You can always learn more.

I am not talking about the world, or the things that surround you.

I mean learning about yourself.

Learning about what you are capable of. What you could influence, both by thought and with intent, or sub-consciously without consideration or motive.

Last weekend I competed at the Torian Pro. A competition hosted in Australia, which I had wanted to attend for some time. One which I would call, one of Australia’s best, most fierce competitions.

Only, this time was different.

This time I had a different focus, to learn.

Friday before the competition a friend said to me…

“You are a shark swimming around in the tank looking for the weak ones to pick off. I’m not talking about being a shark anymore. That’s what you are. I’m talking about learning that you don’t have to bite everyone in the tank, just because you can. Not when you could be swimming towards the real goal”.

I had to really think about what she had said.

See, she is the kind of friend who will tell you what you need to hear, whether you like it or not.

I really took the time to read into the comment, intended or not, it hit the spot.

JT, owner of UndergroundRX picked me up from the Brisbane Airport and immediately we got talking.

“So do you understand what she is saying?”

I looked at JT, careful with my answer…

“Yes. I guess I have never really taken the time to slow down. I have always competed the same way. I have always been extremely determined to succeed both on the competition floor and beyond. So determined that I had never considered how it could have a negative impact on me. I have never really considered the outcome of an ego and how that can affect not only those around me, but also myself.”

“Ego, you understand the analogy then?”


Monday following the competition that same friend sent me this…

“But, just a pinch too much and they become the deadliest poison. Pride is like that. Too little and a man has no sense of self-worth. The world would wear him down to dust. Too much and he becomes arrogant, vein and boastful. But, just enough and he is the man to walk mountains with”.

-       David Gemmel

This weekend, as best I could, I took the time to learn. To watch others around me, and to take a step back, to be careful with how I acted and what I said.

Whether perceived that way or not, I learned much more than I had intended.

I had never thought I’d learn what I did.

However, the key here is not what I learnt.

It is the fact that I did.

That you too should one day, not every day, but at some point in time. Take an opportunity to learn. Change your approach. Change your perspective. Take a step away and see what you learn.

You will be overwhelmed.

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Michael Gillum
Some of you will hate this...

This may even piss you off.

Hopefully you can look past that and see the moral of the story.

After TheBulletin last week I was approached by one of our members who was rather intrigued by the story I had written. They also asked about the Torian Pro, which I am competition in this coming weekend. That got me thinking…

“Hey, you should enter that competition coming up in January”

they replied...

“Nah, I’m not really into competing”


Let’s be honest…

CrossFit, at a competitive level is hard work. It is time consuming. It directly effects your relationship with your family, your friends and your colleagues. It is expensive, and it can have both negative and positive effects on you personally.

Yet, we few who love to compete continue to get out on the floor and destroy ourselves.

Why not do CrossFit purely for the health and fitness benefits?

Because, the reason I do CrossFit is to compete.

I find training hard, tedious and somewhat stressful. I would love to spend my time competing every weekend.

Yes, I know…

 “You should enjoy the process”

“Fitness is a life long journey, do not rush it”

“Training is where the magic happens”

And, I truly believe all of that.

But, I really do get a kick out of competing, in a team or by myself it doesn’t matter. I love being out on the floor, knowing that I only get one shot. That I am here to test all the hard work that I have put in. I love the pressure. I love the chance to take a risk, and to put it on the line, knowing that no one is going to save me, and no one is going to do it for me. It is all on me. This is chance for me to fail, and know that it doesn’t matter, because I did my best. A chance to push my own boundaries, and go beyond what I ever would during training. A chance to push myself far beyond what I thought I was capable of, an opportunity to reach my goals.

I understand that is not for everyone.

I realise that there are very few people that feel this way about competing, and majority of the time people who are seen competing at competitions are peer pressured into the situation by someone with similar views to me.

Those people who are externally motivated to compete may or may not enjoy the experience. They may infact hate it, but I can promise you 9 out of 10 will tell you that it was a good experience which they are glad they tried.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

There is nothing wrong with loving training but never entering a competition. It’s not for everyone.

I get that.

What is more important is understanding why.

Why you do what you do. Why you turn up each time. Why you go out of your way and spend your hard-earned money.

Whatever your reason is, awesome. Hold onto it tightly. Make sure you tell people about it, and help them find their why. You do not have to agree why, but you should agree that you can do it together for a healthier, happier you.

Michael Gillum
"Hey Fatty! You can't do that, hahaha"

That's rough.

And a word that I genuinely hate. One which I think no one deserves to be called, no matter the reason.

I got caught in quite a deep, heart felt conversation this week. It is not often I am told a story that really gets to me. One that reminds me why every day I work like a slave.

This particular story was one which really did remind me why.

“Hey Gilly, how is my son doing?”

“Ahhh? I believe he is doing well. I mean I have not taken the teens class for a while now, but the Trainers have not mentioned anything, and of what I see he is progressing well and always seems to post some pretty good scores up on the board. Should I be concerned?”

“No. I was just curious, I know he sometimes feels like he is struggling, and I know he often would rather stay home than come to CrossFit. I know that at school his fellow students call him ‘Fatty’ and he often struggles to stay motivated…

Hey do you know what though, you know what is really cool. Earlier this week he proved them all wrong. They had a gym class, which I understand must have been a skills class. The Teacher asked the group to do either a Handstand or a Handstand push up I’m cannot be sure. However, my boy was the only one to put his hand up, and upside down he went. To the shock of the entire class he did what the teacher, who I imagine had assumed no one could do, a Handstand pushup. That day he came home stoked. He was absolutely wrapped, he had something over them. Not something negative, but something he had worked hard for and could do which no one else could”.

“Wow! That’s the kind of story which is why I genuinely want to help people. To help people achieve things that not only they, but others don’t think they can do. To help them succeed at life. To make the uncomfortable, comfortable.”

I know my approach to help people can be harsh, and direct. And often I say things people do not want to hear, or to know. But the reality is, sometimes it takes exactly that to change your life for the better.

I will always remember being bullied in school myself. The feeling of failure. Knowing that every day without doubt one of those boys would say something that would hurt me.

I eventually found myself in the principal’s office and, I am truly thankful for what he said…

“I am not going to do anything about those boys. I am not going to help you. Instead, you are going to help yourself. You are going to man up and take it on as a challenge. One day, you will look back at your years at school thankful for the experience. One day those boys will look to you as their boss, as their successor and they will ask you for help. It will be up to you then, to be the better person and to help them.”

Four and a half years later, as a second Lieutenant at 2 Wksp Coy, a junior soldier came to me to ask for help. A solider who 4 and a half years earlier had bullied me at school.

Yes Ironic, but proof that whether what my principal at the time had said was merely to get me out of his office or not, that it is up to you to put yourself in the right environment, on the right path, with the right support to achieve what you are truly capable of.

I hope one day that the boy in our teens class can do the same. Can one day help those boys who bully him. To endure the feeling of success that comes with it.

For now, I am stoked he has had the small, but massive achievement which has shown him a speck of light at the end of the tunnel. Enough light that will drive him to succeed not out of fear, but because he wants to.

Because he is capable of whatever he really wants

Michael Gillum
What a cop out!

Just as I finished training yesterday one of our members and I got talking…

He asked -

“So, what’s next?”

“I am actually heading to Brisbane in just over two weeks to compete in the Torian Pro”

“Oh sick”

“I am definitely excited, I have not done a competition since…”

It took me a while to think back to the last individual competition I did. Not because I didn’t want to. Heck, I love competing, and competing with the Team at this year’s CrossFit Games was awesome, yet it was not an individual completion.

“In fact, the last competition I did, competing by myself, was the Industrial Athletic Invitational in July last year.”

A Little shocked, we left the conversation there, and continued to pack up.

This year we had two teams from New Zealand qualify for the CrossFit Games (Functional Strength CrossFit and CrossFit East Tamaki). In 2016, we had one team qualify for the CrossFit Games (CrossFit East Tamaki). In 2015, we had one team (CrossFit East Tamaki) and one individual male (Kevin Manuel) qualify for the Games. Yet, we wonder why more New Zealanders are not making it across the line at Regionals to qualify for the Games.

Here’s why…

Because we are hiding in a team. We are hiding behind our buddies. Hiding where weaknesses cannot be exposed. Where it is safe. Where it is comfortable.

Yes, team competitions are fun. Competing with your buddies is extremely rewarding and can push you to achieve things you might not have had you been by yourself.

But, you are doing it for someone else. You are doing it because of the feeling of failure, the idea that you don’t want to let someone down.

If you really want to get to Regionals. If you really want to reach your full potential as an athlete. Put yourself out in front of a crowd, by yourself, truly testing you.

You are capable, it is up to you to believe in yourself.

Michael Gillum
On Tuesday I got told off!

I didn’t steel anything, or do anything illegal.

I didn’t hurt anyone or break anything.

I had just finished a workout, and was taking a short break when someone turned to me and said …

“Wow, you are really negative, do you not like training?”

Shocked, and somewhat defensive I replied -

“I’m sorry, what”

She explained -

“Well, I was talking with Sophie (not the person’s actual name but for the purpose of this story, I will use Sophie), she pointed out that you never look happy when you train.  You are also quite hard on yourself.”

“Go on”

“Oh, you should not be offended, you obviously have very high expectations of yourself. But, sometimes you could just show that you are happy with your achievements. Or just think about how what you say, not necessarily directed at anyone, but indirectly how it can affect others.”

I didn’t know what to say.

I took the next couple of hours to think about what she had said. It had really hit me deep. I had never wanted to be a negative person. I never want to have a negative impact on anyone or their training.

I want to be a person to look up to, and to set a positive example for others.

She was right.

The next day I took the opportunity to thank her.


Because it takes confidence and a special type of person to confront someone with something they do not want to hear.

Something which they know may unintentionally cause debate.

I genuinely appreciate that she took the time to say what she did.

Sometimes you just need to listen.

Sometimes you need to take the time to think about what people say to you.

It is natural to be defensive.

It is hard to believe you do something that you never intended.

It is even harder to stop and listen.

To grow, is to learn.

If you really want to be a better you, take every opportunity you can.

Life will only throw at you only what you can handle. It is how you handle it, that determines how you grow.

Next time just listen.

... even at the worst of times.

Michael Gillum
Have you thought about lending a hand?

Recently, I can’t remember exactly when, but I know it was not so long ago.

I said to one of our members…

“What are you doing this weekend? Are you coming up to Two2Tango (a pair’s competition held on the North Shore of Auckland).”

He replied –

“Yeah, the missus is competing, so I am probably going to come watch.”

“Yo, my wife is competing too. I’m going to help out with judging, you should join me!”

“Nah, F#%K NO!”

CrossFit and Fitness competitions alike, rely heavily on volunteers to ensure their success. The Pacific Regionals alone saw over 100 individuals from across the Pacific offer their time to support the weekend event. The CrossFit Games, held in Madison this year, saw near 1000 volunteers offer their time to support the week-long event.

It always surprises me, the commitment of volunteers, and knowing the time they donate to support these great events.

People literally pay for their own travel and their accommodation, take time off work, and spare time out of their own lives, to support these events, for what? Other than the satisfaction in knowing that they are part of something great. Something which may one day change the world as we know it.

I replied …

“So you expect people to volunteer for you, to judge at the events you compete at, to change your weights and keep your score, but you will not return the favour?

“But, I pay to compete!”

“Where do you think that money goes?”

“And, I will no doubt have to pay to get in.”


Does anyone realise what it cost to run a competition, let alone a successful event.

Where do you think prize money comes from? Yes Reebok sponsors a significant portion of the CrossFit Games prize money. But, I know this is not the case for the majority of fitness competitions alike. The prize money for the New Zealand Pound4Pound competition for example, is covered by entry fees, as are many other competitions.

Who do you think pays for the crowd barriers, the porta-loos, the event tees, the stop watches, the clip boards, the printing, the health and safety reports. Who do you think tests the workouts, and updates the websites?

Who do you think cleans up afterwards?

I always read complaints about paying an entry fee. Have you considered that a venue, like the WIN Entertainment Stadium which hosts the Pacific Regionals costs tens of thousands, per day?

Yes competitions make a money.

Have you considered the hours of preparation that goes into a successful event? Are you going to do all that for free?

Think back to the last item of clothing you brought. When you swiped your Eftpos card, someone, somewhere made money. Not because they are greedy, or ripped you off, but because they needed to make money to continue to make more clothing, to live, to put food on the table.

Most event organisers do not make millions.

They, like you and I make what they deserve for the time and effort they put in.

If competitions made millions, everyone would do it.

Next time you go to a competition, think about lending a hand.

Not for money.

Not because I said you should.

But, for all the times others have, or will one day volunteer for you.

Michael Gillum
A small, really BIG achievement.

I want to share a story with you.

A story one of my members told me.

A story about something special.

Something which shows the true value of patience, persistence and determination.

We had just finished the workout for week two of the Pound4Pound postal competition.

A CrossFit Taurus we, the Trainers, strongly encourage our members to participate in the competition. We also schedule the workout as part of our classes during the postal phase of the competition.

Immediately after the workout, one of our members approached me.

Smile spread wide across her face.

“I did 43 reps.”

“I did 43 of the 50 back rack lunges. Did you know, that the last time I did this workout was the first year of the Pound4Pound in 2013, when this workout was first released”.

I had nothing to say, but I was intrigued …

“When you released the workout, I had been doing CrossFit for six months. But do you know what I am really proud of?”

I sat there staring at her …

“In 2013, I couldn’t even lift the weight off the ground to start the workout, let alone attempt a rep. And, to get 43 reps makes me so happy. I am absolutely stoked. Thank you.”

I was lost for words.

This is a pure display of success through patience.

A reward for absolute persistence.

And proof, that in being determine to succeed, no matter how long it may take, how hard it may be, or how many times you may fail. The reward is so much more when you do succeed.

Take your time.

It is not always a race.

You will, one day, if you want to, be a better you.

Michael Gillum
Go kill it out there.

I had this conversation a while ago now.

A member had recently returned from a selection course.

The first thing I asked her, excited and confident that I already knew the answer would be good.

“Hey, how did you get on?”

“Oh, not too good. I failed!”

“What the f%#k happened?”

Probably not the answer most people would ask, and probably not the response she wanted. However, I genuinely wanted to know. I have a substantial amount of confidence in my members, and I truly, often believe in them more than they believe in themselves.

“It was so hard! I mean the theory was hard. And I knew the physical would be hard, but it was much more difficult than I had thought.”

“So, when do you go again?”

“What? I don’t know, probably not”

“Why not?”

Think about it like this.

Have you ever played monopoly? The objective of the game is to be the last player on the board. You achieve this through buying property, which other players pay a ‘rental’ fee when they land on the space or property which you own. If you cannot afford to pay your ‘rental’ fee then you are declared bankrupt. As a result, you are then removed from the game. Throughout the duration of the game players encounter multiple chapters,

The “Im rich, anyone want a loan”, or

“Hey, want to donate some of your money?”, or

“That’s it! I am going to mortgage everything, I just need more cash”, or

“Yes! FREE PARKING, time for some hotels”.

No, doubt there are plenty more.

Now tell me, do you give up the first time you pay rent?


So, what’s the difference?

When you were a child, at some stage you began to learn to walk.

Let me tell you a secret …

You fell over. A lot.

No one woke up one day, and decided ‘today, is the day, that I shall walk’. It doesn’t work like that. It took time. It took practice. And, you failed countless times. You paid rent. You probably paid a lot of rent.

What about now? Your ‘walk and fall’ rent isn’t due all too often. Because you passed that test and moved onto the next.

 Life is full of speed bumps. Moments in life which will test you. There may even be a couple of walls you need to get over, or go around. And you can.

It is up to you to succeed or fail. It is your choice to fail, and leave it there. Or fail, maybe fail again, and again but someday, when you truly believe in yourself, and ACTUALLY apply yourself, you will succeed.

I thought about what I had said. Was I too harsh?

No way.

I decided to send her a message …

“There will be times when you do not improve, when you do not achieve the goals you have set yourself, and you feel like you are wasting your time. The difference between being the champion you could be, and the person you perceive yourself to be, is knowing the reality of what success involves, knowing the struggle that individuals go through. The difference is the ability to work through that same struggle yourself. Do not be mistaken, there will be speed bumps, and there will dead ends. But, no matter what there is always another way.”

To her reply …

“Thanks Gilly. It's funny, people always ask why I'm so passionate about CrossFit and especially loyal to Taurus. That message plus everything else you teach us on a daily basis is why. You're an incredible coach & athlete & I'll continue to take any advice from you as Gold, really appreciate it thank you”.

You are stronger, more capable, and more determine than you think.

Go kill it out there.

Michael Gillum
"Convenience is Bullshit!"

Very quickly, I became extremely passionate in this conversation.

Last week, a close friend and I were discussing several ideas that he had with respect to the systems at the gym he owns and runs. A number of ideas in, and we started talking about members. No members in particular, more the idea of members at his gym, what the potential of them leaving is vs. the value of them staying.

He then went on to say…

“Sometimes it is just not convenient ha? I had a member leave last week who said they are planning to go to the gym that is closer to home.”

“Bullshit! That is an absolutely bullshit excuse”

No response.

Consider this…

On the 7th June 1976 saw the opening of the first McDonalds restaurant in New Zealand. On the 7th June 2016 saw 166 active McDonalds’ restaurants operating in New Zealand. McDonalds have a precise goal, that is to have a restaurant within 8 minutes of any household, in all main centers. They all offer the exact same products, the same service, and are priced identically. The McDonalds’ brand is driven by the idea of market saturation and convenience.

The closest McDonalds to home, is convenient, because it is the same.

In comparison…

In Palmerston North city, there is a well-known café named Café Cuba. Anyone and everyone who has lived in Palmerston North, travelled to visit friends, or stayed would have, or next time should, visit Café Cuba. The café is situated on the corner of an inner-city street. The building is old, and should be written in the history books. The café itself is small and cluttered, with old small round and square tables, and two small toilets out the back of the dining area. Regardless of all this, the café is always flooded with patrons. Customers will often stand and wait for up to 30mins before a table is free.

According to ManawatNZ, Palmerston North features 66 Cafes, most of which are within 5km of the CBD. A significant number of Café’s that are much more convenient than Café Cuba. Yet, of them Café Cuba is one of, if not the busiest in the city.

It’s not convenient.

But, their customer experience is in high demand.

My friend now understood where I was heading.

“Obviously, what I offer is not a franchise like McDonalds’, therefore the product, or ‘customer experience’ as you put it, is different to every other gym?”


There is only one reason you lose a member.

Your ‘customer experience’ is not as good as someone else’s, for the relative price you charge.

The same could be said about a member leaving to try a new sport, or because they “Can’t afford it anymore”. They don’t want to try a new sport, and they sure as shit can afford it. The issue is, that the experience you offer is not as good as someone else.

If you lose a member, don’t be offended.

Fix it.

Improve your ‘customer experience’.

No one sells a product or a service, we ALL sell an experience.

Michael Gillum
You are only protecting your ego.

I hate this conversation. Yet, I have the same conversation all too often.

The controversy around this topic is created purely by top competitors. Whether they like it or not, they set the standard for competitors across New Zealand

I was reminded this morning during our 5.30am class…

“Hey Gilly, who is our 3rd boy for the teams comp?”

“I am not sure?”

“Oh well, why don’t we just sub in John or Craig (not their actual names, but for the purpose of this Bulletin, we will use ‘John’ and ‘Craig’)?”

“Why, because the team you are referring to is entered in the intermediate division. I am not about to encourage two, relatively good, competitive, ‘Rx’ level competitors to enter the Intermediate division. It is not only unfair, but unreasonable to create the best team possible and put them in any category we so choose”.

“But John’s not ‘Rx’!”

“I’m sorry. Hey John, name one movement you cannot do, which would in turn stop you from effectively competing as part of an ‘Rx’ team at the Team Nationals”

No reply.

My point exactly.

John pipes in “But I’m not as good as you, so I would get smashed!”

Here is where it gets interesting.

The New Zealand Team Nationals is now a relative comparison to the CrossFit Games, at least that is what John is suggesting. Form John’s comment we can then assume that, I should be entering the ‘Rx’ division at the Team Nationals, after placing 17th in the world at the Crossfit Games, correct. And as a result, although John is one of the most competitive individuals in the gym, he should lower himself into the intermediate division. Not because he is not good enough to compete in the ‘Rx’ division, but because there may well be competitors like me, in other teams who have recently competed at either the Pacific Regionals, or the CrossFit Games. And he does not believe in himself, that he will beat those teams, or for that matter be competitive.

Here is what I take from this…

John does not want to lose.

Regardless of the fact, that John is physically capable of completing all programmed workouts at this year’s Team Nationals, as prescribed (true fact). John wants to enter a category where he has a chance of winning.

John does not care that he is, by my understanding of the sportsmanship rules, undermining the point of the competition. Because, John wants to win.


What John really wants, is to protect his ego.

No one likes coming last.

Let’s be honest, it sucks.

There it is, the number one reason people from all over New Zealand, and in fact the world do not enter competitions. Because they don’t want to lose. They do not want to damage their ego.

It is so much easier to say –

“Oh, I’m just enjoying training at the moment”

“Nah man, I have a bit of a niggly back so going to miss this one”

“Hey girl, I am really focusing on my strength cycle so can’t make it”

“Who else is entered? Really trying to be pick my competitions wisely this year”

Do not get me wrong, these are all valid excuses on a non-regular basis. But, when you have been ‘focusing on your same strength cycle’ for the last eight months, you either need a new coach or you are straight up looking out for ego.

Unfortunately, there is no governing body for CrossFit based competitions in New Zealand.

Should this matter?


Stop protecting your ego.

Enter the right f**king category.

Better yourself.

Remember why you started.

And please, help grow our sport, not hurt it.

Regionals 2012.jpg
Michael Gillum
My reflection.

It is always easy to look back on decisions you have made. To say you would have done it differently, and to talk about what could have been.

The key is to look positively at ‘what could have been’ and learn from that experience.

Thinking back to when I returned from the Games.

The first person I remember talking to, “So, how was it?”

I replied, “Awesome, different, and a massive learning curve”.

 Probably not the answer they were looking for, but I knew they were curious.

The awesome bit…

The experience itself was phenomenal. It was all you expect and more. It is the pinnacle of CrossFit competitions. Tough, fierce competitors and challenging events. It is an experience very few will ever experience and one which many aspire to endure. It truly is the CrossFit Games.

“What was different?”

Everything. What you see on T.V and what it really is, is very different. You only see the cool bits. The pieces where top athletes are doing amazing things, achieving ridiculous results. What you do not see is the waiting, the mucking around, and the pressure.

For example -

The very first workout, the run, swim, run. We were told to check in at 8am. We were then walked as a group (all 40 teams), to the beer tent (a massive warehouse which would later be used as a venue for spectators) and told to wait there. The event was scheduled to start at 9am, at least that’s what we understood. At 8.45am after standing around for approx. 30mins, we were ushered to the start-line, directly outside. At 8.50am Dave Castro announces that he is unhappy with the way it is set up. As a result we were directed to go back inside and wait. At 9am we were then moved back outside to the start line to wait for the start of the event at 9.15am. Once started, all remaining pairs (this event was a relay completed as pairs) were moved inside. Bailey and I did not start the event until 10.25am.

The same theme continued for the duration of the competition, check in 90mins before. Wait a while. Walk somewhere. Wait again. Walk to the start line. Wait again. Start.

“What did you learn?”

The experience is something that I will always look back on. It is one experience which I can use to reference for so many things.

Most importantly.

Do your research.


Push the boundaries.

Believe in each other and yourself.

It is amazing what you can learn about yourself and others in stressful, challenging environments. If you really want to achieve what you truly believe is possible, it is essential that the people you choose to do that with are not only capable of the same goal, but they also believe in themselves that it is possible. A team of champions can compete together and achieve amazing results. A team of champions who truly believe in each other and themselves can achieve far beyond that of any other.

Know your goals, and truly believe them.

When you feel as though you have failed, so should the entire team.

When you feel successful, so should the entire team.

When things hurt, they hurt everyone.

If something is easy, it is easy for each person in the team.

Any lapse will be what breaks any team.

Because at the end of the day without every person in the team you cannot achieve what really is possible.

I continue to reflect on the experience. I am not negative. I look forward to the next opportunity.

Michael Gillum
At the Games.

The feeling still resides deep inside, and the conversation is still fresh to the ear.

We flew 17 hours to Los Angeles where we spent four days somewhat adjusting to the change of time and temperature. It never really settled that we were in America, to compete at the CrossFit Games. Yes, it was another country, another gym where we were training, and we were all somewhat excited.

But, really it felt like another training session.

Friday the 28th of July, we travelled to Madison, Wisconsin.

We spent the weekend doing what we could to familiarise ourselves with the environment.

Wednesday the 2nd of August, is the day our team walked out in-front of a bus.

There was no stopping it.

We showed up to registration at 11am, where we spent almost two hours trying on and sizing our new gear. It is absolutely ridiculous the quantity of product individuals receive at the CrossFit Games. But, you know what, we earned it!

That night we attended an athlete dinner where Dave Castro announced several events. The cool bit not being the free dinner, but being surrounded by the individual competitors. Like-minded people who are driven to succeed no matter the cost. Normal people, real people, people who have all made sacrifices to achieve their goals.

On Thursday, it began.

We turned up early. Nervous an excited.

Event 1: (in pairs)

2.4km Run

500m Swim

2.4km Run

This workout was the one, that as a team we dreaded. It was one which tested us through and through. It tempted fate, and it was the one workout which questioned whether or not we would compete at the 2017 CrossFit Games.

Both success and more importantly failure, are what drive a team to succeed. A team that has worked through significant failures and felt triumph together will be stronger than a team who lies to each other.

Our story is no different.

Not all of our team members were confident in the water. In fact, the water was an area often avoided in our team trainings. Not excluded or overlooked, but less favored.


A story for another day…

The event required all team members to complete the workout to continue through to the next stage of the competition.

We placed 16th.

The light at the end of the tunnel really is there.

We competed again that afternoon, ending the day somewhat happy but not yet satisfied.

On Friday we had four events, the Obstacle course, max Clean & Jerk, and the rowing worm workout. Friday we were satisfied. We had done what we could and placed where we truly believed we deserved.

Saturday morning.

Event 7: (as a team)

150 feet big bob pull

150 feet big bob push

When this event got announced the excitement was indescribable. This was our event to win, or to loose.

“They must be the biggest f**ken team in the history of the CrossFit Games”,

“Mass moves mass!”,

“There are some big boys in the Functional Strength team”.

The pressure was huge, and we soaked it all in.

Planned and executed to perfection.

An event win!

Again, we competed several times more that day.

We went into Sunday with mixed emotions. Disappointed, but driven. We knew we needed to place well in event 10 to make the Final.

Our goal had always been to make the final.

The most memorable workout of the CrossFit Games.

Yet, our worst placing.

Our CrossFit Games had ended.

17th overall.

To be continued…

Michael Gillum
What it takes, to compete at the CrossFit Games.

The lead up.

Immediately following the Pacific regionals (May) in 2016 I threw around the idea of making a New Zealand team which would qualify and compete at the CrossFit Games in 2017. Making the Games had always been a dream.

I remember the conversation so clearly.

It was September of 2016, I was competing at the ‘Two 2 Tango’ competition in Auckland. I was waiting in line to start an event when…

I turned to Jo (Joelene Neville) “Do you still want to go to the Games?”

She replied “Yes, but I don’t have a team.”

I said again “Do you still want to go to the CrossFit Games?”

She replied “Yes.”

“Ok, Ill get the team we need.”

It was then that I made the team who would eventually become the 17th fittest team in the world. I knew I needed the right team. A team with individuals who I knew were in the right mental, physical and financial position and who I knew wanted it as much as I did, who I knew would agree.

Each person I asked, I only asked once. Once was all that was needed.

In November of 2016 it began.

Friday -

0500 head to the gym to coach the 0530 class,

0800 Write the teams programming,

1330 travel to Auckland

1630 Train with the team

1930 Travel to and spend the night at a team members house

Saturday -

0700 Travel to the gym

0830 Train with the team

1200 Travel home to Hamilton

Sunday -

0500 Travel to the gym from Hamilton

0830 Train with the team

1200 Travel home to Hamilton

This same pattern continued for the following eight and a half months. Each week without absence.


To follow the rules.

To grow a competitive team.

To get us ready.

To pursue a dream.

There is no question that the sacrifice we made was vast. The level of commitment was unheard of. But, we knew the reward would be so much more than all of that.

Our training was rough. It tested every one of us. We did things we had not trained before. I often put the team in uncomfortable and stressful situations. I frequently changed the training environment. I would repeatedly temper with each team member, with the goal to build them stronger for the future us. There were times when it was fun, but there were more times when it seemed so far away. We argued, and there were tears. But there were also smiles and laughter.

That was the point.

I knew I had the right team. With individuals who I knew wanted it as much as I did.

In May of 2017 we won the Pacific Regionals with a convincing 77 point victory. We received 580 points out of a maximum 600 points available, by placing 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd in the programmed workouts.

The team needed to win. They needed it to brighten the light at the end of the tunnel. And, to help pinpoint the teams goal.

And so, the training continued.

On July 24th we left New Zealand, for the 2017 CrossFit Games.

To be continued...

Michael Gillum
The difference.

I have caught myself having this conversation a number times over the past couple of weeks.

The difference between those who are at the top and those who are not.

In New Zealand I see so often, the same top competitors going head to head. I very rarely see new faces coming through.  

What is the difference?

We talked about programming.

Yes, programming is important. It is key to have progressive training, varied intensity, managed volume, output, and workload, and to cover both your weaknesses and your strengths. Not to mention, to practice, train and compete. However, even the best individualized programming in the world executed perfectly will not entitle them to be crowned ‘Fittest on Earth’.

We talked about experiences.

Yes, experience helps. It supports your ability to grow as an athlete. Experience provides a foundation for your next steps. And, it gives you the grounding you need as an athlete. But, the most experienced ex-gymnast in the world cannot be guaranteed a podium finish at the CrossFit Games.

We talked about gear, friends, and the gyms top athletes go to. All relative, but not what makes anyone number one and not what gets individuals to the top.

The difference, is the want. The want to succeed. The want to push harder than the person next to you. The drive to pick up the bar, when your shoulders are burning, you can’t breath, you are about to pass out from heat exhaustion and doing what no one else will. The difference is wanting to. Wanting more than anyone else.

Those who succeed, want to, and they truly believe in themselves that they will.

One to live by.

"Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't."

-       Jerry Rice


Michael Gillum
Performance based goals...

Last week I got caught deep in conversation with one of our members.

He asked, “Bro, what are your thoughts on nutrition?”


I replied - “I believe in a long-term solution”

I do wonder if he really wanted to ask another question. However, I thought that first I would address what had been suggested.

Nutrition is one of the most controversial and opinion based ‘things’ in our ever changing, world. What you need to realise, is that your results are a direct reflection of the effort you put in. There is NO secret. There is no six-week program that will change your life. Yes, a six-week program may set a foundation which in-turn changes your life forever. But, it takes a lot longer than the initial six weeks.

Yes, nutrition is key to looking good, to performing better and to getting the results that you want.

My point.

Fix it forever.

Change one thing at a time. Make it a lifelong change, that in the future will become a subconscious decision that is right for you.

The accepted standard –

Visit a ‘nutritionist’, receive a five-week meal plan. Stick to each meal for the full five weeks, no cheat days. Well done. Now do that same five week meal plan for the next 50 years of your life.

Why not? You got results.

The solution –

Change one thing. In two or three weeks, when you have truly changed that ‘thing’, change something else. Make life long changes. It may be cutting bread, or drinking more water. It, most importantly is a change that will eventually become the normal.

The issue –

Nutrition is tedious. Checking your body weight everyday, or staring into your mirror hoping, waiting for change is ridiculous. Nutrition is widely accepted as the underlying issue, BULLSHIT! The issue is a lack of performance based goals.

You want to look like top athletes, you want your abs to glisten in the sun. Do you know what that takes? Do you know realise that top athletes could not care less what they look like. Top athletes, are driven by what they want. They are driven by their goals.

The coolest thing, is that their body adapts. Their body adapts to the environment, the training, and the pressures that the individual put on themselves. The way they look is a direct reflection of their goals.

Instead of measuring themselves, instead of measuring their food, they change their life to suit their goals. Nutrition is a small component in their lifestyle.

Change for the right reasons.

Change to suit your goals.

Set performance based goals.


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Michael Gillum
The power of experience…

It is always interests me, watching individuals grow as athletes.

Not a conversation that I have with members, rather something I prefer to provide as an opportunity.

Something to talk about in the future, to reflect on and grow from.

As I drove to Auckland last week, I turned to Craig and suggested the idea of pulling over to lie in the creek on the roadside. For what purpose? Bear in mind it would’ve been approximately 10 degrees outside, and lightly raining. We were currently dry, warm and somewhat entertained by the chatter of the radio.

Craig replied, “Ha? What for? Do need a story to tell?”

My response, “No, but do you see the value?”

Lying in the creek would suck. It would no doubt be cold, tedious and somewhat disheartening. We may end up in the emergency room with mild hyperthermia, and yes, we would have story to tell. However, I merely wanted to point out the metaphor. Next time we did something hard, how much easier would it be than lying in that creek, freezing, not knowing when it would be over?

A crap comparison?

Try this.

During the weekend just gone, I had planned for our team to swim at Takapuna beach. The plan was to complete a number of laps, out to the buoys and back. The number of times depended on individual ability. We knew it was going to be cold, and I knew it would mentally test a number of our team members. However, it was not just cold, it was 13 degrees. The lane pool you swim in, normally sits at a cold 26 degrees. The water that comes out of the tap is not even that cold. After much debate, and considerable encouragement we did complete the swim.

The result was tremendous.

After that, how easy is any swimming going to be in the future?

The experiences you gain, that at the time may seem unachievable, ridiculous and pointless, will support you forever.

Having the ability to look back on something knowing it was harder than what you are doing now, will always make what you are doing seem so much easier.

But, you must be willing to create the experiences.

Test yourself, everyday.

Michael Gillum
The champion you could be...

You cannot honestly believe what you see on Social Media!

It is easy to snap your latest PB on Instagram.

It is easy to post about how much fun you had at a competition over the weekend.

It is easy to show the world what you have achieved.

What is often forgotten, and is never posted, is what that success really means.

No one wants to hear about the hours you spend in the gym stretching. Hanging out by yourself in the corner for the second hour straight, stretching. Or, how you have spent 20 mins working through the crossover symmetry routine, every day for the past six weeks. No one is going to read your story about how it has taken you 12 months of working percentages on your snatch to gain 1kg. No one wants to listen to you complain about the breakfast you have every morning, and how it has been the same for the last two years. The world certainly does not want to know it has taken seven years to get to the level you are.

The truth, for the majority of the time, is too much work.

I have this conversation every day.

Member: “Hey, I’m not getting anywhere. I suck at Handstand Pushups, and I just can’t get a bigger weight on my clean, everyone is better than me.”

My reply, every time. “Have you been practicing? For how long?”

Member: “YEAH, I have been doing handstands after class EVERY DAY for the last six weeks!”

And the reply, no one wants to hear “Good work, now keep going. Everyday. It may take you the rest of the year, it may take two. You will get better, eventually”.

Champions are not made over night.

There will be times when you do not improve, when you do not achieve the goals you have set yourself, and you feel like you are wasting your time, day after day. The difference between being the champion you could be, and the person you perceive yourself to be, is knowing the reality of what success involves, knowing the struggle that individuals go through. The difference is the ability to work through that same struggle yourself.

Stop lying to yourself. Stop believing the CRAP that is posted on social media. Everyone who succeeds, works for each and every result.

Your turn.


Michael Gillum
Stop Cheating!

We quickly got into a deep conversation during the weightlifting course last night.

“Have you seen some of the scores the girls have put up?”

I replied, searching for some more depth “what do you mean?”

“You know, some of the girls in intermediate have put up some ridiculous weights for their Cleans. And, I am pretty sure some of those Scaled girls are not scaled”.

She was referring to the New Zealand Nationals Online Qualifier.

I agreed.

At the end of the day, someone must win. No matter how many people are removed from a category, at the end of the day, someone will win. That’s the point of a competition.

However, as an individual competitor it is your responsibility to choose your category correctly. By correctly, I do not mean a category by which you are competitive. I mean the category with best represents your ability.

Consider this…

You can do a couple of Muscle Ups, you can handstand walk 5 meters on a good day, and you know you can probably clean 130kg provided you are feeling good. But, you are feeling relatively unfit, and knowing that the likes of Kevin Manuel and Luke Fiso will be competing in the Rx category. Where do you belong?

Let’s have a look…

The Rx division requirements state. Front Squat: Men 80 kgs +, tick. Bar and Ring Muscle Up, tick. Strict HSPU: 4 – 6 consecutive reps, tick. So basically, you can tick off everything in the Rx category. But, you are not sure if you will be competitive. Or do you mean, you do not want to go up against Kev, or Luke because you won’t win. That’s the same as, Rob Forte not going to the CrossFit Games, because he believes Mat Fraser MAY beat him. Or, Megan Signal not going to the Pacific Regionals, because Kara Webb MAY beat her. That’s BULL SHIT!

How do you honestly expect to get better, if you enter the wrong category because you gauge yourself off how competitive you are against the competitors in that division?

Just because you MAY NOT win, does not mean you should go down a category to win that one.

Grow a pair, and push yourself.

Stop cheating.

Michael Gillum
The Power of competition.

Last week, 5.20am, almost zero degrees, we pull up to the gym, a little late, to a sight of true inspiration. A carpark full of cars, full of motivated people ready to workout.

At the completion of the programmed workout I informed a small group that they had not yet finished, and would additionally be completing a 600m Dead ball carry. Really, I just wanted an opportunity to catch up with each of them.

Immediately the conversation began …

“I need to find me again. I am definitely getting itchy feet, I really want to compete again”.

I replied – “Why? because you miss the feeling of accomplishment. You miss being pushed. You miss having a goal, and purpose to train hard. So why did you stop?”

It is phenomenal what can be achieved through competition. The CrossFit Open is one of the best examples of this. We strongly encourage members to enter each year, not because they are going to win. But, because we want to provide an opportunity where individuals will push themselves beyond what they normally would in a regular class. We want them to see what they are capable of.

If you MUST do, you will. If you have the OPTION to, you may or may not.

Consider this…

You enter the CrossFit Open, knowing last week you managed your first pullup. And since then, you have managed to complete a couple of sets of 3 – 5 repetitions. You are pumped! Workout 1 is released, chest to bar pull ups and Squats. Uh oh. The first time you try it, you spend 11 minutes only to achieve a score of zero. But, you spend the whole 11 minutes trying. You are gutted, yet you remain determine. You come back on Sunday to practice. You even ask the Trainer for a couple of extra tips after class. Then Tuesday lunch time, right before submission is due, you come in and do it again.

3, 2, 1 Go…

“No rep. No Rep. 1.”

“What? I got one? YUS!”

You finish the workout with one round completed. The level of satisfaction is beyond containable. You did it.

Would you have got Chest to bar pullups had you not entered the CrossFit Open? Probably, but how long would it have taken? This is exactly what competitions do. As much as you want to push yourself, as much as you want to succeed, you cannot give the same effort as if there is something on the line.

I said to her, “so enter the next competition you find”.


Michael Gillum
Practice, train or compete?

How often do you compete with the person next to you?

I started this conversation with a group of members after class earlier this week.

One of the group pointed out that they had overheard another member say,

“Hey bro, there is no ‘Rx’ anymore, haha”


‘Rx’ is a term thrown around and often misunderstood within the CrossFit community. The symbol, or term was originally used by chemists and stands for prescription. Therefore, by completing a workout ‘Rx’ means you have completed it as prescribed. The misunderstanding is when a gym, coaches, trainers or the like sets what they consider an ‘Rx athlete’ someone who by their belief, and only theirs, is ‘Rx’. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. ‘Rx’ for a particular workout is deemed by whoever programs that particular workout, not necessarily ‘Rx’ for the next.

We always put the ‘Rx’ workout on the board. The only difference this time is that we had not stipulated the weight of the kettle-bell or the height of the box jump.

That same person made the comment,

“I think he’s right. We have spent so long trying to get to ‘Rx’ and now you take that away from us”.

This is the misunderstanding. I hadn’t removed what is prescribed. The difference in this case is that I had left it up to the individual to determine what they should do to better themselves, rather than compete against the person next to them. I had given them the opportunity to decide what would give them the desired stimulus within the set time domain.

I replied “Do you turn up to the gym every single day to compete? Or, is your goal to better yourself for your future? Do you truly believe you can reach your true physical potential by pushing your body to its limits every single day?”

Picture yourself doing a 100m sprint. You set on the blocks, eyes forward, heart pumping. You must win. The gun fires! You throw yourself out of the start line with one goal in mind, to move yourself as fast as you can to the finish line 100m meters away. You don’t hold anything back, and you are exhausted once it’s over.

That was day one.

Day two. This time with the same goal in mind. To give everything you have, to beat the person next to you at all costs. Run 10km.

Day three. Once again with the same goal in mind. To give everything you have, to beat the person next to you at all costs. Enter a weightlifting competition and max all of your lifts.

Day four…

Does it matter? You are smashed. Are you really going to be able to give it all? Do you truly believe you can sustain that kind of output? 

“Your body cannot sustain competing every single day of your life, it is not realistic”.

So, we Practice, we train and we compete.

How much depends on the individual and their goals.

We can practice everyday. Practicing is skill work, stretching, mobilizing, technique work, anything that you can do repeatedly and will benefit your ability to train and compete. Practicing is running a 100m section placing your foot on the ground the same way every single time. Or, completing small sets of butterfly pullups rotating at exactly the same speed each time, or at least aiming to.

You can train every day too. Training is 5 x 5 back squat, where you work a percentage of your max, training to get stronger. Improving your strength, bettering yourself as an individual. Training is also completing a workout in a class setting. But, your goal is not to bet the person next to you, rather it is to improve your capacity, or muscular endurance, or skills under fatigue. As soon as you do it ‘For time’ you are competing’.

Competing is excellent. But, it is a test. Remember, competing is when you push yourself to your limits, you give everything you have, and you leave nothing. Test yourself, but NOT all the time.

Create a better you each and everyday.

Always practice, always train, and sometimes compete.

Michael Gillum