Fight Club Meets Crossfit: Helping Veterans Find New Purpose

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“Do not be afraid to seek out transformation of your mind.”  

AJ Richards came back from Iraq feeling that his life had no purpose.  He was working for a pest control company, doing door-to-door sales at the time.  Richards realized that he had to make changes or he might not survive.

“I was a soldier and I wore that very proudly.  I was totally prepared to die while I was over there.  When I got home, there was nowhere to go to.  I got a job with a pest control company and I found myself depressed because just getting a job and a paycheck wasn’t enough.”

What was missing from his life, Richards says, was physicality and purpose.  He had gone from being a warrior to living a very stagnant life.   He was not doing enough physically to get the hormones released, Richards says.  He believes that was at the core of his growing depression.  “My theory is what is needed is physical activity.”

Richards opened CrossFit Mesa and soon after had an idea for a competition.  

He founded Rush Club, a head-to-head weight class competition.  Kind of like Fight Club meets CrossFit.

From there, the idea exploded.  Rush Club has grown over the past two years into a highly  watched event.  It also has seen a spike in interest from Veterans looking to compete.

Richards opened up the competition to adaptive athletes, some have become national celebrities.

Two well known Veteran Athletes, Derek Weida and Mike Gallardo, both amputees, will be among the competitors at a Rush Club this weekend taking place at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona.

Richards points to this as an example of Rush Club’s mission, “You are a warrior.  You can be responsible for your own recovery.  Get up and move.”

For AJ Richards, it has been a long, tough journey to now.  But he made a decision to be mindful of where he wanted to go next with his life.  He wanted not only to find success and happiness for himself, he wanted to inspire others along the way.

His goals now are lofty.  Within the 12 months they hope to stream competitions to half-million people, and in 5 years be as big as the UFC.  Expressing those goals is a little bit intimidating, but it is all part of Richards’ journey.

“If you are committed to something and you say it, and it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.”