We help make people better at life. They bring the "Give A S#!&", and we teach the confidence, know-how, and the dig-deep they never knew were there. It's as simple as that. We are honoured to share Russ' story of creating memories and finding his passion within fuelled by those around him.
After watching a friend compete in a Tough Mudder, I knew I had to try one myself. I had been a member of traditional gyms for as long as I can remember and was pretty confident my fitness would carry me through my first Mudder in 2014. I was wrong…the event smoked me. It was like nothing I’d ever done but I remember crossing the finish line completely ruined, looking back at the course and thinking to myself “holy $%!*, I just did that...!”.
This would become a recurring theme over the next few years as I signed up for more races, trained harder at the globo gym, and still felt smoked after each race. In 2015, while competing in Vermont, CrossFit kept coming up in conversations with other competitors. First thing Monday morning, I googled the closest CrossFit gym and FirePower popped up.
When I walked in the doors, big George was there to greet me. We chatted about Crossfit, FirePower, the programming, the classes, coaches, and more. He spent a good hour with me when the reality was we both knew 5 minutes into it I was already hooked. I have an addictive personality so it makes sense.
About 4-5 months into my CrossFit journey, I wanted to test myself outside of the gym and see how things had changed so I signed up for another Tough Mudder. In previous races I’d never been able to get across the monkey bars, over the 10 ft Berlin walls without help, up Everest without face planting and tearing the skin off my knees. But this time? Everything was a breeze! The stuff I was doing and learning from CrossFit was working - I could see and feel the results. This time as I was crossing the finish, instead of feeling smoked, I looked back up the hill and thought to myself “I wonder if I could do it again tomorrow.....”. The training pattern for me was quickly turning into ‘train and workout with my FP family; test myself in a mud run; crush the event and then look for new ways to test.’
Enter the Goruck series. For anyone not familiar with Goruck, it’s a team-based endurance event run by a special forces Cadre. It gives a participants a snapshot into the physical and mental stress that force them to form a bond and work as a team. All of this is done wearing a weighted ‘ruck’ or backpack averaging 40lbs for my division
Goruck events come in 3 flavours:
• Light: ~6ish hrs, 8-10 miles
• Tough: ~12ish hrs overnight, 15-20 miles
• Heavy: ~24ish hrs, 40+ miles
My first Goruck Tough was in Boston. I completed the event successfully, came back to a Goruck in Toronto two weeks later. Then Buffalo a few months later.
Competing in the Goruck events is very similar to every class at FirePower. Whether 8 mins into a 15 min Wod and I just want to stop, or 8 hours into a 12 hour event facedown on a beach wondering why I signed up for this. But you always have someone within arms reach smiling, supporting you and encouraging you to keep going. Everyone hits a dark place and its the community/family around you that will see you through to the end. In turn, you make sure that you help others around you get through their pain cave and at the end of the event or Wod you can look back and say, “We did it…. let’s do it again tomorrow.”
Eventually I was ready for the next challenge. The ultimate goal was to complete all 3 events, back to back to back. Completing the HTL (Heavy, Tough, and Light events) meant that you complete each event and immediately started the next one with roughly 2-3 hrs of time in between to eat, rest, and try to recover. It was a pretty aggressive (crazy) goal and I was only able to complete the Heavy (24 hr) event on the first attempt in 2016.
On average an HTL will run minimum 48 hours and usually cover a distance of over 100KM under load. I learned very quickly that this was going to take more than just normal CrossFit classes to complete, there was a mental aspect and a pain threshold to it that I didn’t have.
As with everything up to this point, I leaned on my FP family, specifically the coaches. I started picking their brains about endurance, nutrition leading up to an event like this, and more importantly the mental aspect of it. I signed up to a few specialty programs. This time in 2017, now armed with extra targeted training and mental prep, I was finally able to complete the HTL. Despite my pride when finished, when asked if I would do it again my answer was simple… “fuck no!”
Just like a brutal CrossFit Wod, once the pain wears away, something itches inside to do it again! How many CrossFitters can’t wait to do Murph again? When it pops up there is a huge level of excitement (and sometimes despair) to retest and see if we can improve on it. This is no difference in my opinion between my HTL or Murph. It gives us an opportunity to revisit a difficult test and push ourselves to do better while being surrounded by like minded individuals who are also pushing to do better.
Fast forward to 2018, I’ve just completed another Goruck on June 1-3 in Chicago.
The parallels between the events I do outside of FirePower and the inside classes are incredible if you take a step back and look for them. Everyone is there to better themselves in one way or another. A decision was made at some point in their mind to step way out of their comfort zone and try something new.
Whether it’s someone who just finished Foundations and has stepped into the regular classes for the first time, or the seasoned member who’s been there for years working on fine tuning a lift to squeeze out a 5 lbs PR, or shave a few seconds off a named WoD, they are there for the same reasons. To be better at life.
The biggest source of inspiration for me is seeing the success of the members around me. All you have to do is lift your eyes up off the floor and look around you to be inspired. A look from someone across the floor confirming that their in just as much discomfort as you are, watching another member absolutely crush a WoD, or something simple as a friend saying “great job, push through” makes a huge difference for me. Whether doing a difficult CrossFit Wod, Mud Run, or Goruck, you’re always going to hit a wall and only have to look around to find strength or inspiration to bust through that wall and finish.
I was a mid-30s Dad looking to step out of my comfort zone and try some new stuff. After starting at FirePower in 2015, years later I have a list of personal accomplishments that I would have never thought possible and more importantly I’ve found a second home/family. Without that family, I would never have been able to create those memories. It’s as simple as that.