23 July 2015 – Coach M's Pause for Thought

The crew after our first park WOD

Brace yourselves. Coach M is about to get all emosh. Feelings are coming your way….

I recently received a message from one of our members thanking me for the birthday card signed by everyone at CF1864. Now, they weren’t grateful just because they enjoyed the card. As they are now far away from their hometown, they explained, the messages inside the card were welcoming, and showed them that they were not just joining a gym, but a really great community. 

This email made me smile and gave me pause for thought…

At my first competition, October 2012

How it all started

I fell in love with CrossFit many moons ago. And although the coaches I worked with in my beginnings were great and I learned loads from them, it wasn’t their cues, progressions or even their mid-WOD cheers that made CrossFit what it was (and is) to me. Instead, it was the people that I worked out with that made me so passionate about the sport that I am now lucky enough to call my career.  It was this community of athletes that busted their humps alongside me every day that made CrossFit great.

To be perfectly honest, opening a CrossFit box is scary as hell.

You must excel at bookkeeping, social media, website development, blog writing, DIY, coordinating events, life counselling, and admin. LOADS of admin. There are so many things to worry about... What colour should our logo be, is our name inventive enough, is our programming challenging enough but not too challenging to scare away beginners, is the box clean and tidy, will we have enough kit, and the biggest concern, are our members happy and will they get on?!

I have read articles from all of the main CrossFit sites saying that the most important element of a CrossFit box is its community and it is the box’s responsibility to create that sense of community. Without community, a box is destined for failure. EESH. Phil will vouch that I would stress about CF1864’s 'sense of community' every night… how the ‘vibe’ of the class was, whether the members enjoyed the session, etc.

The ladies of CF1864 getting ready to smash the Nike Women's 10k

I wanted our box to be everything for our members that the box I started out at was for me. Somewhere people could have fun, work hard, learn, grow, and develop, a home away from home with friends they could trust and depend upon, who inspired each other on the regular. I did all the research, but couldn’t figure out how I could guarantee this would happen at CrossFit 1864.

So I reached out to my friends and trusted fellow box owners for guidance. I begged them for advice on how to form a strong community just like theirs.

They both told me exactly what I didn’t want to hear.

There was sweet f*ck all I could do (in nicer terms, obviously). They both said that you can put on as many events and get-togethers as you like, but nothing will guarantee that you will end up with a vibrant community. It just happens

Fast-forward a month or so…

The workout was a nasty combo, an alternating ‘death by’ ladder of thrusters and burpees. This one.

Most of the members had finished the workout, but Steve and Chambers (before they were known to us as Steve & Chambers!) were still going, fighting through every thruster and moving as quickly as possible through each burpee.

And then it happened… 

Before I knew it, all of the members that had finished, despite their exhaustion, were up off the floor, cheering Steve and Chambers on. They even started doing burpees with them! That’s when I knew that this whole thing was actually going to work out and that our community was destined to be just as awesome as I had hoped it would be.

Luke and Dodge in the final WOD of our first Throwdown

And I continue to see this every day

When I hear the 7 pm class shout for the 6 pm class from the mezzanine, every picture of another member that gets liked on Facebook, every tip or word of wisdom that is passed on from our more experienced athletes to our beginners, every time I see someone extend a hand to welcome a new face before class. It is these actions from you all that make me realise how lucky I am not just to be A coach, but to be YOUR coach. 

So now it’s my turn to thank YOU, our athletes, for making this box what it is today. Because, regardless of what the articles say, it has very little to do with the facilities, the website, the programming or even the coaches. It’s a box’s athletes that make a CrossFit community what it is and you all have made an amazing one.

So here’s to you, you incredible, impressive, strong, hilarious, dedicated, passionate Crazy Ones.

Now, someone go get me a tissue. I’ve got some chalk or something in my eye.


A) Barbell Skills Development: Clean & Jerk Cycling

B) 21-15-9
Clean & Jerk (60/40 kg)
Toes to bar
(Time cap: 12 minutes)

C) Until the last person finishes B, perform:
1 Power Clean & 1 Push Jerk every 30 seconds, add load as technique allows
*Practice cycling straight from power clean to push jerk