As you’ll see in the article I wrote for last December’s newsletter, I think reflection is a crucial element of individual progress. As outcome driven as I am, I also find that I’m very guilty of not doing this. I must repeat to myself constantly, “A year ago, the walls were green.” This statement, small as it may seem, has been the mantra to help bring me back into the present and appreciate all the wonderful changes the gym has seen in 2019. We’ve added new members to our tribe, new equipment to our facility, and new events to our calendar, all of which create new opportunities to both maximize our fitness and strengthen our relationships with each other. You guys mean the world to me, and I’m looking forward to even more great things in 2020.Written by: Coach James“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It's time for that to end.” – Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming & BelongingI think it’s important to take time periodically to reflect on how far you’ve come, and what better time than December to review the previous year? At the end of 2017, as we were finalizing the sale of this gym, I was once again preparing for the American Open Finals, which meant not only a great deal of training, but also a great deal of sweating in the sauna. For better or worse, a large part of Weightlifting revolves around making weight, and this was to be my final meet as a 77kg (169lb) lifter. New weight classes were being announced in early 2018, and despite the fact that 77kg was a weight I now struggled to get down to (the year prior I weighed as much as 203lbs), I knew that if I put in the work, made the weight, and had my best performance on the platform, I had a chance to capture the AZ state records for that class. So as the time drew nearer, the training got more intense, my diet tightened up, and the sessions in the sauna increased. To take my mind off the sweltering heat, I often listened to audiobooks. I don’t remember who recommended the book referenced in the quote above, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.For all of 2017, I had been seeking the opportunity to go off on my own and become a business owner. I had been coaching and personal training for over a decade, and teaching Exercise Science at the university level since moving to Arizona in 2012. The entrepreneurial journey actually started when a friend of mine sent me a link to a Craigslist post that Kauai CrossFit was up for sale, and in February I made the first of two trips out there to check it out. I was amazed by the community that lived on Kauai. Life is a whole lot different for a group with 1/100th the population of Phoenix who are surrounded by 5,000 miles of ocean in all directions. The people were welcoming, treated strangers like family, and there seemed to be a shared responsibility for the collective good. Although it wasn’t quite the right fit, a part of me will always be on that island. James Joyce has a quote that reads, “The longest way round is the shortest way home.” After leaving CFIS and Scottsdale Barbell a year prior to pursue this dream, I eventually found my way back to our CrossFit family and had my chance to make it a reality. My goal from the start was to bring to the forefront all of the things that drew me to CrossFit from the start: the inclusiveness of any and all fitness levels, emphasis on technique & movement standards, and showcasing observable, measurable, & repeatable results. At the risk of sounding like I’ve drank the Kool-Aide with a firehose (thanks, Brad), I honestly believe there is no better complete nutrition and exercise program than what CrossFit provides. Long after my competitive career is over, I’ll continue to push myself in daily WOD’s, giving my best effort, whatever it looks like on that particular day. To help better illustrate that message to the group, I recently decided to get a mentor (even coaches need coaches). My first task, after outlining the current state of the business, was to develop a vision for the gym, and a mission for how we plan to get there. After much thought, I distilled the vision to a single sentence: “We are a tribe of athletes who value the perseverance necessary for ongoing success.”Every word is intentional. I’ve already spoken about the importance of each of these components in previous newsletter articles, from the magic that is felt within a community of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal, to the commitment of the daily grind in order to achieve anything of significance, to the understanding that there is no finish line, and the act of embracing the long and winding road ahead. Our mission is to one day have 100 athletes in our Commitment Club, not to set ourselves apart from others, but to help show them by way of example that they too can become empowered to live their best lives. To the outsider, CrossFit is often seen merely as a series of brutal, constantly-varied workouts, but those on the inside know better. Each time you find yourself gasping for air after rowing intervals, shaking after a tough set of back squats, or laying in a pool of sweat after burpees, you learn a little more about yourself. Realize that you’ve made a choice: to seek progress over comfort, knowing growth and achievement lie on the other side. As is true for most teachers, I sometimes have the tendency to overcomplicate simple things, and really, this is just my long-winded way of saying thank you for being a part of my journey, and for being a valued member of our tribe. There have been a lot of changes over the course of the last year, and with each one, I hope you continue to find more and more value in our gym. We’ve grown our coaching staff, brought in some new equipment, cleaned up our systems, and welcomed many new faces to our group. Whether you’re a 5-year veteran or still within your first few months here in your fitness journey, your persistent success both in and out of the gym means everything to me. I’m looking forward to our shared and continued progress in 2019.