What really matters.

One of the most significant pieces in the puzzle.

Almost the most influential.  

Most certainly one of the most powerful aspects.

Without question something which sets you up for success as much as it does failure. 

The defining factor for us all.

That is the environment in which you train.

The motivating, encouraging, social and yet most importantly positive environment in which you should be training.

I want to take you back 8 years ago to when CrossFit first became part my life. I want to show you how lucky you are or what you are missing out on.

I was in the Army at the time. I was young and newly commissioned as an Officer posted to the 2nd Combat Service Support Battalion. I was keen and full of energy. But young and ignorant. Thomas and I (who would five years later would become by best man) were at the gym on the path to become ‘big’, at least we thought we were. On this particular day we had decided to do a workout outside in the sun. In front of the gym there is a line of Pull up bars often used for group training. We had begun debating a workout when Aaron James (AJ) walked past, who at the time we looked up to as a legend. Basically, carved out of stone, this man was what we dreamed of being like. He turns to us as we argue…

“Boys, I have a good session you could go for? Real simple. 10 Burpees plus a Pull up each repetition, followed by a 400 meter run. Then, 9 Burpees plus a Pullup per repetition followed again by the run. Keep going until you get to zero”. 

Of course, we did it. That was like the emperor giving away his riches.

Funny though. Looking back, that workout was not something I would call exciting. However, that workout was the defining moment for me. That was the moment I was hooked. That was the moment I experienced something else. There might have been only two of us and nothing but a Pull up bar, nonetheless that workout was something I had never experienced. A true and honest introduction to a positive training environment.

I later decided to head along to CrossFit Mana the local gym which AJ owned. This is where my love, not for CrossFit but for the environment grew even more. The gym was not quite 20 meters in length, and no wider than two barbells. At the far end of the gym away from the entry was a small area where the gym kind of made an ‘L’ shape if you were to look from a bird’s eye view. Here AJ had constructed, with some old steel bars and wooden posts a pull up rig. The White board was also down the far end, and the small amount of gear that included kettlebells, Wallballs, Bumper Plates and Barbells where all stored here, either under or to the side of the white board. We used to get 18 people in a class in that small gym. I will always remember Jen (AJ’s wife) screaming before a Barbell workout,

“Stay in your square… OR ELSE”

She quite literally meant to stay in your 1 x 1-meter square. At times we would even have people out on the street with a couple of matts laid down to protect the gear. And you know what? No matter how hard I try. No matter how great the environment. No matter how good things are. That environment, is irreplaceable.

The friends I made,

The people I meet,

The things I learnt, 

The memories I made,

I will never forget.

It didn’t matter that we didn’t go to the new gym in town. That we didn’t have the gear all those elite CrossFit athletes have. It didn’t matter that we often had to share the gear we did have or that we so often nearly, but never quite dropped a Barbell on each other. I quite literally woke up each morning counting down the time until I could go again.

That is the kind of environment that makes you do things you never thought you could. That has more of an influence on your life than you know yourself. The kind of environment that sets you up for success when you aren’t even ready for it. That is the kind of environment you need to find, create and most importantly hold onto.

When you do find an environment like that, make sure you cherish it. Make sure you hold onto it tightly.

There is no price you can pay for that.

What you will get from that, is genuinely priceless.

Michael Gillum