Coach Tom’s Story.
Let me tell you why I started doing CrossFit.
I was living in small town Ontario. The year would have been 2006-2007. I had a small IT Consulting business. I looked after the networks, servers and computers in most of the law firms in town. Being in IT, I had a fairly sedentary day sitting and swearing at screens. I was very active in high school athletics, but when university came around I slowed down considerably. By my late 20s I was starting to get “fluffy”. I didn’t want to join a gym. I didn’t know what to do there and I sure didn’t want to reveal how much of a newbie I was to the resident body builders. And I didn’t want to pay somebody to show me how to use the weights.
So I did what most people do when they decide to get into shape, I started jogging. Running worked for a couple of years. I built up really good cardiovascular-cardio respiratory endurance. I leaned out. However, neglecting to building up strength to support the abuse from running, I paid the price with an injury to my knees. After this, I did nothing but feel sorry for myself and put on weight.
Fast forward to 2009, CrossFit is still virtually unknown at this time. However there was a forward-thinking guy in this little Ontario town that had opened a CrossFit gym in what was a converted mechanic’s garage. You got the occasional whiff of motor oil depending on where you stood in the gym. I was really hesitant to go. So why did I?
I was in my mid 30s and I’m feeling the roll of my spare tire every time I sit down and lean forward. The button on my size 36 khakis is having to work pretty hard from exploding from my pants. My energy is always in the basement. And with it, my mental attitude. I’m not excited about my business. Every morning is met with a sense of dread. Time and again I think to myself “This is not a good situation. And if i don’t improve things soon the ‘slope is only going to get slipperier’ and it will be all that more difficult to climb out of this rut”.
I’d been down the running route and I still wasn’t interested in going to go to a gym. I’d read an article in the local paper about the new CrossFit gym in town. I was skeptical. It looked like a fad. On top of that, the article included a guy who was doing CrossFit there who happened to be one of my competitors in the small IT market. So I sure didn’t like him! But then I happened to be working on an IT job at a hotel and he appeared there as well. We shook hands and I had to admit, I was quite impressed with how fit he appeared. Then a month later, I was walking past the CrossFit gym and I witnessed an old high school friend doing a workout. As he completed his box jumps he took to the road and passed me. Drenched in sweat and breathing hard he passed me.
“Hi Tom!” He managed to gasp.
I was now very intrigued. I mustered up the courage to go check it out.
I remember how anxious I felt when I rode my bike to the gym. I arrived as a class was completing. My anxiety didn’t ease when a big dude held the door open for me. Then it was myself, the owner and another member.
He explained how it worked. I listened on the surface, but I have to admit I didn’t grasp what CrossFit entailed. I just had this earnest feeling that I just had to show up and let the process do it’s job.
The next day I could hardly concentrate on my work. At 5:30PM I was going to do CrossFit for the first time! Unlike the “Getting Started” process we use at RPCF where we do a 1-on-1 with new people and “ease them into it”, I was jumping the boards and doing a group class right from the start.
My heart is pounding as I enter the gym. I see women doing kipping pull-ups, here’s a couple of guys swinging kettlebells (what the hell are those?). The gym owner, James, spots me and spends some time with me showing me the squat, a kettlebell swing, some mobility work. I have an idea what I’m doing. There’s a warm-up run. A run? Hey I know how to run! My confidence goes up a notch as I manage to keep up with the group and start getting to know them.
Then we’re back in the gym and getting ready to do Helen. 3 Rounds of 400M Run, 21 KB Swings, 12 pull-ups. Since it’s my first time I get to use a 35lb kettlebell (RX weight is 50lbs) and I get to do jumping pull-ups since my demonstration of executing 1 pull-up looked like a life and death struggle. 3-2-1 Go! The WOD begins. I do OK on the first round. And it goes immediately downhill from there. I complete the first round and am somewhat dismayed that I am at the back of the pack. I begin the run on the second round and despite wanting to move up in the pack I can’t help but notice….I’m exhausted!!! I have reached the limits of my work capacity in roughly 4 minutes. I’ve never been more gassed in my life. I persevere.
By the 3rd round I’m wondering if my wife knows where I keep my life insurance policy. I get to the last set of jumping pull-ups and promptly fall off the box. James is with me. He’s concerned and encourages me to finish. I complete the final pull-up and crumple to the floor in a heap. As I’m admiring the ceiling several people approach and shake my hand. The big dude who opened the door for me the day before grasps my hand, hauls me off the floor and claps me on the back. ‘Nice going Bro!”. I’m hooked. I love it. I tell James “I’m in!” and I give him a cheque. It seems like a lot of money at the time and I know my wife will question it. But knowing now, just how radically better my life was about to become, I would have paid 10X the amount!
I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2009. My heart still pounds in anticipation prior to a workout. The workouts never get boring. There is always a challenge. A mysterious lift to be solved. And the wonderful people I get to coach and train with are family.
Every year I say “I’m in the best shape of my life!”. Which might sound funny coming from a 45 year old. I’ve kept track of my progress over the last 8 years and the results are clear, I’m not slowing down. I continue to see improvements in all facets of fitness such as Olympic Lifts, Power Lifts, gymnastic skills, I can run a 5K 3 minutes faster than I used to in my early 30s. I’ve tested myself in the CrossFit Games Opens and came in the top 5% in the world in the Mens 40-44 division. I did the World’s Toughest Mudder in 2012, I had to drop 13 hours in because I was losing the feeling in my feet. Not to leave business unfinished, I returned to the WTM in 2014 and completed the race despite a sandstorm, sub-zero weather and a million reasons to quit.
I renewed my fitness journey in my mid-30s because I could feel the slope getting slipperier. A brighter future did not await my old sedentary self. I hated the way I felt and looked. That was my reason to start. I continue my fitness journey now because it is clear to see the solid investment in myself. I look after my fitness now because I love my family. I love the freedom a healthy body affords me. I love to travel the unbeaten path. I love trying out new things (like learning how to surf at 44).
Just as I have enjoyed improvements in my fitness and health, I’ve also had the opportunity to come into my own as a coach. Fixing people is far greater reward than fixing people’s computer networks! I’ve had the pleasure of coaching hundreds of people from the time they could barely do a pushup to seeing them develop into their potential. I still get a kick out of standing before my group class and scanning the members. There will be a brand new graduate standing beside someone I have been coaching for over a year. I recall the veteran being that new graduate and how impressive they appear now. Obviously stronger and healthier. But they’re also surrounded by an air of confidence and well being. It’s a wonderful sight that I’ll never get tired of seeing
Our program is a life-changer. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions or meet you for our complimentary 1-on-1 Introduction to CrossFit. Feel free to email me: email@example.com or call me 604 340 2978.