In my fourth year I started to see the politics of my school and I was on the wrong side of the party line. I had always been myself, but once drama found me I traded who I wanted to be as a person for who I thought I should be as a teacher. Over the next couple years Crossfit became a huge part of my identity and I tried to share it with both teachers and students. I could never seem to put together the right words to explain why I loved my gym so much without putting my foot in my mouth. The one thing I could count on was each day was work needed to be done to develop as a Crossfit athlete.
To be clear I never thought I was an elite athlete. The first time our head coach destroyed me in a workout when she was seven months pregnant proved that. Yet Crossfit offered me something that was lacking in my teaching career—a place where constant improvement was the norm. Crossfit PointBreak was the first place I was surrounded with people who desired to make themselves better. Crossfit is a community dedicated to personal growth that accepts failure as a part of learning while providing support and accountability.
I grew up in Wisconsin and when I moved to Houston I didn’t know anyone, so the people of Crossfit PointBreak literally are my family in Texas. I have a deep love for them and a desire to work hard to honor all the love they have given me. After three rough years of teaching I stopped trying to be the teacher people wanted me to be and decided to become the man I should have been. The past year I dedicated myself to developing in every area of my life. I've been surprised to find that becoming who I wanted to be was about trading what was comfortable for what was best for me.
Crossfit has been a constant in the midst of all the changes I have made this past year. I thought as time went on I would be more dedicated as a coach and athlete, but that just hasn’t been the case. The biggest change has been the establishment of what I believe to be my purpose on this planet. As found myself I had a gut feeling that I was meant to be more than just a classroom teacher. That all the skills I had could benefit more than just the kids I see on a daily basis. From that feeling my purpose was revealed as the development of teachers as people. My purpose is to bring value back to the teaching craft by coaching and mentoring personal development for teachers. Teachers can't afford to pretend the problems in their personal lives don’t have a negative impact on their students.
Where I teach in Houston 95% of the students are on free or reduced lunch and many of them come from broken homes. It breaks my heart to know how many of them come to school having no one to look up to when they leave. And it isn’t just in urban areas that our kids are in need of role models. Kids have access to more information then ever before and they have no filter for all that content. They see YouTube and Vine videos, Instagram and Facebook posts, and hundreds of other apps as pure truth. “It is my job to teach the lesson and the students job to learn.” “I’m their teacher not their mother.” “They don’t pay me to teach character.” These are all phrases that can't be said by teachers any more. What scares me most is if we don’t teach kids character and value them someone else will. More than likely it won’t be someone we would want our kids to learn it from.
Which brings me to why I now train for a purpose, not just with a purpose. I understand why we use muscle up progressions and scale to meet the athletes where they are. I get why we work across broad time and modal domains to achieve higher levels of fitness that will prolong our quality of life. I get that, but I have to train for a purpose. I have to train for the purpose of making my dream of the strongest teaching force in the world a reality. I have to train with the knowledge that every second of my day matters and I can’t afford to waste any of it. I partnered to create a nonprofit called Lighthouse Educator Development. We will make sure teachers realize that when you don’t value your health your students won’t value theirs. When you have negative influences in your life that negativity will find its way to your kids. Most importantly if you don’t value yourself as a person you will never be able to inspire students to value themselves either.
But like all of the other positive changes training for a purpose comes with sacrifices. Namely having to sacrifice who I wanted to be as a coach and athlete. I gave up coaching our Crossfit Kids Class to come home every night and work on building our platforms. I gave up all the extra mobility work and progressions to be skilled at muscle ups or clean and jerk 185. I gave those things up to become the C.O.O. of a nonprofit that will prove that teachers are the most powerful engine for social change in America.
I still train four or five days a week at 5:15 am with people who are family to me. I train to provide me with the energy I need to spend my days creating content, writing emails, and connecting with teachers. I am humbled by what Crossfit has brought into my life and am so grateful for the opportunities I have because of it. I know many of you reading this train with a strong purpose, but I challenge you to reflect on your purpose for training. We have all felt pain during and after workouts, but we will have setbacks that far outweigh the ones we face in the gym. Train with a clear heart and as you push through pain you will build your tolerance for the discomforts of pursuing your purpose outside the gym. If you have a strong purpose don’t let your gym be one of the places you aren’t 100% committed to that purpose. Train yourself for the unknown and unknowable of your particular purpose and it will push you down paths you never knew existed.