• Rob Olson

What I’ve Learned from 5 Years of Owning a CrossFit

CrossFit Simsbury is approaching its 5-year anniversary August 1st. Looking back, so many things have changed - The 6am class five years ago consisted of exactly one member and myself as the coach; equipment was minimal; Wodify did not exist; and the staff was all in training. Today, there are two simultaneous 6am classes, with a total of up to 30 athletes across two rooms; Wodify keeps track of attendance and scores; and two coaches run the classes with expert knowledge.

The core remains the same however. At CrossFit Simsbury we are looking to live healthier lives by doing constantly varied functional movements at high intensity while simultaneously improving our diet. We strive to make CFS the best hour of our members days, no matter if it is the 5am or 6:30pm class. Happy and healthy is our goal. We are a close-knit community that supports each other through the highs and the lows in our personal lives. For this I am especially proud.

Here are a few things I personally have learned from owning a CrossFit for 5 years and seeing dozens, if not hundreds of people come through our doors:

1 – Its all about consistency.

Everybody joins CrossFit for a reason. Some want to lose weight, others want to get stronger, and some want to meet people in town. Regardless of your goal, the only way to achieve it is to put in the time. Looking back over five years, the most successful members have been those that made CrossFit a routine. The same class time, 3, 4, or 5 days a week. It does not matter if they felt great before coming, or tired and tight … they came. Consistency builds habits, and habits build character. Some character traits that are built and reinforced from CrossFit – hard working, humility, determination, perseverance, confidence, and discipline come to mind. Watching these attributes carry over to peoples personal lives is priceless.

2 – You can’t ignore nutrition

The average age of the CrossFit Simsbury member is 37. Frankly speaking, at 37 most people have no idea what healthy nutrition is. It is by no fault on them, proper nutrition is never taught in school or in life. We eat as a result of what is marketed as healthy, or more simply by what we feel like eating. If you are lucky your primary care physician will talk to you about nutrition during your yearly physical, but most do not, and heck, even if he/she does, how much can you take away in one sit down? That is why it is up to us to take the lead and teach what it means to eat healthy. What I thought I knew five years ago about nutrition pales in comparison to what I know today. If I had a time machine and could advise myself about the #1 thing to improve, it would be nutrition with new members. Today we have a robust program that advises a new member on nutrition from day 1 of their Prep Course and we continue it throughout the entire prep. We have nutrition challenges multiple times per year and we have dedicated one-on-one nutrition coaching available as well as on-going coaching. The nutrition that is taught is meant to be life-long and sustainable. Short term cleanses and fixes provide no long term gains. There needs to be a healthy relationship with food, viewing it as medicine that prevents future disease and fuels the body. Done properly, having a treat on Friday night or cocktails on Saturday will not derail a robust nutrition foundation. Learning nutrition takes time. Just like improving your back squat, you must constantly work towards your goal. For many, healthy nutrition changes lead to healthy body marker improvements like your cholesterol level, your blood pressure, your body fat, your muscle mass, and so on. Not to mention, improved nutrition will make you faster in metcons, stronger in weightlifting, and recover better from workouts!

3 – Know your “Why”

For true longevity in CrossFit, it is important to know your “why”. Why did you join? What keeps you coming back? For me, its two-fold. I do CrossFit so that I can do activities outside and explore the world. Last year I completed Ironman Lake Placid. I was able to complete the event by training CrossFit, and because of that, I got to explore somewhere I had never been – a beautiful lakeside village in upstate New York, and I made memories with my family that will last a lifetime. Doing CrossFit keeps me generally physically prepared for any event, and every year or two I find a new event to get me outside. The other reason I do CrossFit is so that as I grow old, I stay healthy! Fifty years ago, the average retirement was 12 years. Today, if you retire at 65, many will live to 95 or more. That’s 30 years+ of retirement! I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy those years! I hope I’m only in a nursing home in my final year or two, if that. Before that I want to be out and about, travelling and playing with my grandkids. Our bodies are meant to be used – smartly – and they will last you a lifetime. CrossFit to me provides that, it strengthens my muscles, keeps my heart and lungs active, and keeps my mind sharp and clear.

4 – CrossFit is for everybody

The hardest part about CrossFit is starting CrossFit. There is an intimidation factor like no other. Yet inside these doors, everybody is capable of CrossFit. We have 5 year olds and 70 year olds, we have people that need to gain weight and people that need to lose weight. We have healthy people and sick people, injured and non-injured. Yet every single person inside these doors possesses the mindset of self-improvement through hard work. The Coaches are here to help scale/modify the workouts so everybody can participate. The most powerful mindset is one of “I Can” and we are here to help you with that. If you walk through our doors, we will show you how.

Leaving the Navy and starting on the path of entrepreneurship was not an easy decision. The first year, heck, even first two years, possessed more than its fair share of difficulties and hurdles. I had to ask for help a few times because the oil bills were higher than I ever could have predicted. But I knew there was something special here and had to persevere. Helping others to lose weight, get stronger, get their first double under, do things they never imagined possible like their first pullup, and just plain live healthier/happier lives, that’s what it is all about. Thank you to everybody that has walked through our doors and helped shape who we are today!

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