In December of 2005 I read an article in the New York Times titled “Getting Fit, Even if it Kills You”. In short, this article was about a workout protocol titled CrossFit.
In November of 2007, I was fortunate enough to have a CrossFit box open up near the apartment that I lived in at that time.
After a few email correspondences with the owner, I elected to check out my local CrossFit box.
I drove through a network of streets in a relatively new subdivision with street names like Winding Way. Using a flashlight and a printed map from MapQuest (I couldn’t afford a GPS at the time), I finally found my way to Walpole Lane. As I approached the approximate address I saw a huge man (John Coffey like) flagging me down and waving me toward his driveway.
I pulled up, parked my truck, and turned the ignition off. Before I opened the door of my F150, I seriously considered re-starting the engine, putting the transmission in reverse, and getting the hell out of dodge.
But I didn’t. I opened the driver side door. THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I’VE EVER MADE IN MY LIFE. I was 27 years old at the time, two years removed from discovering this thing called CrossFit on the front page of the NYT. And I was about to walk into a garage gym owned by an unknown person and try this thing called CrossFit.
The box owner, and the guy that would become my coach, walked down the driveway to greet me with his hand extended. “Mr. Fuller”, he said, “nice to meet you and welcome to TitanFit”. Immediately thereafter he said “follow me” and opened the door connecting his garage to his living quarters and introduced me to his wife Carol, son Thor, and daughter Tyra. This simple introduction to complete strangers, including Herb himself (my coach), reassured me that I was glad I parked the F150 and stepped out.
After a brief verbal consultation regarding my current fitness level and history of sports, gym memberships, etc., Herb asked me to review and sign the waiver that all CrossFit athletes are now familiar with when joining a box. This put a little bit of reservation back at the forefront of my mind. But soon I would realize that all of these reservations and fears were part of my psyche, not what my new coach was trying to forecast. He wanted my business, but was protecting his own interest as well.
“Our warm-up is their workout”, coach Herb said.
My coach instructed me through some stretching and limbering exercises, a short 5-minute calisthenics warm-up, and introduced me to a few movements that would be in my first CrossFit WOD (Workout Of the Day). Upon ensuring that my movement standards during my demonstration session were correct in form and adequate to perform the WOD he had planned, he walked to a small 3′ x 4′ dry erase board and wrote a short metcon (metabolic conditioning) workout for me to complete.
I don’t remember the style of workout, time domain, rep scheme, or even all of the movements from that first CrossFit WOD. I do remember that kettlebell swings were part of it, though. I also remember being extremely humbled both during and after the WOD, and vomiting in the trash can in Herb’s driveway about 10 minutes after completing it.
“What did you think of your first experience with CrossFit, Mr. Fuller”?, Herb asked as I sat back in the garage and tried to collect my thoughts. “I’m going to give it a shot”, I replied. And thus began my relationship with Herb, his family, TitanFit, and the CrossFit protocol that would have a profound impact on my life.
After that first WOD and until approximately February of 2009, I was extremely consistent at TitanFit and the results were astounding. I was in the gym completing CrossFit WOD’s an average of 5 days each week. In April of 2009 I had to take an exam to obtain my Professional Engineer’s license and my training at TitanFit had to take a back seat. Later in 2009 I resumed my training at TitanFit and again was pretty consistent until the fall of 2011, with the same astounding results. At that time work obligations prevented me from being an active athlete at the gym. I obtained my CrossFit Level 1 Certification in 2010 and helped as needed at TitanFit until my 2011 hiatus.
Over the course of my time in the gym, and outside of it, I’ve learned a lot. Herb taught a farm-boy from a small town in Illinois (population 1400 at best) more about weightlifting and the CrossFit protocol than one could imagine. And when you spend hours in a dimly lit garage with your coach and then finally move to a “box” when membership suggests he can afford the rent, you get to become pretty damn good friends.
Although I was at the gym sporadically after my 2011 hiatus, I continued to be involved with social functions and was still considered to be part of the TitanFit family. The folks that have walked into the doors of TitanFit over the years came for the same thing as I did initially, but those that are still currently members have found the same takeaway that I feel today.
TitanFit was not created with any sort of business model in mind. It was created for like-minded people to improve their health, share their success’s and failure’s, and have fun in doing both. And Herb Sampson, our coach, owner, mentor, and friend has created this environment at TitanFit like I’ve never seen before. And it is infectious. His Gym, My Gym, Your Gym.
In late summer of 2014, I hit a road block. BIG TIME. A mid-life crisis, of sorts. With the help of my girlfriend and a few close co-workers, I shifted my head back in the direction I needed to go. The very next person that I reached out to was Herb Sampson, my coach. I had been almost absent as an athlete from TitanFit for 3 years. He said “come back in”. Soon thereafter, other members of TitanFit heard of my setback and reached out to me as well. And this is where Herb and the community of people he’s built at TitanFit really shine.
But I was stubborn. Something that had worked for me so well, for so long, seemed so far off in the distance to me now. I had a desire to return to TitanFit for the results I’d previously seen and the mental sharpness and clarity it provided me, others wanted me to come back for the community and camaraderie aspects, but I couldn’t bring myself to physically or mentally walk back through the door.
The first 6 months of 2015 were pretty rough for me, but I did eventually walk back into TitanFit on occasion. In December of 2015 I told myself that what has worked in the past is sure to work again, but it is more incumbent on me to make it happen than anyone else. My coach and my TitanFit family could drag me through those doors, but they couldn’t make me complete the WOD.
On December 28, 2015 I walked back in to the gym I’ve always loved. It took me no less than 15 minutes to figure out what I’d been missing in my life. The people, the place, and my coach & one of my best friends – Herb Sampson.