Thursday, July 06, 2017


Thornton keeps the fitness call long after hockey

 Gisele Winton Sarvis

COLLINGWOOD - Retired National Hockey League player Scott Thornton has been using his knowledge to build sport for thousands of people in the Georgian Triangle and beyond.
The 46-year-old Thornbury resident is the co-founder of the outdoor CrossFit competition UG Series Beach WOD now in its sixth year.

The July 7 to 9 event is expected to attract at least 1,000 athletes from all over the world plus their supporters to the new location, Millenium Park on Collingwood’s waterfront.
Ironically, it’s not the elite athletes he had in mind when he started the competition and it’s not the pros that keep him inspired.

“Strong athletes are there and represented, but truthfully I get motivated more by our Sunday athletes which are the beginners, the amateurs and our masters,” said Thornton.
“We’ve got a lady in her sixties who is competing. People like that is why I want to do it.
“It’s people who have never joined a gym in their life that have joined in the last two months and are out there having fun competing with their peers. Those are the ones I really get stoked about and really enjoy watching,” he said.

Thornton opened the first CrossFit gym in Collingwood, CrossFit Indestri in 2010. He started his first outdoor event as a motivator for his gym members. It was held in the winter at Scenic Caves with bar bells and kettle bells and logs in the middle of a sleet storm.
“It was exciting and it was outside and we were having fun with fitness,” he said. “We had 100, 110 people. It was a really small group, but it was exciting and fun. I was ecstatic, so then we did a summer event.”

The first UG Series Beach WOD was held in Wasaga Beach in 2012.
“With the beach, we thought let’s do a Navy Seal style event. It was very raw with sand bags, logs to carry, stuff to drag. It was more grunt work rather than skilled fitness.”
Thornton and partner Paul Sproule had a little more than 100 people but everyone found it satisfying.
They had devised divisions from absolute beginner through novice, elite and masters to make it inclusive.

“We made if fun for all which is why the event took off.”

It was held in Wasaga Beach for five years organized by Thornton, Sproule and Jennifer Nichol.
The Wheel WOD for para-athletes was added last year by organizer Chris Stoutenburg and it attracted athletes from as far away as Brazil.

“Adding that to our event was amazing. Those athletes are super inspiring to watch,” said Thornton.
While the Town of Wasaga Beach had always been supportive of the event, organizers were looking to freshen it up and felt a change of location was in order.

“The event itself allows for deep water and now we can do more swimming,” Thornton said.
“We are passionate about the Town of Collingwood and the community. That was a big driver in bringing it over here as well.”

After starting the UG Series, Thornton sold his share of the CrossFit gym to Stoutenburg and expanded UG events to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto for a total of 25 competitions.

Thornton has now scaled back to the single annual Beach WOD as he has other local business interests and projects.

Growing up in London, he played Major Jr. A hockey with the former Belleville Bulls for three years.

He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1989 and went on to have an 18-year career with the NHL.

From the Leafs, the 6’ 3” winger then played for the Edmonton Oilers, the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars and the San Jose Sharks. He finished his hockey career with the Los Angeles Kings, retiring in 2008.

Scott and his wife Joelle, who is a runner, were looking for a good community to raise their son Nash and daughter Zoe, now 21 and 17 respectively, and they chose Collingwood.

“This area encourages recreation and wellness and it’s a real nice place to raise a family.” Organizing the Beach WOD encourages a healthy lifestyle both for competitors and for spectators, who potentially join a gym, he said.

The event needs 100 to 125 volunteers to do time keeping, data entry, set up and tear down.
Anyone wanting to volunteer should go to the website or email:

A wonderful guy, and a fan favourite when he played for the Bulls.

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