Heart

HEART.
 

When someone on the team said this word, I knew this would be my last post to journal CrossFit 8035's team experience for Central Regionals this year.  

The Central Region is no doubt the most stacked competitive region in CrossFit.   Most of the teams in the top 10, had the scores been pulled from the top regardless of region for the CrossFit Games, would make it to the Games.

Today CrossFit 8035 ended up with an 11th place finish.  An 11th place finish with some of the top athletes in the world.   

This team, the team with 6 athletes whose majority of time is spent outside of the gym, finished due to one thing, and one thing only. Sure there was balance, diversity, family, semi-geriatric, underestimated, cohesive, passion, and determination.  

But really, what it boils down to, is heart.  A hell of a lot of heart. Heart day in and day out believing that you can achieve something pretty amazing when you all work together.  Heart that carries you, your mind, and your body past limitations. Heart the carries your teammates, heart that carries your gym members, and heart that carries the name CrossFit 8035.

This team gave every bit and more.  Their hearts carried them on their path, and their hearts are what make them the great people they are.  Having heart like they do is an exceptional attribute found in few. They don't forget who they are and how they got here, they don't forget who helped them along the way and who they having cheering for them regardless of whether they are in the stands or back home.   

So yes, heart is what got them here.  And heart is what pushed them through. And heart is what gave this home grown Iowa team an 11th place finish.  And because of that they should be damn proud. 

Everyday heart.  That is what CrossFit 8035 is.

It's been an honor and a privilege to chronicle your journey Luke, Amy, Derrick, Dani, Kyle and K.t. Marie.  My heart is full. Muah. 

Balanced

A condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

At one point or another many of you have come to learn and understand balance in a variety of scenarios.  Teamwork isn't any different.  

What makes this team work is an efficient balance of attributes that ensure their success.  They all know their role, but what they may not know is what their coaches and peers see in them.    

Amy - I like to think of amy as the ultimate role model. Everyone looks up to her! Her experience and work ethic are second to none. She's a competitive athlete, mother, wife, business owner, director of a gym. She does more than manages it all....she excels and people notice. Who wouldn't look up to this woman!?

Derrick - Easily the most dedicated member of the team, has become a leader in comp class and on the team, always willing to coach members and share his knowledge.

Dani - Took herself to a top 100 athlete in the region this year with consistency and discipline despite her busy schedule as a full-time PT student. Leads by example when it comes to working hard on weaknesses until they become strengths.

Kyle - The quiet killer. Although he doens't say much or make big splashes in the gym when he PR's, he's doing it daily. Putting in the work. Consistently a strong teammate no matter what's asked of him.

Luke - The not quiet killer.  The proud papa of this group, Luke not only started 8035, the place we call home, but he helped grow each person on the team into the athlete they've become. Luke's athleticism and experience combined make him a integral part of the team.

KtMarie - It's one thing to move up a few places in the Open year to year, it's an entirely different thing altogether to jump 100's of spots in just 1 year. Fierce dedication, openness to coaching and a burning to be better are what make KtMarie an unstoppable force on the team.

Ryan - So strong & powerful yet has worked incredibly hard on the finesse gymnastics movements require. Ryan's dedication to the Army carries over into his daily dedication to his training.

Abby -in almost a year at 8035 has grown tremedously as an athlete in all aspects of her training. Her desire is unquestionable and her drive is unwavering.

Regardless of what happens this weekend, when you are confident in your team and you count on them, you know that the balance will be in perfect sync.  Success isn't always defined by what you achieve, but what how you put forth the effort.  One thing that I do know about each of these teammates is that they will make sure when they step on that competition floor, that it will be about the whole and not just the individual parts.  

That balance, while not perfect, will be equal.

GOOD LUCK CROSSFIT 8035.  

Family

One of the first things you learn about most CrossFit boxes once you've been there for a bit is the strong sense of community.  Community not only within their walls, but around the area too.  That community then becomes family.  You're invested in them and they're invested in you.  It's a two way street and if you find are lucky enough to have that where you go, you know it can mean everything.

Kayla Ullmann has been at CrossFit 8035 for a while.  She's a member of the competitors class and a successful athlete.  When I asked her to name one word that would describe this team, this is what she had to say.

"I would say family. At the end of the day and after the work has been put in, we genuinely care about one another. We are emotionally invested in one anothers success and experiences outside of the gym. We found more joy in Madi becoming a mom more that her PR on a lift. We celebrate Dani and her career after school with a party. We support each others lives when shit happens too. Tim and I joined 8035 shortly after moving to Des Moines so these people make up the majority of our friend groups. I know this is a different aspect when looking at a competitive team, but I think it is important factor to have in a successful team. And I think it is an important thing to know to understand us and our growth as a team and a gym."

I could go on about how important this aspect is to a CrossFit community, but I don't need to.  I think most of you get it.  I'm lucky to be a part of it.  And I can't wait to cheer and yell my family on when they take the floor Friday.  Yell?  Hell yes we yell.  That's what all great families do, right?  Because sometimes we need that.  And if anything, CrossFit 8035 is a family.

Underestimated

I recently asked a member of last years Regional Team what her word to describe this team would be.  She's competed with most of them and knows them all quite well.  This year she's been enjoying being a first time mom and so she wasn't able to be a part of the team for the 2017 season, but she has great insight into what this team is about.

"I think I am going to go with underestimated.  They underestimated themselves going into the open, but week after week proved to themselves that they belong in the top 15. Last year we finished the open outside the top 15 and made our way to Columbus because of people going individual. We went into regionals with zero expectations and at the bottom of the pack but quickly made a name for ourselves, took multiple top 10 finishes, PR'd during the snatch ladder, had he fastest split in a few pieces of workouts, etc. and as the weekend went on we once again realized we belonged on that floor. And I just remember hearing, when watching replays, the announcers say "if it weren't for a couple small mistakes, CrossFit 8035 would find themselves in the top 5." And that was an amazing feeling and made us realize we underestimated ourselves once again. And thru that underestimation comes confidence and strength. And that is this team."

I couldn't agree more.  And I think that the same underestimation they experienced last year carried into this year.  

Each day is a new surprise when they see what they are capable of.  Each time they train together they see what can happen when you put 6 people together who have been underestimated.  

You can underestimate the gym, you can underestimate the people, you can underestimate the training, but you can't underestimate the spirit.  And it's that small factor that makes those who are underestimated, succeed.

Cohesive

We'll start at the end of team practice today.  After team training the 8 athletes sat in a circle.  They addressed something I think is paramount for a team to be successful.  They each took a turn telling the group one thing they were happy with about their performance and one thing they could work on.  It's the "work on" that needs to be focused on.

You see, when we spend a lot of time working out, sometimes it feels like everyone else is doing great except you.  It feels like no matter what, you can't seem to lift a certain weight, or progress on a certain movement, or you feel like you are always last.  I know, I know, CrossFit boxes AREN'T about that.  There's no judgement from others or from the coaches, the only judging going on is the one inside your head.  It's easy to get caught up in the "everybody else is successful in the gym but me" mentality.  

That is why the time spent talking about the highs and lows of todays team practice is so important.  It gives each of these athletes, a combination of those making their first regional floor appearance and those returning to the regional floor, the knowledge that despite all of what seems to be going great in practice, there are things they individually know they still need to work on for the best of team.

That is certainly true about Team 8035.  When they are working together and doing what needs to be done to help the team be successful come Event 1, they know that what they have together will far out weigh the voices in their heads that try to tell them differently.

It's been said that "The largest thing is the team cohesion.  Working as a team, not as individual players" (adapted).  And ultimately, that is what it is all about.  Making sure that the team on the floor can unite and work together in the best way possible to represent CrossFit 8035.

Passionate

When you put 8 athletes together, 8 who are passionate about CrossFit, you get a lot of energy and emotion.  Sometimes these two compliment one another, sometimes they don't.  But, in order for a team to be successful and work together, they need to learn how to deal with these emotions, especially when they run high.  And at 8035, their ability to understand and respect one another's intensity is evident.

  • They want to do their best, but they aren't going to compromise what they've built in order to achieve that.  That means frustrations and anger are dealt with but not dwelled upon.
  • They know what each of their teammates are capable of.  They know when to push and when to stop.  Part of being a good teammate is being okay with knowing one another's limits.  
  • Training regularly ends with a congratulatory high five or fist bump.  It may not seem like a lot, but that little bit of encouragement lets each of them know that they are in this together.
  • They don't question the process.  There is a lot that goes into getting ready for the competition floor, but they put their head down and go to work...even if it's at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
  • When they fail, they don't let it end there.  They take that failure and go to a different side of the room while everyone else is doing mobility and accomplish what they couldn't 15 mintues before.
  • They continually push themselves individually so that when they get in that room together, they ALL know they've given their best and then some.  They can count on one another and they know it.

There is a lot of energy in this group and each one of them is just as passionate as the other about what this team is and what it can do.  That passion will serve them well come Regionals time because they've learned to allow it do what it is supposed to...and that is putting everything they can out there.  

(What it DOES not, however, is question the lateness of the photographer on an early Saturday morning.  Good thing I know said caller outter is a grumpy morning elf.)

Diverse

The ham to my sandwich.

Burger to my fries.

Coffee to my donut.

Jelly to my peanut butter.

Milk to my cookie.

You can have a group of people that have a mindset toward a goal.  The individuals in that group can also have similar degrees of dedication, work ethic and drive.  But what makes a group unique isn't the similarities they have, it really comes down to the differences between them.

How many of us have best friends or spouses who are JUST.  LIKE.  US?  I would say not many. 

When the word diverse was used to describe this team, it fit perfectly.  Because if anything, this team is perfectly diverse in their personalities.  You have those who lead, those who follow, some who are confident in their ability and some who are just happy to be there, you have a variety of personalities that in any other circumstance might clash and have trouble working together, but because they ultimately respect and trust one another, it works.  And it works well.

Does that mean there aren't disagreements or frustrations?  Of course there are.  That is normal in most situations when you throw a group together that has to work towards achieving something, especially one that is competition centered.  There are moments of challenge, there are moments of impatience, there are moments of disappointment.

But they are mature enough to put their ego in check and know when it's worth voicing anger or disrespect toward one another.  Jealousy doesn't play a part in this group.  The differences between them all are what they value and they allow that to help determine their achievement.  They've fostered an environment that allows for defeat and frustration, challenge and success.  And most of all, they've enveloped that diversity to make them stronger.  

That diversity may put them on the podium and it may not, but what it will do is make them know that this group of people is what they needed to be at their best.  And that will always make them a team.

Semi Geriatric

Jackie Joyner-Kersee once said "Age is no barrier.  It's a limitation you put on your mind."

When I asked Derrick to describe this regionals team in one word, he thought for a bit and then when he came back with Semi Geriatric, I couldn't help but laugh.

With this regional team that is certainly true.  This team is split evenly with 4 athletes under 30 and 4 over 30.  Two are what are considered Masters Athletes.  

When I asked Abi Reiland, Co-Owner of CrossFit 8035 on her thoughts about this teams semi geriatric status and how that contributes to success, she said  "It's about the mental edge.  At the end of the day, this is exercise and if it's not fun, what's the point.  When you are young it's easy to get caught up in the intensity and being hard on yourself.  The older athletes are able to bring the younger ones back to earth.  Helping them see that having a rough workout isn't the end of the world and that they are going to do their best out there even if that doesn't mean a first place finish. They also add perspective and a mature mentality that shows the younger athletes how to learn respect for their bodies.  They may push a little less and recognize the need for rest and know ways to avoid injury that younger athletes might not be too quick to do."

What I can tell you is that even with the geriatric jokes, the degree of respect and admiration these younger athletes have for their teammates is paramount.  They rely on the experience and leadership that come with age.  On the competition floor that means they can learn from that competitive drive that is prevalent and the ability to allow the fear of the unknown turn into the assurance that they will make it work, together.  That admiration doesn't just specifically equate to the competition floor either, but, in general, the perspective and insight they gain about life out of the gym helps keep them in check.  

It is said that age is just a number and in a CrossFit gym that couldn't be more true.  On an given day at CrossFit 8035 you'll find anywhere from age 9 to age 54.  Other boxes through out the metro have even older athletes step through their gym doors each day.  Elements are always scaled appropriately, but the fact is that they are always there putting in work that is hard.   And challenging.  So yes, in CrossFit age is just a number because anyone has the potential to do anything.

And that is exactly what is happening with this regionals team.  It may be fun and games to poke at their older team leaders, or their "Master's" status, or even laugh at the sounds of soreness and longer times it takes them to warm up and recover, but these athletes still go in there and kick ass.  Not only against their own goals, but against their younger teammates as well.  

Semi Geriatric isn't such a bad thing at CrossFit 8035.  It just means that the team they will be putting on the regionals floor is seasoned and wiser.  And believe me, if there is any competition that you need level heads, maturity, and direction, it will be there.   

CrossFit 8035....making #semigeriatric look good since March 4, 2013.

 

 

Determined

determined

play 

adjective  de·ter·mined  \-ˈtər-mənd\

Definition of determined for English Language Learners

  • : having a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you

  • : not weak or uncertain : having or showing determination to do something

 

When I asked the members of Team 8035 to describe their team in one word, I got a variety of answers.  All different, but all significantly them.  In fact, I think that anyone who knows them would probably say, if not the same, words that are very similar.

I took the time to ask two different athletes, those who attend the competition class but are not on the regionals team, how the word determined describes this team.

"The sweat.  The time.  The fight all year long.  The fight in the Open.  The fight to Regionals.  It isn't necessarily their determination, which is strong, but it's all about who picks up who when it's needed the most.  Anybody can be determined but the support and the follow through, that is what makes this group different.  They walk the talk.  There aren't egos, there isn't boasting.  

The push they have, for the most part, has to come on an individual basis.  No one really gets to see the amount of individual work that gets put in by this team.

The "leaders", the mom and dad so to speak of the group, have grown as the group has grown.  More people are putting in the time in the competition class.  They work unitedly versus individually.  The goals are aligned even when they aren't working together all of the time.  Prior to the open there wasn't a set roster for a potential regionals team, but their goal, each and every one of them, was to be their best self.  To be unified in their goal."

Here's the thing that makes this pretty neat.  This is what people see from the outside looking in.  This isn't just a close friend giving their buddy a pat on the back.  This is what it is like day in and day out at CrossFit 8035 and I think it's because of that, that idea that they aren't going to stop you from being the best you can be, that makes this group special.

In my short time there, I've come to discover that they really do follow the model described by their peers. They epitomize the definition in that you are "going to do something and they aren't going to let anyone, especially yourself, stand in your way"  They make sure you feel that same determination, the one they carry when they step on the competition floor, in their gym each and every day.

They are absolutely determined to not let anything stop them from giving it their best.  And the best is being the type of people that make you feel as if you are one of them too.

 

 

 

 

 

A different kind of repeat

Usually when we think of the word repeat, we think of something that is done over and over.  I think of repeatedly asking my kids to take out the garbage or taking the same drive to work every day.  Sometimes the word brings back memories of won state championships or music competitions.  Repeat is a word that often times denotes two things.  Success or failure.

In order for successful repeat to happen it takes a lot of work.  It takes dedication, sacrifice, determination, adaptation, grit, passion, heart.  Or, in the failure aspect, it takes the lack there of.

CrossFit 8035 is making their third appearance at the Central Regional, this year being a successful repeat. 

In todays CrossFit, it takes a lot more work to make it to Regionals each year.  Teams especially build their idea of super teams, bringing the most elite of the elite they can, to make them the best they can.  People move to different cities and states to make that happen.  Long gone are the days of taking the best 6 athletes in your gym and making an attempt to train for regionals.

And that's what makes 8035 different.  Different in that these athletes are homegrown.  Des Moines community folks who joined a gym with a competitive class to work towards being better at local competitions.

But the different doesn't stop there.

Many teams work together weekly through multiple workouts through out the year.  When the Open gets close, that changes to a few times a week.  And then that becomes a daily effort.  But with 8035, the group diversity doesn't allow for that.  They can't make being a professional athlete be their career.  Of the 8 team members, 7 work full time and 1 is a full time Physical Therapy student at Des Moines University, so fitting in time each day to train together is impossible.  Currently, they meet all together twice a week for a team workout and all the other expected training is done when they can make it work with their individual schedules.  

When I asked for a word that describes their team, I was told determined, guts, passionate, diverse, balanced, heart, cohesive and semi geriatric.

I wish the formula for success were that simple.  But really it isn't.  And with what they've achieved, I would dare say it isn't normal in the CrossFit world.  

My word for them is different because it's always the different that surprises you.  The different that tells you sometimes the road to being better isn't the one everyone says you have to follow.  The different that says this group of random athletes with heart, determination, guts, passion, diversity, balance, cohesive geriatricness is a good kind of different.  It's true this team is unlike many others, but I think that is what makes it work.  And I, for one, can't wait to see what happens.

We are always looking for that one perfect picture, but the true perfect picture is the one that makes it seem as if that moment in time is happening all over again.