We are genuine when we say, we want to help you.

But, seriously…

Learn to count.

Not because I care, but because you are destroying your friendships.  You are spoiling our culture, we have worked so hard to create. And put quite plainly, you are cheating the whole reason you are here.

When I coach, I often choose someone to pick on just a little more than everyone else. Not in a negative way, but to really give them a little extra push.

This particular day I choose ‘John’ (not his actual name but we will use ‘John’ in this instance).

The workout that day required members to work through 20 Deadlifts, 10 Clean and Jerk, and 35 Kettle-bell swings, twice and all under 14 minutes. A tough time cap to say the least.

The conversation went something like this -

“Keep it up John, you have made a really good start”, a little encouragement approximately 1 minute in, as he begins to change the weight ready for the Clean and Jerk. I decide to watch from a distance, and count his reps.

“Nice work man”, currently 5 Reps in…

Then, I quickly realise that John thinks he has finished. He is on his way to the kettle bell that is placed off to the other side of the Pull-up rig. Far enough that it would not be reasonable to guess he is purely taking a small rest.

I sprint over and interrupt almost immediately,

“Hey, are you going to do the other 5?”

He replies –

“I have”, looking relatively confused.

My honest, genuine reply, because I actually care…

“No! you have done five, I stood back and counted the entire set”.

He, quickly, and quite shocked, responds -

“Oh crap! my bad bro, sorry”

“No need to be sorry man, get stuck in”

Moments later, I noticed John moving back to the Kettle-bell, at which time I knew he still had one rep left to complete the set.

This time I decided to make it known. Over top of the music I yelled –

“Hey John, you still have another Rep, come on man!”

No response.

But, he did the rep. And I can confidently say, that he did not miss count another rep that entire workout.

Afterwards, John took me aside –

“Hey man, really sorry I messed up those reps. I was going so hard, I just lost count and decided to move on. Won’t happen again, honestly. I am actually a bit gutted to be honest”

It is easy to miscount, I get it.

It is easy to get caught up in the moment, deep in the ‘pain cave’ and loose sense of the basics. I fully understand.

Here is the difference.

Someone who genuinely wants to improve, to truly succeed, would make it impossible to miss count. Whether that meant recording their score after each and every rep. Or they turned around half way through in order to make the sets smaller and easier to count. Maybe they ask the Trainer for help when they know themselves, things are about to get messy.

Or, they just start the set again.

The fact that you have miscounted is lazy.

The problem is...

You are destroying the friendships with the people you train with. A little competition is awesome for many reasons. However, no one likes the ‘Bro, that was a tough fight, just got you in the end ha?’ but really you just shaved the last few reps. I will tell you now, both of you know it too.

You are a detriment to our culture. We are about working hard together. Encouraging each other, and helping each other achieve our goal. Not, doing half the workout and telling everyone that you smashed them. That kind of Ego bullshit can be left at home.

And, you are without question wasting your time. You are cheating no only the workout, but also yourself. You are literally starring at yourself in the mirror and lying.

We are genuine when we say, we want to help you.

But, more importantly, help yourself.

Next time you lose count. The next number is one.

 
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Michael Gillum
My love, hate relationship…

With your New Year’s resolution.

But why?

“This year I am going to eat healthy.

This year I am going to train 4 times a week.

This year I am going to make sure I am up early and go running.

This year I am going to lose 10kg.

blah blah blah”

As we say goodbye to another year and welcome in a New Year, I hear all about your New Year’s resolutions.

First of all,

The number one issue I have, and I continue to debate with our members is that, a New Year’s resolution is just plain lazy. If you really crave the resolution you have made, you would have done it already. The fact that it is your New Year’s resolution has almost no impact on whether or not you succeed. The driving factor is in fact you. The cravings you have or lack of, are a direct result of the success of whatever it is you have made as your New Year’s resolution.

Let’s put the idea of a New Year’s resolution aside. Instead let’s call it a step towards your goal.

What need to appreciate is the motivation needed to take each step. Without truly craving your goal, without genuinely wanting the result, your motivation is only water on a windscreen. You are going to wipe it away and fail.

Consider this.

Your first step this year, is to increase your physical training from three times per week, to five.

Excellent.

Why? Because your goal is to improve your lifestyle to be an active role model for your children. Let me point out that you don’t actually need to have your own children to have this goal.

Specific? yes.

Measurable? well if you are overweight and unmotivated clearly you need to sort your shit out. So yes, you will know if you are heading in the right direction.

Achievable? Yes, the simple, yet most significant limitation, is you.

Realistic? Yes. If someone tells you otherwise, you can tell them, I said to go give themselves an uppercut.

Time bound? Yeah, your life. Because it’s not about ‘a new year, a new you’. It’s about climbing each and every day of your life towards what you really want.

Now…

Like I have said before.

Find something you really want. Something that you believe is achievable, hard and satisfying. It doesn’t need to be something as spectacular as competing in the Hawaiian iron man, which if that’s for you, go for it. It needs to be something that you have to work hard for, that you have to make sacrifices for, but something that you know that if you do work hard you will truly be rewarded.

Set yourself the one goal and bit-by-bit, year by year work towards it. If you sleep in instead of hitting the track, who cares? Go tomorrow, but make sure you go. Once is a mistake. Twice is letting yourself down. Don’t let yourself down! Find a support network; find a friend who has the same or similar goal. Be mean! Don’t let each other miss a training session or whatever it is you need to achieve your goal. Be realistic! Life will get in the way. Broken stairs and obstacles are annoying, and there will be obstacles – big ones, like trees. Buy a bigger chainsaw.

Set yourself one goal, and climb each and every day towards it.

 
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Michael Gillum
It has been a tough year, and a long one at that.

Get over your shit.

This time of year should be about positive reflection.

Why fill your yourself with regret. With thoughts of what you could have been. Thoughts of what you should have done. And , the idea that you should have done better, and achieved more.

The truth is…

You wouldn’t have done any better.

You wouldn’t have done any more than you did.

Otherwise you would have.

That’s something that you are going to have to live with. There is not point beating yourself up. The past is quite literally the past.

Instead, write down the things you did this year.

Now give yourself a high five and be proud of your achievements!

Now, what’s happening in 2018?

Two weeks ago, during our last weightlifting class of the year I got caught up discussing goal setting. More specifically the issue I have with goals, and the way goals are set and perceived. I was asked…

“How can you be proud of yourself if you have aimed to achieve nothing?”

“I am not saying you shouldn’t aim for something, nor am I saying you shouldn’t be proud of yourself. What I am saying is that having a list of expectations is not setting goals. It is purely pursuing failure. Your goal, or goals need to be something that you desire above all. Something which you will subconsciously make your priority. Something which at even the darkest of times, you will be able to see the speck of light near the end of the tunnel.”

Silence surrounded me. They were all thinking quite deeply about what I had said. One of them piped up…

“So, one goal?”

I replied –

“Yes. Be realistic. Take the time to think about the things you want. Something is more important than the rest. You will without question desire one more than the rest. Consider this…

You want to make it to the gym 4 days a week (goal no.1). You want to lose 5kg (goal no.2), and look good in a bikini (goal no.3). You want to eat healthy (goal no.4). You are only going to have one takeaway meal each week (goal no.5). You are going to take a healthy snack for morning tea each day (goal no.6). Once a week you are going to spend 10mins kicking a ball around with your kids (goal no.7). This year you are also going to join a social sports team (goal no.8).

Or,

You are going to improve your lifestyle to be an active role model for your kids.”

The small goals you have set yourself are stepping stones to what it is you really crave. The issue is, what happens when you miss a step, or you fall over. Does that mean you can no longer achieve what you want? F&%K NO!

The small steps are the process. I can promise you, you will fall over. It will get really, really windy on those steps, and there may even be a fallen tree. But that’s ok, you can brush off the dirt, grab the railing, and borrow a chainsaw. Keep climbing towards what you really desire. 

2018 doesn’t have to be the year to do it. It might just be another couple of steps.

But, keep climbing.

 
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Michael Gillum
No conversation this week…

But, show some F%#KIN respect!

For your peers.

To the newbie in the class.

To the lady who has been in the mum’s class but decided to step outside her comfort zone.

To the teenager only trying to discover himself.

To the old guy in the corner who has spent his life working like a slave, but has decided it’s time for change.

To anyone and everyone who has turned up to the gym, or whatever discipline they have chosen.

The people around you are doing more to improve their health than the majority of the population. Why would you knock them down at the knees and send them packing? Give yourself an uppercut and find the respect button your parents gave you.

They, just like you, are taking the right steps in improving their lives.

It is so easy, and so often forgotten where you started.

Are you really that ignorant?

Do you honestly believe everyone who walks through the door for the first time, pulls off a 50m hand stand walk, maybe a bonus back flip, then walks over to their buddy and throws 100kg over their head, and calls it their ‘warmup weight’.

We all have a common goal…

To be better than yesterday.

Each and every person around you has either put their pride aside, kicked their comfort zone in the arse, or grown a pair and decided to do something for the future them.

Instead of screwing your face up, being impatient, or laughing at their incompetence how about you lend a hand, or throw them a high five.

One day you might be the newbie.

Respect others with the respect you desire.

 
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Michael Gillum
Watch what comes out of your mouth.

Especially when you are talking about something that you have not even tried yourself.

How trustworthy are you or your advice if what you are saying is bullshit?

Is that the kind of person you want to be perceived as?

Knocking something before you try it, is a quick road to losing your integrity.

Last week I made a comment which I truly wish someone had punched me in the gut before I had, had the time to say…

“Why would you want to do that? Yoga is dumb!”

The group I was talking to giggled quietly and continued to stretch.

A member then approached me as we moved on to the next piece training…

“I don’t get it. So, you are saying that one of the classes you offer here at Taurus is dumb? So, I shouldn’t go?”

“Ha?”

Exactly, almost word for word, what I had said. There is no other way you could interpret that.

What was I thinking? I wasn’t trying to be cool. Or, undermine the instructors that we have who take our classes. Nor was I trying to discredit the class itself.

That comment is a direct reflection of my upbringing. Something which I have been learning about and trying to change.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote briefly about learning. About taking a step back to learn from an experience.

This time is deeper than that. This is about understanding you. Understanding that there will be things that you do, or say. Or things that you believe because of something you learnt earlier in life.

For example,

When I was a younger, my mother had always told me

“Boy, make sure you peel those Kumara’s properly. You can’t eat the skin”.

Now, for no reason at all I have always until recently thought that to peel a kumara before you eat it is simply thing to do. It was not until almost a year ago, I was visiting a friend who had invited my wife and I for dinner. I decided to give her a hand and offered to prepare the kumara. She accepted the offer, but before long stopped me in shock.

“What are you doing? Why are you peeling them? The skin is the most nutritious bit?”

It was that moment, that I realized what I was told as a child was purely a matter of opinion. An opinion Justified because that’s how my mother preferred to eat Kumara. Looking back now, there are so many things which I now know are a matter of preference or opinion. Which, as a child I treated as gospel. As we grow, we all established these understandings that until you question will be all you know.

It was as a child, before I even knew what yoga was, that I was already set up to fail in that moment.

No disrespect to my mother, she brought me up the best way she knew how. And, she did a pretty good job. No, this falls back on me.

I had put the important things aside…

learn.

To discover.

To try.

To develop your own opinion and experiences.

It is not easy to accept that you are wrong. It is even harder to accept that you have been wrong your entire life. But, what is harder than all of that, is to be open minded. To allow yourself to continue learn.

That following Sunday I was the Trainer scheduled to take open gym from 1 until 3pm. Our Yoga class starts at 3pm. After sitting in the member’s area for almost the first 15mins of the class, I decided to take my own advice. I grabbed a mat and joined in.

I wasn’t good. Honestly, I was quite average.

But, I will be going again this weekend. And as many of the lads as I can convince will be joining me too.

The world is changing.

You don’t want to be left behind.

 
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Michael Gillum
There is no need to beat yourself up.

You are allowed to be proud of yourself.

Being proud doesn’t mean telling the world. But, a celebratory high-five, throwing your results up on the Pb board, or an Instagram pic are nothing to be ashamed of.

I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due. Due when you have worked for it. That does not mean credit should not be given for what you would consider small, or insignificant progress. This is sometimes, where the most recognition is deserved, and often needed.

I recently put one of the girls I coach through a de-load week, concurrently with a small amount of testing. Often it can be hard to stay motivated and driven, training by yourself in isolation. I wanted to show her that she is progressing.

This particular day I had programmed that she ‘build to a heavy Clean & Jerk’. I had also said, that if she missed a weight she is to stop.

She sent me a video of her last successful lift which was in fact her current best to date…

“That 75kg Clean was so easy! Well-done”

She then replied…

“Well done? That was so bad”.

I laughed, and replied…

“So bad, are you wasted? Look at how much faster you stand up. Last time you cleaned that weight it almost crushed you. Look at the control you have of your knees and, how up right you are when you receive the weight as you stand. Not to mentioned the fact you are not using a lifting belt”.

No reply. But, I knew she would now be watching the video, over and over again.

“There is huge improvement, you should be stoked”.

I left it at that until later that afternoon, when I received a response…

“Going from what you’ve said about today’s training, you have helped me realise not to be so hard on myself. To be honest I was pretty disappointed with today’s training before I spoke with you".

It is easy to feel like a failure. To feel like you are stuck at a standstill.

We can thank social media for that.

It is so easy to be engrossed in the idea that you are not good enough when you compare yourself to the elite.

And don’t read this, thinking ‘I don’t compare myself, I am an individual'.

That’s bullshit! your subconscious does it for you.

Take a look at your Facebook newsfeed. Your feed is a direct reflection of the crap you indulge in.

Facebook works like this…

If you read something, Facebook takes note of that. If you watch a video, Facebook notes that down too. If you even stop on a post Facebook records it. Do you not wonder why you rarely, if ever see posts of sports you don’t follow? Have you never wondered why your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend have a completely different feed? it’s a direct reflection of your interests.

The only reason you are disappointed is because you are comparing yourself to some elite athlete.

Have you ever compared yourself, to yourself?

At the end of the day you are trying to do yourself one better. You are trying to beat the old you. To improve from where you were a week ago. To look back at the younger version of yourself and laugh.

Yesterday I posted a video to my brother’s timeline of the first time he completed a Ring Muscle Up. Knowing that he can now do multiple with a much better movement pattern, he was stoked!

I remember listening to Matthew McConaughey, who said it best…

“I need 3 things. One is something to look up to. The second is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase.

… My hero, that’s who I chase. When I was 15 years old I had a very important person say to me, who’s ya hero? I said I don’t know, give me a couple of weeks. A few weeks later that same person came up to me and said, who’s ya hero? I said you know what, its me, in ten years from now. So, I turned 25, that same person came to me and said, so are you a hero? I replied, not even close. No, my hero’s me at 35. So, every day my hero is always 10 years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to attain that. But that’s fine with me, because that keeps me with someone to chase.

… To that I say alright, alright, alright”

Every small step, is one step closer to a better you.

The key is to step forward, and to be proud of each and every step.

Pic: Regionals 2013, where it really began.

 
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Michael Gillum
You need to understand the sacrifice that is involved.

You need to understand the responsibility of the commitments that you have accepted. And that it's ok.

I have had this conversation with the same person more than once now. Each time the topic has come up, we get well distracted from what we are meant to be doing. Its easy to see so many examples, and I feel like each time one of us brings it up, the material is so new.

… “Speaking of distractions, did Kathy (not her actual name) tell you that she is going away this weekend?”

“Yeah, she also told me that she is doing another competition soon, that she will be away with work next week, for most of the week, and that her youngest has school camp in two weeks”.

“Haha, how is she going to be ready for the Open?”

“She will be as ready as she has chosen to be. As ready as the commitments that she has made will allow. And that’s fine”

Generally, here is where the conversation ends.

As humans, apart of society we have lives. We have, and make commitments and there is nothing wrong with that.

Nothing at all.

What is wrong is when we lie to ourselves. When we make goals only to let ourselves down, not once or twice but on a regular basis.

We all sub-consciously choose to make things a priority. Whether you like it or not if something is more important to you than something else you will put more time, effort and energy into that thing.

Here is an example…

Leading into the 2017 New Zealand Team Nationals, the Team Nationals competition was without question my priority. This had significant consequences which I knew, and I was willing to accept. I have set myself a goal for Regionals next year, which during the lead up to Nationals I reluctantly and temporarily put to the side. Not because that’s what I wanted, but because my goal was no longer at the top of the peaking order. And although I was focused and consciously I wanted to train, I would often find myself distracted during training, or not training at all.

But that’s ok. That’s a decision I made. A decision which I consciously made, which I knew the consequence of. And that I knew meant I had to sacrifice something.

If you really want to do something, you will.

But, you must be willing to put things aside.

You must be willing to accept the consequence of your decisions, which you may or may not like.

That may mean you don’t visit friends or family. That you don’t get to go to the beach or the movies with your friends. That you cannot afford new training shoes, or you end up working late, well after the rest of the office have gone home.

And that’s ok.

Here’s a classic …

“Nah, I can’t afford to!”

Yes, you can.

You just don’t want to. And, that’s fine. You don’t need to make an excuse, accept the priorities you have and the sacrifices that go along with it.

Be happy with the commitments you make. You made them.

 
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Michael Gillum
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?”

“Yes”.

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”

“Ha?”

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.

 
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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

 
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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.

 
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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.

Why?

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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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?

No.

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.

 
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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?”

Correct.

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.

 
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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.

Or…

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?

No.

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.

 
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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.

Test.

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.

 
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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.

Why?

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.

Why?

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