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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘gym’

Comet CrossFit/CrossFit Bingo: End of an Era

Everything changes. Sometimes change means that something comes to an end. So it is with the White family’s CrossFit Affiliate. It’s a CrossFit story for sure, but it’s really more of a family story, actually. While it is surely sad–I’m certainly sad–it’s actually quite a nice story, and the ending is really very OK.

Randy gave college a try in the fall and winter of 2010 at the same school where Megan was a junior. After 2 trimesters it became very clear to him that he wasn’t really ready for a traditional college path, and that his journey would start another way. Randy and I hit up a CrossFit L1 at Rogue (my 4th, Randy’s 2nd), and then Beth and I packed him off to Brand X for a 3 month internship with the Martin Family and theCrossFit Kids team. He and I had done our original CFK cert in January 2010 as part of my 50th birthday gift from Beth: a Dad/Son Kids’ cert and surfing camp! That summer he spent his weekdays in Ramona coaching both kids and adults and his weekends traveling from London to Australia spreading the word about CrossFit and CrossFit Kids. He came home ready to begin his career as a CrossFit gym owner. When the application for Comet CrossFit was accepted by HQ he became the youngest Affiliate owner in North America.

While this was going on Dan was in his senior year in college, coming into his own big-time as student after a couple years of, oh, let’s call it intellectual wanderlust, making the Dean’s list to close out his days at DU. Home he came as a sorta/kinda pre-med grad, albeit one who managed to make it through college without taking physics, Continuing on the pre-med course would mean 2 years of classes and applications BEFORE starting the 8-12 years of medical training. Pretty daunting. He asked if maybe his brother could use some help in launching and running Comet, and thus was formed the Affiliate ownership team universally known in greater Cleveland as “The Boys”.

Those were heady times in the CrossFit Affiliate world. When Coach Glassman met the boys he was thrilled about their plans, telling them “it’s fun, and it’s easy!” Comet would be the 3rd CrossFit gym to announce its opening on the west side of Cleveland. In what can only be considered quaint now, The Boys insisted that their gym be located far enough away from CrossFit Cleveland and Coca CrossFit that there would be no way that anyone would consider them in competition with the first 2 gyms; athletes would choose their gym based on geography. This quite righteous and honorable decision made their row all the harder to sow because they chose a location far outside the reaches of their parents’ considerable contact list, but it also ensured that their successes would be built solely by their own efforts.

Comet CrossFit opened for business on Monday, October 11, 2011, with programming based on CrossFit.com and the original CrossFit Strength Bias article in the CFJ. The first WOD started out with 5 sets of Front Squats aiming for a 3-rep max, followed by 4 Rounds for Time of Run 400M/15 HSPU/15PU. Since that time Comet (and CF Bingo) have followed the classic training patterns outlined in “What is Fitness?” and on the pages of CrossFit.com, a traditional General Physical Preparedness gym with a modest strength bias. Literally hundreds of athletes have come through, coached by The Boys and eventually by their parents as well.

In time it became clear that Dan was destined for something else. He came home one day armed with a rather impressive score on an LSAT prep test asking for parental support to apply to law school. Off he went to THE Ohio State University, along with the bride he met at Comet CrossFit ( Brittany herself an accomplished CrossFitter and coach in her own right!). After 2 years of running an Affiliate now named CrossFit Bingo on his own, Randy has also come to the conclusion that he, too, is destined for something else. Randy will join his fiancé Katelyn as a full-time student, he to become a physical therapist.

And so it is time to wind down our CrossFit gym. Comet/Bingo has been an amazing experience for our whole family. We have among us more than a dozen certifications (Randy, Beth, and I are all L2, for example). Megan became a CrossFitter when she and her husband moved to South Carolina, like everyone else we/you know, finding a group of best friends in her new Box. The White family gym afforded both of our boys the time to grow that each needed in order to discover the next path they needed to take, while at the same time giving them the priceless experience of making people better. Indeed, no fewer than 3 neighboring gyms were spawned from Comet/Bingo. For Beth and I, well, we not only got the precious gift of being able to give our boys this opportunity, but we were also able to spend countless hours with them–right there WITH them–enjoying the adventure.

We leave behind our beloved gym, and we say “see you later” to our many member friends. We are not leaving CrossFit by any stretch of imagination. Both Randy and I will have little garage gyms at our homes, a literal and figurative return to an even more classic CrossFit (al la CFJ #10) than our gym. The White family is eternally grateful to CrossFit, CrossFit Kids, the Martin Family and the CrossFit community both in greater Cleveland and abroad for the love and kindness extended to us over the years. Randy, Dan, Beth and I are especially thankful for the support and friendship extended to us by Coach and the Glassman family over not only the 5 year life of Comet CrossFit and CrossFit Bingo, but also the entirety of the CrossFit experience that began with that fateful November day in 2005 when I picked up a Men’s Journal and read about this crazy new fitness thing out of Santa Cruz created by Coach.

Everything changes, and sometimes change means loss. I am so very, very proud of my boys and what they created and accomplished. I loved being with them, and my darling Beth, in their gym, and I will miss seeing my little guy, no longer little, almost every day for 5 years. Doing CrossFit in a CrossFit gym is a very special thing, all the more special when you have a hand in running that gym. We will all, each of us, miss the experience of helping our fellow CrossFitters become better. Beth and I are so very proud of what our boys did and how they did it. We are excited to see what they will do on these new journeys, journeys made possible because they owned a CrossFit gym.

I will miss our CrossFit gym, my CrossFit gym, immensely, but I continue to be comforted by the fact that I will see you all on CrossFit.com next week…


Mourn Like You Meant It

There’s been lots of loss around the White house of late. Lost parents, parents soon to be lost, lost innocence, lost friends, lost trust. Tons of loss. Some of those losses are inevitable of course, but others are sadly losses born of the choices made by others. Whatever. We–you and I and our loved ones–do not get to make choices for those who come in and out of our lives. While that knowledge provides little salve for the sting of loss it at least allows us to make a clean break, to leave behind a loss after a proper amount of legitimate, honest mourning.

A problem arises when mourning is tinged with regret. This is made all the more problematic when the regret is not honest regret, when it is disingenuous, the result of a conscious decision made without any consideration of anyone other than oneself. You know how this goes. “I wish I’d visited Papa more after he got sick.” “My best job was the first one I ever had; I should have gone back and asked if I could start again.” “Man, I can’t believe ABC is closing. No place was ever as good that.” “I wonder if it would be different if I’d gone and had that beer with XYZ.”

Some regret is real. I get that. You’ve got a crappy job and you need it, and you just can’t get on a plane to see your Dad/Mom/sibling. Deep down you think you were wronged in some way at some time by somebody, that your boss/family member/friend could have been better to/for you and you had no choice but to leave the job/business/friendship. Heck, there are some families where so much toxicity is directed toward you that the only way you can remain healthy is to separate from the family. I get that, but let’s face it, stuff like that is not the norm. In most cases everyone could have tried harder, done better. Including you.

You, and I, can legitimately regret that, not trying harder.

What’s the lesson here? Well, as I said some losses are unavoidable. Death comes for us all. Miss that chance and it’s gone forever. Suck it up and spend the time BEFORE it’s time to mourn. The person who departs gets no satisfaction from your regret, they simply left saddened by your absence.

All the rest? Well, your choices have consequences for everyone involved. Bad or sad things are at least partly on you, and protestations of regret (Oh I wish I’d; Oh I should have) make it infinitely worse. Suck it up and own your decision. Suck it up and own the consequences. A business that depended on you folded because you left? A friendship ended because you gave up? A family less close because you were all “Cat’s in the cradle” all the time? You chose one of your ‘wants’ over some meaningful someone’s ‘need’? Saying you miss this or that about any or all of these only makes it worse. You chose to miss it.

Listen, I’ve done all of the above and properly suffered because of it. Some things are too valuable to take a chance on needing to mourn them. It’s much less painful, and much more believable, when you’ve made every effort possible to prevent a loss. Then others will believe you when you say “I miss…”

More importantly, you’ll believe it yourself.


The Discipline/Habit Continuum

Have you had those days when you trudge into the gym, the Box, with little to no desire to be there? Beaten down and on the verge of defeat, you simply show up, punch in, go through the motions, punch out. Had some of those? Yah…me, too. It happens elsewhere in your life, too, in other places and at other times when you don’t really ‘have to’ be there, doesn’t it?

Well then, why did you show up?

There’s a continuum, I think, along a line that includes discipline, motivation, and habit. It might be a circle or a feedback loop–I’m not sure yet. The end result is something like consistency. Was it some sort of discipline that prompted you to go to the gym and do that workout when you didn’t really have any too much desire to be there? Some sort of force of will, a conscious imposition of rational to overpower emotion? Or were you simply motivated by some end-goal long before chosen, a milepost toward which you travel no matter what because the destination is so compelling? Subtle, I know, and I confess that the subtle difference between discipline and motivation may escape my vocabulary at this stage.

What I DO understand, though, is the concept of habit, and habit formation, and the consistency that arises from positive habits. You know, just like the Crossfit prescription of Mechanics before Consistency before Intensity. Whether it’s the PULL of motivation to arrive at some wonderful destination, or the PUSH of discipline driving you there, it is the creation of habit, of consistency, that ultimately gets the job done.

Success is about building those habits, the ones that produce good outcomes. You went to the gym that day because going to the Box at that time is the habit you’ve developed; punching that clock on that day provides the consistency that will bring a giant forward leap on the next day when you show up with a spring in your step and fire in your belly. Any kind of habit that consistently moves you forward along a road to success is a habit worth creating. For example, I’m in the habit of assuming that every day in the office is gonna be a good day, unless it’s a great day, and I’ve noticed that this kind of habit is contagious.

Whether pushed by discipline or pulled by motivation, give yourself permission to go about creating habits that move you.


The Lonely Athlete

My CrossFit INTERVIEW (you can find it on CrossFit.com) starts off like this: “I was bored and lonely in the gym.” 6 years ago I discovered CrossFit and now I am no longer bored. The CrossFit mantra, constantly varied, has seen to that. But the lonely part? That’s a little more complicated.

CrossFit has a couple other mantras that apply. We seek a type of “broad, inclusive fitness” that we define as “Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains.” To achieve this the CrossFit programming utilizes “full-body functional movements performed at relatively high intensity”, and the order in which we engage the program is “form followed by consistency, and then intensity.” Here’s the complicated part: in order to achieve “consistency” I work out in a commercial gym that is exactly 2 miles from my office and 2 miles from my home. Smack dab in the center, it’s on my way to everywhere. It’s not a CrossFit gym, so I work out alone.

I’m still lonely.

For the longest time the online CrossFit community was where I found my gym “mates”. I’d log on, post my results, and check in on everyone else. I know…I know…it’s not the same as being there with everyone, but it was close enough in the beginning, and it was enough when the early gains of the programming came so quickly and reliably. Converging trends have combined to render the cyber-gym the pale substitute it probaby always was: 6 years in the gains come more slowly and at a much greater “price” without the support of collaborators, and the denizens of the online community have emigrated to real, live CrossFit gyms.

I’m alone, again, in the gym.

What makes a successful CrossFit Affiliate gym has little to do with the stuff in the gym. It has little to do with the address, the structure, or the decor. What makes an Affiliate successful is the manner in which it combats the loneliness that exists in most commercial gyms.

Think about it. What is it like where you are working out if you, like me, are working out in a commercial gym? You’re doing CrossFit, which almost certainly means that you are doing it alone. How many other solo exercisers are faithfully there? Not many, huh? It kinda explains the whole “personal trainer” thing to me, the “training” that goes on in the commercial gym. Most “personal trainers” are simply keeping the customer company, at least the ones I observe. They combat the loneliness.

The successful athletes I see in non-CrossFit gyms work out with one or several partners. This collaboration cuts the essential loneliness in half, at least. There’s a kind of sterile safety that loneliness confers, in the gym and elsewhere. It explains, I think, the endless plateau occupied by most exercisers.

Not in a CrossFit gym, though. No, Sir. Not even in a commercial gym where two or more CrossFitters work together. The essential collaboration of spirit inherent in the CrossFit group instills a tiny dollop of courage, of fortitude, a dash of valor to the spirit that allows one to forge ahead and beyond. It’s there, beyond the boundaries of loneliness, that we succeed. It’s there, lifted by the collective spirit of the group sharing our particular type of discomfort, that we break through.

The magic of CrossFit is in the movements. The genius of CrossFit is in the programming. The soul of CrossFit is wherever two CrossFitters collaborate to break free of the lonely athlete’s safety zone.