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Father’s Day and One Man’s Journey to be a Better Dad

June 21, 2018 by
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CrossFit changed my feelings about Father’s Day forever, and I don’t say that lightly.

My dad passed away when I was 15 years old. He was a great dad — kind, loving, and always wanting to spend time with his boys. Some of my earliest memories are of playing catch with him in the yard or going to Reds games in Cincinnati. My later memories aren’t great.

Losing my dad to cancer as a teenager was incredibly difficult. Because of that, I really didn’t like Father’s Day anymore. Some years, it was just another Sunday; others, it was a bitter reminder of my loss.

It wasn’t until recently that I began seeing Father’s Day in a different light. And I have my friend Joe to thank for it, and his journey to become a better dad through CrossFit.

Joe was a wild buddy of mine in college, and I mean wild. He was the kind of guy you’d send to buy beer and would come back with a pit-bull puppy. That actually happened.

After graduating, Joe became a big-name alcohol rep, which, as you can imagine, requires a lot of wining and dining. He began putting on weight in his post-grad years.

A few years ago, Joe became a dad. I remember thinking, “Wow…the guy who once stayed up for 24 hours drinking now has a kid.” I also remember thinking, “I’m getting old.”

We’d see each other occasionally and always had a good time. Same old Joe. Always down for a beer. Or two. Or three. Which was great, because I always had a drinking buddy in Joe. But I also wondered how many other people felt that way, and how it was almost certainly jeopardizing his health.

A few more years passed, and Joe had another kid. A baby sister for his baby boy. A beautiful family.

On January 1, 2018, everything changed. How cliche, right? Nope, this resolution actually stuck and changed the course of Joe’s (and his family’s) life forever.

Joe got his diet in check – hopped on the Whole30 train – and started getting up early. Super early. Jocko Willink early.

Then he started doing CrossFit — something I never thought I’d see him do — all because of his kids. He told me he wanted to ensure he would be there for them as they get older, and he meant it.

In just three months, Joe went from 275 pounds to 220. He hasn’t been that fit since he met his wife when we were in college.

Joe’s now around 205 and still dropping weight. “Just hard work, discipline, whole eating, and tremendous support.”

As you know, Joe wasn’t on this journey alone. It takes a village, and in this case a village of CrossFitters. I’d like to give a huge shoutout to our buddy Quinn and his gym, Upper Arlington CrossFit in Columbus, OH, for being so profoundly supportive of Joe.

So many people avoid going to the gym because they’re worried they’ll be shamed for their bodies. But Joe took the plunge and was welcomed in with open arms. And that story isn’t unique to Joe or Upper Arlington CrossFit.

That’s what makes it so special.

It’s special because it isn’t unique in the world of CrossFit. YOU, as a coach or owner, are on the front lines of what makes CrossFit a community in every since of the word. That’s special.

I’ve seen and heard of stories just like Joe’s countless times. New fathers start CrossFit every day. Sometimes they become fathers after being CrossFitters. They dip out for a week to be with their newborn, and then they’re right back at it. My buddy Avonte crushed the fourth workout of the Open on four hours of sleep after just returning from the emergency room with his wife and newborn! Talk about dedication. That was the only workout I beat him on this year.

So this Fathers’ Day, I’m raising a toast to Joe, Avonte, and all the dads of CrossFit. The pain, sweat, and effort you put into ensuring you’re there for your kids later in life is moving beyond words. You embody what this community is all about. Happy Father’s Day.

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