I was sent an email recently from Wodify congratulating me on my six month anniversary as a part of the SC CrossFit 165 community. Wow, how much has changed in such a short time.   

I began my CrossFit career like many an interested exercise junkie. The usual story, bored with my routine, wanted something different and mainly I wanted to be a better all around athlete. Then one October evening I found myself watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN, where I saw Rich Froning do the clean ladder from the 2012 games. “Wait, this guy is built like an Olympian, can run a 5k in 20 min and can move weight like it’s nothing?” That was it, I was hooked.

But without the funds to go to a local affiliate, I ventured out to learn it on my own and became a backyard warrior. How hard could it be? I’ve been an athlete in some aspect all my life, so I can do this…right? So with YouTube videos by my side my constant trial and error journey began. I had to break myself down and reset what I thought I knew. I spent hours flailing on a rig trying to learn kipping pull ups and muscle ups. I whipped myself countless times stringing together double unders and had so many embarrassing attempts at snatches where 95lbs might as well have been 400lbs. In the end, I was eventually getting the movements but was I actually learning proper technique? I couldn’t tell.

Without a coach to watch and guide me I tried everything Rx’ed, because why not? If a workout took me 45 minutes I still got through it and that’s the goal of CrossFit, right? Wrong. The definition of Crossfit, as told to me a dozen times at the level 1 seminar, is “constantly varied functional movements done with high intensity over broad time and module domains.” So if a workout is meant to be done within a certain time frame, it’s for a reason. If an athlete can finish in less than eight minutes and it took me thirty, I did not get the same benefits from the workout. Never the less, I allowed pride and ego to get the best of me and thankfully I was never seriously hurt.

Even with all of that though I found myself improving, but I was missing something. I trusted my movements, I went to my level 1 and compared myself to the other athletes and knew what I was doing. But it was there, during our class time workout, that I realized I needed to be in a CrossFit gym. The workout was simple yet brutal, 3 rounds of 15 thrusters at 95lbs and 12 burpees. It was the first time for me really being in a large group class and the energy rush I felt was incredible. It was the hardest I had ever pushed in a workout. A trainer was right on me and didn’t allow me to take more than 5 seconds off between resting reps. I ended up finishing that metcon with the fastest time of the entire group, and found myself thinking “Now this is CrossFit.”

I had always thought it was silly, the so called “CrossFit community”. I had been to another gym on a groupon and never got that feeling. I’d go in, do my workouts, write my numbers down and leave.

2014 was the first time I had done the Open, and there I was in my driveway in February with uneven ground and freezing cold weather. My push wasn’t there; I was moving by myself and had no one to compete against other than my brother’s time or the times of the top athletes in the world.

2015 was a totally different animal. Open workout 15.1 and 15.1a was the first time I walked into SC CrossFit 165 and met Charlie. He had no idea who I was or what was my athletic ability but he knew how to push me to get the best that I had. “Move faster,” “Get back on the bar,” “Make heavier jumps; don’t waste your time with lighter weight.”These were literally the first words said to me by him after general “Hey, how’s it going” formalities. I lifted 20lbs more than I ever had before in my clean and almost put 285lbs over my head in the jerk. It was crazy the vibes of everyone there.

So, I started coming back each week for the open and haven’t left. Since then my numbers have increased dramatically. The year and a half I floundered on my own built the foundation of my movements, but the six months at 165 have molded me into the athlete I wanted to become and still strive for. I’ve PR’d every lift. I’ve become faster, stronger, smarter and more efficient in all movements and workouts.

All of this is from having a program and sticking to it. When I was by myself my programming was sporadic. I’d find workouts online from gyms all around the country and think “that looks good and fits into the week, let’s do that!” But, because of my limitation in equipment I could never follow a full week of any one gym and the intensity of the workout was never fully reached. I tried programming things I wasn’t good at and used information I had found on how to make an efficient exercise regiment, but I had no knowledge and was going in blind.

“What’s the biggest difference between working out at home and coming to a gym? If you have all the stuff, why not just stay there and do it?” I can sum that up in three words; coach, community and programming. Without a program, you’re workouts have no goal. Without a coach, your movements run the risk of being more detrimental to you than a benefit. And without your community, there’s no workout accountability. No one to push you through where you know it hurts but should get it done. I was able to teach myself CrossFit, but I didn’t learn what CrossFit was until I stepped foot into 165.