Leonard and his son, Adam at the Remember the Fallen event back in March.

I turned 40 today, and it really does not sting as much as it should because I can honestly say I am healthier at 40 than I was at 30 thanks to CrossFit. Once upon a time I used to run and mountain bike all the time and was in decent shape. When I first started teaching 17 years ago, the students used to call me “Mr. Fox” as in Michael J. Fox. But as time went on and I became less and less active, ate worse and got fatter, kids began to say I looked like Drew Carey or George Costanza. I would occasionally go for a jog or a hike. I even joined a few gyms, but I just got bigger and less healthy. When Globo gym opened up in town I joined. I would time my 30 minutes on the treadmill to coincide with ‘Judge Judy” or the ‘O’Reilly Factor’, I would look at a bunch of equipment I had no idea how to use, I talked to nobody, would get intimidated by the guys with no neck, and I would stare at all the silicon at the pool. Despite Globo gym being 24-7 with showers and a locker room after a few months, I was going once a month: maybe.

Leonarda month before he started CrossFit

Then, one August day I was reading the City of Goodyear magazine and saw the ad for the free Saturday class at Fury. I remembered Peter from Infinity Fitness Center and decided to give CrossFit a try. I think that first WOD had a couple of 200m runs and some air squats. I remember Leah’s encouragement, I remember total strangers urging me on, and I remember feeling very sore by the time I got home. I came back a couple days later and found myself jumping on and off a big tire with Hugh Hill and Ken Roberts. Two days later I was doing a 400m lunge. Fortunately about 30 minutes later at about the 250m mark, Leah told me I had gone far enough. At work, the next day, I was trying to walk up the stairs when my colleague asked me “Am I ok?” I remember telling him I was sore from doing this “crazy new workout called Crossfit.” For almost the next year my co-workers and students had no idea what I was talking about. Very different from now, as a number of my fellow teachers and some students have started crossfitting themselves.

I was hooked (addicted??) almost immediately. For almost the last two years, I have hardly missed a WOD and can honestly only remember 1 time that I did not come to gym for a reason other than illness, or life getting in the way. For that first year it was mornings at 5AM with Kelly and Marcus, Gold Bond and Axe showers at work, and breakfast from a little black container. I remember telling Leah that first week, when a WOD had pull ups, that I could do “none.” I remember hoping to run 400’s in less than 3 minutes. I remember being so bad with the bar that those first few prep classes I was only allowed to use the PVC pipe.

Now it’s almost two years later, I am down over 30 pounds and I am a Crossfitter. I am at the gym at least 5 times a week, and I know most the people by first name. Many of the people I started with are still there including: Hugh and Ken. Sometimes I wonder if I am the same person who spent over a year at Globo gym and spoke to NOBODY. I handle way more weight than I used to. I can get several double-unders in a row now. I can jump on and off a 30 inch box. I have taken 12 minutes off my 5k time and have run a mile in under 7 minutes for the first time since middle school. I even recently had some blood work done where the doctor said my results are typical of people who are “athletic.” Me-athletic? I have never been considered athletic!

Leonard has committed to everything we offer, including 7:30 track practices on Saturdays.

However despite tremendous improvements, very often I finish last or close to last on many WODs or still can’t RX the weight. Marcus and Will are always telling me to be more “explosive,” and very often I still am not. On the surface that might be disappointing, but when I check Beyond the Whiteboard almost every time I see how much faster I am getting, how many more reps I’m completing, or how much more weight I’m lifting since the last time. This reminds me every time that it is not where I finish or how much more weight than me someone lifted, but rather where I am compared to last time. Or even more significant, where I am compared to almost two years ago when I could barely touch my toes or had no idea how to move a barbell. Naturally, we don’t like finishing last, but instead of focusing on that, we should focus on how much better we are from the last time.  On a daily basis, I know I am doing things i never dreamed i could do a year ago, and that trumps where I finish any day of the week.

In nearly two years at CrossFit Fury, I have met many great friends, got stronger, faster, and lost weight. But most importantly, I am healthier for my son and not a heart attack waiting to happen. Thank you, Fury.