Crossfit exercises incorporate a little bit of everything, from weight-lifting to cardiovascular exercises, high intensity interval training, gymnastics and more. 

And now Crossfit OC3 in Davenport is making sure it also includes everyone.

Co-owners Colin and Jessie Cartee partnered with GiGi’s Playhouse Quad-Cities a little less than a year ago to start “Friends, Fun and Fitness,” a program that gives teens and young adults with Down Syndrome a chance to join Crossfit.  

“We’re trying to show that anybody can do it and anybody can excel in it,” said Colin.

Originally starting with a 90-minute course, the couple is now trying a one-hour class once a month to make the courses more frequent. 

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Jenn Parsons, Program Manager at GiGi’s. “It’s growing, all of our friends who come really, really love it, so we’re so excited.” 

Jessie says while they were anxious at first, the program has far exceeded their expectations.

“They were anxious and nervous at first, too, and especially trying these new things, meeting new people, but now they come in here ready to go every time,” said Jessie.   

Crossfit workouts can be challenging, and Colin says this class is no exception. 

“If you come and watch any of my classes out there, it’s going to completely correspond with the class that I do in here,” he said. 

Which is one of the things Becky Takemoto, who watches her 35-year-old daughter, Lisa, from the sidelines, believes makes a big difference.

“I mean they just have high expectations for them and they just treat them like anybody else,” said Takemoto. “In fact, there’s never a time where they just kind of say ‘well you can sit out, you don’t have to participate,’ they always try to find a way for each individual to participate at the level they can, they adjust the exercises and stuff which is really cool.” 

For the Cartee’s, it’s about giving the group the same opportunities as anyone else. 

“To be able to see these kids come in, young men and women, get as happy as they can, because probably outside of here they don’t have the feeling of the winning of competition, or the idea of finishing a really hard workout,” said Colin. 

The Cartee’s also have a discussion about nutrition during each class, to go over healthy eating habits, and setting nutrition goals. 

Julie Frutiger accompanies her 17-year-old son, Luke, to the class, one she says he looks forward to every month.

“Luke loves this probably more of any of the social activities that he does at all,” said Frutiger. “He likes the activity, it’s something that his brothers have done so he can relate to that as far as what they’ve done too, and so he looks forward to it so I look forward to it.” 

And there’s a lot more than muscle to gain at these sessions, it’s grown from a workout class to a circle of friends, all working toward the same goal. From start to finish, the class is filled with cheers, high fives and even hugs for encouragement. 

“I was just so excited because it’s a time for them to be able to come and do things that they would normally do if they didn’t have Down Syndrome or another special need,” said Takemoto. “And just to be part of a group and be able to express themselves.” 

It’s one of the reasons these workout warriors now look forward to the program in the weeks leading up to the big day. 

“We needed to wait to see when they had available times to start up again,” said Takemoto. “And [Lisa] was reminding me that it was time to go to Crossfit.”

And when the final buzzer sounds, they leave the gym with a little more strength, and a whole lot of smiles.

“Being accepted as a person, it gets rid of stigma and ignorance and fear,” said Takemoto. “For people to get to know someone just as themselves and not a label. So that’s really important. Really, really important.”

You can learn more about GiGi’s Playhouse Quad-Cities here.

Crossfit OC3 is located at 3510 Vine Court in Davenport. You can learn more about the gym here