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1 Hack Squat (225/155)
Intensity. Or: The story of how I went from a depressed sack into a world changer.
Posted on September 11, 2013
Intensity; I like the word… the connotations have a wide reach, but to me they define my life.
It’s not, in my opinion, a natural trait, but I also think that It’s not natural to be a leader, or strong, or good. It’s learned, witnessed, and forged in the fires of life.
I came to the decision to open a CrossFit gym in 2008, while in Afghanistan. Having been involved in some sort or other of athletics for a few years, I saw the advantages of the CrossFit program and decided to throw my hat into the ring. Looking back now, I see the two things necessary for my gym to survive:
1. My wife. Without her support through this endeavor, and her working tirelessly to keep us afloat during those slow first few months, the gym could not have survived. When I get an idea, I’m pretty much blinded by any other distraction and she faithfully saw me through the good and the bad times. I don’t even think she was really on board with the concept in the beginning, but she saw my determination and saw fit to follow.
2. A blind forward desire for success. My intensity, my drive, is dependent on my own interpretation of success. I think a lot of people operate within these same guidelines, they just define “success” differently. Having a place to workout was not the success I wanted. I was going to forge a place built by a community, driven by a strong set of core values.
Intensity is what most people say differentiates a CrossFit gym from a normal gym, but that's just the start. A good box preaches morality, leadership, honesty, faith, and determination. Anyone that is a part of it can see why outsiders think we’re a cult, and anyone inside of it defends it tirelessly. We set ourselves apart by our unique determination. We work tirelessly to improve ourselves inside the gym, and we take those values to the community surrounding us. When you look at CrossFit not as a gym with weights, but everything else that defines the place and the people, you’ll see that we’re not just a bunch of pain hungry workout freaks, we’re family. I see the opportunity to take normal people living in an average American society and bring us back to the basics of our humanity. Strength, honor, commitment…. these are facets of personality that are being driven away by the high speed, individual, me-centric lifestyles that we live, and they are paramount features that need to be instilled in every person.
The first few months operating were agonizingly slow and depressing. Most days were spent with a few close friends and loyal clients, followed by long periods of inactivity, boredom, and depression. I would literally drive home after the one session of the day and sit on the couch for hours wondering what I was doing wrong. I had a product with value, but it seemed that no one was interested in it. The longer I sat still, the more I started to realize that my inactivity was what caused the slow gym. My fear of failure was the same thing that kept me from success!
Slowly, I began to build a strong foundation. I started talking to more people. I made my way into town once a day with the simple goal of meeting someone. Not to profess CrossFit, simply to make a connection in the community. People started coming to see what CrossFit was about, and very slowly a core group of athletes found a new home, and a new family. This was my first non-failure, but still a long way from my definition of success.
As time went on and more people got involved, I began to see that basing a business on biblical principals really does work. It’s not easy… the high road in the business world makes enemies and naysayers faster than anything, but the advantages far outweigh the draw backs. For one, I don’t have to double deal or cheat. I don’t have to lie, remember a lie, or bait people into the gym. We simply provide an excellent service at the fairest value possible, and most people, even if they can’t afford it, appreciate it. It also gives us the opportunity to concentrate on being better trainers and less on how we’re going to make one more dollar.
I followed the CrossFit HQ model and gave full disclosure not only of my business, but the workouts. I put the workouts on the board, online, and through social media. Not only are people allowed to view it free of charge, they are encouraged to do so. Nothing should keep someone from reaching their goals, and since my goal was to impact the community, sharing that information was the easiest way for me to connect with people.
I made excellent bonds with my business partners. We share a life where faith and family are paramount, and the rest is really easy. When decisions are based on logic and faith, there rarely is an opportunity to fight, and that means we’re a small but capable team that provides exponentially more value to the gym.
I never, ever accept defeat as an option. No matter how dark it seems, there is a positive outcome. This is a secret that not many people know, so I’m sharing it with you, because if you want it, it’s possible. (Unless it’s time travel, that's not real).
So I’ll never be a Rich Froning. I’ll probably never beat 2:00 on Fran. I most assuredly won’t be rich (in a financial sense). But then again… those aren’t my goals. I don’t have the determination to train myself to be a games winner… I do however, have the determination and intensity to train you to be a games winner. I have the intensity to impact a small part of the world, and once I see everyone in town exercising their own strength of will, determination, strength, and honor, then I’ll consider that a success.