My name is Mark Bruggeman. I am a CrossFit (CF-L1) trainer. I have helped numerous CrossFit boxes open, Biloxi Beach, Post Falls (Uncaged), Hayden (Untold), Great Falls (Big Sky), and have noticed lots of similarities and lots of differences. I have also noticed a huge difference in CrossFit over the last 5 years. Again, some good, some not so good. CrossFit has become the Sport of Fitness. It was always about minimalist equipment doing things in a short amount of time with very seldom doing a hero WOD, ie. Murph. Now, everything is just so heavy and long for the average athlete. Although, the exposure on TV is great. It has changed. Some would say for the better, others may disagree. I just say that it is different.
As a young person in the Air Force, I had always looked for a different way of working out. I did the chest and tri’s, back and bi’s method, over a long period of time whilst I was in Alaska because that is what was taught in high school, but I knew there was something better. I tried the running til you puke method of fitness. There had to be something better than that. That was just horrible. I finally just decided to do what I wanted to when I went to the gym. I would do short sprints, then do some (25-50) push-ups, then hit the lat pull-down machine for 100 reps, then go run a mile just to finish off. The next day, I would do sit-ups, bent over rows, bleacher hops, then swim 20 laps. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did get into pretty good shape. I have always been in pretty good shape. I played lots of sports recreationally, including baseball, volleyball, skateboard, surf, etc. Fast forward to late summer 2007. I was selling carpet in Spokane. While on a carpet sales appointment, I get a call from a good friend of mine, Chris Manly. “Hey, let’s go to a movie.” Me: “Okay, what do you want to see?” Chris: “300 is playing in an hour, can you make it?” Me: “I will be there.”
After that movie, I thought to myself, “how did all of those actors get so ripped?” Later that day, Chris calls me up again. “Have you ever heard of CrossFit?” Me: “Nope.” Chris: “That is what those actors did to look like that in that movie. They are flipping tires, box jumps, sprinting, pull-ups, push-ups. We should try it.” Me: “Okay, lets do.” And we did.
I found a CrossFit affiliate in Medical Lake, WA, just outside of Spokane. Met great people and they were about to move near downtown Spokane. I promptly joined them at CrossFit Spokane in September 2007. I remember my first workout. Hell, I remember my first warm up. 400m row, 10 pushups, 10 pullups, 10 squats, 10 situps, 10 back extensions, 10 dips. Repeat 3 times. As a novice, I killed that warm-up. I was pretty much done at that point, but then it was time for the WOD. Angela Gerry gave me no slack. “You shouldn’t go that hard on the warm-up.” Me: “You could have told me that after the first set.” ” Are you ready for the WOD?” Me: “Yeah, let’s do it.” Angela: “5 tire flips, 10 sledgehammer hits each arm, 10 burpee box jumps on the tire. 5 rounds. Ready? 3…2…1…GO!” As I grabbed that tire the first time, I thought to myself, “How heavy is this thing?” … I don’t remember the rest of the workout, but somehow I made it through. I can’t tell you what my time was. I could have cared less at that point. I made it through. That was all that mattered. Angela: “Are you okay?” Me: “No, I just found out that I am not in as good of shape as I thought I was.” Angela: “Everybody says that. Are you ready to sign up?” Me: “I’ll be back tomorrow to sign up.” 2 weeks elapsed. As my body became less sore, I decided to go in again. This time I was much more, um, restrained. I did not want my body to feel that bad again anytime soon. I did join at that time. CrossFit has been a part of my life ever since. I met some amazing people at CrossFit Spokane; Christmas Abbott (CrossFit Invoke), Derek Hutchinson (CrossFit CDA), Mike and Angela Gerry.
I went to my Level 1 cert early 2008. It was Easter weekend to be exact. My wife was not happy about that, but she is a very understanding woman. My Level 1 Cert was at Rainier CrossFit in Puyallup, WA. I met some great people. The seminar staff was “Super” Robb Wolf, Dave Castro, Nadia Shatia, Mike Ray, and Kurtis Bowler of Rainier CrossFit. Robb Wolf was a riot. Everything was super! Then he said the words that will stick with me for a long time. “Carbs are like an ecstasy laced drunken binge at the Playboy Mansion for a monogamous relationship!” He talked about the Paleo diet. The first I’d heard of it. He has since written a book you may have heard of, “The Paleo Solution.” If you haven’t read it, PLEASE DO! It is a “super” easy read, and it will get you thinking outside of the USDA Food Plate/Pyramid conundrum that the United States Government has us all believing we need, but I digress. I had a great time at the cert, but I also had been reading everything I could through the CrossFit Journal, and there really wasn’t any additional information other than the nutrition part, thanks Robb, that I didn’t know prior to going to the cert. Basically, I didn’t feel like I got my $1000 worth at the cert, but that is neither here nor there. Everybody has a different feeling coming out of CrossFit seminars. Maybe I didn’t ask enough questions. I don’t know. Anyway…
I joined the Montana Air National Guard in January 2009. When I get there, I start talking to the members of the weather station about CrossFit, and how awesome it is. Of course, I had had a full serving of the Kool-Aid as it is known. They were not so impressed. In July I leave my family behind and go to Biloxi, MS to start weather forecasting school for the second time in my life. I was there for about a week before I noticed that a new CrossFit was opening just outside the Pass Road Gate to Keesler AFB. CrossFit Biloxi Beach was about to open. I met Kenny 3 days before their big opening. On opening day, I was there with several others to christen the box with my sweat. On that day I met Kari Kundert, Sean Schmermund, and Faye. Oh Faye! I had never met anyone like Faye before. Outspoken and fun. Lots and lots of fun! hahaha! She had a trainer, but he was treating the box like it was a cardio/ab/cardio/ab workout, every single day. He is a great guy, but the programming was not CrossFit at all. I asked to help with the programming. Not that I was a whole lot better, but it was at the very least CrossFit oriented. I also began volunteering my time to help coach as much as I possibly could. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if i changed anyone’s lives, but I was having a great time. Everybody around seemed to be having a great time as well. So began my coaching experience. I trained with and for CrossFit Biloxi Beach 4-5 days a week for 9 months. I learned a lot.
I continued with my Crossfitting ways to Camp Blanding, FL for the next 3 months. I met up with old friends Cory Brown and Sean Hansen, and made new friends, Brian Milch, Dan Hicks, and Marlowe Perry. Awesome people all the way around! We got in a few workouts and some volleyball while there. Improvisation is a skill needed while gallivanting around the United States.
I signed up for a half marathon. It was the 10-10-2010 when I got back to Spokane after forecasting school. I wanted to see if I could do it. I had run 1.5 miles, 5k’s, 10k’s, while in Biloxi, but never run anything longer. I had never run more than 3 miles in my life before Biloxi, thanks Faye and the Ocean Springs Bridge (in a pink tanktop doing 5 burpees every 50 feet), and Ty Watters. Okay, so, I run the half marathon, again, just to see if I could. I felt like I held up fairly well. 1:48:58. I was just hoping to be in the 2 hour range. I was much better than that somehow. I was doing a lot more running and a lot less CrossFit at the time though. I have since done another half marathon with less running and more CrossFit. Actually, i really didn’t train for the second half marathon at all. The only reason I did it was because a friend had asked me to. She had been training for it for 6 months or something like that. She beat me, but only by 5 minutes. She was just under 2 hours. I was 2:04:35 or something like that. I am getting a little off track. Okay. No more talking about running long distance. Got it!
Mmmm. Okay! I’m back in Spokane from Biloxi and Florida. I ran. Oh yeah. Jerolyn, my wife, says that another CrossFit is opening in the area. CrossFit Uncaged opens in Post Falls, ID. I walk in and talk to Mike Russert. Great guy. Nice box. New equipment. Clean. He gives me the tour of the place. I tell him that I had been kinda training people in Biloxi. We go through the baseline workout. I do much better on this than I thought I would, but after the Spokane incident I take everything slower than I probably should. I sign up for a month. After a couple weeks, Mike and Casi ask if I want to help them train people since they both work full-time jobs. Me: “Yeah. That would be AWESOME!” So, I begin training some great people in bootcamps and regular classes. A great time was had by all. Unfortunately, the business wasn’t growing like we all had hoped, and the owners decided to pull the cord on CrossFit Uncaged within one year. Thanks Dave Ramsey. hahaha!
At about this time I had decided to go for a full-time weather job over in Great Falls, MT. I was there for about 2 weeks when Jerolyn called me up and asked where the new CrossFit was in Great Falls. I didn’t know, but some of the equipment that Mike and Casi was selling was coming to Great Falls. I had to find it now. I started driving around to track it down. Finally, I found it in a strip mall near WalMart. I walked in and met Ryan Smith of Big Sky CrossFit for the first time. He is a great guy with an infectious smile and a passion for CrossFit. We talked for a while. I signed up with him on the spot. After about 2 weeks he asked if I wanted to help him coach. Me: “Yeah. That would be AWESOME!” So, for 2 years I helped coach when I had the time. I learned more from Ryan in 6 months than I had the previous 3 years training people. Ryan Smith is the smartest owner/coach I have ever met. He is super knowledgeable about movement. He has a great program. I will be using lots of the techniques I learned from him.
Over the last 5 years, I have been asked on numerous occasions why I didn’t have my own box/ gym. My excuse was that I didn’t have the money to start it up, or I didn’t have the time to start it, or I didn’t want to compete with any of my friends. Now is my time to start.
I will be using this format to post different things. Thoughts on fitness, nutrition, and life. I have always said that I have met the most amazing people doing one of three things, forecasting weather, playing volleyball, and CrossFit. Wish me luck!