Member Stories: Graham Workman

My Journey TOWARDS Fitness

by Graham Workman


So, here’s my story.  I’m skinny.  I’ve always been skinny.  My dad told me to wait until I turned 30, it would all start to change.  Well, still skinny.  So, he said, wait until you’re 40.  Guess what?  Still skinny.  As a result, I never thought much about my fitness.  I didn’t worry about what I ate, or if I was being active.  I just figured that since I wasn’t worried about my weight, I must be in pretty good shape.

But then I started to notice some things.  I would feel sleepy after eating my lunch at work.  I would get winded running a block to the mailbox.  I was painting a room, and my shoulder would get tired quickly, and be sore for awhile after.  I wasn’t feeling great about my body, so I decided to join a gym.  There was a big box chain gym at the end of my street, that I figured I could pop into after work, do some cardio and lift some weights.  Everything would be fine after that.

Surprise, surprise, I had no idea what I was doing there.  I had no lifting form, no technique.  I was depending on the weight machines to keep me safe, and as long as I could lift it, I must be doing it right.  I didn’t know enough to work different areas, and what moves to pair together to be the most effective.  It didn’t take long for me to get hurt.  I lifted something that I probably shouldn’t, and my back paid the price.

The pain was incredible.  I could barely get out of bed.  I couldn’t stand up straight, and I could hardly walk without holding onto something.  I was a liability at work, and it probably wasn’t safe for me to be driving.  When the Doctor diagnosed me with degenerative disk disease, and bulging disks, it had me worried.  I started thinking about how difficult my life was going to be.  The things I would miss out on because of back pain.  I was very concerned.  If the pain was this bad in my late 30’s, how much worse could it get as I got older?  It got to be pretty depressing.

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Luckily, the gym had a PhysioMed attached to it, and that’s when I first met Matt Munro.  Matt and his team worked with me a lot.  And I do mean A LOT!  Sometimes up to 4 times a week, for over two and a half years.  The exercises were tough.  The journey seemed never ending.  But Matt kept up the positive attitude every time I came in, and eventually I started to see results.  Matt had a great plan in place to alleviate the pain, but also to build the  necessary strength to combat the underlying issue.  I stuck with Matt, even through a move when the big box gym closed, and PhysioMed teamed up with this FirePower CrossFit place.  During my physio appointments, I would catch glimpse of the CrossFit classes, and I never envisioned myself doing what they were doing.  But Matt thought differently.  When it was time to be discharged, Matt knew that I would still need some guidance, or I would end up right back where I started.  So, with his support, I ended up in the CrossFit Foundations class.

From my free trial class with Kim, to my foundations classes with a variety of coaches, I couldn’t get enough.  I still remember my first snatch lesson, when George suggested I put the 45lb bar down and try the 35lb bar for awhile.  Some people may have been offended by that, and gotten upset.  I took it as the first of MANY teachable moments.  Where the coaches where actually concerned that I learned how to lift properly, and not worry so much about the weight yet.  I never had a moment like that in the other gym, where someone was actually concerned about my form.  Probably why I got hurt.

In my 2+ years with FirePower, I have never had a moment where a coach wouldn’t take the time to, well, actually coach.  I still appreciate the little tips, even in the middle of a WOD.  Squeeze your glutes, hinge at the hips, watch your dip. These little moments remind me how much the coaches care.  I also truly appreciate that they’re willing to help me find an appropriate substitute, on the days that my back isn’t quite 100%.  Each and every coach that I’ve worked with has been knowledgeable, friendly and extremely helpful to me.  Some WOD’s I love.  Some WOD’s I just put my head down and slog through.  But my absolute favourite hour at the gym happens on Saturday morning.

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 I have been taking CrossFit striking with Justin almost as long as I’ve been a member.  While it incorporates a lot of the elements of a regular class (lifting, gymnastics work), the striking element adds a unique flavour that just makes it a little different.  Justin seems to put a lot of thought into his workouts, as he builds on our previous knowledge.  I appreciate his patience, and the fact that he knows my abilities well enough to really get the best out of  me.  I start looking forward to the next striking class as soon as one finishes.

I called this essay my journey towards fitness, because I’m not there yet, but I’m not done.  It’s a journey.  My back still hurts sometimes, I don’t often do Rx weight, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get double unders.  But I’m so much farther along than I was a few years ago.  Thanks to Matt from PhysioMed.  Thanks to George, Andrea and all the coaches at FirePower.  The futures looking so much brighter now.

Andrea Savard

As owner of Reebok CrossFit FirePower, Andrea has been in athletics for over 25 years in high performance teams and coaching. With a background in corporate marketing from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, she has built RCFP to a world-class training facility with her husband George. Together they are raising twin kids and twin dogs in Milton, Ontario.
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