Part of this blog is to share my experiences; as a Coach and an Athlete. I have the pleasure of sharing my experience of going to other CrossFit gyms too, I think that it is now a good time to share. . . . and if you get the time, as most of you who read this are in Connecticut, swing by and say hello, our neighbors to the North aren't that far away . . . .
CrossFit Ironwill (http://www.crossfitironwill.com/), is located at 100 Verge St, in Springfield, MA. When I used to live in Berlin, CT, I was a little over a mile from CrossFit USA. Well my girlfriend's place is a little over a mile from CrossFit Ironwill and having a box that close is absolutely amazing. I took the CrossFit Level I course with the Manager of the box, Heath Speckman. At first, I didn't connect the dots that he had started his own facility, but when I went up to Ironwill, I immediately recognized him, and we started our friendship from where it had left off at the Level I course. The interesting thing that most of you may not know is that Heath's brother, Cody, was behind me in the Air Force at the same tech school, so we had that small bit in common.
We had talked a little bit at the Level I, and like I mentioned before, we continued to have conversations. He started his gym with Katie, and he and Katie were so proud of what they were doing, and watching it grow has been absolutely incredible. When I first went up, they had a few members, and he was still in the military (not so much anymore, now that he coaches full time)! Katie is currently still in the military! They are both very thorough in their teaching, verifying all the technical aspects prior to using Rx (prescribed) weights. They would rather see the accomplishment of a movement rather than the weight that is on the whiteboard.
The thing that impressed me the most was the amount of research he does. You see, Heath made his climbing ropes, he has the slosh pipes, he has a lot of weight in that gym, he uses marble that he has weighed to emphasize moving difficult objects rather than just weights, and above all, he puts his clients first. He provides for them in every facet, tailoring workouts specifically for them. He views diet as a joke, and lifestyle change as the point of view.
Heath and Katie have put on events as well, their events are really interesting. Every Thursday they do one of the Female Named WOD's (workout of the day). On a day that one of the CrossFit Hero's gave their lives, Heath and Katie perform that Hero's workout in honor of them. I find this truly amazing, there are a couple reasons behind this:
1.) There are 41 Hero Workouts - that's a lot of research.
2.) They are extremely hard - scaled or unscaled
3.) They require dedication by the athlete and a lot of motivation - both of which Heath and Katie instill in their athletes from the outset and provide while they work out.
I think what gets me the most about the gym is that its comfortable. Not like a memory foam mattress comfortable or that feeling you get when you go home to visit your parents comfortable, but the kind of feeling you get when you step in someone else's house that you just met and you feel like you've been there before. Now sure, when you walk into a CrossFit gym, it can be intimidating, especially if you walk in during a workout, but even at Ironwill, I don't think I have heard or seen anyone looking intimidated. The members are welcoming to feedback regarding form, they enjoy laughter just as much as they enjoy working out. They stay to "hang out" after the workout is done because that is the environment.
Heath and Katie don't just coach their athlete's, they work out with them. The coaches become the athlete's and the athlete's become their motivation. I don't think Heath or Katie would ever program a workout that they wouldn't do themselves. They go to events together: the Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, the CrossFit Revelation Throwdown, and the Thanksgiving Throwdown - and Grand Opening of New London CrossFit.
I look at CrossFit Ironwill as Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams (1989). Heath and Katie looked at a vacant building, similar to Ray Kinsella (Costner's character) looked at the field of corn. They both saw the potential of CrossFit, they built the facility, and once they built it, people came. The dreams are being discovered now, and they will be amazing!
"Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts." (That was for you Heath)