vonpaperI have been reflecting a lot lately on the things that I have accomplished in the last few years.  I think it is important for us to look back at all of the things that we have done well and think about why they worked and how we can apply those lessons to the things that we are doing now.  There is no doubt that CrossFit has played a HUGE part in how I got where I am today.  Where is the secret sauce though?  Lots of people try CrossFit for the first time every day.  There are something like 6000 CrossFit affiliates all around the world.  There are at least a dozen CrossFit gyms in the Memphis area alone.  Does every lazy suburban Dad that walks into one of these thousands of gyms turn his life around and become a completely different person?  No.  What was it about my situation that made me stick with it?  This hasn’t just been a “Dad Starts Diet/Exercise and Loses 30 Pounds” kind of story.  This is “Sedentary Lazy 30 Something Dad Starts Training, Becomes Ultra Marathon Runner, Coach, Gym Owner, Totally Different Person, Rock Star.”  Ok, so I might be exaggerating a little with the Rock Star bit. But seriously, people make resolutions and decide to sign up for gym memberships all the time.  Most of the time they stop going to the gym and fall back into their old way of life. Why did it work so well for me?

It’s a little bittersweet, but I left the CrossFit gym I was training at (Faction Strength and Conditioning) about a year and a half ago to open my own gym (Olive Branch CrossFit)  here where I live outside of Memphis in Olive Branch, MS.  It was a gradual thing for me.  There was never a “clean break” where I said, “Ok, I’m not going to be back here training anymore.”  Over time I just had more and more to do during the process of opening our gym and once I had my own facility, I started training there.  I really miss all the people I trained with.  My “6am Crew.”  Here we are at a Christmas Party minus all my bros:


(Photo Credit:  Lisa Mac) My 6AM crew was crucial to my success whether they know it or not.  We trained everyday together.  We did the WoDs, we encouraged each other, we congratulated each other, we talked shit to each other, we took videos of each other and posted them on YouTube, and we competed with each other.  We made each other better.  It wasn’t just my 6AM friends though.  It was the whole gym.  The whole community.  I was drawn to be a part of it.  It is where I needed to be and there was no other option.  At that time, there were only a handful of CrossFit gyms in Memphis.  We weren’t competing businesses though.  We were a community making each other better and encouraging each other.  That’s the “special sauce.”  That’s what everyone ought to know about CrossFit. It is why I wanted to open my own gym in my own town.

Earlier today one of my old workout buddies commented on a post I made on Facebook.  She said, “One of my friends is trying to talk me into another Marathon.”  I told her to do it.  I told her I’d be more than happy to build her running program for her.  I would be more than happy to help her any way I could.  I can’t give back enough to my old crew to thank them for being there for me and encouraging me.  Then it hit me.  This is why I never quit.  I never quit because I had all of these awesome people around me that I didn’t want to let down.  I had this incredible group of people that wanted me to succeed and would do anything they could to help me reach my goals.

This is why CrossFit works.  This is why you can sit down and write as many “CrossFit is Dangerous” articles as you want and they won’t work.  If someone walks into a great gym with a great community like I came from and like we are building at Olive Branch CrossFit there is nothing you can do to stop them.  They are going to make new friends, they are going to lose weight, they are going to get stronger, and they are going to do things that they have never done before and that they never thought they would do.  Most importantly, they are never going to forget that guy or gal they did 7 minutes of burpees with that one time.   They are never going to forget that one sunny day when the garage doors at the gym were open and they pulled a 400 pound Deadlift for the first time.  They aren’t going to forget when their coach or their buddy video taped that moment and proudly uploaded it to YouTube. This is why I have been successful and this is why Olive Branch CrossFit exists.  This is why Lift Heavy Run Long exists.  I want everyone to experience the awesomeness that I have experienced.  I want to help people be awesomer.