A Journey to Better, Faster … and Truly Stronger

shutterstock_235483747I recently read something that really made me think about my own experience as a Box owner: “If I only help you become a better athlete, I have failed.”* I think these words have stuck with me because they speak directly to my desire to make a true long-lasting LIFE impact on each of my athletes.

Starting CrossFit was transformational for me. Not only did I finally find the kind of ‘workout’ I’d been looking for my entire adult life, I found new strength in myself as a person. The strength I needed to push through the limits of my physical endurance during a WOD also strengthened my ability to take on all the challenges life throws my way. The community I found at my first Box made me feel part of something bigger than myself in a way I hadn’t experienced before. When I moved to a new town that had no CrossFit, not only did I feel a huge sense of loss over what I’d left behind, but I also wanted to share what I’d experienced with people in my new home. I wanted others to feel transformed in mind, body and soul just as I had.

Since I opened my Box, I have watched all my athletes make impressive, often inspiring, gains in strength, mobility and skill. But the truly inspiring gains are the ones they make on a personal, emotional, even spiritual level. As a Box owner, I believe it is part of my role to be available to each individual athlete as he/she travels the path of his/her own CrossFit journey.

A journey is what it really becomes: beginning with the fear and nervousness of Fundamentals and early WODs; continuing with the realization that they are capable of so much more than they thought; moving on to the new friendships, the inevitable humbling moments and the triumphs they thought they’d never achieve. And along the way they are living lives intertwined with their physical journey – relationships blossom, jobs and careers change, babies are born, children grow, family members age. I want my CrossFit Box, and the community behind it, to strengthen each athlete and support their personal journey.

How can a Box owner possibly do this? We aren’t priests, therapists or teachers. There’s no easy answer. But, all of my athletes are supported by my Coaches and our community. I do believe that an important part of the answer is to listen, really listen, to each individual athlete. Talk to them, get to know them, check in regularly, reach out when they don’t show up for awhile. And just listen. When an athlete knows you’re there when they need you, they will feel comfortable sharing their hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. That’s when your Box becomes a second home for them and CrossFit becomes family.

I hope I have made some small strides in fostering the kind of transformational environment I wanted to create when I started CrossFit Stevens Point. Occasionally, I do get feedback from one of my athletes that indicates I may be on the right path. Recently, one of my athletes (who travels more than 20 miles each way to WOD with us), sent me a text that read, “No matter how bad of a day I have had, the moment I walk into the Box everything changes. Your place is magical.”

And another athlete, who had been out due to injury, sent me an email last week: “I had tears in my eyes driving to the Box this morning… ‘Can I do this?’ ‘Will I do this?’ ‘I need to do this.’ … All my feelings about CrossFit came back immediately – love, teamwork, camaraderie, health, love, strength, friendship, Coaches who care … I completely surprised myself going into it thinking I would fail, but ended up doing better and more than I thought. Hearing you and others yell my name … everyone’s support meant a lot. I know that’s your job as a Coach, but I KNEW that you were proud, and I knew that you knew I was doing my best. I left feeling awesome, inspired once again, rejuvenated and proud of how far I’ve come. I know that I can get through these hurdles and I have people who can help me through it. Thank you.”

In her essay, “What Lives On,” Lisbeth Darsh writes, “When you die, no one is going to talk about your personal records at the gym. They very likely won’t talk about your max Snatch or your “Murph” time or how many consecutive pull-ups you had … But they will talk, a lot, about your heart.”

When the boatman is ready to take me over, I hope I have more to talk about with him than my mean rowing skills. When I go, I hope I can truly say, “I gave from the heart and I made a difference.”

 

*from the essay ‘What Lives on’ in the book “Live Like That” by Lisbeth Darsh, Lisbeth Darsh Enterprises, LLC, published February 2015

Scott Keyser moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 2011 and got his Level One certification and Affiliation in 2013. After time at two temporary locations, he left his ‘day job’ and took CrossFit Stevens Point on full-time at its current location. Scott, his wife Kristin and their son James reside in Stevens Point, and they all CrossFit.