Posted in The Games »
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Games09TommyCongratsMikko.jpgCrossFit brings together competitor and spectator like no other sport.

It's a bit like being the parent of a gymnast at the Olympics. But we're not the parents of these athletes. In many cases, we don't even know them. But we've followed their journey. We cheer their victories. And our heart cries when they falter. We understand. No matter what our Fran times, max deadlifts, or muscle up ability, we understand. We understand because we, too, are CrossFitters.

We see the looks on the athletes' faces as they expand boundaries, pushing the limits of body and mind. We know what they are feeling. We've been there. Most of us will be there again soon. This is what is different about the CrossFit Games. Our physical capacities may be different, but our hearts and soul are the same. Burpees suck for everyone!

I'm Bob Guere, the owner and trainer at CrossFit California City, a garage affiliate in the Southern California High Desert. I had come to the 2009 CrossFit Games with two intentions. First, I wanted to meet face-to-face folks I've been "talking" to online for over a year. Second, I wanted to see the competition, the spectacle, and the display of intestinal fortitude that is the CrossFit Games.

Epic fail on number one. While we did meet some friends and message board acquaintances, we didn't spend much time socializing at all. We were sucked into the thrill of the Games themselves. The athletes. The spectacle. The excitement.

It all got me thinking again about the basic question: why do I CrossFit? Here I was, watching the fire-breathers, the champions, the fittest people on God's beautiful green and blue earth. For two days, I was one of them. I know the thrill of achievement and the agony of failure. I know the feeling of one more rep when you're already out of reps. I know the anguish when an old injury rears its ugly head again during a workout and how sweat burns when it seeps into the eyes. But it's only 5 more burpees! Anyone can do 5 burpees right? "This is why I CrossFit!" I thought.

If you attended the Games, and found yourself mingling in the crowd elbow-to-elbow with Josh Everett, Chris Spealler, Mikko Salo, Libby DiBiase, Coach Burgener, or Iceland Annie, and you felt the need to shake their hand and say "Great Job! You did wonderful!" Then you know why you CrossFit.

There's no other sport where the competitors walk freely among the crowd without fear of being mobbed or ridiculed for failing. You'll never hear a Josh Everett fan yell "YOU SUCK MIKKO!" Never. If you do, promptly punch that guy in the back of the face and escort him to the gates, because he's no CrossFitter! He doesn't belong with us, and we're better without him.

We cheer for our favorites. But we cheer just as loud for the competitor we don't recognize, simply because we see them gutting out one more rep. We celebrate with them in every movement.

In the end, we're all just trying to improve our bodies and our minds. We want to be an example to others, pass on our knowledge and experiences. Every true CrossFitter is the same. We are all striving to improve our physical self so our mental and spiritual self can thrive. Life is worth living fully and abundantly.

We were put here to be beacons of life, not to waddle around the mall with two ice cream cones in our hands, sucking in air-conditioned air while the breeze blows wonderfully through the trees just beyond the walls. This is why I CrossFit! To get out and get fit. To go to the Games, smell the dust, feel the pain, and live the victory.

At my affiliate, we are home to zero firebreathers. By firebreather I mean the top 5% of all CrossFitters. The Games competitors and the HQ trainers. I may even bump it to 3% as the number of CrossFitters is rising worldwide. The best of the best. Our garage-box membership is roughly at 8 adults and a half-dozen kids. Zero firebreathers.

CrossFit California City is home to regular people like you and me. We all aspire to be firebreathers, but really just as a lofty goal to guide our training. I am almost 39 years old, have been CrossFitting for a little over 18 months, have a handful of nagging injuries that always creep up, and hold a full time job at NASA.

I won't soon make it the firebreather level. But I'm Okay with that. For those 20 minutes during the WOD, I am a firebreather. I'm pushing very hard. Harder than last time. Faster than last time. Better form than last time. When I'm done, and the clock stops, I'm back to "not a firebreather" and I'm okay with that, too. That is not why I CrossFit.

I began CrossFiting to improve my health. CrossFit is the vehicle that has changed my overall health more than anything I've ever done. CrossFit has literally "whipped" me into shape, and quickly. I was pushing 240 lbs and 35% body fat when I started CrossFitting. I was certainly on the road to a lifetime of health problems. For the first time in my life, my blood pressure was measured "high" at a doctor's visit. The last time I had my blood lipids checked, my total cholesterol was over 220. I was a very "common" 39 year-old American male.

Now? I'm happily down to 205 lbs, about 17% BF, my blood pressure is Cylon-perfect, and my lipids are equally stellar. My total cholesterol is now 170. That is why I started CrossFit. However, CrossFit takes on a whole new life after a while. Suddenly I am an example to others and have new reasons to CrossFit.

I am a husband, a parent, a veteran, a black belt, a son, a brother, a friend, and now a Coach. CrossFit lends itself well to the personable coach, and I try very hard to be that. What I love about my garage affiliate is that I'm home when I train. When you come to CFCC, you'll meet my retired Dad, you'll get licked by my dog and you'll see what I bought at Costco this week. However, teaching CrossFit in my garage is the same as teaching CrossFit in a big box. If you've met other coaches, and gone to the bigger boxes, you know other coaches are this way too. They love to teach, and welcome you into their class like you were family.

I love training and I love coaching. While I don't have all the answers, and I don't have a bunch of letters after my name, I certainly can teach a mean overhead squat and know the fine points of a good snatch.

I've never had a job that is so much fun. CrossFit is really, really FUN. I don't mean roller-coaster fun, or family-day-at-the-movies fun. It's the kind of fun you have in competitive sports. The thrill of victory. It's fun knowing you gave it your all, even if your all wasn't a mind-blowing Fran time.

Remember when you were a kid, how long you could play outside in the mud and in the snow? Running up hills, down hills, through the woods, throwing snowballs, throwing footballs in the snow? Remember that? It was hard work! But we don't remember it as work, because it was fun. I get that feeling when I CrossFit. I enjoy working out with family and friends. I don't know how long I would've stuck with it if my wife wasn't CrossFitting with me. How long can you have a snowball fight by yourself? Yes, this is why I CrossFit; for me, for them, and for you.

Why do I CrossFit? I CrossFit so you'll CrossFit! That is why I CrossFit.

Now, why do you CrossFit? -Bob Guere

22 comments on this entry.

1. MarthaB wrote...

July 24, 2009 3:43 PM

Excellent post! Thanks.

2. whitley wrote...

July 24, 2009 3:45 PM

hey dad! i just read it and im commenting now!

3. Chad Furey wrote...

July 24, 2009 4:05 PM

This article, articles like this, people like these which create communities and groups like this, its not about beating the guy next to you, its about pushing the guy next to you so that you suffer together and grow together, the confidence and achievement you develop is incredible but is no competition compared to the people you meet the friends you make.


This is why I CrossFit!

AMAZING ARTICLE!

Chad Furey

4. Lisa Major wrote...

July 24, 2009 4:31 PM

I started with CrossFit Ventura about 2 months ago. I am not sure what part I enjoy the most, the benefits to my health and body fitness or that nervous excitement I get about an hour before a WOD! As far as the familial attachement we share with total strangers, just remember how you felt in the stands when "OPT" did not come out for the final round. OR when Iceland Annie had never done a muscle up and you did everything in your power to "will" her up there. I may not be considered even close to a CrossFitter Firebreather but I know that I am 100% Firebreather in my competition to be fitter, faster and stronger! See you next year at the games!

5. Matt Charney wrote...

July 24, 2009 4:58 PM

WOW! Change only a few words and that is my same exact story. Amazing story at the same time!

Wish we had met, felt like I was back at the games experiencing it all over again while reading this.

Good Job brother, Semper Fi

Matt

6. Diane Dennis wrote...

July 24, 2009 5:19 PM

Thanks for this article! As an over-50 female CrossFitter, this article strikes a particular chord with me. As a young girl, I too ran through the woods and climbed trees and had all sorts of physical contests with the neighborhood boys and girls. In my teens, however, I was instructed to "clean myself up" and "become a lady". I did that and for several decades was very successful in my well-groomed, non-competitive shell. Then, at age 48, this crazy CrossFit thing came along. Suddenly, my competitiveness was released, my inhibitions were shed and I experienced the thrill of knowing that my body and my mind can truly be transformed (while gasping for breath and lieing in a pool of sweat). Although many of my friends refer to my CrossFitting as "an exercise kick", I've experienced changes that were unimaginable prior to CrossFit! This heart-felt and well-written article might finally be the tool that helps me spread the word among my friends!

7. Playoff Beard wrote...

July 24, 2009 5:33 PM

Bob,

That was a great article, thanks for sharing your story. Sorry that I missed you at the Games.

You've managed to capture the spirit of what it means to be a Crossfitter for us regular folks getting after it every day in the garage gym. It's more than a quest for personal fitness or faster Fran times, it's the sense of community and the thrill of the adventure that life is meant to be. I'm 36 and Crossfit makes me feel like a kid again too!

Keep training and keep coaching, it sounds like you're doing a great job.

Never Quit!

-Jeremy

8. Will Jefferies wrote...

July 24, 2009 5:50 PM

Fitness is all I have ever really done professionally, I am 31 and have been a trainer since I turned 18, but now I am a CrossFitter! I played sports and was a good but not great athlete and then I got caught up in the BS of the fitness industry...this certification is prestigious that one isn't, that ones for "meathead" this one is for "lab coats". That BS almost kept me away from CrossFit, "No person can maintain good form for a workout like that, it isn't safe" I actually said that. Now I keep good form through these workouts, I suffer, I earn every minute of my less then impressive Fran. But my affiliate application has been approved, I bought a camera and I am working on a website and everything else that we CrossFitters do. Why? Because in 13 years as a "professional trainer" I have never felt like an athlete, I never trained athletes and I was never part of a community. Once my box is open everyone is welcome, just like the guys at CrossFit Santa Clarita in SoCal welcomed me when I dropped in, they gave me a shirt when I didn't have cash to buy it, I know it is SO CHEESY, but I love you guys, my CrossFit Family.

Now go change your world!

9. Steve S. wrote...

July 24, 2009 8:08 PM

Great post brother. Honored to have you as a So CA neighbor.

Steve

10. Bob Guere wrote...

July 24, 2009 8:15 PM

I'm really happy this was something everyone enjoyed reading, it's really from the heart and is truly what CrossFit has done for me. It's transformed me into the machine that God intended me to be. Fit, happy, and healthy. Open invitation to anyone driving through the SoCal High Desert and get's lost.... I can hydrate you, feed you, and point you towards civilization. And maybe a cold beer and a WOD while we're at it.

11. bingo wrote...

July 25, 2009 7:57 AM

Bob,

Wonderful post. I have often described myself as a "middle of the Bell curve" Crossfitter; I fit the description of your clients to a T. The fitness, health, and community here in the Crossfit Cybergym is what keeps us all coming back. Thanks for your thoughts.

I, too, missed lots of my fellow CF'ers in Aromas. Look forward to fixing that next year!

--bingo

12. Christi wrote...

July 25, 2009 8:14 AM

Bob, my story is like yours and maybe like some of your members. A year ago I was invited to try Crossfit and my exact response was "No thanks I already have a gym membership I don't use". My friends insisted that Crossfit is different than the typical gyms. I nervously showed up (we were in a garage gym then) and immediately felt as ease when I met Beth, the trainer. She quickly assessed my skill and fitness level (very out of shape), and scaled the workout appropriately. After my first wod, and every one after that I have an amazing sense of accomplishment. I have had great results with Crossfit Hollister (now a box gym). I lost 30 lbs, gained self confidence again and continue to improve my wods with strength, endurance and form. A huge thanks to my trainers and the Crossfit community for your support!

13. Louise wrote...

July 25, 2009 8:19 AM

Bob, thank you so much for posting, your story hits close to home for me. Crossfit became a community I didn't know I was looking for. Who would have thought I would travel 2500 miles just to volunteer for the Games. Nor did I ever imagine that I would find a community in whatever town I am working in, just by walking into a box! For a road warrior like myself the Crossfit community is what keeps me sane when I haven't been home for months on end!

14. Paul Glasheen wrote...

July 25, 2009 8:54 AM

Excellent! Like the others, I feel like this could have been my article.

There could be a link to this article in the FAQ on the main page for "why do most people CrossFit"!

Thanks Bob

More articles from Bob please.

15. Tim wrote...

July 25, 2009 12:27 PM

Woah, did anyone else notice the size of Tommy's hands in that picture?

16. marcus wrote...

July 25, 2009 5:07 PM

Bob- that was awesome!

After all the reading about the snobbish attitude of CFers I was glad to read about someone who has a similar experience as me.

I had to link this off the boards, because if you're telling anyone about CrossFit, this is what you should be telling them.

Thanks Bob.

17. John-Son wrote...

July 26, 2009 1:21 AM

This is my first time commenting here. I am from Malaysia, located on the opposite side of the world map to where the games were held. Followed the games all night through twitter and the comments left on these comment boxes. I am still blown away at the effectiveness Crossfit has on building such a community. Let me tell you, it is the same here even though we come from different ethnic backgrounds, cultures and traditions. The spirit of Crossfit transcends all that. Keep it up guys ! I hope to be there at the games next year !

18. Tamara wrote...

July 27, 2009 11:32 AM

Bob, this is awesome. Thanks. I have a hard time explaining to the non-CF world why and how I have been suddenly sucked into this CrossFit "cult." Why do I gladly get up at 5:00 am to do a WOD that leaves me heaving on the floor? Why do I spend hours watching videos, reading the CF Journal, browsing posts on the CF forum? Why do I care about getting my pullup or perfecting my snatch? Why do I talk about CF non-stop and drag everyone I can to my affiliate to see what CF is all about? Why on earth did I happily plunk down a deposit for the Level 1 cert? A lot of people see the fact that I am "skinnier," and they think that must have something to do with it...when in fact, it has nothing to do with it. When I started CF, I vainly wanted my pre-mama flat stomach back. Now, if I had to pick a body part, I'd say I was most proud of my shoulders, ha! And, I am most proud of the CF community. Thanks for putting into words all the reasons that I CrossFit!

19. Ian Montalvo wrote...

July 27, 2009 12:05 PM

Bob,
It is truely amazing how the same story you tell I can relate to and I live across the country. I am a 24 year old from Connecticut who played sports my whole life and was always what I thought to be fit. Three years ago I blew out my right knee and became extremely down on myself because I gained an incredible amount of wait and as of Feb 2nd of this year which was my first day of crossfit I was 294lbs and NOT HAPPY!. Since that day I have made the commitment that everyone in the crossfit community make and that is to do the WODs and love it. Without a question changed my life. I am 6'3 240lbs now at 15% BF and I am in the best shape of my life and I owe that to my WOD partner Caleb who got me into crossfit and Russ and Kim Malz who own the affiliate where I WOD( Crossfit Persevere). Why I Crossfit is because everyday I wake up and look in the mirror and am so happy with myself physically, mentally, and the way I am able to handle things. Your article is amazing and every person who crossfits knows exactly where your comming from.
Thank you for you inspiration,
Ian, CT, Crossfit Persevere

20. Phil Garcia wrote...

July 28, 2009 12:49 AM

Bob,

Wow, what a great article. You summed up how I feel about Crossfit and put it in far better terms than I ever could. Thanks and great training.

Sgt. Phil Garcia
San Jose Police Department

21. George Hatcher wrote...

July 29, 2009 9:34 AM

Excellent and inspiring post, Bob. I'm a NASA Crossfitter too! I work out at home in Cape Canaveral and do the WODs at Bally's when I'm in Houston. Who knows, maybe one day I can be a coach like you!

22. K. wrote...

July 31, 2009 10:34 AM

Bob,

I simply love your story, and have already forwarded it to some of my fellow CFitters. You've captured all that is CF, and why we do what we do. It's beautifully written.

Thank you for sharing.