It’s not the Will to Win,
it’s the Will to Prepare to Win,
That Makes the Difference.
5 years ago this week, I ran over to CrossFit Leatherneck in Afghanistan and began my true CrossFit journey. I’d dabbled in it with my old school mate and buddy, Roly, but it wasn’t a regular, ingrained part of me until I took the 1.5 mile run across the sweltering, boiling hot, sand-covered tarmac to Camp Leatherneck and the nutcase US Marines running perhaps the greatest CF Box ever to have existed. And then the 1.5 mile run back!
Under an improvised construct of timber and tarp, we sweated it out in the Afghan heat for 3 days, resting for 1, for the better part of 6 months together. It was my sanctuary during that tour away. At home we’d had the news that the twins were coming and I had to find some way of making sense of it all! 😀 Coming in from trips to outstations, there’d always be that, “welcome back, dude, glad you’re safe” waiting for you.
On off days, we’d meet up for coffee at the Green Bean Coffee shop, discuss WODs, mobility and how regular gym users couldn’t possibly compete 😉 This group of guys and girls, Americans, Brits, Army, Navy, Air Force were a genuine brotherhood and many of us still talk today despite being thousands of miles apart.
Hell, we even worked out on Christmas Day together!
When I returned to the UK in 2012, I was adamant that I was going to take this a step further and scraped together the cash to attend the CF Level 1 down at CF Black Dagger in Royal Marines Base Chivenor with another good friend, Tom. No sooner did I return from that in Oct 2012 than I wanted to open a box for those where I was working, Whale Island, in Portsmouth, UK. I know, I know….the risks associated with jumping in to managing a gym of any kind, with such limited experience, were great. I had already qualified as a Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Diploma Coach & Mentor though so I wasn’t completely lacking. Not only that, the Royal Naval Physical Training Instructors kept a very keen eye on what we were up to.
Regularly training and coaching at 11 each day, we scrounged a location, then equipment, even funding. Above a Costa Coffee, on a sprung dance floor, we had to carefully place all weights down, hearing the shouts from below as occasionally a light fitting crashed down in to a large Machiatto.
My love of coaching others really flourished here with some of the most motivated individuals in the UK military. 11am was never a good time for most people but it was the only time we could get our room for; they would shift heaven and earth to move their schedules around and get over to the box. In the time I was there, we even trained up a next generation of CF Level 1 Trainers. My only regret was that as a few of us left, the enthusiasm to actually manage the box left with it. I believe it is no longer operational. However, it was incredible for the 18 months that we had it – the change in each and every person, Donna, Steve, Olly and Al especially, was immense.
From there, I was posted to Plymouth, to my dream job. Very quickly, I established the location of the local box, CrossFit Plymouth, and its owner / coach, James Bish. It was always my intent to get straight in to coaching there and “Bish” gave me that opportunity. From the outset, I pretty much covered 0615 sessions and the crown jewel session, Friday’s at 1730 & 1830.
Having only competed outside of the CF Open once prior to CF Plymouth, I was keen to get involved immediately and took part in a few of the Primal Games competitions, with Ian and Fiona.
Over the course of 18 months, I really embraced CF Plymouth (I have TONNES of photos). Training alongside Regional Masters athletes (Maz Glover) was a privilege while being developed as a coach by Bish was an honour.
And so I find myself now at CrossFit Watford. For the first time in my CrossFit life I am actually paying for membership! While I am hoping to get back to coaching early morning sessions later this year or early in the New Year, paying really does add that incentive to turn up and give it that little bit extra.
The head coach, Charlie, and her partner, Hat, are fantastic (isn’t everyone?). Having got back in to training rather than focus on coaching, my own fitness has really launched. You can find plenty of photos of this place on my Instagram feed. With a range of athletes from beginner to pretty-damned-awesome, there is a top class community. I’ve been fortunate to attend early morning sessions and the late night ones. To a man (woman!!! Sorry, Charlie!!), they are out for each other, supporting each other and pushing each other through to some extraordinary achievements.
In my time within the CrossFit world, I’ve jumped from 54th to 75th percentile on Beyond The Whiteboard.com (although have recently dropped to 70th but that’s not for long). I have completed 5 CF Open competitions and have risen from ‘average’ to within the top 25% of CrossFitters worldwide. Hundreds and hundreds of coaching hours have been accrued, I’ve learned about managing a box, and my own skills as an athlete have lept ahead. My enthusiasm for CrossFit hasn’t waivered, despite the idiocy over giving out handguns as prizes in this year’s CF Games. I’ve travelled to France, Australia, USA and the UAE – in each place I touch down I make a point of finding a box and training with like-minded Ninjas.
From here, I am really hoping to continue my journey and pass the CF Level 2. Getting money for that will be hard but it’s an aspiration for next year. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to coaching at CF Watford, if that transpires – I really miss coaching others. New goals have been set and I’m already seeing incredible gains from an ongoing squat programme.
Above all else, I need to thank everyone who has been a part of this so far. From Mrs Nomad, who’s had to put up with CF nonsense for 5 years, to those in each of those boxes along the way. Each person has taught me something new about coaching, about CrossFit and about myself.
So here’s to another 5 years, thanks everyone.