doctor had told him his fate was sealed if he continued his lifestyle.

“I was pretty much headin’ for an early grave—just with the alcoholism part, the diabetes part. That’s the problem here in the Washakie reservation. I was just another number of that,” he says.

After six months of CrossFit, O’Neal started to show characteristics of a good CrossFit coach, says Ute, the first Native American CrossFit Level 1 trainer.

“It hit him just like it hit me,” he explains. “I believe that once you yourself see change and feel better about yourself, then you can teach others.”

But the changes don’t end with O’Neal and Ute. In the past couple of years, the gym has attracted dozens of people from across the reservation who are now doing CrossFit and learning about healthy nutrition.

Video by Gary Roberts.

25min 15sec

HD file size: 565 MB
SD wmv file size: 641 MB
SD mov file size: 137 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: CrossFit Akwesasne: Done With the Blame Game by Emily Beers, published Jan. 2, 2012.

Free Download


29 Comments on “Transforming a Reservation”


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Mike, keep up the fantastic work!
I spent a summer working in Laramie, Wyoming many years ago, and met several Shoshone during that time.
What you are doing is great!


wrote …

Great video, very inspiring! Keep up the great work Mike!!


wrote …

Way to go Mike you are a true inspiration for your cause


wrote …

You guys knocked it out of the park, great video, very informative!!


wrote …

That was an amazing video! It should be on TV for all to see.


wrote …

I would like to reach out to Mike and Cody and the rest of the community there. How do we get their contact information?


wrote …

Next time I do Fran, I'm listening to those tribal drums. Tremendously inspiring. Thanks guys.


wrote …

@kory send me email and i will connect you.


wrote …

great video. I think the message is clear. How can improving your life be anything less than beautiful? Native Americans are a proud people, from my experience, and why shouldn't they be. We should all be proud, and be eager to add to that pride by being the best we can be. Lead by example. Words are great; actions are better. It's easy to give up, it's a lot harder to keep on struggling and keep on working hard. I hope that more native americans can see the benefits of a healthy approach to eating and exercise. Exercise can be manual labor, construction of buildings, etc. One truism is that you can NOT out work a terrible diet. You are somewhat a product of what you put into your body. At some point what you are consuming is defining you. Best of luck to the trainers and the all the people working hard to make themselves the best they can be.


wrote …

Incredible story, as a M├ętis here in Canada who has worked for the better part of a decade with our First Nation communities in the healthcare field, this is where I can see the greatest potential impact on our people. Good work! Keep it up!


wrote …

You are a hero to your community and an inspiration to anyone who values service above self. This video proves that CrossFit changes lives; saves lives. On a social level, this video also reminds many of us that the Native American community continues to be neglected and forgotten by the rest of the nation. Keep up the great work Mike & crew, you guys are truly "lifeguards" in your community.



wrote …

Wonderful. Good job.


wrote …

Such a wonderful video! You guys are truly inspirational. I hope to someday head your way and join in on a WOD.


wrote …

WOAH! Simply amazing! Keep up the good work


wrote …

What an amazing video. So inspirational!
Great work guys. Keep doing what you are doing for your community!


wrote …

Please put this on TV! theres nothing more motivating than seeing people taking the initiative to improve their lives especially through crossfit


wrote …

Cody is the man.


wrote …

Just when I think I couldn't love this community any more! This video was fantastic. Thank you for sharing the story of this community! Completely inspired.

Miranda O.


wrote …

What an inspiration! Bless you Mike, Cody and all of the other coaches there for your good works. I normally do not watch a video of this length through to conclusion (attention span very short!) but this had me riveted to the computer for its' entirety.


wrote …

An inspiring video of over coming and the courage it takes to continue on. You are improving so many lives! Fantastic!!


wrote …

This is wonderful to watch. It's incredible what people can do with CrossFit. It shows what can be done to benefit a whole community.

It's great to see Gary Roberts producing such great work for CrossFit, too. Excellent on all counts. My hat's off to you. More, please.


wrote …

This has to be one of the most powerful stories of the Crossfit Community.


wrote …

This has been, without a doubt, my favorite and most inspiring video I have seen on the Journal (reader for 3 years).

As someone who has workout with Inuit in the Arctic, I can fully see how powerful Crossfit can be on empowering communities.

Great stuff...


wrote …

I second all of the other comments. This is one of the most inspiring CF videos I've seen.


wrote …

Excellent work Wind River! Ya'll in the CF gym there are saving lives. We need more drum circles during the WOD, drumming and singing warrior songs -- I've often wanted that music during a workout.


wrote …

I'm halfway across the globe, and found your story riveting and inspirational.
For me, your story is what crossfit is - the somewhat elusive force that transforms and improves people and their lives, even their community.

In hebrew there is a word used to describe a spiritual and physical improvement - tshuva. Amongst other things, it infers "returning". It really seams as though crossfit is facilitating a return to your original values, and I find that inspiring.


Chris Hall wrote …

I.N.S.P.I.R.I.N.G.! You can read all of the comments above and come away with a theme. This video literally had me balling on several occasions, I can't think of a more inspirational video. This was so real, the stories, the music, everything! If any of you are in Cheyenne, come by CrossFit Frontier! I'd love to shake your hand.


wrote …

WOW, I sat here in amazement. I'm Northern Ute and Navajo, I live in Southern Utah. On the Paiute Indian rez.. What and amazing story. I got tears in my eyes, I have started CF in February 2013. I have always considered myself a Big girl and that it was normal. To be big, I would make jokes and laugh. I am also diabetic with AC1 levels off the chart for the last two years. Taking insulin and meds, When I felt like it...reading my sugar right after the dr. visit etc.. but back to No excise and eating fast food and so called "Indian food". That consist of a lot of grain and pasta's, frybread, torts..etc. I was in a very unhealthy state, physically and mentally, sleeping a big problem. TIRED all the time.. A friend of mine started a month earlier, She talked about it all the time.. and suggested. I was very hesitant, I'm Native shy and quiet.. scared to try anything different. I went to a box and signed up. I had to start somewhere.. the first few days after signing up, Paleo challenge for 45 days..I said sure why not. Its been 4 months since then, I have a AC1 level of 7, sugar under control with diet and off insulin. I choose to eat Paleo because. I feel so much better and have tons of energy. I couldn't even do a push-up, a jump rope or lift myself up.. Today, I can. I'm not skinny and have lost a bunch of weight.. 237 back in Sept. 2012, today I'm at 209. That's not what, I do this for. I choose to be healthy and live a positive healthy life style... Crossfit has changed my life... I love this story on so many levels. I would like to come do a WOD one day with you. Keep up the great work..


wrote …

Awesome video!!! Very inspiring!

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)