The Original Eight

In March 2008, we were at a crossroads.  We faced an interesting dilemma: a 2-year study on exercise adherence was pointing us – shoehorning, really – toward CrossFit.  It had all the elements that, we’d shown, produced long-term adherence to exercise: community, challenge, progress, novelty, and a sense of ‘sport.’  On the other hand, it was somewhat counter to what we’d learned in University.

You know the story: Tyler volunteered first (his original blog is here.)  Then, we offered a deal to eight friends and former clients: show up for a month straight.  We’ll provide the space and the workout.  You provide the scores.

In the Original Eight: Philsy.  Kubis.  Whitney.  Krista.  Taylor.  Angela.  Gabe.  And one more….

But also in that eight was one hand uncounted, until recently.  She attacked the WODs in 2008.  She finished in the top half of participants in nearly every single workout.  She provided rides for other new CrossFitters.  And then….she got pregnant.  And gave birth 3 months early.

A year and a half later, she sent me this message: “Dare I come back?”  I invited her to watch FranFest; she did, tiny baby in tow.

Consider the story of Rip Van Winkle: asleep for a hundred years, the world moved on, abandoning him to culture shock in his own culture when he awoke.  Part of the society in which he was now estranged, he had to reabsorb into the stew for which he helped write the recipe.  

This was Vicki.  The last time she saw CrossFit, it was just a group of eight crazies at 7pm, trying not to disrupt a Pilates group that was sharing the space.  It was jumping pullups and high squats.  Now, it’s FranFest.  The world moves on.  Imagine seeing FranFest through her eyes: fourty-four participants.  Dozens of spectators.  Loud music and sweat and chalk and broken plates.  Team T-shirts.  Spectators and Super Whit. 


Above: the early risers.  Some of the athletes (also Ed) before the spectators arrive.

Even more impressive: the community.  In the picture above, everyone knows the name of everyone else.  They know who’s trying Paleo eating; who just had a crazy workout personal best; who just had a birthday.  They’ve celebrated, en masse, achievement and victory.  They’ve grown hoarse cheering each other.  They’re teammates.

I’ll never claim to be a good businessperson.  When I met Mel Rose, I told her I was the worst salesperson in Sault Ste. Marie.  I still am.  The CrossFit Community has grown from within: clients dragging friends to the Saturday Morning 9am group, or needling them relentlessly to get into the OnRamp group.  It’s no longer about a gym.  The Eight have gone forth, and multiplied over and over.