The biggest misconception about CrossFit is that it is only for fit people. CrossFit is for all fitness levels. Check out the variety of people that come to CrossFit Brigade.
It has now been almost one year since I first set foot into CrossFit Brigade. As far as fitness goes, up to that point the entirety of my adult exercise experience had been running. I was very good at picking out a race, training for a few months to be ready for it, then returning to my armchair after it was done. In November 2011, I finished my second marathon (slowly, but finished nonetheless). After the race, I had again quit exercise, but this time with the feeling that I had become bored with where I was. My wife had suggested that some weight training might be good for me, but not having touched any sort of weights since high school gym class, I hadn’t the foggiest idea where to start. Mostly I just stayed in my armchair, and became larger and more sedentary.
I first became aware of CrossFit from a couple of different sources. I used to have an office in the Business Development Center, so I couldn’t help but notice the people I thought must have been nuts who I would see running laps around the building or lifting weights on the loading dock. I also followed the frequent CrossFit related Facebook posts by a cousin and an old college buddy. I did some online research, and concluded that the whole thing seemed a little bit off-kilter. And frankly, I found that attractive.
I finally got in touch with Brigade at the beginning of May 2012. Eric talked me into coming in for a trial class. I told my wife I was going to work out before coming home, but didn’t tell her where I was going. I showed up at the box, and the first thing I saw was the person I came to know as Emily doing something I later came to learn was dumbbell snatches with the largest unmechanized piece of metal I had ever seen. I began to wonder if I had made a horrible mistake.
Eric gave me the option of joining the regular class, or the 101 group which was also starting that day. With my palpable nervousness, I chose the 101 group. After some basic instruction, we did the Baseline. Upon getting to 29 sit-ups, my abs told me that, no, I was not going to get that last one in. After several tries, someone gave me a hand to get up off the floor. I then completed the push-ups from my knees and the pull-ups with the assistance of a horizontally strung purple band. I had to wait sitting in the car for my arms to stop shaking before driving home. Once I made it there, I had to lie on the floor in the dark for a little while before coming down to dinner and to tell my wife what craziness I had been up to. But I knew then that I had to come back.
The last year with Brigade has been a remarkable experience. I have gone from straining to squat with an empty bar to maxing out at 300 pounds. I can do double unders, get into a handstand with my heels to the wall, and occasionally get a pull-up and toes to bar, which are all things I looked at when I started saying to myself that I could never do that. My enthusiasm eventually brought my lovely wife to the group, where she regularly reminds me that she’s the far better athlete, but this has also given us a wonderful interest and activity which we enjoy together. I am physically in better shape than I can ever remember, I eat healthier than I probably ever have, and I have more confidence in myself and what I can do (both in and out of the gym) than I can ever recall.
The single greatest part of Brigade is its people. Whether coaches or members, my fellow Brigadiers are inspirations to behold, more fervent supporters than I deserve, and friends I likely wouldn’t have made without this place. I am both proud and humbled (Yes, I know that’s a contradiction. Sue me.) to be a part of this community. Whenever someone comments on how good I look, which happens all the time, I always give the credit to the group. I couldn’t have done it without the example and support of everyone.
Here’s looking forward to the hard work, physical and mental progress, and good times with good friends that I know my second year of CrossFit Brigade is sure to hold.
I had a normal 23 year old life… I would go to work and then hang out with friends and do the same routine over and over but I felt like I was letting myself go physically and mentally… I was BORED and couldnt figure out how to be more energetic.
My biggest obstacle was money. I always heard about CrossFit and some of my friends were doing it. I always wanted to join but couldnt afford it. Now I can afford it because of my new job.
I love working out at CFB. The people are all so friendly and encouraging and inspiring. It’s a judgment free zone — everyone understands that we all have to start somewhere. Everyone struggles with certain movements but the group is motivating cheers you on — it’s a great feeling!
CFB has had a great impact on my life day-to-day already. I feel more aware of the foods I’m consuming, I don’t feel like my day is complete unless I’m going to my usual 4:30 workout. I feel like I’m part of a team, which is amazing. I have more energy and I’m getting in shape! It’s a great feeling to see results and build strength so quickly!
I LOVE THE COMMUNITY. I haven’t got to do to much hanging out outside of gym yet, but I joined the CFB softball team which was a blast, and I’m looking foward to building friendships with everyone at the gym.
I recommend it to all my friends daily, because of the team feel. It’s not just a regular gym membership, it’s a life style, and it can change your life!
Most of my life I’ve been physically active. I was a gymnast for 10 years and cheered through high school and college. I also worked for a fitness center through my college and grad school education. Just before joining CrossFit, my health was good, I wasn’t terribly disgusted with my body, I felt like my eating habits were faily sustainable, I worked out… but suffice it to say, CrossFit has completely changed my life in the very best way possible.
I first tried out CrossFit last summer and loved it. I was in the middle of my final classes to finish grad school and doing an internship so it wasn’t feasible for me to join at the time. I knew as soon as I was in a position to join that I wanted to do that, so when I got to a stable place with work / school I called Emily & Eric and scheduled my 101.
CFB is like nowhere else. While I’ve not visited loads of different CF gyms, I’ve tried a few of them, and been to some competitions and special events with other gyms, and I just know that Brigade has such a unique dynamic. It’s just the best feeling to train and grow with people that feel like family and with coaches who make you feel like you’re important, strong and a priority. In my years of athletic training, gymnastics, cheerleading, and working in gyms, I’ve not felt a true connection to the people like I have with fellow Brigaders. It’s the best thing ever.
It’s improved so many areas of my life. Mainly, it has shifted my focus on my health in general. I think for twenty-somethings, women in particular, the point of working out is to look good, the point of a “diet” is to lose weight, and your lifestyle ends up revolving around these notions. In CrossFit, a fit looking body comes secondary to a strong body, so I think it has opened my eyes to the other benefits from living a healthy lifestyle. I definitely want to look fit, but for me, eating clean, getting good sleep and following a consistent workout schedule has become a priority because I want to be strong, hit PRs and learn new skills and doing these things has provided those results, in addition to changing my body comp and aesthetics. I see as only a positive change.
I honestly just love it all. The people, the workouts, the personal challenges, the competitions. It’s just been such a positive force in my life the past 6 months and I’m so thankful!
I think CrossFit can be intimidating because of the intensity and because of how it’s top athletes are portrayed, but Brigade takes the perfect approach. They take people as they are and accommodate each individual athlete’s goals and expectations. That’s the selling point for the gym, I think. No matter your background, your skills, your goals, your knowledge… there is a place for you at the gym and you will learn and grow and meet amazing people on your journey.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t started CrossFit. Would I still be lying on the couch after work eating Doritos? Would I be 20lbs heavier? Would I still be single? What would I be doing on the weekends – just partying? Would I still have low self-esteem?
I can only imagine what my life would be like, but I know for a fact that I am 100% a happier person than I was a year and a half ago…
A brief background: In August 2011, I started working for Kyle Posey with Siteasrx. I needed more web experience being a graphic designer major at UTC (big shout out to Stephanie Whiting for referring me!). I remember in the “interview” the guys telling me that I necessarily didn’t have to join CrossFit, just be able to resolve client issues. I was all for that because at the time I hadn’t worked out in 5 years and had no interest in starting then.
A couple months passed filled with constant nagging from Kyle and Steph to “Just give it a try. If you don’t love it, at least you gave it a shot.” I’m REALLY good at being lazy, so it was pretty easy to ignore them… until that one fateful day.
Long story short – I gave in on October 10. Myfirst WOD was Collin (out of them all, of course). I somehow survived. I remember parts of my body aching that I hadn’t used in years. The coaches and members were great. Everyone was so focused and motivated. They encouraged me throughout the WOD, which I found to be odd because I couldn’t breathe long enough to even mutter a sentence. But like all the rest, I was HOOKED. I was hurting something fierce, but I was hooked.
Within the first few months, I was lifting weight that I didn’t think was possible for me. I had never lifted a weight in my life. A deadlift? That’s for those massive guys. Nope. Turns out they are for me – just like cleans, thrusters, KB swings, back-squats, pull-ups – the list goes on.
And the people! are the BEST. Everyone is so different, but that’s what I love about it. We all have different backgrounds, different hobbies, different families, different goals – but we all come together for that one similarity… CrossFit (and PRing all over the damn place). I’ve met some of my best friends here – my role models – my current roommates – and even my wonderful boyfriend. My whole life revolves around this place.
I have been in Chattanooga for almost 6 years now. Most people don’t know this, but I can honestly say that until I found Brigade, I was lost. I didn’t know who I was. I had great friends and family, but I was struggling with self-esteem issues and I couldn’t define who I was as a person. I had trouble interacting with people. My confidence was so low, that I questioned every little decision and thing I did. I would look at other people and wish that I could be more outgoing like them. I was stuck. Stuck in the (un)comfortable zone. It wasn’t until I started actually challenging myself in CrossFit and pushing my boundaries that I was able to figure out what to do to make Kelsey happy.
I am now about to move Austin, Texas to work for IBM Design. Why leave something and the people here in Chattanooga that make me happy, you might ask? Because now, I have these people behind me – pushing me to be the best person I can be. I believe that I can accomplish whatever it is I put my mind too and I have learned to take risks now, even if they are scary. I found myself and I can now be myself, wherever life’s road takes me.
CrossFit changed me. The people at Brigade changed me. And for that, I will beforever grateful. Don’t be scared to try it. And not even that, don’t be scared to try something outside of your comfort zone. You might surprise yourself.
CrossFit as a fitness program was immediately attractive to me. I don’t care much for “show” and always like real or genuine things in life… so bodybuilding workouts for the sake of aesthetics always seemed to be missing something to me, I liked “functional fitness” but didn’t know the term.
I found it in CrossFit. The workouts were hard and hurt and I wondered what the heck have I gotten myself into… I would sit in the parking lot before going in just dreading it… but I kept coming… and getting out of the car… and all those years of weakening while sitting at a desk started melting away… I would walk out of the gym just shaking my head because I couldn’t believe what I had just done that day. Oh, it was still really hard, but my mind and my body were transforming and I got to where I couldn’t wait to get there and tackle whatever the programming gods had devised for the day.
I don’t know many 40+ year old guys that can do what I do… and all the ones I do know I work out with at Brigade. All because I just kept getting out of the car. This was phase one in the development of my appreciation and affection for Brigade, then my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. During that period of struggle for my family my Brigade family was part of my everyday life. From food and cards and gifts for Kandis to offers to do everything from clean my house and mow the yard. I’m siting here searching for the words to describe what that meant to us (and failing). You are more than lucky to ever find a group of people that can play such a role in your life; sometimes it’s a church, maybe a group of friends you grew up with, maybe work peeps… but for me it’s a gym, a very special gym.
If you’re reading this and thinking “well yeah, you had a pretty traumatic thing happen in your life and they’re nice people” you are right, but what you don’t know yet is how this group is there for each other every day… in the little things and the big things… I’ve seen lives change just because of new nutrition they learn about and they are successful in making those changes in their life because of the knowledge, support and accoutability they get from this family… I’ve seen folks hit weights on lifts that they never thought they could and the pride on their face is only surpassed by the joy on the coaches and other athlete’s faces when they ring that PR bell… Its real and its genuine, all of it; the hard work, the friendships, the desire to do good things in the community, to help people.
I knew I needed to do good things for my body so I chose CrossFit. Luckily, I chose Brigade and got so much more.
I walked into Crossfit Brigade as an act of desperation.
I had been through several months of crushing crisis and had reached the lowest fitness level and highest weight of my life. Having always thought of myself as an athlete, my self-esteem has always been tied to my ability to do physical things. My life, however, had forced me to to place my own health and fitness at the lowest priority level. I wasn’t wrong to do things that way — it had been out of necessity — but I paid a price. Once the waves of crisis had subsided, I realized that I could not continue to care for other people the way I wanted to if I didn’t do something about my own health. I was exhausted from months of non-stop stress and had no energy. I looked awful and didn’t want to be seen. I found myself buying clothes to cover as much of my body as possible and knitting gigantic cardigans to hide in.
At that low point, I finally had time to devote to myself so I decided to do the most drastic thing I could think of. I had heard of Crossfit because my husband was doing Crossfit workouts and talking about them constantly (much to my irritation). I looked online and it seemed to be the most punishing workout I could find. I figured that punishing myself with horribly painful workouts was about what I deserved.
Little did I know what was coming.
Crossfit turned out to be a combination of classroom and team sport. I learned more about nutrition and exercise than I could have imagined. Rather than just brutal workouts, which I expected, I was suddenly a part of an entirely new social construct: The Crossfit Box. Everything changed. I sweated and cursed, but I learned. I’ve spent a lifetime on Weight Watchers, but suddenly I was eating in a way that was sustainable long-term, not just until my “diet” was over. I started seeing muscles on my body and wanting to show them off, make them bigger, and show them off some more. I wanted to learn more, and keep learning. The people around me wanted to learn, and get better, and get stronger. It was weirdly positive and supportive.
And it was ridiculously fun.
I now plan my weeks around my workouts. I socialize with the people I sweat with. I enjoy the workouts, especially the really hard ones, because I’m doing it with my team. I wear the logo out in public and feel a little superior about it, if I’m honest. At 38 years old, I get my ass kicked by twenty-somethings every day and I cheer them on while they do it, but they cheer me on, too.
Crossfit Brigade has created the kind of environment where every member is a valued team member, not just a customer and where the coaches are knowledgeable, supportive, and incredibly motivating. The word “family” is perhaps an overused trope in the Crossfit world, but that’s the feeling we have.
One year into my new life, I feel rejuvenated. I feel younger, I have more fun, I have energy to spare and I’m so healthy that people are actually jealous. I have goals that would have seemed literally insane just one year ago. Oh, yeah — I lost 25 pounds of fat, too. All of my clothes are new, and they don’t have to hide anything. I’m surrounded by like-minded people who have had similar results, and I’m so proud of them, and proud to be a part of the Crossfit Experience.
My high school required athletic participation from all students. I was a competitive rower then and trained throughout the year. When I went to college, fitness fell by the wayside as studying, dating and drinking beer became my most time consuming activities. As a result, my weight began to increase, and continued to do so as I went through graduate school and entered the work world.
When I look back and think about “dieting” and “exercising”, I think of so many trials and errors. Various weight loss programs, various exercise routines. No success. When I became pregnant at age 28, I weighed over 200pounds. I became a gestational diabetic, meaning I had developed diabetes in pregnancy. This also meant a 50% increased risk for developing Type II diabetes within 5 years of the delivery of my first daughter. Following her birth, I did experience a 25lb weight loss as as a result of healthier eating during pregnancy. However, I did not commit to a healthy lifestyle and saw that weight, plus more, return before her first birthday.
In 2010, my husband and I decided to have another child. Unfortunately through many months I battled secondary infertility, likely as a result of my weight. I weighed over 220lbs at this time, and my fasting glucose was extremely elevated, classifying me as a “pre-diabetic”. This scared me such that I began running, and in the fall of October 2011, I ran a half-marathon. I became pregnant the following month. I was again diagnosed as a gestational diabetic. Healthy eating allowed me again to lose 25pounds following delivery of my second daughter, but I knew this time I had to make a serious commitment to a healthy lifestyle, or I would be battling Type II diabetes before I was 40.
Enter Crossfit Brigade.
While I was pregnant, I watched my husband begin training at Crossfit Brigade. Not only did he see excellent physical results, but he came home each day talking about the people he was hanging out with there and how much fun they had. I listened to him talk about Brigade so much that I knew I had to try it. He promised me that anyone could do it. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a go.
When I obtained my 6 week postpartum clearance from my doctor, I scheduled my first trial class at Brigade. I was nervous, and made my husband go with me for my first time. I tried 2 classes, and immediately enrolled in the 101 course. I was hooked.
It has been over 7 months now, and Crossfit Brigade has become a significant part of my life. I have lost over 35lbs and 3 dress sizes. The physical strength I have found there is amazing, and the motivation and encouragement from coaches and friends I have made there is something I have not experienced anywhere else. Between the workout regimens and nutritional guidance, I feel I am healthier now than at any other time in my life. My blood sugar levels are completely normal. Brigade has had a huge impact on me and my husband, and has given our marriage the gift of something we can do and love together. Brigade is not just a gym, but a community, and I am blessed to be a part of something so strong and special.
Prior to joining Crossfit Brigade, I was alternately doing bootcamp workouts, or going to The Rush to do whatever miracle workout I had read about that month.
The bootcamps were beneficial; I dropped weight, but didn’t develop any real strength. The miracle workouts were basically just bootcamp breaks, during which I would try to gain strength, but gain weight, instead, and head back to bootcamp to lose it. I maintained this cycle for about 2 years.
My wife first introduced me to Eric & Emily when they were camping. She had been offering community yoga at Brigade, and had been coming home, telling me what great people they were, and how she really liked the kind of program they offered at Brigade. She wanted us to go to the Ocoee where they were camping, and hang out with them one weekend. To be honest, I initially thought “yeah, these are going to be some boring, health-nut, yoga yuppies, ready to judge me anytime I mention beer or ice cream, but I love my wife, so I’ll go.”
I could not have been more wrong. Eric & Emily are two of the most kind, energetic, and interesting people it has ever been my privilege to know, and they like beer and ice cream, too. Of course, they give it up during the myriad nutritional challenges Brigade undertakes, just like everyone else does. And, they stay fit enough that a little beer and ice cream doesn’t weigh them down. They have a passion for fitness, and they created Brigade to share that passion with others.
About a week after first meeting them at the campground, I decided we should give Brigade a try. I was ready to pay up front, and get started. They wouldn’t even let me. They made me take the 2-week free introduction. They didn’t want me to pay if it wasn’t for me. That’s how confident the are about Brigade, and for good reason.
After 2 weeks, I was hooked. It was like having attended a 2 week fitness tent-revival. I had to scale many of the exercises, like using bands for pullups, or kettlebells less than the prescribed weight, but at the end of each WOD, I felt like I had accomplished something. And, I wanted to go back the next day. For the first time, I found myself looking forward to going to the gym.
Eric & Emily, and their coaches, were right there, at each WOD to make certain I was doing each rep with proper form, and offering me advice on how to scale if necessary. 14 months later, they are still looking out for me. Just the other day, Eric pointed out to me that I wasn’t getting low enough in my squats. Without him, Emily, or the other coaches paying attention, caring enough to make certain I get the full benefit of the exercise, and saying something about it, I would never know. That’s what coaching is. And, it’s that coaching that has built such a camaraderie among Brigade’s members that they refer to each other as their “brigade family”. And, it’s that camaraderie that keeps us all cheering each other on, whether it’s cheering Emily & the Team at Regionals, or cheering somebody getting their first pullup at the gym.
As for quantified results, my weight since joining Brigade has been all over the place, from 260+ to 206, and then bouncing around as my muscle mass increases, and my body composition adjusts. But, my waist size keeps dropping. At 42, I am wearing 34 inch waist jeans for the first time in years. My backsquat has gone from 264lbs to almost 400lbs. My deadlift has increased from 363lbs to over 450lbs. I no longer use a band to do pullups, and even learned to kip. And, I can run 5k without stopping. I do more WODs as RX’d now than I do scaled. That’s a huge accomplishment for me. I’m not done yet. I will squat 400, deadlift 500, and benchpress 300 by the end of the year. It will happen.
I would recommend Crossfit Brigade to anyone, but I would especially recommend it to folks who haven’t been able to accomplish their fitness goals elsewhere, to those who have given up hope of ever being fit, to those who think they’re too fat to start, to those who think they’re too old to get in shape, and to those who are just so afraid that they’ll fail, that they don’t start. For these people, Crossfit Brigade is the solution.