THE 7 year itch
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.