WZA Stories: Josie Portell

Josie Portell is a 2x WZA Champion vying for her 3rd title this weekend. Watching her on the competition floor, her intensity is unmistakable. We asked her about the phrase, “Never whine, never complain, never make excuses,” stitched on her chair.

“There’s going to be no point in doing that [whining]. So why do it? It’s just going to hurt you in the long run. Like, if something doesn’t go my way in a workout or the weight’s heavier than I thought or something, let it go and don’t complain or anything. Because it’s just going to hurt you.

Josie and her father, Bob, started Bar X adaptive, a program for athletes of all ages and ability levels. Bob explains, “We started with Josie as basically our first athlete and that was I guess almost two years ago. Now we’re probably at 15 athletes and we’ve got a bunch of new kids coming in now, but the main thing about our program is it’s inclusive. The athletes come in and do the same classes as everybody else. We just adapt the workouts. They’re in with all the other athletes and everybody else, so it’s not a separate adaptive class, it’s inclusive.” The future of Bar X Adaptive is also looking bright. When asked if Bob and Josie would ever take Bar X Adaptive on the road to reach more athletes, they said, “If the opportunity presented itself, we would obviously entertain, but right now, we’re trying to be the best we can with the athletes we have.”

Bob was also the inspiring force that sparked Josie’s CrossFit journey. Bob began CrossFit first, and Josie said she wanted to do it, as well. “She wanted to come to the gym and I started doing research. The gym owner was nice enough for her to come in and that’s kind of where it all started. I just started finding out how to adapt the movements and such, which is where we are today.”

 

Josie and Bob originally viewed CrossFit as a great way for Josie to condition for her basketball season. Being a natural athlete, Josie excelled and added CrossFit to her schedule which, at one point, also included school, basketball, track, and cheer. Now, as she begins to look at colleges, she now “just want[s] to keep growing, doing sports and just fine-tuning.”

Josie is hoping to take her talents to the University of Illinois and play Women’s Wheelchair Basketball for the Fighting Illini, and Bob will continue to grow their gym and adaptive program.