Coaching Kevin Cunningham at the CrossFit Games

Coaching Kevin Cunningham at the CrossFit Games

Kevin and I met through Crossfit in 2015, the two old guys learning the movements and drawn together because everyone else was so much younger.  The “Silverbacks” they called us; the old gorillas laughing and recovering in the corner after the class.  We were only in our mid-50’s at the time.  Nevertheless, we would compete in the warm up, learn the weightlifting techniques together, and try and kill each other on rows, on running, or anything cardio; even burpees!  Kevin has a wealth of experience in endurance from Triathlon and Ironman training, as well as being a serious rugby player.  I’m just dumb enough to try anything and always love a challenge or a race. Kevin qualified this year for his first Crossfit Games, qualifying 10th of 2000+ athletes world wide in the 65+ age group.  With our shared Crossfit experience as athletes, as well as doing the Level 1 Coaching together last year, I had the privilege of being invited to help coach Kevin through his first “Games”(World Championships of Crossfit!).  We faced 8 surprise workouts over 3 days; Kevin was one of two rookies in an impressive field of experience and skill.  It smacked us in the face on Day 2. 

Day 2 was always going to be a challenge; while Kevin had mentally planned for the stress and frustration, trying and failing at Single Leg Squats for at least 8 minutes in the Coliseum; being surrounded by the broadcast voices, spectators, and his fellow athletes, was a low point.  And there were more challenges to come.  Otherwise it was a manageable Test with Box Jumps, GHD sit-ups, Toes to Bar and a Handstand Walk.  Nothing was going to get around those two sets of single leg squats.  In class we comfortably benefit from the coach’s substitutes for the movements we can’t do.  It is another thing to stare at something impossible and fail and fail and fail.  The Games rules say that athletes must continue to try or risk elimination from the competition.  I was even worried he would hurt himself in the trying.  If you read his bio you know he thrives in the mental darkness of extreme challenges.  How would he react and bounce back?

The two of us were wide eyed newbies to the Games with all the excitement and nervous energy of two kids in a vast playground.  Neither of us knew what to expect and we drew on fitness friends, acquaintances who had gone before, and our experience facing the stress of physical exertion.  Ultimately they are just WODS on a bigger stage with really strong athletes around you.  As a coach, I made sure that Kevin had a good warm up; he already knew how, but it was helpful for him not to have to think of everything.  We strategized workouts, mentally going through pace and transition timing.  I carried the gear bag, made sure he cooled down post workout, and that he refuelled.  To be clear, he was the center of attention and had the real work to do. The facilities were amazing. The gear to warm up with, the stretching and taping support, and the organization were first rate.  As the pro’s started to arrive and we were warming up amongst them it was humbling and inspiring.  Everyone was just trying to do their best.  

When you read books like Michael Easter’s “Comfort Crisis”, listen to podcasts such as Dr Peter Attia’s “Drive” or Micheal Gervais’ “Finding Mastery” you become familiar with the science behind what you feel in class.  Motivation, physical success, health, there is a wealth of information.  But how does that help me be better?  It is all learning ultimately but physical learning feels very different from book learning.  

The second workout of Day 2 looked better but the rope climbs would be the biggest challenge.  We did a good job of warming up the Deadlifts.  At 275 lbs the 10 deadlifts were going to be spicy; but, adrenalin and the helpful cues from Kevin’s Olympic lifting coach would get him through that piece.  The sled pull, two sets of a 42 foot pull with a 190 lb sled on the turf, in the sun, would be a new challenge as he wasn’t allowed to move his feet or wrench backwards onto the ground.  All the athletes were in the same boat and it turned out that Kevin’s upper body strength made it smoother than expected.  It was just those darn Rope climbs.  Rope climbs are about core strength, saving your grip, and most importantly getting a good foot squeeze so you can use your legs more than your arms.  Kevin’s enthusiasm and strength allowed him to use his upper body for the first three climbs.  It came back to bite him on the second round with accumulation of grip killing sled pull and deadlifts.  He just couldn’t get his feet right and would get three quarters or half way up the 17 foot climb and have to slide back down.  It felt like standing in mud as the crash pad absorbed any attempt to jump.  The last 3 minutes of the allotted time were a revisit of the frustration of the single leg squats; just trying to get that last climb.  Frustrated silence accompanied us as we walked back to the Athlete’s warm up area.  A soothing ice bath, yes he did full immersion, brought back some life.  The knowledge that we would finish the day with a 5 km run was a lift.  He was back on familiar ground.  It was just a run and he loves to run.  His results from the Helen workout on Day 1 showed that a simple strategy of keeping in touch with the leaders would play to his strengths.  

Sean and Michelle did a Podcast (Redleaf Fitness Podcast) on #KeepGoing as a phrase that came out of member tenacity through COVID as well as a mantra they emphasized for a personal approach to challenges; mental and physical.  You will recognize in your experience that physical stress creates a loop back to mental stress; something that Sean and Michelle get at in the Podcast (I think #34, but they are all good).  In the last year I’ve tried to evolve my self-talk away from the Eeyore approach of super negative to something more positive.  It hasn’t been easy, and historically it has worked well for me to anticipate the fail points and dark points and acknowledge that they will be there.  On a ski hill, on a bike ride, in a workout; I’m always looking out for the danger zone or the breakpoint so I’m not overwhelmed.  What it doesn’t do is set me up to come out strong on the other side.  I can, sometimes, sit in that darkness and survive.  But that means just surviving.  When Sean and Karen power up a hill on their bikes, I roll back to a grind speed and just ride it out to the top.  What I want and need is the positive self-talk that knows it hurts but reminds me that it is time to push hard to keep up. It will only be a few minutes.  Look past the fear of failure to the deeper effort available in all of us.  Kevin is a master of this, in the phrases he uses, and a wealth of experience in dark moments of physical stress.  It isn’t naive self-praise, it is encouragement and tapping into strengths we know we have when called on in crisis.  It does take practice and I have to remind myself that the class workouts are a great laboratory for testing phrases, remembering how and when those moments come, and visualizing pushing a bit harder until I am through.

Day 2 ended with the 5km run at 7:30pm.  The idea was to stay in touch with the David Hippensteel, the current leader in the competition.  He was probably the best runner and if Kevin could hold on to him he would place well.  It turned out that David had pulled a hamstring on the deadlifts and could barely run.  The two lean and lanky guys, one from the altitudes of Colorado, turned out to be good runners.  Kevin looked comfortable on each lap; and if he had started his kick a bit sooner, he could have chased down Mark Peters for second place.  Nevertheless, finishing Day 2 on a high note reinforced the positive self-talk and brought back the glint in Kevin’s eye.  We bubbled with enthusiasm strategizing for Day 3. 

In hindsight Day 1 was a familiar and yet distant experience from the other two days.  You might say a gentle introduction as the athletes started with the traditional Olympic movements of Snatch then Clean and Jerk.  This was followed by a Farmer Carry, Box over burpees, more Farmer Carry, Wall Balls, and then reverse the Farmer Carry and Burpees back to the start/finish line.  The Wall Balls had the nuance of being on turf, which disrupted foot stability a bit.  If your feet went forward in the turf as you caught the ball and squated, you risked the bellow of a “NO REP” from the judge.  Kevin was not happy to have done more Wall Balls than anyone else; but he was fast on the burpees and the farmer carry.  With that out of the way he was looking forward to Helen; because, as you know, it has running!  Three rounds of 400m run, 21 Kettlebell swings, and 12 pull ups.  A classic Crossfit workout that suits Kevin’s cardio and upper body strength.  The athletes ran out of the park, did a circle and came back to their lanes for the Kettlebell and Pull up.  It was fun to watch Kevin trot back to his lane with a calm focus and attack the Kettlebell swings with pace.  The plan was unbroken swings and to do the pull ups in 2 sets (7 then 5).  He held to that for the whole workout and managed to increase his run pace each round.  A third place finish in Helen threw down that Kevin could move.  

At this point the routines are settling.  We arrive an hour before the corral time.  Kevin stretches and gets some taping done, and we work towards the movements or weight we will need for the next workout.  The camaraderie amongst the athletes builds quickly with the common challenges.  They compare notes, training schedules, and their paths to the Games; but I didn’t hear of any specific advice or strategies for the coming workout.  The competitive spirit is alive.  Lots of talk about David Hippensteel’s injured hamstring.  It was evident in the run.  He was tied for 1st place after Day 2, but the first workout of Day 3 is going to be stressful for him. Nevertheless, he was very helpful with tips as Kevin tried to learn muscle ups right before the last workout.  Then again, Kevin wasn’t a podium threat.  There was a very different feel with the coaches.  Friendly but a bit more territorial, especially as the standings tightened up.  There was so much knowledge, it was fascinating to just listen and ask questions; about their Affliate’s business style, how their athlete trained, and their experience with previous Games.  There was a comfortable balance between pure coaches and friends or partners.  One coach was a day late as their camper suffered a broken axle on the drive from Colorado.  My twelve hour drive seemed like an urban commute in comparison.  The ritual was that the athletes were called to a corral area to have their timing chips put on.  They were then escorted to the secondary warm up area to wait for 20-30 minutes until their heat times.  The athletes were escorted on the 10 minute walk with the coaches escorted just behind.  It felt very gladiatorial and everyone chatted nervously.  Coaches were then escorted to our spot in the event space about 10 minutes before the heat time.  It was very regimented but we had certain freedom to move around the event spaces to get close to our athletes.  I lost my voice loudly encouraging Kevin during the Helen workout.  When Kevin enquired about my voice and I explained my enthusiasm, he asked me what I said?  I stopped screaming!

Kevin was both wound up and relaxed going into the first Day 3 workout.  Another cardio workout with a slight twist of double under skips.  They can be petulant and show up sometimes and hide behind you other times; slapping thighs and ankles as the height and timing of jumping fights for dominance with the wrist whip. Smooth coordination is key.  The workout had two 50 calorie movements, skiErg and Echo bike, followed by 75 double unders.  Then more skiErg and bike, 50 calories each, and one more set of 75 double unders.  If you have done double unders you know they are doubly (pun!) hard if your heart rate is elevated.  Hence the challenge of the 100 calorie effort.  What is also exciting about the Games is how they build in the drama of a race.  Yes you are racing each other and the clock but you don’t just sit there.  Each movement has the athlete progress down the floor.  Do the first skiErg, then advance the echo bike. After the echo bike, advance in your lane to your skipping spot and complete the skips.  The strategy was to not be too gassed going into the first double unders.  Our experience struggling with certain movements meant a bit of caution to make sure Kevin got through the first set of skips.  He went out pretty hard but cardio is his thing and he felt very comfortable.  Three of the athlete’s emerged quickly to their double unders including the now current leader Daniel Miller.  Kevin and Daniel probably started the second set of ski/bike at similar times but Kevin put the hammer down as planned.  Whatever was going to happen on the second set of skips, Kevin was going to push the pace as hard as he could to try and give himself a cushion; and hopefully stress the other competitors to push themselves harder than they wanted.  Kevin emerged first from the skiErg onto the Concpet2 bike ( a regular stationary bike).  He pushed even harder.  You could see as more of the men got to the bike that Kevin was just pushing harder.  This gave him at least a 30 second advantage into the final double unders.  It was incredible to hear his name from the announcers calling the event.  They were a bit taken aback by the size of his lead.  In every event there is the finish line drama.  Daniel Miller got off his bike and threw down 75 unbroken double under skips and managed to beat Kevin by a mere 5 seconds.  Daniel would win the overall competition.  Only 4 of 9 athletes managed to finish the workout before the time cap.  It was an incredible effort to witness.  Going back to my comments on positive self-talk, look what you can do with confidence and optimism.  Even though the double unders were a bit of a challenge, the determination on Kevin’s face was almost a smile. 

The final workout of the event was a surprise with a sprint of bar muscle ups and dumbbell snatches.  Like the single leg squats, bar muscle ups are not yet in Kevin’s tool box.  The relief of being the last event and the inevitability of the outcome took away some of the stress.  I did feel helpless; I had no advice or tips for Kevin.  There was advice all around us and Kevin’s improved attempts landed a ripped hand.  Quickly taped, he was ready for the arena.  I shouldn’t discount it.  Kevin worked very hard for the full six minutes, and managed his first bar muscle up!  He also ripped the heck out of his other hand.  He was done!  His rookie games were complete and he finished ahead of his initial ranking. He didn’t articulate it but you could see the sense of relief.  We didn’t linger.  He grabbed his signage and we headed to dinner.  For the first time, in a very long time, Kevin didn’t have to anticipate the next workout, the next test, the next stress.  This had been an all out effort since October and really years in the making.  

What did we learn?  It is easy to reflect on the tried and true phrases that we read about to help us build resilience, strength, and capacity.  It is about having a goal, being persistence, being consistent, and supporting your foundations.  Even if we aren’t trying to go to the games, every day we want good rest, good fuel, and a good state of mind.  With those foundations our capacity to meet challenges grows.  The strength of Kevin’s achievement is as much about proving that you can improve as it is about his specific accomplishments.  The courage is in having even a small ambition and understanding that you can make it happen.  It is impossible to convey the breadth of appreciation and wonder from being an up close witness.

Why I love riding in the Spring

Why I love riding in the Spring

We excitedly shed coats and gloves as spring advances.  Yet fields are still muddy with spring rains, and the farmers are nervously idling equipment, ready to catch the first waves of warmth to jumpstart the growing season.  We will ride by these fields each week now, watching the progression of tilling, seeding, and the explosion of ordered shoots.  Adolescent whiskers of earthly growth in corn, soybeans, and mustard.

Bikes are unloaded in the post-dawn shades of orange and yellow, shadows being washed out with waves of light.  We run through mental checklists.  Such a simple machine once you get going, but you hate to forget snacks, water, the computer, and all the little bits you might need.  More than once, I’ve ridden away to then remember the car is unlocked.  A short ride of shame, then off we go.

I am always a bit tense early in a ride. How do my legs feel? Did I fuel properly, get enough rest, and of course, will I be able to keep up?  We settle into a “modest” warm-up pace, and you start to pay attention to the details around you that are missed from the comfort inside a vehicle.  Grit on the road, dampness, bumps and imperfections of the shoulder.  And then it hits you; the smell of earth.  Fecund, pungent, dirty brown/yellow soil.  The smell creeps high into your nostrils; the fragrance penetrates your brain.  Damp Earth waiting to share its nourishment with the crops to come.  Not much to look at just yet, even if the field has been seeded.  But gone is that inert smell of cold; the ground has awakened as we spin by.  You feel alive; it’s an uplifting transition to the work ahead.  All sensations are assaulted early before your rhythm settles you down.  Smells, sights, and sounds surround you as your mind narrows from the stimulus around you to what your body is doing.  How do my feet feel on the pedals? Where is the tilt in my back? How do my hands feel on the grips?  We become intimately aware of all the points of contact with the bike and how that will translate into power moving forward.  We do it so much we barely notice the transition from excited anticipation to the efficient spin of pedals and hum of tires on the road.  

We are immersed in the world around us.  The immensity of the sky and the proportions of the surrounding landscape accentuate our smallness and fragility.  A ride at pace lets you feel the smell and texture of the air you are passing through.  In spring, the low dark parts of the road put up a wall of frigid air that slaps you as you ride through, causing a temporary shiver.  You ride on through a climb to a higher exposed road, the heat from the sun offering a quick blanket of warmth.  You reach for water as your inner heat from the effort challenges your choice of layers.  We are less willing early in the year to begin cold, not yet the summer heat, to demand minimal layers, desperate to shed the heat we hold onto in May’s crisp mornings.

Our causal attitude is shredded on the first hill that bumps heart rates; the first challenge to pace, downshifting to meet the climb and hold as much speed as possible.  There will be many more climbs on this ride. This is the first taste of adversity and spreads the group out.  We regroup quickly, still warming up, still sorting out the group pace.  Before our ambition becomes the discipline of effort, we smile and giggle, the world is wonderful, and the land around us shares its intimate texture of detail hidden by the comfort of a car.  We see we smell, and we hear each meter.  We are so lucky to feel alive in this way.  The effort is the reward, and our surroundings cheer us on.

Gravenhurst: My first ever Triathlon.

Gravenhurst: My first ever Triathlon.


I tossed and turned all night in anticipation of the day.  When I woke up I was foggy and my brain felt slow.  Coffee didn’t improve clarity, it made things feel worse, and my heart raced with nerves.  I got on the road at 4:30 am with a feeling of deep dread. I was going to be late or worse, get to the race and find out somehow had forgotten my bike or some critical piece that would devastate the day.  When driving on the highway I missed my exit to take me north and had to double back, losing some time which ratcheted up my already white-knuckle race day stress. I finally got off the highway to turn back around only to find the ramp was closed for “line painting”.  WTF I thought.  So I took city streets until I guessed at a possible ramp back onto the highway.  It worked.  But I lost about 40 minutes of drive time and I meant I had to drive fast to make it to registration and to set up my transition spot.  But…I made it with time to spare.  I worried and got really worked up for nothing.   

1.5K Swim (1.5K Swim (38:28 | 2:33/100m)

I volunteered ahead of time to be in the “expected to finish last” wave.  We were the red caps.  And this group was jolly, cheering, and chanting and they made me feel calm and not take myself too seriously.  I was so grateful for that.  When the steamship whistle blew they loaded us onto the top deck of the Winonah II and we puttered to the “drop zone”.  Nervously we sat baking in the sun watching wave after wave of athletes jump in Lake Muskoka and wade in the water until “3-2-1 GO”.  I was sweating and overheating when the redcaps were called up, we were next. The race official on the boat would yell “one athlete LEFT, one athlete RIGHT, hold onto your goggles, jump and get out of the way!”.  My heart rate was soaring, it felt like I was a paratrooper on a mission or something, I really didn’t expect that feeling.  Reminding myself to breathe I stepped up to the ledge and lept off. I plunged into the 19°C water. It was so refreshing that it drove my confidence up.  Even though later on the swim I would have two, foot cramps.  I felt ready and prepared.  It was “go time”.   Like the waves before us, our time came and off I went.  I felt slow, steady and positive in my mind.  Everything my coach Andrew Flynn had taught me had bubbled up to the top of my mind and I focused on my training.  After making the first turn around the “green buoy” I felt a surge of focus.  I didn’t pick up my speed but did feel my body relax, and I allowed a rhythm to take over, the beat of my heart, the counting of my strokes and the dependability of sweet oxygen were all keeping me happy.  I was so present, but also “gone”.  My favourite place to be, I feel lucky to be in the “here & gone” state, but sometimes I don’t know I’m there till it passes.  I would cycle through calming thoughts of my family, and return back to my training cues from Andrew, all the while learning lessons on “sighting” as a few times I was angling way off course in my beloved little flow state.  I passed a few swimmers from waves that started ahead of me and let that have no effect.  I wasn’t about to start thinking all high of myself in the first 30 minutes of a 3-hour event.  I was making many rookie mistakes, I didn’t want another one.  Next thing I knew I was climbing up the ladder and trotting to my bike, slowly unzipping my wetsuit and trying to right my equilibrium from the horizontal of swimming to the vertical of walking.  I got to my bike to find one of the guys I was racing with was 10 minutes ahead of me on the swim.  He was a very welcomed sight because he waited for me so we could do the bike together.  He didn’t have to do that but I was so grateful he did.  Off we went, passed the cheers of onlookers, some we knew, most we didn’t.  I loved every one of them and their cheers really meant something to me.  

40K Bike (1:15 mins | 32 KM/Hr)

I settled into a good pace of 28km/hour on the bike and let my legs spin.  I don’t know if it was adrenaline or I was already warmed up but I felt strong with tons of depth.  Coach Andrew told me not to eat too early on the bike so I waited until about 5K in and started to slowly drink three bottles of my race mix which consisted of EAAs, Carbs, and Electrolytes.  Each refreshing gulp just hit the blood like rocket fuel.  Considering how much of lake Muskoka I drank on the swim with wakes to the face, I was quite thirsty.  My race partner and I rounded the halfway point and picked up our pace.  Our legs were burning from the hills but the feeling of being “halfway” is incredibly motivating.  We passed about 50 riders and again, I reminded myself, not to let that mean anything at all.  Who am I kidding? This is my first triathlon, perhaps it means I’ve lit too many matches on the bike. (Lighting matches is a term in endurance sports that means you only have so many matches to light, when they’re gone, they’re gone- use them wisely.)  When we returned to the transition area to run I was surprised at how ready I was for the run.   Scared, my heart rate was soaring, it was getting later in the day so it was hot but I wanted to hurt more.  I was hungry for it.  I stuffed two gels into my jersey not knowing if I’ll need them but better to be safe than sorry.  I drank too much water which I paid for later. 

Run (52:24 | 5:14km)

“LFG” I thought as we took off.  About 400m into the run I noticed I was holding a 4:40km pace, way too fast, way too fast, so I settled it back to a 5:45km pace, which felt like walking compared to our speeds on the bike.  The first KM felt like a marathon.  My legs were bricks and my hips didn’t like this at all but slowly, very slowly I settled into a pocket where things felt “okay”.  First came the bees, then the horse flies, then hills.  Then all three of those elements stayed for nearly all 10KM.  I drank so much water before the run that my stomach was bloated and hurting.  What I was thinking, consuming all that water?  That was a thought I kept trying to forget.  Beating myself up for something over and over was not helping so I just ignored it, other things hurt more so I focused on those.  A few water stations popped up here and there which I ran through, grabbed the half-filled cups of water and immediately poured them over my head.  Runners were passing me which I made sure to block out of my mind.  I’m easily baited into competing in that scenario of “the chase”.  Ignore them, it’s you vs you today.  You’ll have your day sometime I thought.  At the 6km mark, I threw another half-filled water cup over my head and pissed off a bee that was sitting on my back. I soon felt a sharp sting on my right shoulder blade. I was so caught off guard that I swung my left hand over my shoulder and killed it with the wrath of Thor’s Hammer.  I felt it crumble in my fingertips for a brief moment before it fell away.  You’ve got to be kidding me I thought.  I probably had the equivalent adrenaline dose of an epinephrine pen surging through my body already, so if I had a secret bee allergy, I wasn’t going to learn about it today.  It didn’t hurt then and it doesn’t hurt now as I write this.  Maybe it was just a fly bite- a bee sting makes for a better story.  I passed the 7km sign and thought “okay man you can hurt more, you’ve had harder training sessions than this, LFG”.  I passed a few runners and regained some ground, I was competing now, and absolutely crushed kilometre 7.  With my heart rate at 177 and my lungs wheezing a little I closed out this segment only to be at the foot of the 8km sign and a big fucking hill.  I thought okay man, you said it was “go time” so prove it. I leaned into this hill and as I crested over the top I blocked every single pain feedback loop I could and drove out the demons in my mind that encircled my ever-shrinking flame of positive self-talk.  Slowly and surely, I worked through the final distance faster and faster.  I was running on the thought of my family and relief I was almost out of this bee hive.  The black tarmac of the Muskoka back road was hot and reflected the sun.  I was overheating, but I passed more and more runners and locked in on two more people ahead of me and played a mental game of beating them and passing the finish line.  So I did.  I passed them and made it. 


I ran across the finish line hard into a crowd of cheering people and felt like a Triathlete.  I felt I earned something.  Not like an elite athletic achievement though.  It was more like I felt I earned self-respect …from my future self.  It was a quieting feeling.  I felt like I earned the right to KEEP GOING.

Why I compete in the CrossFit Open

Why I compete in the CrossFit Open

Let me start by saying that I am not competing in the Open because I have any hope of winning or doing particularly well by any external measure. I will certainly not place in the top 10 or even close to the top 100. I might adapt movements or skip them all together because I am still working through injuries.

But I am competing anyway. And I can’t wait!

The CrossFit Open is so much more than a three-week competition (although it’s definitely that as well). It is the entire process. It’s watching the announcement and trying to guess the workouts, followed by equal levels of excitement and anxiety because I know how hard it will feel. It is showing up with my community and doing it together.

The Open shows us we are so much stronger than we think, that we are capable of so much more.

I love the Open because it pushes me to challenge myself beyond my normal range. Doing the workout that everyone around the world is doing—even if I end up doing it at home, in my second bedroom, alone at 5am—brings a level of give-a-f*ck that I normally don’t tap into. Because I know that my score matters, really matters!

But it’s even bigger than that. I love watching seasoned athletes workout alongside those  tackling it for the first time, and then they cheer on the new athletes who are giving it their best shot.

It’s about seeing people who thought they couldn’t do it come out and try their hardest. Then they become cheerleaders for friends who also thought they might fail. We become more than we were when we began the workout. And we leave as better people because of it.

For me, the Open is much more than a weekly test of fitness. The Open is a chance to give to our community more than we take for ourselves, to cheer on our friends, and show up for each other when we need it the most.  I am proud to be part of a community that has not let this tough year dictate how they show up.

The Open shows us what we are capable of—that it’s okay to push outside our comfort zone, knowing that this is where growth happens, and that through everything that has happened we are a community striving for a better tomorrow.

Seizing the Day

The Open is a chance for something more, and that is why we do it. Because it is our opportunity to push our limits, to walk out of the gym (or living room) stronger than when we walked in. We know that we saw the challenge and faced it head on.

We show up, do something uncomfortable, and because of that we know that we can embrace the rest of our day with courage. How you show up to your workout, just like how you show up to your day, is your choice—and the Open is our chance to make the choice to push for something more.

This year has been anything but normal, and every day that you enter the ring you make a choice to be better. You are choosing to take control of the things you have control over, to let go of the things you don’t, and to leave it all on the table knowing that you gave it your best.

And that is why I do the Open. Because how I show up to this challenge is how I show up to it all. Ready to be uncomfortable, ready for the possibility that I will lose, ready to put everything   into something where the outcome is uncertain. Because at the end of the day I know I did my best. And for me, that will always be enough.

The Benefits of Being Imperfect

The Benefits of Being Imperfect

A Strategy for Long Term Success

The secret to seeing real and sustainable long-term changes in your body is this: strive to be consistently imperfect!

We, your coaches, are asking you to ditch the idea that you need to be perfect in order to see results. Hear us when we say that being consistently imperfect over time is infinitely better than being absolutely perfect for the next thirty days.

We are asking you to be consistent most of the time, for a long time. Be consistent in your habits and understand that changes in body composition doesn’t happen after a seven-day juice cleanse or a 30-day detox. The changes you want won’t happen by cutting out alcohol, caffeine, or carbs for a week. They happen slowly, over months and years from small but steady changes in certain habits.

Where the Magic Happens

Creating good habits could include having a drink a few times a month rather than a few each night. Or try eating healthy, real food six and a half out of seven days a week, and working out for 20-30 minutes most days. 

And you can’t beat prioritizing your sleep even when things are crazy, hectic and stressful, instead of staying up late to binge watch Netflix or cram in extra work. 

When we have established habits to fall back on, the ones we do day in and day out, you will really see changes. That’s where the magic is. 

So when you think of the abs you want, or the muscles you know are there but aren’t quite visible to the world yet, understand that it is time to forget the idea of being perfect, of being “all in.” Understand that what you do for seven, 15, or 30 days isn’t going to move the needle over the course of your life. 

It’s what you do day in and day out over the next few years that will set you up for the you that you are working so hard to see.


So when I say I want you to be consistently imperfect, think of it as a weight being lifted, as a welcomed reality check that you don’t need to be perfect every day. You just need to keep at it. Focus on making minor changes that you can hold on to for one, two, maybe even three years before you really see the difference.

Let go of the idea that results should come right away and find value and comfort in the process. Overnight results are fleeting, and the ones that take time are the ones we hold on to. Let’s adjust our timeline, refocus our intentions, and find joy in the journey.  

Forget about being perfect! Strive to be consistent—to be imperfectly moving in the right direction, and to find success along the way.

The Benefits of Being Imperfect

To Those Who Think They Can’t

It’s been a long and challenging eight months, hasn’t it? The pandemic has been unpredictable, frustrating, and discouraging. And on top of everything going on in your world, sometimes it’s been too much.

And then the gym opened! You were feeling ready to get back in until you realized that all of a sudden it’s been eight months since you:

* Consistently used a barbell or practiced your pull ups.

* Ditto for being motivated to eat well and prioritize your sleep.

And you have long since realized that additional stress has crept its way into your daily vibe and you no longer feel quite like yourself.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, it does for me too.

And here we find ourselves in a tough position. The thing that helped you manage your stress, motivated you to eat well, and prioritize yourself more—the elements that brought you closer to feeling your best—now feels like it is receding, or is just too far away. It’s like you are starting all over again.

But here’s a secret: all that work you did way back when has, believe it or not, made you very well equipped to handle these challenges.

You know what it feels like to walk into the gym for the first time, not knowing if you are ready.

You know exactly what it feels like to have the people around you seem so much stronger and fitter than you are. And you know what it feels like to look in the mirror and believe you are far away from the person you want to be.


But you didn’t give into those fears. And that means you also know what it feels like to be welcomed by complete strangers who want nothing more than to share space with you and help you succeed.

 It means that you also know what it’s like to discover you are already infinitely stronger and fitter than you ever thought possible!  And you know the joy of finding out that the changes you committed to are finally starting to add up. You realize you are getting in the best shape of your life.

So I want to remind you that you have been here before. You’ve done this, and I promise you can do it again. And if it feels too big or that too much time has passed, just remember what brought you through the door the first time.

To those who think they can’t: you can. You’ve already proven it. Just Keep Going.