CrossFit in the Ashram

By Rashmi Cole

In CrossFit, Kids, Special Populations

January 19, 2009

PDF Article

Rashmi Cole has spent most of the last two decades helping children in India. She runs Sri Ram Ashram, an orphanage, school, and medical clinic in the small village of Shyampur, near the city of Haridwar in northern India.

The years in India were hard on her health. She dabbled with CrossFit in 2005, and started in earnest in early 2007. She has found great success, and is stronger and healthier than she has been in a very long time. Last year, she started sharing her CrossFit workouts with a few of the older boys at the orphanage.

This article is her story of what happened when CrossFit showed up in rural India.

There is an addendum to this article. After it went to layout, Rashmi sent the following email:

This week, three of the boys hit their first muscle up, one of CrossFit’s true holy grails. They were so excited. On another note, Arvind vomited after doing Jackie. I guess my cheerleading was a bit too rambunctious. Today we back squatted. I made them stop at 260 (not all made it that far) when the bar was bending and they couldn’t lift it back up to the racks safely. I was terrified, they were exhilarated.
This is great fun!

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12 Comments on “CrossFit in the Ashram”


wrote …

WOW ! Great inspiration. Congratulation for this success.



wrote …

What a powerful story. Even more, what a great example of everything that CF represents. This is also a great example of the positive effects the internet can have.


wrote …

"Yeah, but can he do a 10 minute Helen?" - that's PRICELESS! Congratulations Rashmi on finding a way to bond with your kids - you are proving to them that they are marked for success! Good work! Thank you for a wonderful story!


Kevin Wood wrote …

What a great story! I loved the 10-min Helen comment. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with everyone!


wrote …

This may be my favorite journal article thus far! It makes me want to go Shyampur and see those children's faces.

Rashmi - while this is out of the CF scope of things, I'm curious how you ended up there in India presumably volunteering...I'd be pleased to know a bit more background to such a neat story.


wrote …

Rashmi, you are indeed "a ray of sunlight"! What an incredible gift you have for caring, sharing, motivating, and for expressing yourself so eloquently in writing.

I am so sorry that our different times in the gym did not allow me to meet you when you were training at CFSCC. It would have been such an honor. Maybe next time.


wrote …

This is now my favorite CFJ article

Rashmi, you're fantastic


wrote …

Superb article. I think crossfit is a distant second in importance in this article, the main point being a brave woman who earned the respect of her kids through hard work and determination.

Rashmi - keep up the good work!


wrote …

Congratulations Rashmi! You have made a profound difference in those children's lives. You've inspired all of us as well. Well done!


wrote …

I love the inspirational articles about women who have changed their lives through CrossFit. But Rashmi has done a lot more than change her own life - she's giving young boys a priceless opportunity. THIS IS THE BEST CROSSFIT ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ. And Rashmi makes me more proud than ever to be an over-50 CrossFitter!


wrote …

Thank you so much for posting this Rashmi. I spent the most rewarding 4 months of my life teaching Physical Education and weightlifting to a mixed group of Afghan and ex-pat children at the International School of Kabul from March 2008 to June 2008. I have been crossfitting for several years and immediately started my weightlifting classes on crossfit, as well as eventually starting an after-school crossfit program and buying several olympic weight sets for the school out of my own pocket. My crossfitters saw great results, especially my fire-breathers and volunteers after school. I had one kid cranking out 30 muscleups this year, as he has continued the program after I had to leave (apparently to teach P.E. on other than a temporary basis most places want you to have a degree in something other than math and computer science.) Now I am working as a contractor on Eglin AFB, training some friends on the side and getting ready for marriage, but I so desperately want to return to Afghanistan and teach Crossfit among other things. Thank you so much once again for reminding me of my dream. I LOVE THIS STUFF!


wrote …

Rashmi Didi - keep up the great work!! As a woman of South Asian origin, I'm curious to know if you've gotten any interest from the girls at the ashram? I would love to volunteer to work with the girls!!

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