The Bronzeville CrossFit | METTLE | Chicago's South Side CrossFit Gym


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Mettle Owner / Head Coach Jason Burns

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CrossFit Level 1 Certified

CrossFit Level 2 Certified

A native of the south side of Chicago, Jason Burns grew up in a family that instilled a strong work ethic and sense of personal accountability. Those roots would carry him to academic and athletic success as a running back at the University of Wisconsin and, ultimately, to the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. ¬As a former professional athlete, Jason knows what it takes to set and achieve challenging goals. He has crafted a holistic approach to wellness that includes a balance of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. The relentless pursuit of formidable goals has taught Jason to see failure as nothing more than a form of constructive feedback.

An early quest for knowledge about how to maximize the body’s performance turned into a lifelong passion for competitive excellence. At 13, he’d already begun to supplement his high school practices with information gathered from his older brother’s college football workout program. By his senior year in high school, he’d gone from a scrawny 130 lb. freshman to an 180 lb. Big Ten caliber running back.

Jason’s comprehensive approach to fitness is a result of extensive research, professional mentorship and years of personal trial and error. Throughout his career, Jason has continually established relationships with experts in the field of training and conditioning. He credits the likes of John Detmann (Head of Sports Training for Wisconsin), Robert Hackett (Strength and Conditioning coach for the Dallas Mavericks), Louie Simmons (Westside Barbell Club, OH) and Kim Woods with teaching him the why’s and how’s of training, kinesiology and human physiology. Jason is licensed as a personal trainer, helping hundreds of clients, from stay-at-home moms to future NFL players realize their personal best. Jason was one of the original co-founders of Downsize Fitness, where he developed plans and oversaw life changing body transformation in clients with substantial amounts of weight to lose. His experiences as a high school football coach and as a consultant with Chicago based, Elite Fitness have augmented his ability to work with all personality types.

Jason has seen how the power of nutrition in conjunction with fitness can help anyone achieve their fitness goals; how it aids in recovery; and how nutrition is critical to maximizing performance on even the most intense stage. He uses his own food journey in conjunction with years of research as the basis for offering expert advice on how to enhance wellness through properly combining fitness and nutrition. His dietary preferences have spanned the gamut from vegan to pescitarian to raw food to gluten free to paleo and those experiences have now become an integral piece of Jason’s wellness puzzle.

Jason is fulfilling a lifelong dream in assisting Mettle clients in their desire to live a better life. The ability to help others’ set and achieve goals related to wellness is a challenge that Jason readily welcomes. The desire to live his own life to the fullest led Jason to realize that true wellness was not a result of fitness training alone. His philosophy combines nutrition with elements of strength development, conditioning and speed training to create a dynamic program designed to get you to levels of fitness beyond your wildest dreams! His mantra is See, Feel, Do. It stands for looking good (See), being healthy (Feel), and having the energy and motivation to (Do) anything you set your mind to.




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Assisstant Head Coach Ashley Jordan

CrossFit Level 1 Certified

CrossFit Level 2 Certified

 Ashley “AJ” Jordan played high school football at John Hope High School (Coach Burns was his Head Coach) in Chicago before getting a full scholarship to play collegiately at Missouri S&T University, where he received a degree in psychology. His first intro to CrossFit was  “Fran,” the well-known CrossFit benchmark workout. Doing the workout with Coach Burns after a practice (AJ had since returned to his HS alma mater as an assistant football coach) pushed him to new limits. It was then that AJ knew he was going to love CrossFit.

Jordan has coached CrossFit at Bronzeville CrossFit from its inception and is dedicated to making it to the CrossFit Games one day (with his girlfriend, Kelly O’Brien, by his side).

An inspiration to all  AJ has overcome  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma his last year of college. His his extended football family as well as his fraternity brothers (Omega Psi Phi) supported him as he went through treatment. Using this experience as a springboard, AJ knows every obstacle can be overcome, both in the gym and in life.




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Coach Peter Ballou

CrossFit Level 1 Certified


Physical activity has been a consistent part of Peter’s life. Growing up outside of Washington D.C. in Virginia, Peter was a year-round athlete through high school, Peter’s focus on exercise and fitness grew as he dealt with injuries that hampered his high school sports career. He began practicing CrossFit in the summer before his senior year after his older brother introduced it to him. Since graduating high school he has focused on CrossFit, as an athlete and as a coach. Peter has been coaching athletes in CrossFit since 2012. He received his Level 1 in 2013. He is currently in his third year of undergraduate study at the University of Chicago. Coming in part from his experiences with injuries, Peter’s exercise philosophy centers around wellness and prevention. He believes that well-rounded, functional fitness and balanced nutrition will create a healthy and durable body. He coaches with a strong focus on form and technique.