There is a lot to be Thankful for, including old friends whom you haven’t heard from in ages who text you “Happy ThanksGiving” around this time of year. Talking about flashbacks from the past, here are a few from our blog, followed by the subject matter oftoday’s blog.
One thing I’m thankful for is my ability to move, that is my skills, the things I can do. (Probably best showcased by my 2010 American Ninja Warrior submission video, here) Nothing makes me more acutely aware of these great gifts than when they’re missing or “on hold” due to sickness or injury. Lately my back has been a bit tweaky so I’ve been borderline between having them and not. Three years ago I seriously injured my back to the extent that I was bed ridden and it was a horrible struggle to simply roll over in bed let alone get up to go to the bathroom. During the injury I realized how easy it was for me to take for granted everything I can do and how lucky I am to have my body and to be able to explore all of it’s capacities. I love movement and the adventure for exploring and learning that it brings. Sometimes while coaching a birthday party or Ninja Warrior summer camp, I like to play a related name game with the kids. We often do “your favorite flavor ice-cream” for name games but I prefer “something you can do and a skill you’d (realistically) like to be able to do someday”. So this Thanks Giving I think we should play a similar skillz game. Tell me your name and “something you’re greatful that you can do” and “something you’d like to be able to do in the future”. I’ll go first. I’m greatful that I can do big precision jumps (there was one at the end of that Ninja Warrior submission video, if you watched it) and I’d like to be able to stride from the mezzanine all the way accross the pull-up rig some day (hopefully soon). And I’ld like to have my heavy snatches back, at least when my back feels better! What skill are you greatful for?
I consider CrossFit to be a part of a larger “Movement Revolution”. CrossFit uses the slogans and catch phrases that actually apply to several other physical activities and interests that resemble it in theme, at least in terms of “functional fitness and compound movements” vs. “isolation movements”. The Mixed Martial Arts revolution developed in full force in the 90’s and MMA has often been referred to as the fastest growing sport in the world, at least until recently. Now parkour and freerunning are claiming their own explosive niche in the functional movement revolution, but more on those two in a subsequent blog posts. CrossFit is the most accessible of these activities, presenting itself as a protocol for elite fitness, yet a viable gateway to entry-level training through the scalability of the movements and exercises involved and as such, has the broadest potential market.
Let’s take a look at the explosive growth of the CrossFit community by the numbers:
[I'd also like to add that The Cave's co-founder, Roger Harrell, was also considered an early contributor to the CrossFit community in the gymnastics arena, as was Jeff Martone in kettle bell training, Mike Rutherford in dumb bell training, Rob Wolfe in nutrition, John Hackleman in combatives, Jesse Woody in Parkour, and Mark Rippetoe in power lifting among others, even though they aren't mentioned on the wikipedia article.]
Also from wikipedia:
“The first affiliated gym was CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington; there were 13 by 2005 and more than 4,300 today.“
A more recent count of CF affiliates (Nov. 11th, 2012) according the the affiliate finder map shows the following breakdown of affiliates by region:
Australia, New Zealand & Pacific: 327
Africa / Middle East: 62
South America: 60
Western United States: 1599 (very rough East / West breakdown)
Eastern Unites States: 2213 (very rough East / West breakdown)
This month (Nov. 2012) there were 22 new affiliates. I have a vague recollection of someone asking Greg Glassman at the 2010 Filfest (affiliate owner gathering) where he saw the growth of world wide CrossFit affiliates peaking out at. Glassman’s response was something like: ”I don’t know… 10 thousand?? 15 thousand?? I honestly don’t see a reason why 30 or 40 thousand affiliates world wide would not be sustainable.”
It is notable that CrossFit Marin (Now The Cave) was roughly the 127th affiliate (according to my vague recollection, we may have been the 105th??) We are currently listed as 103rd in the CrossFit main page, registering our affiliate in the fall of 2005. At it’s inception CrossFit Marin had two trainers, myself and Roger Harrell working part time. Today The Cave employs about five full time and six part time staff members and has hundreds of clients including the gymnastics, parkour and judo programs. In July 2007 I dragged Russell Bruel down to Aromas, Ca with me to compete in the first CrossFit Games. We were the only two athletes from CrossFit Marin. I came in roughly 20th out of a field of 40. This year we had dozens of athletes who competed in the CrossFit Games Open with a couple of our girls going to regionals and one athlete going to the CrossFit Games Finals in the master’s division.
Here are some videos relating to the growth of the CrossFit community. There are six in all, so maybe just pick a few to watch so you don’t get bored. It will be interesting to see for how long CrossFit can sustain its current growth and to see how it will compare to the other disciplines that are rapidly gaining popularity and exposure.
First off the video is of Kerry C. and Sarah F. performing the final round of Fight Gone Bad. This was during FGB III and was just after we first moved into our current space. You can get a good view of what the gym was first like. Yeah, it was that small. A lot of those original folks are still with us. If you’re interested in signing up for FGB VI (I can’t believe its been 3 years) head over to the FGB VI site and sign up under CrossFit Marin.
We’re headed into fall. Most kids have started school. Fall scheduling is consuming many parent’s efforts. We have already seen a huge increase in attendance in many classes. If you are signing up for kids classes it is best to do it soon because many classes are going to fill up. Let us know how we can help your schedules. We keep a list of desired class times and once we reach enough interest we can start a new class.
It is great to see everyone back from vacation. Many of you had significant time away, and we miss you. You are family and a big part of who we are. Lets have a great fall, hit some hard workouts, learn new skills and have fun!
There have been some rather significant recent changes in CrossFit Marin’s Parkour program lately. Andrey Pfening will soon be taking over the Wed. Parkour classes. I’d also like to introduce you to Glenn Black as well as Albert Kong. Both of these guys are incredible traceurs and are proving themselves to be great teachers as well. Albert has been a figure head in the SF Parkour community for years and has had an administrative role in running the organization. He will be coaching at CFM during the week, probably on Mondays & Tuesdays. Here is an old StreetMirage documentary on the “Art of Movement” that has some of our friends from SF Parkour featured as well as Albert as co-host giving us a little tour of the discipline. This video was uploaded to youtube by Edgar “Street Mirage” Yudkevich back in 2009. It’s amazing how much everyone has grown up, changed, and improved since then. Albert was athletic then. Now he’s just a beast.
I love that video because it was made by a bunch of young, passionate kids who wanted to share the sport that they loved with the whole world!
Here’s a video that Glenn made a while back at CFM during Optional Skill Training Night. More on Albert & Glenn later…
As many of you already know, CrossFit Marin has two scheduled weekly adult gymnastics classes on Mondays & Wednesdays at 7pm. I’ve realized in the past few months that we have many members who would be interested in taking the gymnastics classes if they were scheduled at a different time, therefore, we’ve decided to open a new adult gymnastics class on Fridays from noon to 1:30pm (with an opitonal extra 15 minutes to stretch if you wish to stay and work on your mobility) starting Friday Sept 9th. The class will be included in the unlimited everything & unlimited Parkour/Gymnastics memberships. Otherwise, it is also open on a drop-in basis to anyone interested. There are no pre-requisites or athletic requirements. Noobies / Rooks / Intermediates / Advanced / Elite athletes all welcome. Bring your grandmother if you want. I’m excited, cause I might actually be able to take this one myself… WOOT!! =D
My favorite super-hero...
See you in the gym,
If you're doing gymnastics, you want this guy coaching you!
Who is your favorite CrossFitter? (male and female) How come? CrossFit has the unique position of having people from so many different backgrounds, ethnicities, sizes and histories, both young and old that it makes for a myriad of different stories. Maybe your favorite CrossFitter is one of the favorites to win the games, a big name such as Jason Khalipa, Annie Thorisdottir, or someone off the list from last year’s (2010) final results:
Top 10 Men 1. Graham Holmberg (48)
2. Rich Froning Jr. (51)
3. Chris Spealler (69)
4. Matt Chan (73)
5. Mikko Salo (77)
6. Austin Malleolo (84)
7. Pat Burke (91)
8. Ben Smith (93)
9. Tommy Hackenbruck (111)
10. Peter Egyed (117)
Another possibility is that your favorite CrossFitter may be from the early days, such as Josh Everett, Eva Twardokens, Greg Amundson, or Annie Sakamoto. Or maybe your favorite CrossFitter is someone local that you look up to such as Gabe T., Bo W., Jill S., Roger H., Amanda N. or Karen L. It could even be someone who is not all that good, but who’s heart and perseverence truly inspires you or that you look up to for some other reason. Let us know who and why in the comments. Here are a couple of videos to check out while you’re thinking about it:
2010 Games Highlights & Recap:
A bit of CrossFit Games History:
Bill Berry is featured in the 2010 Nor Cal Sectionals video:
Here’s a link to a 2009 Blog post that touched on the 2007 & 2008 CF Games competitions:
Here’s a little video promoting the CrossFit Games which are only one week away. Our own Bill Berry will be competing in the 55-59 year-old category, having come in 20th in the world. He’s been training hard and consistently and has finally hit his first few muscle-ups. Roger will be coaching him down in L.A. at the Home Depot Center next weekend.
Well, we’re starting 2011 and it’s pretty crazy to think back on where we were a year ago.
In January 2010 we did not yet have the big studio. Remember the gymnastics area on the north end of the gym? High bar was under the CFM logo on the wall. Our big CrossFit classes had no choice but to bleed outside, and rain was a significant problem for us.
We’ve increased our numbers dramatically. We’ve more than doubled our space. We’ve added discipline classes, drastically filled out our schedule to having more class options than any other CrossFit facility out there. We’ve seen the kids program completely explode and have added classes over the fall at a pretty ridiculous pace to accommodate the growth.
The best parts of looking back is to know the changes we’ve seen in you. It is getting more difficult for us to keep our perspective on normal capacity for program planning because so many of you are performing at such a high level. We’ve seen athletes improve capacity. We’ve seen non-athletes become high performers. We’ve seen people enjoying activities that they wouldn’t have thought possible before they stepped through our doors. This is what it’s all about.
I am looking forward to all of your accomplishments in 2011. Let’s see what we can do. More gym records will be crushed. More people will succeed. More friendships will be formed and strengthened.
It is now Thanksgiving and I almost started to write a post that had to do with training, but I figured this was more important. It’s easy to get caught up in the vanity of the Holidays. I want to buy a new TV for the gym so we can watch cool instructional videos, shows, and movies on it. I found myself wasting way too much of my time looking at the Best Buy Weekly flier for Black Friday. As technology and society “advance”, there are more and more gadgets and toys to own, yet much of what really strikes a note with people is going back to the way we used to live and behave when life was simpler in many ways. One of the reasons that CrossFit and other boot-camp type gyms and training programs are so successful is because they draw people together into a community when the prevailing trend with technology is to isolate ourselves in our headphones or cars. During the Holidays we get together to enjoy the company and comfort of friends and family and share a meal, the most universal human experience. In our gym, whether we’re splayed on the floor after a CrossFit workout, or congregating for the excitement of a parkour jam, or engaged in the thrill of achieving new gymnastics skills, what we are really doing is sharing in another universal human experience, the struggle for achievement and self-improvement. I know that this little place for training isn’t lacking in its share of stories and little debacles, but here we get to have an extended family that cares about us and that we can share our lives with. Thank-you for making our great little community so unique and so much fun. Happy Thanksgiving!
If we didn't have each other, how would THIS be possible?
I'm thankful for Coach Russ, but can you find him in this picture?
I'm thankful for... KettleBells?
I'm thankful for really tall guys hanging on a bar.
I'm thankful for... This??
I'm thankful for really good dads and hanging up-side-down.
I'm thankful for Ninja-Training!
I'm thankful for good company.
Remidners for upcoming gym events: Holiday party on Friday Dec. 10th (OSTN is cancelled for that night) and don’t forget that we have CF classes with concurrent kid’s classes at 9am on both Thursday Nov. 25th (today) and Friday Nov. 26th. as well as Extended Kid’s Night Out on Black Saturday Nov. 27th and a possible American Ninja Warrior viewing party on Dec. 8th or 11th with the Ninja Warrior obstacle course day on Sunday morning Dec. 12th for which Shane Daniels will be back up from L.A
Sometimes you have to make due. You have to work with what you’ve got. What if all you had was snow?
This video caught my attention because of the protagonist’s attitude towards the day. He could have stayed at home and convinced himself that it was too cold to go outside and do any training. What can you do in the snow anyways? It’s uncomfortable and dangerous! Well, sometimes opportunities present themselves as challenges.
We have a pretty nice place now. A few weeks ago we acquired a couple more landing mats. This enabled us to cover more floor area and move the beam out from underneath the high bar, which was sharing a landing mat with the beam. On Monday at 4pm we had the following classes running at the same time:
2 Pre-school gymnastics classes
1 Kid’s gymnastics class
1 Kid’s parkour class
1 CrossFit class
and we had 5 coaches teaching all concurrently. There were between 30-40 people training at once and we even had a good line of parents and au-pairs sitting in the “waiting area” watching their grommits do rolls, swings, and beam-walking. We now even have a front-desk person, Jasmin, in the gym 3 days/week. And has anybody noticed that there is a scaffold in the gym? What kind of weird little gym has a scaffold for kids to play and practice on in a gym? This is a far cry from early 2008 when we were homeless after getting kicked out of Novato Gymnastics by the City of Novato and I would call up our clients and a handful of them would show up at Piper Park in Novato after Neal Cordova (aka “Street Rat”), and I would load up my van, drive over to the park, unload, set up, and wait for everybody. Then we would teach two concurrent classes in the soggy January grass and hope we didn’t get rained on. Neal would often use the tombstones up on the little hill next to the park itself to teach some of the parkour movements- (sshhhh… don’t tell anybody about this!). We also had access to a conveniently angled tree that was adequate for wall runs, or, I guess, tree runs. Of course we had to take advantage of the playground structures all while trying not to send any of the little pre-schoolers flying 20 feet by accident. In the meantime, I would have a few of the parents running around the big lawn circle, farmer-walking while pinch-gripping Olympic lifting plates, jumping rope, doing burpees, jumping squats, thrusters, and whatever other devilry I could come up with while their kids vaulted or rolled over the soggy equipment. It would take hours to just drive up their and perform the setup and the tear-down, not to mention coaching the classes. If there was any money at all left over after paying Neal, it was considered a good day. I could have been getting paid more than twice as much working minimum wage at a burger joint. At least we had a faithful few that followed us to the park or anywhere else we would take them. During our so-called “free time” we would shop for our own place to lease so that we could resume “regular” operations. We finally cut a deal with Bob (the owner of Pyramid Gymnastics) in April of 2008 so that we could sub-lease his gym for a couple of hours on Mondays & Wednesday nights to hold CF & gymnastics classes. The hourly at Bob’s was costly enough to the extent that after paying Russell for coaching his class and paying Bob, we would be in the hole anywhere from $10-$60 for the day without even paying ourselves, let alone setting anything aside for re-occuring costs, such as our insurance. Bob would sit at his desk most of the time supervising us to make sure that we did not use the equipment in any way that would make it deteriorate… at all. Needless to say, we did not have any parkour classes there. Those were still run at the park, but now at the Corte Madera town park. In late August of that summer, we were finally going to move in to our big facility in ”De Luca Place”. It was about 5k square feet and we would be able to have our CF, gymnastics & parkour classes andmaybe even fit a climbing wall too! Of course, instead we found out by way of the “Conditional use Permit” which took us months, thousands of dollars, and a couple of public hearings to obtain, that the place needed to be sprinklered and that it would cost on the order of $75k, +/- $25k. The owners, of course, wanted us to pay for it. We walked. So in the meantime, we get kicked out of Pyramid Gymnastics because Bob’s insurance wouldn’t allow him to sub-lease to us even though we had our own insurance. Good times. ( It is important to note that if it hadn’t been for Bob letting us use his facility, we would have been in even worse straights that we were, and we may never have ended up at this location. I still feel grateful for his hospitality, despite the idiosyncracies of the arrangement. ) We moved over to 412 Tamal Plaza, a little itsy-bitsy, tiny 450 sq foot warehouse space about 50feet away from Pyramid’s front door. (Thanks to me because I twisted Roger’s arm, telling him that we should rent it on a month-to-month basis in case we didn’t get the place in San Rafael and as a potential 2nd location even if we did.) Ok, so at least we didn’t have to have all the classes at the frick’in park again, although the parkour and pre-school gymnastics classes would continue to be at the park, (where we would talk to families and offer classes to anyone who would give us half chance, slowly building our clientele and spreading the word about the gym). The tiny warehouse was simply way too small for parkour and pre-school, but at least we had our tiny warehouse, our own little space (with the uncertainty but flexibility of a month-to-month lease) Woo-hoo. We actually had adult gymnastics classes on the pommel horse, parallel bars, support rings, and two panel mats that we would lay out end-to-end in the parking lot. The CF classes would be largely on the pull-up bars and the parking lot and running trails. Here’s a video taken just before the April 2009 remodel that merged the little warehouse with the little studio. Notice that the classes I’m talking about in the fall/winter of 2008 took place in just the little warehouse. We didn’t have access to either of the studios.
Asphalt works fine for Olympic lifting, after all, althoughone week in a span of about 5 days we found out that the same asphalt slowly scraped all of our jump ropes into two pieces. Weird. At least we got most of our crap out of storage and into the tiny warehouse. Then it started raining- often. Well, how about having the gymnastics and CF classes going on concurrently indoors in 450 sq feet. What’s wrong with that? I mean other than people falling out of handstands on top of Olympic-lifting CrossFitters? So that was about the worst of the dark year, 2008. ( I mean other than Jasha Faye’s lawsuit and Neal turning his back on me.) In December of 2008 we sub-leased the little studio month to month and designated it as the gymnastics area. Shortly thereafter the tide turned and the subsequent series of expansions, marketing & networking campaigns, referrals, computer and groundwork finds us where we are today. (If you are interested in the subsequent history and expansions of CrossFit Marin, here’s a post that I wrote when we signed the lease to the big studio back in April of 2010.) The warm and fuzzy parts are boring anyways. I’d rather complain, whine and boast about how we weathered the tsunamis. Sometimes it gets to me when I think that things are better now and I’m a little more comfortable. Maybe I’m a little bit softer. If everything fell apart and we had to start from scratch again, like in December of 2007, would we have the obsessive conviction and determination to rebuild- again? Would I walk away and not care, or would I just shrug my shoulders and start holding classes at the park out of my van, knowing that we’ve done it before? I hope I never have to find out. What we do know for sure is that things are always changing and that there will be new opportunities and challenges every day, whether they are minor ones or big deals. We have to stay alert and flexible and thankful to all of you, our clients, for giving us a great opportunity to have this awesome gym that we can all enjoy. CrossFit Marin’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. On Oct. 6th, 2010, we will be 4 years old. I was 31 and Roger was 34 when we started this madness. We may be getting older, but at least there is a lot to be proud of! Where do you all think we will be six months from now? How about a year from now, when CFM is 5 y/o? We still don’t have a climbing wall. It looks like we don’t even have space for one! Do you have any stories about when all you had was snow?