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We didn’t really make a big deal of it, but our 5-year anniversary as CrossFit Kent Island happened this summer, right about Memorial Day actually.  So, maybe we did celebrate – Murph style!!

I want you all to know that I have enjoyed every single day of our 5+ years now in existence, and there are so many special people and moments in time that are forever etched in my memory, and on my computer’s hard drive as pictures.  So what I’d like to do is to begin to share some of those memories, one year at a time.
First there were blogs, and then video blogs or “vlogs”.  Let the record show that I am now inventing the picture blog, or “plog”.  Maybe someone’s done it before but I doubt they called it a plog.  And if they did and they come after me and I’m ruined financially, at least we got a solid 5 years in.

Year One

It’s funny to look back at some of these pictures from 2012 because of how different CrossFit Kent Island looked back then.  The “old gym” as it’s now mostly affectionately known, was a 500-square foot box of aged concrete blocks nestled between other small businesses behind Food Lion.  Here’s a picture of half of the gym (yep, that’s right) set up with equipment for the first time.  I was so proud, and so scared, but we knew that if we didn’t hit 25 members within the first year, we would close it up and that would be that.  Luckily, you guys showed up!

As we opened the garage doors for the first time, four dudes, one of whom was already shirtless having researched proper CrossFit protocol, were standing outside the gym.  “Is this gonna be a CrossFit gym?” said Andy Booze, “We were just about to join CrossFit Annapolis but now we don’t have to go over the bridge!”
And that’s exactly why I opened the gym in the first place – I knew there would be interest because CrossFit was starting to pick up steam in the fitness world, and the closest gym was over that monster of a Bridge.  Alex, Andy, Chris and Kenny became 4 of our first members before we even had our equipment unpacked, and we had a lot of fun coming up with workouts that were all a little bit harder than the previous one.

…which leads to my next picture of our first equipment replacement!  Lesson learned:  plyo boxes are not to be used to crash heavy barbells onto like jerk blocks.  Andy, a carpenter by trade (always good to have in a gym as we would learn), pulled up some online directions to create a plyo box in the exact dimensions of our others, but for good measure painted a CFKI trident right on the handle.  We still have this box, and I try to use it every time I do box jumps.  Andy also built ACTUAL jerk blocks for us to use, just in case we decided we hadn’t fully learned that lesson yet.

 

Around the late summer timeframe, Chris recruited someone that he met at Hemingway’s where he was a server.  Her name was Alyssa, and she and her twin sister came in to check us out.  As luck would have it we were learning handstands that day, and having learned of her gymnastics background I leaned on her to help out with some instruction.  I don’t know how many times I asked Alyssa over 4 years if she would ever want to coach with us, half joking at first because of her busy work schedule, but eventually she relented and has been such a great asset and role model to all of our athletes!  This picture is from the first time she, Jay, Andrea and Kyle did “Fran”.

 

Two more of our first members were Craig and Heather, along with their kids Byron and Athena.  All are good athletes, and firey competitors when the clock starts.  We added more classes, and I feel like at least one of them was in every class.  We started discussing taking rest days, and Craig would have none of it!  Byron was the inspiration behind our rule of “If you have a near-death experience in the gym, you owe 5 burpees,” due to his significant lack of the self-preservation instinct when at the top of a 15-ft rope or getting out of a GHD.

 

In November of 2012, I got a call from a dude named Lou at GORUCK, a gear company that made high-end rucks and were starting to run overnight rucking challenges in major cities.  There was one coming up in Baltimore, and he wanted to know if anyone from our CrossFit gym would be interested.  We were, and Craig, Byron and I pretty much dominated GORUCK Class 320, which started with a quick dunk in the Inner Harbor and only got more nasty from there.  I felt like I had really earned that patch and cold Budweiser on Sunday morning, and was glad I did it but never again!  A couple weeks later I was back on the phone with Lou, who happened to be the Lead Cadre of all their Special Forces instructors, talking about pulling together a custom event on Kent Island.  There’s something about suffering together as a group that not only binds people together, but also insulates you from future hardships.  “If I did that, then I can do anything” sort of a deal.  GORUCK Challenges have become an annual or even more frequent personal crucible for me, and I always encourage more people to participate because of the enormous personal growth that follows.

Overall, Year One was one of learning, one of meeting people that have since shaped my business and my life, and was a huge springboard into Year Two and beyond.  More to come soon!

Ryan