My name is Aaron Bratkovics and I am a photographer currently based out of Santa Barbara, California. I have been CrossFitting since 2011 and I’ve also been weightlifting on the Santa Barbara Strength Barbell Team for the past year or so with my amazing coaches. For me the best part of CrossFit is the community. It’s this awesome place where people from all walks of life come to sweat, laugh, and grow. The bond that forms between athletes is unlike anything else and I love being the eye that witnesses it all.
To me, “Living Life ASRX” is being an active member and positive influence in my community. As a photographer I spend a lot of time in the local affiliates photographing athletes and their personal journeys. When I’m capturing an athlete I am fully invested in them and their emotions. I know that they’re going through something and I can see both the mental and the physical battle going on inside them. Those are the moments that I love to capture the most, the ones of raw and uncut emotion. It is these brief instants that make life worthwhile. The CrossFit world is a community unlike any other where we are not always tied to technology (even though I love my smartphone) but rather we are focused on what’s in front of us. I love that human interaction is such a huge part of a CrossFit athlete’s life. “Living Life ASRX” is all about creativity and serving the community for the better, and I’m here to capture these athletes in order to tell their stories and sweat alongside them every now and again.
When thinking about how I would show “Living Life ASRX”, Jade Marie Young was the first person to come to mind. She is a humble trailblazer in her CrossFit community. I met her and her team at the ‘Strength of Love’ competition in Ventura, CA in October 2015 and was struck by her open and positive attitude. After getting to know her more I realized she was truly living out the ASRX mission through her creativity and her drive to impact her community, as well as other communities, for the better.
Jade started CrossFit in 2013 in numerous garage gyms with her close friends. Her dad, a master’s athlete, was a huge source of inspiration and education in the gym. She was later, as she says, “adopted” by CrossFit Kerosene; the box she now calls home. To her it’s a place where she can unload her emotions from the day and translate them into movements. One of her favorite parts about CrossFit is that it is constantly changing. She feels that once she tackles one movement there are three more that she could work on next. She’s currently focusing on the Open and is hoping to put her year of intense training to work. Her coaches and her family stand behind her in her goals and expectations in the gym as well as in her life.
The Young family is a closely-knit unit that works together to support and encourage each other. Both her mother and father are athletic and Jade grew up watching her dad compete in everything from Jiu Jitsu to marathons. Jade admits that she is a lot like her father, Gary; taking after him in both athletics and his work ethic. When I asked her about her mom, Lorena, she replied, “I can be kind of scatterbrained sometimes. My mom shows her love by keeping me organized”. Her sister, Bre, is “the brains of the operation” and helps Jade with whatever she needs. Family life is a huge part of Jade and they are her rock. She is also rooted in her faith and has been from a young age.
She is currently a communications major at Moorpark College but took time off early in her college career to serve with a missionary organization. She went to Thailand with Life Impact International in 2012 to work with victims of child trafficking. The organization serves to provide rescue homes for children that have no place to go. These children were victims of sexual exploitation and abuse as well as orphans who were stranded after Cyclone Nargis in 2011. At first Jade helped to build family style homes but later got involved with the organization’s stateside operations. A few months later she felt called to go back to Thailand as an intern where she taught art and music to the children. She also worked with the organization’s media and marketing team. As months went by she was more and more involved with the heart of the operation and would do whatever needed to be done; even if that meant walking the streets of Bangkok in the middle of the night just to get passports. Her time in Thailand helped to shape her as a person and gave her insight into what it means to truly serve others.
Jade learned how to play drums when she was eight years old and grew up playing along to Beach Boys tracks. She learned to play piano with her sister’s help and is inspired by artists such as Chris Martin and Regina Spektor. She loves music for “what it is, rather than its industry”. She loves the lyrical side of music and is inspired by powerful lyrics and their poetry. She’s also extremely interested in music in films. She would love to get involved with film scoring and is moved by music’s power to influence and convey emotions. Jade is also a skilled painter and she has spent time teaching children how to paint and draw with her sister. When I asked her why she thought art was so powerful she replied, “I’ve always been that person that could look at and appreciate a piece of art in the museum that looks like someone took a Heinz ketchup bottle and squirted it. And if I could, if I had money, I’d pay a million dollars for it. Because I knew somebody felt something.” Jade’s passion for art intertwines with her drive to impact her community for the better.
In both the gym and in everyday life Jade is no stranger to hard work. Her family, her upbringing, as well as her faith have been a constant source of support and inspiration. She lives her life ASRX by putting maximum effort into everything she does while still acting as a positive member in her community. Her passion to service has brought her to Thailand and back simply to improve the quality of the other people’s lives. Her creative nature allows her to express her emotions through music, art, and functional movements. I am looking forward to watching her throughout the open and seeing her grow as an athlete. I would like to thank the Young family, CrossFit Kerosene, C Street CrossFit, and Heather of Body Fat Testing for letting me follow Jade around with a camera for a few weeks as well as ASRX for this opportunity.