1625 Sonny Schulz Blvd, Suite D
Stevensville MD | Directions »


Hi guys,

Thanks so much for following along on our first 5 years through the past few blogs.  We’ve gotten some great feedback from those of you that were there, loving the reminders of “the good old days”, as well as a lot of newer folks appreciating the insight into where it all started.  And if you were part of this great journey or you’ve been reading my recollections, you might have noticed some themes.  Those themes have been very apparent to me looking back through the years, but the most fantastic part is that those are the themes that WE WANTED to be the core values of our business from the beginning.  So it really is coming full circle, and our coaching staff got together to formalize our mission statement and those core values, and I’d like to share them with you now.

Our mission is to help people get awesome.  We aim to build a strong, kind, resilient, and confident community united by a common purpose of spreading health and wellness.

The phrase “get awesome” started as a joke, morphed into a motivational phrase often written on the old gym floor in chalk, and eventually solidified into a gym motto.  What does awesome mean?  The definition of awesome is “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.”  Let’s throw “daunting,” “apprehension,” and “fear” out, because that’s not what we are about, but I love the part about being “extremely impressive” and “inspiring great admiration”.  We are not trying to focus on external motivation here and look for admiration from everyone, but I do think we are striving to be DESERVING of admiration.  So, yeah, we want all of you guys to GET AWESOME!!
The second part of the mission statement describes the kind of traits that we want to mold into our members as they become integral parts of our community.
First, we want you to be strong – physically of course, but also mentally and emotionally.
Second, we want to model kindness toward each other and our great community.
Third, we are training you to be resilient.  Ever wonder why we program Hero WODs and other long-ass grinders that push you to your mental limit?  It’s because we want you to feel like you’ve been tested, and you passed, and passed again the next time, so that when something really shitty comes into your life (and it will), you know you can handle it, you have the resilience to bounce back.
Lastly, we want you to be confident.  PR’ing your overhead squat or shaving a minute off your mile time creates confidence that you can translate into your job, your relationships, your life.
What we are trying to do, our MISSION, is to help you GET AWESOME.  And that starts in the gym but expands to all parts of your life.

These are the main themes that intersect between what we wanted to do when we started, and what we have realized our our core strengths now.  I hope you agree!

DiligenceHard work and persistence breeds success
This is number 1 because it’s what’s going to bring you results.  Want to lose weight?  Want to gain strength?  Want to get that first muscle-up?  You have to consistently work hard.  Look at all of our members that set goals and meet them, and that is their theme in the gym, as well as their lives.

GrowthCommit to constant improvement
This applies to our athletes, our coaches, and our business.
We ask our coaches to be relentless with our athletes on constantly improving their technique.  We all know you know how to squat, but if you’re not doing it exactly right, we’re going to fix you, again and again.
We encourage our coaches to follow their passions and pursue “advanced degrees” in CrossFit or elsewhere.  We have four coaches that have multiple certifications from CrossFit, including Weightlifting, Gymnastics, Kids training and the Level 2 Coaches Course.
In our business, hopefully you’ve noticed since you’ve been here that things are constantly changing for the better.  We evaluate opportunities that come our way with a growth mentality, as well as “would this be a positive change for our current membership,” as you being happy is our biggest and most successful marketing strategy.

ServiceTake your eyes off of yourself and help others
Fight For Brian
Blasting for the Brave
Rowing for #TeamCharlie and the Tour de Cure
Barbells for Boobs
Kent Island Tornado Relief
Lift Up Autism
You guys are incredibly talented and successful at raising money and awareness in the rest of the community for these important causes, and more.  I knew getting into CrossFit training that there was a precedent for CrossFitters being generous, and I’m not sure I knew why, but now I do.  It’s because of the other awesome thing about CrossFitters that you all could immediately point out.  We take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on others during a workout.  When we see someone that looks like they’re reaching a mental breaking point, we stop what we’re doing for a second so that we can shout out their name and make sure they know we’re watching and they can do it.  When we see someone absolutely killing it, we cheer them on and push them further.  Doesn’t it make sense that this trait that we are practicing in the gym would translate into our feelings toward our greater community?  This is the Value that I am most proud of, and I think will pay the biggest dividends for all of our lives.

FunCreate fun and a little weirdness!
This one is really a no-brainer for me in terms of looking at our athletes and our coaches.  We attract people into our gym that like to have fun, like to throw some jokes out there, and generally don’t mind some weirdness in their lives!  And honestly, with our heavy focus on growth and hard work, if fun wasn’t also a part of it, would you be in?

Well there you have it – our Mission and Values.  I’m interested in your thoughts here, leave them in the Comments on this blog post or on Facebook if you dare.  Anything we missed out on?  Anything else you want us to highlight on an upcoming post?  Let us know!  And in the meantime, train hard and have fun!


3 rounds, not for time:
– 25M Arm-over-arm Plank Roll
– 200M Farmers Carry, AHAP

21-15-9 reps for time:
– V-up
– GHD Hip Extension

"Trying to be number one and trying to do a task well are two different things." - Alfie Kohn

Work Capacity:
4 rounds, for max reps:
– In 3 minutes, Row 500M then do as many DB Thrusters (35/20# each hand) as possible
– Rest 3 minutes

"Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after the other." - Walter Elliot

Stamina: “Angie”
For time:
– 100 Pull-ups
– 100 Push-ups
– 100 Sit-ups
– 100 Squats

Times to beat:  Ken Nyczaj 12:24 (9/7/2016), Laura Tricarico 14:58 (9/7/2016), Lori McClelland 15:27 (4/8/2016), Brittany Brooks 18:15 (4/7/2016, jumping pull-ups, knee push-ups), Frank Lessiak 19:17 (9/7/2016)

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi

Work Capacity:
AMRAP in 15 minutes:
– Run 200M
– 15 KB Swings, 53/35 lbs
– 10 Box Jumps, 30/24″

"Get busy with life's purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue—if you care for yourself at all—and do it while you can.” - Marcus Aurelius

Strength:  15 minutes to find 1RM Power Clean + Push Jerk

Work Capacity: “Grace”
30 Clean & Jerks for time, 135/95 lbs

Times to beat:  Ryan Wolf 2:05 (4/29/2015), Kelly McCoy 2:39 (2/17/2016), Lori McClelland 2:52 (4/29/2015), Sam Roberts 4:33 (6/7/2017)

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." - Jim Rohn

4 x 800M Sprint, each for time

"I've worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals. I will not let my teammates down and I will not let myself down." - Mia Hamm

The wait is over, it’s time for Year 5!  As you will see, our fifth year was one of continued growth, a lot of great times with hilarious people, and it was where we solidified our culture of service.  I hope you enjoy looking through these as much as I did!

Early in 2016, Liz, one of our regular 6am members, let me know she was raising money for diabetes research by participating in the Tour de Cure, a team biking event.  I knew Liz had Type 1 Diabetes because she had briefed me on what to do if her blood sugar got too high or low, and as a professional fitness trainer I of course just made jokes about it constantly.  But Liz also mentioned that the main inspiration for her team was her 3-year-old son Charlie, who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes himself.
We decided that we would help out Team Charlie, but it would take the collective effort of all of our members to make the biggest impact.  Throughout the month of March, any extra biking or rowing that our members did outside of classtime would contribute to the cause.  If someone rowed 10 calories, CFKI would donate $1 to the American Diabetes Association, on behalf of Team Charlie.  It was a quick success, and the momentum grew throughout the month.  In the end, we donated $1,015, which helped Team Charlie be the highest fundraising team in the Chesapeake Bay Tour de Cure 2016!

As we continued to grow our membership and add classes, it became clear that we needed to add more coaches to our team!  We are lucky to have so many great athletes that have previous backgrounds in instructing and leading teams, and they haven’t needed that much convincing to step up and coach at CFKI!  Tristan has always been a formidable athlete, especially when it comes to long, grind-it-out workouts.  He is also a leader in his Baltimore firehouse and a firefighting instructor, so we started talking about him starting to coach and in early 2016 he joined the team!  Tristan brings a special New York charm to his classes, and as previously mentioned he likes to work hard and likes it when you do, too.  Don’t attend his classes if you are allergic to pepper spray, burpees, or Billy Joel.


Getting your body ready to move properly and recovering well are crucial to getting the best performance in the gym, and continuing to improve.  In the last couple years we have been more focused on mobility, both in terms of programming pre- and post-WOD smashing and stretching, as well as offering dedicated classes to make major improvements in range of motion.  Josh is a tireless learner and teacher of mobility techniques, and very creative in his approach.  He has also been very “flexible” (get it?) with his schedule so that as many athletes as possible can attend these classes and seminars.  Kudos to Josh for his extra effort, and hopefully more of you reading this will continue to see the importance of making mobility a regular part of your fitness regimen!


Taking a quick break from highlighting some of our amazing coaches, I want to share another awesome community experience that we’ve been a part of from the beginning – the Eastern Shore Affiliate Challenge, or ESAC!  As in Year Two, we came away from the competition  with two podium finishers – Mike Harkema was the top ranked Masters male athlete at the end of the day, and Paul Sullivan won the Scaled Men competition!  Awesome job to these two and all of our competitors.  We’ve made a tradition of placing some CFKI members on top of the podium at these events, and I can’t wait to see how we do next time!

This ESAC was particularly memorable because of the addition of a sloppy outdoor workout that consisted of heavy sled pulls and even heavier Atlas stone cleans.  That workout wiped us all out, and was an awesome test of strength and stamina.  Needless to say, Mike and Paul did very well on that one!  It was also memorable because at the end of the event as we were driving through the gym owner’s front yard to leave, I got our Honda Pilot (loaded with lots of heavy balls) stuck in the muddy grass and it took us a couple hours, another stuck vehicle (owner’s tractor) and a lot more yard damage to get out of there!

The ESAC happens a couple times per year, rotating between volunteer gyms around the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.  There is another one coming up soon on October 28th – I encourage you all to try it out!  If you ever have a competitive itch, or if you watch the CrossFit Games on TV and daydream about what it would be like to be competing in a sport that you put a lot into every day in the gym, this is for you!


Our final big happening of the year brought 2016 to a close just as it had started, with an opportunity to give back.  Barbells for Boobs, as funny as the name is, is an awesome organization dedicated to helping women that can’t afford it get screened for breast cancer, a disease that has touched so many of our families’ and friends’ lives.
We began by asking our members to create personal fundraising pages, fueled by the promise of sweet gear like shirts, sweatshirts and even bags depending on how much you raise.  All of the efforts of our individual members would then add up to our overall CFKI total.
Behind the organization of all of this was our newest coach, Jason.  Jason had prior experience with fundraising for BFB at CrossFit gyms in Annapolis where he had previously coached.  He is our first coach to not first be a CFKI member, but he immediately became a huge success with his energetic personality (and warm-ups!), and his genuine passion for constant improvement.  Jason spearheaded our Barbells for Boobs effort with so much energy and enthusiasm, it wasn’t hard to get hooked and try to bring the same energy to your own fundraising.  By the time of our live workout and event at the gym in late October, nothing was certain but it looked like we were going to raise the most money out of any gym in Maryland, due to all of our individual efforts but also Jason’s persistence and leadership to keep the momentum going.
The event planning was a real team effort, with lots of folks volunteering their time and creative energy to make the gym look like a pink wonderland!  As Halloween was close at hand, we turned it into a costume party (and of course competition) and had a very hard but hilarious time picking the winners.
A partner workout of “Helen Meets Grace” fed into a championship workout of “Karen”, and everyone involved got a great workout in, donated a lot of their own money at the event, and then had a blast hanging out afterward.
As the year 2016 ended and the Barbells for Boobs fundraising drive officially wrapped up, Jason got an email and forwarded it to me – CFKI was in fact the highest fundraising gym in all of Maryland, beating out a number of very high-profile CrossFit boxes.  I was and continue to be so proud of this, not only because this was our first experience with BFB and we did so well, but because it demonstrated one more time how thoughtful and giving our members are to a world that truly needs our help.

In my next post, I’ll try to wrap this all up and talk about what we’ve learned about our collective values and our mission.  For now, though, looking back one more time at the past 5+ years, I just want to say thanks and leave you with a quote, one that I have loved for a while but previously thought of it only in the context of military or political heroes.  But now I know it applies to you, to all of us whenever we step up to the plate to do what is right.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.  It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
 – Arthur Ashe

Strength:  Back Squat 10-5-3-1-1-1-3-5-10.  Try to match or exceed your weights coming back down the ladder!

Recovery: 15 minute ROMWOD session

"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward." - Soren Kierkegaard

Work Capacity: “Annie”
50-40-30-20-10 reps for time:
– Double-under
– Sit-up

Times to beat: Lori McClelland 5:08 (5/13/2015), Ken Nyczaj 5:09 (4/12/2017), Denee Wolf 5:14 (4/12/2017), Tristan Tricarico 5:50 (4/12/2017)

"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." - Norman Vincent Peale