15-Plus Years in, Pat and Taz Barber Still Committed to “Old School CrossFit,” Now with RPM Training
Born and raised in CrossFit’s heartland, Santa Cruz, CA, Pat Barber stumbled across the training methodology 18 years ago when he was just a teenager.
A couple years into his journey at CrossFit Santa Cruz, Pat remembers seeing a poster about a BBQ and a CrossFit competition in Aromas, CA, an event that was open to anyone who wanted to compete. The competition was, of course, the first-ever CrossFit Games.
Barber didn’t make the trek to Aromas that year, but he went on to compete at the second Games in 2008, as well as in 2009 and 2011, and then returned with a team in 2014 and 2015.
On the other side of the world, Taz Barber found CrossFit in 2007 and went on to open the first affiliate in New Zealand—CrossFit New Zealand in Auckland—in 2008.
A year later, Taz won her region’s qualification competition and made the journey to the United States to compete at the 2009 Games.
“She needed a place to train, so she trained in my heart,” Pat joked, describing how he and Taz met when she showed up at his gym to train leading up to the 2009 Games.
“I started as an 18-year-old and I knew nothing and…I haven’t found something better. I have tried to poke holes in it.”
The Barbers’ Journey From 2009 to RPM Training
After falling in love at the 2009 Games, Pat moved to New Zealand in 2011, where the couple ran Taz’s affiliate together before returning to the United States in 2014 and opening NorCal CrossFit’s third location along with 2008 CrossFit Games champion Jason Khalipa.
At the time, there wasn’t much on the market in terms of affiliate programming services, which led the Barbers to start Warmup and Workout in 2015, the affiliate programming business they have been running ever since.
“We were programming for so many gyms for NorCal and we were like, ‘More people need this!’…There was no affiliate programming on the market at the time. Nobody was doing anything like that…so we launched Warmup and Workout,” said Barber, now a father of three and an active CrossFit Seminar staff trainer, a role he has held since 2007.
Last July, after running Warmup and Workout for almost six years, the Barbers were approached by RPM Training—a company that emerged from the CrossFit space in 2012 and now offers fully loaded at-home gyms, as well as online programming and classes through their Atom platform.
RPM Training was looking for a programmer and head coach for Atom, and the Barbers immediately connected with the company’s vision.
“For me, it was the opportunity to provide something really authentic in this space, to this scale…That was huge to me. We always kind of ran our company with a tiny team on a shoestring budget, just trying to help whoever could find us. And when the guys at RPM came to us and were like, ‘This is our vision,’ I was like, ‘That’s really cool,’” Pat said.
The result: RPM Training bought Warmup and Workout last summer and partnered with the Barbers to provide a range of services including affiliate programming, individual programming, coaching development, and full virtual classes through Atom.
The Barbers and RPM Training’s Hybrid Experience
Today, Taz heads up the programming for the RPM and Atom community, while Pat coaches their follow-along daily workouts. Warmup and Workout has become Atom Affiliate, providing their current and future affiliate members with the classic GPP programming and session plans the Barbers’ former company is known for, along with Competitors, Oly, Kids, and Teens programming.
Though Pat has embraced the remote training world, he is adamant that nothing can replace an in-person community, and sees Atom as the perfect hybrid solution for many people, including members of a CrossFit affiliate, who can’t get to the gym five days a week.
“The best thing someone can do for their fitness is find a great affiliate…but what we were finding is there are a lot of people who don’t have access to that. They don’t have access to a good set of gear and they don’t have access to a coach who’s going to lead them through something cool,” Pat said.
This is where Atom comes in.
“There are three different gear kits that ship to their house, and Monday through Friday you go into the Atom app and I’m coaching a full class—warm-up, skill work, workout, cool down,” Pat said.
He added: “There’s nothing like it in the market. The closest thing you could say would be Peloton, but this is far more than just a bicycle. And I’m not going to go, ‘Rah, rah, rah, you’re doing great at home.’ Because that’s not real…it’s a much more authentic version of that.”
The big plan currently in the works, Taz explained, is Atom affiliate programming that blends perfectly with the Atom at-home programming for people looking for a hybrid workout experience.
“The affiliate programming will be in sync with the Atom at-home. Because a lot of people don’t want to join a gym when they know they can only attend once or twice a week. But if they’re like, ‘Well I have this program I can do at home, and I can go to the gym to see my friends and community once or twice a week,’…I think that’s a real game changer in the affiliate space,” Taz said.
The Big Picture
As much as CrossFit has changed since Pat and Taz discovered the sport more than a decade-and-a-half ago, much has also remained the same.
Eighteen years into CrossFit, Pat still does the daily Atom workouts Taz programs, and he even follows along with his own coaching: “I find myself laughing at my dumb jokes…Good dad joke, Pat,” he said, laughing.
One of the biggest keys to their longevity in the sport, the couple agree, is how they have stayed true to classic GPP programming, or what Pat calls “old school CrossFit.”
“We have never strayed from that. And I think that puts us in quite a different space, because a lot of affiliate programming out there is not that (anymore),” Taz explained.
The reason for their loyalty to classic GPP is simple: It’s still the best thing out there for fitness, they said.
“I can do CrossFit consistently three days a week and maintain a pretty high level of fitness… I can just step into my garage and do it and I know I’m going to get something from it,” Taz said.
Pat added: “I started as an 18-year-old and I knew nothing and…I haven’t found something better. I have tried to poke holes in it.”
“These words that were written in 2001, I have yet to find a hole I can poke in the program and be like, ‘There’s something better than CrossFit’ when it comes to making people fit relative to the definition we have for fitness being the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want, for however long you want.”