This month we have been focused on what it means to become a COACH in the faith. How do we not only “walk the walk,” but help others do the same? Kelly is an incredible example of living a life of coaching others. He is using his gifts, talents, life experiences, and the platform of fitness to change lives.
Enjoy the interview.
Who is Kelly Barcol?
Kelly Barcol is a husband to Polly Barcol (25 years), Dad to Joshua Barcol who is now 25, pastor, author, church planter, founder of Winnersville Community Center, Owner of CrossFit Winnersville, undefeated MMA cage fighter ( 1 win – 0 loses:-), motivational/inspirational speaker and mentor . . .
What is the story behind Crossfit Winnersville and why you started it?
After being a senior pastor for 10 years I found myself spending more time in the church with church people who know God than I was spending with people outside the church who were far from God. Feeling unfilled and uneasy, I began meeting with a life coach to find new direction that would get me back in my sweet spot when it comes to living out God’s purpose for my life. Three big things came out of those coaching sessions:
- Finish my autobiography, “One Man, One Time”.
- Stop pastoring the church so I would be available to travel and speak at any time.
- Start a CrossFit Gym so I could be around people all week long who are not Christians. That year, (2013) I did all three of these things.
Do you have a life verse, or verse that you live by?
I volunteered at an FCA summer camp back in 1989 and the theme that week was Joshua 1:9. That week left such an impact on my life, that Joshua 1:9 has always been a verse I go to in so many different situations throughout my life.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
How did you come to know the Lord?
I grew up in the inner city of Covington, KY right on the Ohio river below Cincinnati. No one in my family went to church, I didn’t know anyone in my neighborhood that went to church, and I had no friends at school that I knew ever went to church. I went through middle and high school and was never invited to church.
When I was 18 years old, a couple months from graduating high school my club wrestling coach, Joe Neely, invited me to church. I walked about a mile to get to this old church with wooden benches and an old lady playing an organ. There was nothing cool or hip about this old church. However, I kept going back every Sunday. Those old people loved me and hugged me and showed me a love I hadn’t experienced much. The preacher kept talking about how Jesus loved me, no matter what I’d ever done. As an 18 year old who had been thrown out of everything since being kicked out of kindergarten, wasn’t even allowed in most of my classrooms from 5th-10th grade, and a blackout drunk and druggy at 14 years old, I couldn’t believe it.
After about 6 months, at the end of one of those church services, I walked down front and was met by a little lady about 70 years old who ask me a couple questions. “Kelly, do you believe that Jesus is the son of God? I said, “yes.” She asked, “Do you believe that Jesus died for you so you could have eternal life, if you believe in HIm?” I said, “yes” and she prayed a simple prayer with me.
There were no fireworks, no discipleship and really no conversations about what I had just done. Since I did not know church stuff or church words or anything spiritual, I had no expectations. Though no one ever told me to stop doing anything, all of sudden there were things I had been doing that I didn’t want to do any more. There was language I had used since I was old enough to talk that all of a sudden I was not comfortable saying any more. One thing I know for sure is that when I asked Jesus to come into my life, HE DID! Jesus changed my life from that moment on.
Since that time; My Dad, Mom, Stepmom, brother, sister, Grandmother, a couple cousins, aunts and uncles have all surrendered their lives to Jesus. All of this because One man, One time invited me to church!!
What has your relationship with him been like?
It has been like an amazing adventure on a tandem bike. Uphills and downhills, around sharp turns, on highways and backroads, fun and sometimes scary, but He’s always steered and peddled when I couldn’t. For the past 32 years I’ve made it my life mission to be intentional to be that one person in someone else’s life that my wrestling coach was to me.
How has it impacted the way you view business?
The biggest impact God has on the way I view business is the metrics I use for success. How many people I’ve impacted for the Kingdom each month, how many God conversations I’ve had, is way more important than how much money I get when all the bills are paid.
You are known for how you use CrossFit and your gym to impact people. For those who may not know, can you share the different ways you’ve done this?
Rather than building just a CrossFit Box, we felt we could reach more people if we built a community center. So we built Winnersville Community Center to be the home of everything we do. Winnersville Community Center exists to help people find God by creating environments that improve the quality of life in individuals by developing a healthy MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT!
To help people develop a healthy MIND, we created Life Ministries which offers counseling and coaching.
To help people develop a healthy BODY we have CrossFit, YoBilityFit, CrossFit Kids, and Personal Training.
To help people develop a healthy SPIRIT we host what we call Fitness and Faith every third Sunday each month. These are free to the entire community. From 10-11 we have a variety of workouts to choose from, so there is something for everyone. Every age group is taken care of including a nursery. From 11-11:30 we have a live or video message, and then at 11:30 we always feed everyone.
We also offer several Community small group Bible Study groups that meet once a month at athlete’s homes or at WCC. Our goal is to eventually offer a study once a month after each CrossFit class.
We have a Lose to Win program for individuals who need to lose at least 100 pounds. These individuals pay a monthly CrossFit membership and get Nutritional coaching and Life mentoring free. Each quarter we do a weigh in. If the athlete meets the goal of losing 25 pounds in that quarter, we reimburse them what they paid.
Almost three years ago, we started the Josh Sullivan Beat the Streets program. We ask our neighboring middle school to give us ten 6th graders they felt were least likely to graduate. We pick these guys up after school each day. They do the 4pm CrossFit class and then we have a tutor who helps them with homework until 6pm. On Fridays they do CrossFit and a Bible study. We do one fun trip per month. This summer they all went on a short term missions trip to my home town of Covington, KY where they remodeled one home, cleaned several houses, fed homeless two nights, and led a CrossFit sports camp 4 nights.
What is the story behind the Josh Sullivan Beat the Streets?
Josh Sullivan was one of our first members to join CrossFit Winnersville the first week we opened. Josh was 37 years old and came to CF five days a week. Over time, we developed a great friendship. Josh told me that he’d only been to church twice when he was a kid. After about a year at CrossFit Winnersville, Josh started going to church with me. After about a month he was stopping by the store on Sunday morning and buying donuts and drinks for the whole church.
One evening when I was over at Josh’s house, he ask me about being baptized. I then ask him why he wanted to be baptized. He said he had begun to believe that God is real and Jesus is who He says He is. That night at his house, we prayed and Josh surrendered his life to Jesus. Two weeks later he was baptized. Then about 9 days after that, Josh was found dead at his house one morning. There was some type of defect with his heart that had gone undetected his whole life.
So about a year after Josh’s death we started the Josh Sullivan Beat the Streets program.
What is your favorite story of impact from Beat the Streets?
Over the past two and half years, all of our boys have made commitments to Jesus and have begun living for Him. This year I had the privilege of baptizing several of them.
Now, that we are a couple years into the program with the same boys, it has been really fun to assist their families and them. Just this week we were able to get one of the boy’s whole family moved in to a one year drug rehabilitation program for Moms with kids. This was so exciting and all started because the Mom was comfortable enough to call me after she had been beat up by a boyfriend they were living with.
Why did you start a FAITH RXD Chapter at your gym?
For us it was easy to officially start a chapter. Since our mission was already to create environments where people discover God, FAITH RXD was a natural fit. We were excited to discover we were not alone in our mission to reach CrossFit athletes for Jesus. SO we were glad to partner on a global scale to support FAITH RXD.
Why did you decide to join as an Allied Affiliate?
We were already giving financially to another organization outside of our box, which we believe is very important. However, when we found out about FAITH RXD and how similar our mission is, we were very passionate to become an Allied Affiliate. We can do what we do locally and we love partnering with FAITH RXD to see our mission carried out globally.
What does it mean to unite Faith and Fitness?
My faith in Jesus is constant and I pray for opportunities to share with anyone I come in contact with. In this season of my life, I believe God has given me a big platform through fitness and CrossFit to share Jesus with the most people possible. I couldn’t comprehend doing anything without knowing the hope I have through my faith in Jesus.
Be sure to check out all the amazing things that Kelly is up to and how he’s living a life of impact: