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News / Events

Hey KOA Nation and anyne who wants to participate. KOA will be hosting the Garage Games World Wide Gym Resolution on January 12th, 2013. There will be 3 WODs (to be announced later) and 3 levels to compete in; Beginner, Scaled, and RX. Therre will also be awards for top competitors at KOA and also worldwide. The event will be an opportunity to evaluate your fitness level at the beginning of 2013, and each year thereafter (the same WODs will take place each year. If interested, sign up at Garage Games (link here - if it works).

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Garage Games

Hey KOA Nation and anyne who wants to participate. KOA will be hosting the Garage Games World Wide Gym Resolution on January 12th, 2013. There will be 3 WODs (to be announced later) and 3 levels to compete in; Beginner, Scaled, and RX. Therre will also be awards for top competitors at KOA and also worldwide. The event will be an opportunity to evaluate your fitness level at the beginning of 2013, and each year thereafter (the same WODs will take place each year. If interested, sign up at Garage Games (link here - if it works). We will post more information as we know more, and also on the KOA website. Happy Columbus Day Weekend... Warrior Gym # 2 at KOA is getting closer and closer to opening.... We are VERY excited about all the goings on at KOA Nation...As Josh menntioned last week, we have more announcements for other events coming soon....

Click here to learn more

 
      Working at CrossFit Koa is a dream job.  Every day I come in to work I am genuinely excited; excited to coach, to train, and to help members change their lives one WOD, one exercise, one rep at a time. 
 

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My inspiration...

 
      Working at CrossFit Koa is a dream job.  Every day I come in to work I am genuinely excited; excited to coach, to train, and to help members change their lives one WOD, one exercise, one rep at a time. 
 
   Despite the love and passion I have for coaching CrossFit, the fact is that it is work and it does leave me drained.  When I attempt to do my own workout at some point of the day, I am often physically and mentally drained.  I struggle to get through the warm up, then labor through my first few exercises.  Its usually a battle from beginning to end just to get through the workout with the necessary intensity I need in order to see improvement.  I get through it each time, sometimes satisfied with my effort and sometimes not.
 
   I used to watch videos of Spealler and OPT and Everett battling it out in the 2008 Games for motivation.  I watched Heather Bergeron destroy workouts, Mikko Salo perform insane acts of strength and endurance, and just about every CrossFit montage YouTube had to offer.  I moved on to weightlifting monsters like Jon North and the Lion Killer Donny Shankle next, trying to channel even a small part of their intensity and use it in my own WODs.  All of these people and these videos helped me… somewhat.  But I needed something more. 
 
   I needed a legitimate inspiration.  And I finally found it.
 
   Every.  Single.  One.  Of.  You. 
 
   All of you.  All of you inspire the crap out of me.  Is that appropriate to say?  Whatever its true.  The fact that you all go through your days, having to work jobs and/or take care of kids and perform countless other duties, yet STILL come in to the gym daily and attack every single WOD.  Overhead squats?  Whatever lets rock.  Snatches?  Handstand pushups?  Teach me to do it or show me how to scale so I can learn and get stronger.  Daily you all come in, with countless “things” you could use as an excuse but you do not.  You run a lap.  You do some leg swings.  Hit some mobility.  Then grab a bar off the rack and prepare for some serious work. 
 
   Its remarkable and I admire it more than any of you know.  I know how hard it is for me to get up for training, and I am in a gym all day!!  The rest of you could make excuses… but you don’t.  You could sleep an extra hour, but you don’t.
 
   I don’t want to single anyone out because I am honestly talking about every single person in the gym.  But there is someone I just have to give a shout out to.
 
   Sheila Jackson.  Or Doherty.  Ok just Sheila… you all know who I am talking about.
 
   Sheila has a demanding job.  Wonderful kids that are also quite demanding (have you met Molly yet??) And yet day in and day out, she is in the gym giving 1000000%. This past week she was a little under the weather.  She came in – still! – to do the WOD.  OK well no big deal I worked out sick before.  I just took it a lil easier, lightened the weight and took it easy. 
   Not Sheila.  She doesn’t know what “taking it easy” means during a WOD.  Long hours at home or at work, stuffy nose, none of that matters.  She never makes excuses, never complains and ALWAYS gives everything she has in a workout.  I just cannot even begin to tell you how much I admire that.  I have watched her come in and crush WODs for two years now and still I am just as impressed today as I was years ago.
 
   Sheila, you are amazing.
 
   And she is not the only one.  I see you all working.  I see your body language after a long day at work, and how you find that inner strength to turn it up and get through another difficult WOD.   I see you come in despite every fiber in your body wishing you were home on the couch or in bed.  I have seen you come in and do workouts full of movements you hate or struggle with and just grind out each and every rep until time ran out. 
 
   You come to CrossFit Koa for inspiration and to change your lives.  But please know that you have also inspired me, and all of us here at CrossFit Koa, and you have definitely helped change my life. 
 
   So to Sheila and ALL of you… thank you.  You guys really are my inspiration. 
 

“The Atmosphere”
   When people ask me about CrossFit (which can be anywhere from zero to 548 times in a day) I always mention this word “atmosphere”.   As in:
“You can’t duplicate the atmosphere we create in here during a WOD.”
   I have said it so much that over the years I think I forgot what the hell that even meant.  Is it the intensity?  Well what is intensity?  I mean the “atmosphere” in a mosh pit at a death metal concert is probably pretty intense but I wouldn’t exactly advise someone to jump into that.

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The "Atmosphere"

“The Atmosphere”
   When people ask me about CrossFit (which can be anywhere from zero to 548 times in a day) I always mention this word “atmosphere”.   As in:
“You can’t duplicate the atmosphere we create in here during a WOD.”
   I have said it so much that over the years I think I forgot what the hell that even meant.  Is it the intensity?  Well what is intensity?  I mean the “atmosphere” in a mosh pit at a death metal concert is probably pretty intense but I wouldn’t exactly advise someone to jump into that.
   What have I been talking about all this time? 
   This past week I jumped in and trained with the 7:15pm class, and instantly I remembered what I meant when I said you really CAN’T duplicate the atmosphere created in our box. 
   It was the WOD we did 5 rounds of 20 wall balls and 20 Russian twists.  I had done it that same morning by myself and finished in 6:34, taking several breaks on the wall balls.  I knew I could do better so I decided to join the 7:15pm to see if the “atmosphere” could help me improve my time.
   Well, after PRing my clean and jerk by 15# to get to 240# (ATMOSPHERE!!!) we moved on to the met con.  The gym was crowded with people working out at 7:15pm, people waiting for the 8:15pm class, and foundations class members waiting as well.  Next to me were Michele and Veronica.  As Coach Lauren began the countdown, it was like everything went silent.  Music didn’t matter.  The talking didn’t matter.  I became extremely focused and determined to work as hard as I possibly could… but not for me. 
   At that moment I could only think, “Ryan you CAN’T put this ball down.  Veronica and Michele are here to get the best possible workout they can and if they see me quit and take a break, it will have a negative impact on them.  And all the other members watching, about to do this WOD… if they see me give up and let the ball fall, than perhaps that horrible creature known as ‘doubt’ will creep into their minds and make them want to take a break they don’t really need.  No.  I owe it to them.  To the people in this class that are here to go as HARD AS THEY CAN.  To the person doing their first ever WOD just trying to finish and to the person fighting for a top 60 finish in the Open next year… I owe it to ALL of our members to leave everything I have here in this gym during this workout.”
   I went unbroken on the wall balls.  I finished in 5:27. Over a full minute faster than that morning.
  The beauty of what I just described is that it is not unique to me.  It is what I see exhibited by ALL OF YOU here at CrossFit Koa.  We are selfless warriors who train not just to improve our own bodies and minds, but the men and women who train alongside us as well.  I would never be as insensitive as to equate what we do to “war”, but there is something to be said for the internal struggle we all face when confronted with a weight we have never lifted or a skill we have never mastered day after day… and yet we come back.  We come back not just for us, but to stand next to other members and suffer with them.  To be there support when they need it, to let them know “Yes pull ups DO suck and I am right here next to you sucking my way through them with you!” 
   If you come to CrossFit Koa for selfish reasons that’s ok… but please do not let it be the only reason you come.  Contribute to the “atmosphere” that I have spent so much time telling the world about.  Be a part of that positive energy that creates an environment in our gym that allows people to accomplish amazing things every single day. 
   The “atmosphere” is real dammit.  And what we have at CrossFit Koa can definitely NOT be duplicated.

CrossFit KOA will be sponsoring the Bloomingdale Ave. School/Orange Ave. School (Cranford) 5k on Sunday, November 4th.  Here is the link to register.
http://www.bestrace.com/Bloomingdale5K/

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 First and foremost, a very special congrats to all the CrossFit Koa members who kicked butt this weekend at the Pump Games up in East Hanover.  I was able to see most of the action on Saturday and could not have been more proud of the effort Koa nation put forth.  This competition was one of the hardest I have ever seen put together, and all of our members showed no fear getting after each and every event.  Great job everyone!!!
   On to this week’s topic.  The iPhone 5.  Worth it or not? 
   Kidding.

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What is really more important... your phone or your body?

 
 First and foremost, a very special congrats to all the CrossFit Koa members who kicked butt this weekend at the Pump Games up in East Hanover.  I was able to see most of the action on Saturday and could not have been more proud of the effort Koa nation put forth.  This competition was one of the hardest I have ever seen put together, and all of our members showed no fear getting after each and every event.  Great job everyone!!!
   On to this week’s topic.  The iPhone 5.  Worth it or not? 
   Kidding.
   However what I want to discuss does concern the iPhone and various other material things.  I had quite an epiphany today while tailgating at the NY Giants game.  It did not occur to me until later but it certainly resonated with me once it hit.
   During the day, I consumed many non-paleo treats.  Lots and lots of grains, cookies, ice cream, brownies… lots of stuff that was detrimental to my body.  And while I do not make a habit of eating such things, I cannot deny that my nutrition is sub-par at best.  Sometimes I eat the wrong things, sometimes I skip meals, and sometimes I eat too much… I try to be “good” but a man can only eat so many cobb salads. 
   Therefore on designated cheat meals (or sometimes in between) I technically damage my body with poor nutrition.  I put into my body things that, despite tasting amazing, will do some degree of harm to my body.  And knowing this and the effects it will have on my body will not stop me from doing this again… and again… and again. 
   Now, rewind to the Giants game today.  At one point I was sitting in a chair and had my phone (Samsung Galaxy 3s NOT the iPhone) on my lap.  I got up, phone fell, and it scratched the corner of the phone.  I was literally CRUSHED.   A piece of shiny plastic that I will only have until the next cool thing comes out was scratched a tiny bit and I was devastated.  Yet when I shoved 3 cookies, two brownies, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge on it down my throat I had not a care in the world. 
   Do I value my body so little and a piece of plastic that will be in my life a year or so that much????
   Think about it people.  Houses.  Friends.  Cars.  Clothes.  Virtually everything in this world has its season, and it will come and it will go.  From birth to our dying day we have one thing that we must take with us EVERYWHERE and we can never ever separate ourselves from: our body.  It is ours, we own it free and clear and no amount of begging or pleading will ever help us get rid of it.  So why do we not take better care of it?
   Realizing today that I cared more about my stupid phone and a tiny scratch on it more than poisoning my body with enough sugar to kill a small elephant was certainly an eye opening experience.  And it’s something I hope by sharing with you all it makes you think as well.  Believe me, I have certainly not eaten my last cookie or smashed my last pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  But it is time to be more vigilant and take care of this body of mine. 
   We get one shot at life.  One shot to do and have and experience all the things have to offer.  Our bodies are the vehicles we need to get us through all of these things.  You cannot trade it in; you cannot get a do-over if you mess it up.   Treat your body exactly the way it deserves to be treated: as the greatest possession you will ever own in your life.  Exercise, try new sports, compete, learn a new skill, sprint down the street just because you can… and stop ignoring your nutrition.

(*EDIT: this was written August 31st while I was in Hong Kong)
In 2001 I moved to Taipei, Taiwan to take part in a yearlong fellowship program at 師大大學 (Shi Da Da Xue = National Taiwan Normal University). It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Every day was an adventure, especially when riding around the streets of Taipei on a 50cc scooter (picture "Dumb and Dumber"). But despite it all I never felt like it was home. I was never able to make a connection, even though my Mandarin was quite good and I had made a number of close friends.

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International Man of CrossFit

(*EDIT: this was written August 31st while I was in Hong Kong)
In 2001 I moved to Taipei, Taiwan to take part in a yearlong fellowship program at 師大大學 (Shi Da Da Xue = National Taiwan Normal University). It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Every day was an adventure, especially when riding around the streets of Taipei on a 50cc scooter (picture "Dumb and Dumber"). But despite it all I never felt like it was home. I was never able to make a connection, even though my Mandarin was quite good and I had made a number of close friends.

By the time my fellowship was up, I was sad to leave Taiwan... Sad because as much as I fell in love with Taiwan, I didn't feel like Taiwan reciprocated that love. I was never able to latch on to anything in all those months I spent in that wonderful city...

Fast forward to 2012. Here I am in Hong Kong, a city every bit as amazing as I had imagined. A week and a half - not one year - is all I came out here for. And in my first few days I have already connected... I have already latched on. The only difference this time around? I had a CrossFit gym to visit.

There is an indescribable feeling you get when dropping in at another box. And the further you are from home, the more those feelings are exaggerated.

I walked into CrossFit Asphodel in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong just a few days after arriving. When I first arrived I went to a Globo gym chain since CF Asphodel was closed. There I witnessed a variety of exercises being performed, some I had recognized and some I thought were better suited for torture methods used for interrogation. None of the members or trainers approached me. No one offered help as I walked around looking for a place to snatch. The only looks I got were judgmental, at best.

But things were quite different at CrossFit Asphodel. The owners Alix and Ash were welcoming and friendly the minute I walked in. I met two people who were from New Jersey. I met Tiffany who trains there and is a crazy good athlete... And was born in New Brunswick! I was greeted with hellos from the gym regulars on my second day as if I had been there forever, and was complimented on my matching apparel as well (which you know I just loved hearing).

Thousands of miles away from my family and friends, away from my work that I love in a gym that has meant so much to me, in a city as different from any in the entire USA... and I had still found a connection.

This is CrossFit. This is what CrossFit does. It gets you fit. It gets you in the best shape of your life. It gets you to accomplish things you never thought possible. And it allows you to travel half way around the globe and feel as though you never left home.

In CrossFit we always talk about community. This community has helped shrink the world for all of us. I love that aspect and I desperately want to be a part of it as much as I want to TAKE PART in it. Which means I want our gym, our box to be as welcoming and inviting to everyone who walks through that door, whether member or drop-in, fire breather or beginner. A simple hello or a kind gesture can make a world of difference, can help someone feel at home when they are so very far from it.

With that being said, I miss CrossFit Koa more than words can possibly describe. I miss Jack Ryan giving me that look to get the class going when I get distracted... I miss Joe Coates voice booming words of encouragement to everyone... I miss butting in on Sheila, Eileen and Mary Beth's convos... I miss Jill Bonafide's 346,839,984 questions each class (love ya Jill). I miss all the PRs and the sweat and the laughs and the smiles... I miss all of you. Yes even you Chuck.

See you all next week!!!!!!!! CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK TO WORK!! (how many people can say that while on vacation???)

Thanks to all of you who voted - KOA Nation rocks and it is all of you that make KOA the best gym in Cranford. You all bring incredible determination, energy and the never quit attitude every single day. Thank you

 

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Cranford Patch winner of the Best Gym

Thanks to all of you who voted - KOA Nation rocks and it is all of you that make KOA the best gym in Cranford. You all bring incredible determination, energy and the never quit attitude every single day. Thank you

 

I have thought about turning this blog into more of a discourse on technique and specific methods, but frankly the thought of doing that just doesn’t appeal to me.  All day long, we the coaches are barking out orders and commands for you all to obey.  “Knees out! Butt back! Elbows up! STAY TIGHT!”  I absolutely love coaching all of you in the gym, but I honestly believe I have more to offer you than just making you better at weightlifting and CrossFit. 
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"Making CrossFit Personal"

I have thought about turning this blog into more of a discourse on technique and specific methods, but frankly the thought of doing that just doesn’t appeal to me.  All day long, we the coaches are barking out orders and commands for you all to obey.  “Knees out! Butt back! Elbows up! STAY TIGHT!”  I absolutely love coaching all of you in the gym, but I honestly believe I have more to offer you than just making you better at weightlifting and CrossFit. 
   And that is why I started writing this blog.  To give you all something more than just what we do inside the box; to coach you in and outside of the gym.  Like Big Jay once said, I want “to be the catalyst” to help you becoming a more awesome you. 
   I do not claim to be anything special by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I have two things that make me a valuable asset to all of you.  First, I have a life full of experiences that have allowed me to see the really really ups of life, as well as the really really downs of life.  And second, I have a unique perspective of all of you.  I see you almost daily.  I see virtually every emotion you are capable of having.  Excitement and anxiety before a WOD, elation after a PR, fear before attempting a big lift, uncertainty when deciding between scaling or going Rx, anger after screwing up on your 38th straight failed attempt at double unders, and of course pure hatred when told you will have to do burpees for dropping an empty bar.  These two things allow me to address you – as I stated earlier – from a very unique and I believe helpful perspective. 
   What I have seen in this gym, as far as progress, has been absolutely remarkable.  The atmosphere in the gym is everything I hoped it would be when I first met Josh, Steve and Tom.  The camaraderie continues to grow as well, and I love the sense of community our gym continues to foster.  After all, it is that community (in my opinion) that defines CrossFit as something “special” and different than other types of gyms. 
   And while I will always promote the expansion of this wonderful community of ass-kicking people, I want to caution all of you: DO NOT lose yourself.  Remember why you signed up at CrossFit Koa.  Search inside yourself – yes I know how corny that sounds but do it! – and ask yourself why the hell do you continue to beat yourself up with grueling WODs and strength training day in and day out?  If you are unable to answer that question, there is a problem. 
   CrossFit is not and should never be generic.  It is and ALWAYS will be for you.  It is for each and every one of us.  It is for Grandma just as much as it is for Rich Froning Jr.  It has meaning, it has value and it is personal to each of us as individuals.  For some it’s strictly a way to compete, for others a way to burn fat, and for others it could be just a way to meet new people.  All of those things are perfectly acceptable… because the beauty is the person who came to meet new people will ALSO burn fat and the person who came strictly to compete will also meet new people.  It is one of the things I love – truly love – about CrossFit Koa.
   But you need to make it personal.  You cannot benefit from what our gym has to offer if your only goal is to be someone else or to beat someone else.  Take away the music, the “3-2-1 GO” and the bars slamming all around you, and what do you have?  Does CrossFit help you with your confidence?  Does it help you vent your frustrations with all of life’s difficulties?  Does it satiate that burning competitive desire inside you that you haven’t felt since high school? 
     At CrossFit Koa, I believe the hour you spend in our box training should be the best hour of your day (other than seeing your loved ones of course).  It is a time you are allowed to be selfish – heck I encourage you to be selfish – and focus strictly on making YOU better.   The benefit of your training should last long after the sweat dries and the pain subsides… but first you must answer that question: what do CrossFit and CrossFit Koa mean to me?
 

 

 

I love Bob Ross.  Or should I say I loved Bob Ross (may he rest in peace).  Do you all remember Bob?  Channel 13.  PBS.  I would catch his shows at random times and always considered myself so lucky if I caught him at the beginning of his painting session. 

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Bob Ross and CrossFit - that's right Bob Ross

 

 

I love Bob Ross.  Or should I say I loved Bob Ross (may he rest in peace).  Do you all remember Bob?  Channel 13.  PBS.  I would catch his shows at random times and always considered myself so lucky if I caught him at the beginning of his painting session. 

   There he stood, Brady-bunch style clothing with an afro to match, holding on to his palate of colors that included my all time favorite: van dyke brown (here is a video of him making mountains… listen closely for the van dyke brown!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MghiBW3r65M)

   The guy was a genius.  You would watch him painting a picture, see him start something – like one of his famous “happy little trees” –and you would swear he screwed it up. Five minutes later you would be thinking, “My goodness if that isn’t the happiest most perfect little tree that ever did exist…”

   Bob knew exactly what type of brush to use, exactly what colors to mix, and exactly how to make images come to life.  And little did Bob know, but he was providing us with the perfect metaphor for CrossFit.

   CrossFit is Bob Ross painting a beautiful mountain wintry scene with snow-capped mountains.  We are the legendary Bob Ross (dare to dream!) and the blank canvass is our body, our mind, our lives.  CrossFit – much like Bob’s paintings –require many different “colors” to help us achieve our goals.  What would happen if Bob just slapped van dyke brown all over the canvass?  Not pretty.  Well that is the same thing when you ignore the other “colors”, which is to say the other aspects of CrossFit and fitness.

   The 10 general physical skills as defined in CrossFit are: endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance.  These are your colors you need to help make the perfect picture. Forsaking any of these skills will come at a cost.  Strong as a bull and can run for days… but are completely inflexible?  You are an injury waiting to happen.  You ar eincredibly flexible but don’t believe in weight training because it might make you “bulky”?  Enjoy having a hunched back and not being able to pick up your grandchildren because you are completely broken down after age 50. 

   Pay attention to more than just fast times on the board and lifting the most weight in class.  Find your weaknesses.  Do not wait for them to pop up.  Actively seek them out.  Then like Bob Ross painting a beautiful lake by a log cabin, pull in all those “colors” (don’t forget the van dyke brown!)and create a masterpiece out of what was once just a blank canvass.  After all, painting a beautiful scene like Bob Ross requires a lot of brushes and colors. You are the canvass and you have 10 different “colors” to make a breathtakingly beautiful picture.  Use your brushes – the barbell, the kettlebell,the pull up bar, etc. – and get to work!!

I am not usually a big fan of these kinds of commercials.  Call me skeptical, but when a billon dollar company concerned primarily in making even more money tells me “Hey dude… you should work harder”, I tend to get a little annoyed.  But I think Nike – in its attempt to get you to go buy more of their stuff – has stumbled upon something genius; something that makes CrossFit, CrossFit Koa and our members so special…  and so great.

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"Greatness"

I am not usually a big fan of these kinds of commercials.  Call me skeptical, but when a billon dollar company concerned primarily in making even more money tells me “Hey dude… you should work harder”, I tend to get a little annoyed.  But I think Nike – in its attempt to get you to go buy more of their stuff – has stumbled upon something genius; something that makes CrossFit, CrossFit Koa and our members so special…  and so great.

“… Greatness is not some rare DNA strand.  It’s not some precious thing.  Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.  We’re all capable of it… all of us.”

Let me define the phrase “all of us” = Me. You.  Everyone on the planet.  All of us

This commercial can invoke so many different feelings for so many different people.  My fear is that people will see something like this and just brush it off as nonsense.  For people to go through life and believe that they can never be “great”… that honestly makes me sad. 

CrossFit – in my opinion – provides each and every one of us with a platform to be great.  Every day is a chance to do something you have never done before.  I mean, how often can you win a world championship?  Summit a mountain?  Finish a marathon?  All great achievements that come so rare in a life time (if ever at all!).  But inside the gym, the opportunity for greatness awaits you each and every single time you walk in the door.  Each time you push through the “suck”, or each time during a WOD you block out that voice in your mind that begs you to just quit, each time you lift one more pound than your previous efforts… that is you being great.   

And that greatness is not something to be taken lightly.  It is something to be proud of.  It is something to carry out into your every day life; something that makes you smile when confronted with adversity in the world.  Where there world sees insurmountable odds, we CrossFitters see another chance to be great.

That is what this commercial is talking about.  Nothing separates us from being great except for our own fears and misconceptions.  Greatness is defined by YOU as an individual, not by society as a whole. 

Remember that when you walk into the gym.  You aren’t just training to lose a few pounds.  You aren’t just training to look better in a bathing suit.  You are training to be great.  Do not let the opportunity pass you by…

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