“We joined SCCA to learn from and work with other successful businesses in the Seward neighborhood.”
SCCA Member: Jim Welna, Welna II Hardware

Solcana Crossfit: Enriching Community, Empowering Individuals

Recently, I had a chance to meet with Hannah Wydeven, owner and Head Coach at Solcana Crossfit, to learn about Crossfit training and discuss what her burgeoning business is bringing to the Seward community.

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Hannah recommended I show up for the interview meeting with workout clothes, and with a water bottle. Naturally, I was excited to get a taste of the Crossfit experience, firsthand. I anticipated a light workout, and a brief interview; and to my surprise and enjoyment, my expectations were exceeded.

In retrospect, performing what Hannah describes as Solcana’s “baseline” workout BEFORE the interview was a bit misguided. The workout consists of 5 intense exercises, to be completed in successive order, as rapidly as possible. It includes of 500m row, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 pushups, and 10 pull-ups. I was ready for the challenge. 5 minutes and 27 seconds later, I had completed the workout and could do nothing but pace back and forth throughout the gym, catching my breath, feeling like I could conquer the world.

In addition to this feeling of accomplishment, I was left drenched with perspiration, and had little interest in conducting my ‘new-business’ interview. I wanted to maintain that euphoric feeling, and continue pushing my body, challenging myself.

However, despite forgetting a water bottle, we continued on with the interview. Not only was it informational, but also incredibly inspirational. Our conversation covered everything from the significance and historical relevance of the gym’s name, to the Hannah’s vision motivation in starting her own business.

                                                                                                                                                

Describe what Crossfit training is.

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HW:     The simplest way of describing it is: high intensity, functional movement over a wide variety of domains. Basically, the workouts are short, very hard, and very intense. We take the best elements from different types of trainings such as Olympic lifting, gymnastics, rows, jump rope, back-squats, dead lifts, bench press, and combine them into a blend of workout.

Where did you get the name for your gym, and what is its significance?

HW:     The name Solcana was inspired by the names of turn-of-the-century circus strongwomen that existed between the 1880s-early 1900s. They had names like Volcana, Minerva, Sandwina, and would perform feats of strength in front of crowds. These strongwomen would do things like lift two men on a barbell or lift a man over their heads. They were kind of looked at as “freaks” and I really liked that because so I wanted to open a place where people could feel like that’s an ok way to be. I want to offer a space where people can come in and test their body in ways that aren’t typically seen as normal or “cool”, especially for women. As a woman in this culture, there is a lot of pressure to be small, dainty, skinny. I want to work against that as much as I can to expand our conceptual ideal of femininity. Typically, women that find themselves in a Crossfit gym are the ones who have gotten tired of whatever they were doing before.

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Solcana is my version of that woman.

What was your motivation for opening a Crossfit center?

HW:     I started doing Crossfit while I was teaching high school. I was injured from playing softball in college, and really wasn’t that active. After I started teaching, I became really stressed out, and stopped taking care of my body, and felt like I had no place to put my energy.

I walked by a Crossfit gym in Uptown and thought it would be worth a try. 6 months later, I began coaching part-time at the gym. When my teaching position ended I moved to full-time, using my teaching skills to help worked at that particular gym for a long time and really liked it, but the vision of the gym differed from what my vision was. And even though I respected the vision of the gym, it wasn’t my vision. I knew that I wanted to do something different and be somewhere different than Uptown.

What drew you to the Seward neighborhood?

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HW:     I’ve always liked the feel of Seward neighborhood although I’ve never lived over here. I grew up in Madison, and I feel like its similar to that. Seward is like a hodgepodge of different groups of people in the community whereas Uptown is not as diverse. Not only does it remind me of where I grew up, but I feel like its relatively close to a wide variety of communities. I don’t have to do much outreach to pull in people that may not have been exposed to Crossfit before.

You include Community as one of Solcana’s core values, why?

 HW:     When you do Crossfit, you realize a new sense of power, focus, and commitment that you never knew you had. When people experience that for themselves, they want to share with their friends, family, and people in their community.

The area that I’ve been doing the most work in is teens and kids. Namely, the people in the community that not only have limited access, but also don’t have any choice in regards to their access. They might be at a school where they don’t offer athletics or afterschool programs. I’d like to give this experience for free to young people in the community because I feel that if I had something like this as a youth, I would have stayed out of trouble more for lack of boredom.

When I see the kids I work with grow and experience the benefits of Crossfit, I can’t not want to give it to every kid I meet.

Can you talk more about your teen program? How did it come about, and where do you want it to go?

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 HW:     Working as a teacher, I noticed that the schools I was working at did not offer enough opportunities for the youth to be active and use their bodies. They didn’t offer gym class every day, and not everyone got to do sports. When I started working at my first Crossfit gym, there was a teen class there, but it was not free. I liked that I got to work with students, but it was limited to only those who could afford it. I got to work with an all-girls group there which I really enjoyed since I could remember the difficulties of being a teenage girl, dealing with body image and self-esteem issues.

Then, about a year ago, MERC – an alternative high school in Mpls – contacted the gym I was working at, and we connected with the health teacher. We eventually had the students come in for a one-time visit for a class with all boys. It was successful, but unfortunately the leadership at the gym did not have it in their vision to offer a free class for students at that time.

So, I started to independently go to the school once a week, offering free classes in their gymnasium. We had no equipment, no weights, nothing. However, the program was successful and eventually we expanded from having just the boys to include girls as well. Now that we have this facility, we can offer the class with the youth here.

I would like to expand the youth training classes to include other kids outside of the MERC program. We have recently been working with Minneapolis College Prep, because one of our coaches works at the school. It would great to have the two groups of students compete against each other at some point down the line.

What are the short term, and long-term goals for Solcana? What is your vision for Solcana?

HW:     One goal is that everyone can come in as often as they would like to without getting injured or feeling over trained. I want my gym to be a safe space to come and challenge your body without feeling like you need to be at a certain level or class of experience. Crossfit is designed to be a tailored workout regimen that fits each individual. Therefore, when someone walks into Solcana, I want him or her to feel like they belong. I want them to feel that sense of ownership.

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On top of that, my goal is to make people who normally feel marginalized in Crossfit gyms feel welcomed; like women, transgender people, and people that generally haven’t felt like they can be a part of the Crossfit community.

Another goal expand the class offering by increasing the number of members we have. I would like to have at least one hundred members by this year’s holiday season.

Ultimately, I would like my vision to follow what is organically happening and make it the best it can be; observing the needs of the community as we go along, and shaping our vision to address those needs, rather than saying, “We’re gonna do XYZ at this time, at this place. Come to it and do it.” I’d rather follow what people want. I want to follow what the trend of the neighborhood is and find out what the community want, and needs.

                                                                                                                                                  

If you are interested in joining Hannah in furthering the mission and goals of Solcana, there are two ways you can get involved.

There was a Community Council meeting on June 29th, hosted by Hannah at Solcana Fitness. Community Council is a way for the leadership at Solcana to work with members of the community to brainstorm how the gym can best serve the needs of the community.

Want to experience the exhilarating feeling of doing Crossfit, schedule a FREE one-on-one session with one of the Solcana coaches with NO cost and NO pressure to join.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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