‘I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts’
~ Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins is famous for many things but for me it’s as the former vocalist of the punk rock band Black Flag and author of the essay ’The Iron and the Soul’ from which the above quote is taken.
The essay is definitely worth a read, the music may not be everyone’s cup of tea though so be warned….
Rollins has cited many other notable quotes throughout his wide and varied career including:
"97% caffeine free is 97% not my kind of thing".
So hopefully you get the gist of Henry’s perspective on life.
Like Henry we believe that the benefits of exercise are much more than just the physical.
Your workout should be that hour of your day where you stick your phone on silent, forget about the outside world and enjoy exercising with like-minded people who genuinely want to see you succeed.
We also know that the more you attend, the fitter & healthier you will become, the more you will enjoy it, the more you time you will spend in class and the fitter & healthier you will become.
And so spins our virtuous circle.
So let's close out with yet another profound Henry Rollins quote:
''What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup."
It is now a month since we reopened so a huge thank you to all our members who have helped create such a safe and clean training environment.
THIS IS WHAT THEY DO:
When we opened the gym in 2013 we really had no idea who we wanted to help. We had a professional business plan that looked the part but we all knew it was really to help us borrow enough money to get the doors open. I honestly don’t think we have looked at it since. (Don’t tell Sinead!)
We didn’t include anything in there about who we wanted to serve. We naively thought that we could help everyone and that once we opened our doors, we could just stick a post on Facebook and let the good times roll.
It didn’t happen like that. Small businesses take a lot of effort from a lot of people to even keep their doors open, never mind be successful. More importantly businesses need customers they can help.
At the beginning we went full-CrossFit. Barbells crashing, chalk on the floor, ripped hands & post wod bodies in pools of sweat. We still have members who began with us in those early years.
They have been fiercely loyal to us and obviously incredibly forgiving because we certainly did our best to put them off.
You might recognise them in class because no matter how challenging the workout, they always manage the pace and dismiss the difficulty with a touch of nonchalance. After you have done Kalsu (twice!) not many workouts will phase them.
We’ve mellowed a lot since those early years, even if the wider fitness industry hasn't. We know there is more to health than your fitness level or performance in the gym. We don’t push, we pull.
For us coaching means helping. Now we are focused on helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. That involves helping clients with not just their fitness but also their nutrition and lifestyle. We prescribe whatever we believe is most effective and it is always through Coaching, whether that is Nutrition, Individual PT or through group classes.
It is our mission to help people of ALL fitness levels change and improve their quality of life through our community-based fitness and nutrition programs.
After all, if you care about somebody, you have to care about their health.
Everyone has heard of a pros and cons list. It's one of the most basic decision making tools in existence. Pros are arguments in support of a decision, Cons are arguments against. There aren't many Pros in today’s locked down world though. Most shops, bars and coffee shops aren’t open, kids activities are on hold, visits to family or friends are off the table and even our favourite gym is closed!
Despite exercise being one of the few decisions still under our control, it is just too easy to choose not to do any.
Fortunately, our members are still going strong with our online coaching program, anyone can do it, regardless of equipment.
There’s a relaxed atmosphere with it though, what matters ( and what’s always mattered in our gym ) is that we show up, do our best and enjoy it.
Everyone has their own reasons for exercise, whether that be aesthetics, performance or to improve their health & wellbeing. On a personal level, I work out because I really enjoy it and it makes me feel better both physically and mentally. Plus I’m hoping it provides an example to my children that regardless of what life throws at you, exercise is important and should be enjoyed, not dreaded.
There is a reason why the government still encourages us to exercise despite telling us all the things we are not allowed to do. Exercise improves mood, boosts energy and produces better sleep. It can also help prevent or manage many health problems including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety. The Pros list is a long one.
The Cons list is empty though, exercise comes with zero negative side effects. Not one. So if you do choose to work out, feel good about making that decision. It is the right one.
January is sign up season. Loads of ‘Special Offers’, ’Beginner Programs’ and ’Only 3 spaces left’ promotions that all disappear in 24 hours, you better act quickly!
If you are thinking of getting started with a fitness program it’s probably the most difficult time of year to make a decision. There are a plethora of options, each guaranteed to get you into the best shape of your life in only 7 minutes!
What makes it even more challenging is this subconscious belief that whatever path you choose, if you don't stick to it then your entire year’s fitness plans are doomed and so it’s roll on 2021.
Obviously that's not true as you can start anytime but it’s a belief that the fitness industry will gleefully take advantage of to help sales.
Ultimately the most important thing is that you start something. Start with anything and give it a couple of months. If it doesn’t fit, do something else, but don’t let that stop you from starting.
Most of us who have been training a while know what is really out there: the fitness industry’s version of pyramid schemes, magic detoxes and the next ultimate fat torching diet or snake oil. There’s also a lot of copycats doing their own version of established, professional programs under a different banner.
We could write about the dangers, negatives and downfalls of all of the above but that isn’t going to help our clients improve their health and fitness.
What will help our clients is this:
Professional, qualified coaches who love to coach.
A learning curve (which never ends) where health & fitness becomes part of your life.
A simple but effective eating plan.
A program to suit every fitness goal whether in a class, 1-1 or small group setting.
A community of friendly people who like a laugh and have learnt how to enjoy exercise.
It took us a long time to build this culture and if you know someone here, I'll bet that they love it.
Just ask them.
"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."
Even when things are going well, it’s human nature to focus on the 'problem areas'. Although I’m talking about your fitness in the gym it’s probably also applicable to the rest of our everyday life.
A good example of this was a few weeks ago when one of our members got her first Toes To Bar. The next time I met her, I naturally congratulated her on her achievement, expecting a warm smile but instead I got ’Thanks very much but I can’t seem to link them’.
Unfortunately that’s the madness of the CrossFit mind. We are always seeking the next new skill, the next kilo and that one extra rep.
The positive side of this is that it keeps us showing up, working hard and gradually improving our overall fitness.
The downside is that we rarely take the time to reflect and appreciate how much progress we have made and enjoy the journey towards each breakthrough skill.
Everyone who has ever CrossFitted may feel like they occasionally hit a plateau. However when we explore further we realise there is no plateau.
Although it may be true that one physical skill or movement may have stalled, we are always able to find progress in another movement, a gymnastic skill, reduced body fat or an improved time in a benchmark workout.
So progress is still being made, workout by workout, day by day and inch by inch.
As Al Pacino famously said in his Inches by Inches speech in ‘Any Given Sunday’:
'You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is CrossFit.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
That's CrossFit guys. That's all it is.’
'CrossFit is a lifestyle characterised by safe, effective exercise, sound nutrition and fun’.
The above is an updated definition of CrossFit. Ok, I added the ‘fun’ part but it’s just as important.
The 'safe, effective exercise' component is obviously critical though, which is why all our new CrossFit members start in a 1-1 setting. Just you and a Coach.
Starting anything new is hard. Starting a new exercise program is harder but starting a new exercise program in a group setting is perhaps the most daunting of all.
The biggest barrier to joining most gyms often isn’t the price, it’s the social barrier. Some people worry about embarrassing themselves in front of a group, that they aren’t fit enough, that they will struggle learning the movements etc.
We are able to dispel those fears through our 1-1 coaching program.
We recognise that every person that has ever walked through the doors of our gym is different. Whether that be training experience, strengths & weaknesses, likes & dislikes or goals. Some things work for some people, other things work for others.
As a result we have found a 1-1 coaching environment to be the safest, most effective and most enjoyable way for a new client to learn how to exercise properly.
Not just to learn technique and how to move, but learning how a class flows, class etiquette and enabling a new client to progress at a pace that is appropriate and comfortable for them, not the pace of someone else in their class. Plus it's easier to ask questions when it’s not in front of a group of people you have never met.
To be honest, for the first few years of our business group beginner classes were our modus operandi and it wasn’t particularly effective. No two people progress and learn at the same pace so you are either holding one client back or moving too fast for another.
Both of which make for a less than optimal client experience.
But most importantly of all, a client who starts their fitness journey with poor technique is simply building a house on shaky foundations.
Eventually one brick too many will stall progress whether that's through inefficient technique or even worse, the whole house collapses through injury.
So if you want to find out how to build a good house then ask our very own Andy Gribbin.
But if you want to find out how to get started with CrossFit, book a free No Sweat Intro with one of our coaches on the link below.
We founded CrossFit Antrim in 2013, just over 6 years ago. If I’m honest, in the beginning we weren’t sure if it would work. At that stage there were only a handful of CrossFit gyms in Ireland and all of them were based in the main cities or large towns with access to thousands of potential clients.
None of them were based in a predominantly rural area with an official census population of 781.
In fact, more than one person told us we were crazy, that there was zero possibility it would work and we were simply throwing our money away.
They were only partially right of course, there is no doubt we were a bit crazy but we weren't throwing our money away.
There’s an oft-referenced phrase in entrepreneurship called ’scratching your own itch’; it’s when you create a product to solve a problem that you yourself face.
For us, our problem was that we didn’t have access to a friendly, local gym that anyone could feel comfortable exercising in, where we could complete CrossFit workouts, be ourselves and have a laugh at the same time.
We knew that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year and 50% fail after five years. We knew that two large government funded Leisure Centres were within driving distance with their ever tantalising subsidised memberships. We knew their business model relied on their thousands of members NOT going to the gym and that that model wasn’t for us.
But most importantly we also knew that CrossFit was something special, that our wider community were too and despite all the risks, we did what all good CrossFitters do, the buzzer had started so we needed to stay the course, complete the reps and finish the wod.
Of course the gym could still go belly up tomorrow and become yet another failure statistic but hopefully not. I’ve always said that the best thing we will ever do for the health of our community is to keep our doors open and thanks to our members we have been able to do that.
Their support has been nothing short of exceptional since we first opened. Our business model relies upon our members actually going to the gym and thankfully they have always shown up.
This gym just isn’t like other gyms. Our member base spans all ages and all fitness levels and all of them ( usually! ) leave with a smile on their face.
There aren’t many gyms that can boast multiple generations of the same families working out in the same gym at the same time. Yet it is such a normal, everyday occurrence that no-one even sees it as being remarkable, yet it is the very definition of the word. We have siblings, parents, husbands and wives, in-laws, even grandparents who all train together on a daily basis.
There also aren’t many gyms whose members regularly share stories of how much CrossFit changed their lives and we don’t just mean regarding physical fitness. They talk about their improving mental health, coping with stress and how CrossFit has helped rebuild important relationships.
The relationship stories in particular are incredibly special. We hear about how families have reconnected through the gym, whether that’s siblings, parents or couples who may have drifted through the years and because of CrossFit, a shared passion has emerged. Regular CrossFit builds and reveals character so an inevitable bond will strengthen when you workout together.
Our 2013 implementation of the CrossFit methodology definitely wasn't the same as it is now. We had a MDF whiteboard, a concrete floor with cow mats, 2 rowers and 12 of the cheapest barbells on the market. It was tough but it was fun and effective and we loved it.
We have come a long way with our 14 bays of rig, 50 competition barbells, over 20 rowers and assault bikes, full suites of dumbbells & kettlebells and thousands of kilos of bumper plates. Our professional coaches are experts at tailoring workouts for the individual, regardless of fitness level and goals. Anyone can do CrossFit in our gym and because we insist that beginners are coached in a 1-1 setting we are able to help them progress at a pace they are happy with.
We love being a CrossFit gym because CrossFit works better than any other fitness program on the planet.
We are now in our 7th year as a CrossFit affiliate. There are over 15,000 CrossFit gyms around the world and thousands more who claim to offer CrossFit. But just because we are affiliated doesn’t mean we’re the same as every CrossFit gym. CrossFit is not a franchise; we can do whatever we want.
And despite all our jokes, we are here because we want to help change lives. 🔥🙌🏻
It’s a Thursday morning in July. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm. It isn’t. It’s dull and uninspiring. You look out your window and think, I can’t be arsed going to work, or I can’t be bothered making breakfast, I’ll just grab a sausage roll from Boyd’s or a cappuccino from Grans. You know what, I’ll just hit snooze on the alarm and go to the gym tomorrow instead. Has this been you over the last few weeks? Like the weather, have you lost that flame that was burning brightly not so long ago?
Well you aren’t on your own. Particularly if you are new to CrossFit. When you start CrossFit (or anything new), after the initial few weeks of settling in and getting your head around the movements, you start seeing dramatic improvements in a lot of areas. Your movement quality gets better, your fitness levels increase, you get faster and stronger. You probably feel pretty good about yourself. Then there can be a dip. ‘I was able to do 10 double unders last Friday and I can’t do any today’ or ‘I did 4 pull-ups last Monday and now I can’t even do 2 this morning’.
This type of thing happens to every single one of us. From the beginner, right through to the elite. It just happens in different ways. You could have someone that does 25 pull-ups in a row in class. Everyone is probably looking on and thinking to themselves, ‘that’s impressive, I wish I could do that’, but what they don’t know is that the same person did 40 in a row the previous week and is unhappy with their 25. Get the idea? Fitness works in peaks and troughs.
It’s hard when working through a dip in form, particularly that first one you hit after you start! You wonder to yourself ‘what have I got myself into??’ And consider giving it all up. Sometimes you need to take a step back and firstly look at what you’ve achieved up to now and then look at where you are going and what you want to achieve. A common mistake that people make is that they seek perfection. In health and fitness I don’t believe there is such a thing. It’s unachievable. Has anyone ever seen a perfect air squat? I haven’t? And for that reason, we never seek perfection in CFA. Instead, just like Ben Bergeron, we seek excellence. Huge difference. Have you ever seen an excellent air squat? I have, regularly.
Excellent is good. But it can be improved upon. What we strive for is improvement across the board. We want to you be 1% better this week than last week. That can be 1% more consistent with your sleep. 1% better with your nutrition. 1% more accurate with your deadlift technique. These are all incredibly small margins, but just like the 80/20 rule, the small things make all the difference. We don’t care if your performance dips. We do care that you continue to make the same effort through the dip as you would the peak. This is when the effort pays off. The hard yards. Going outside in the rain. Hammering out and extra few calories on the bike when all you want to do is go home. Getting up 5 mins earlier to prepare your oats.
These small little things will shine through when the peak comes. And it will. And you’ll be happy that you stuck with the process. Don’t forget that your own level varies week by week. A bit like the weather. It’s raining here at the minute but the sun will shine again. And pretty soon.
CrossFit Antrim is not like other gyms.
We believe that exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
We believe exercise should benefit your mental health as well as your physical health.
We believe exercise should give you confidence, that it should be fun and that you have to find something you love before you’ll ever be motivated to exercise or eat properly.
We are a coaching gym because we know that coaching is the only thing that works. We know that coaching solves problems and gets results.
And CrossFit is one of the greatest tools that our Coaches use.
Now, CrossFit at CFA might not be the same CrossFit you see at other gyms. It’s definitely not the CrossFit you see on Netflix.
Almost everyone who comes to CFA have been to other gyms. And common feedback is ‘I wasn’t enjoying it’ or ‘I didn’t know if I was doing things right’.
Often they had looked for the cheapest option or had completed a transformation program that yielded a short term result but required a lifestyle unsustainable for normal life.
Some had been drawn to the variety of classes, a sauna or even the long line of cardio machines. But eventually, when they decided they needed long term results, they went looking for a coach.
The broad definition of CrossFit is “Constantly-varied, functional movement performed at high intensity.”
'Constantly varied' means the classes are different every day which makes it fun but this doesn’t mean random. Our workouts are balanced and focused.
We have been a CrossFit affiliate for almost 6 years. CrossFit isn’t all we do but it’s definitely one of the most effective tools we have.
Members of our group CrossFit program are coached through workouts that consist of constantly varied, functional movement performed at relative high intensity every day.
This is the best broad prescription for fitness in the world and we optimise it for our members.
We believe in CrossFit.