Hi! I’m Grant. I just bought your gym.

This post tells a little story (mostly factual I’m sure) about my journey with Second Wind to get where I am today, and what my thoughts are for tomorrow.

Day 1 (New Member): Fear & Excitement

I remember first starting out at Second Wind.  Everything felt so awkward. It was easy to see everyone else was good friends with each other, but no one was really talking to me.  In some ways it put me right back to High School gym class – feeling my stomach clench when I saw a partner WOD on the whiteboard because I knew no one is going to pick me and that I’d have to endure the humiliation of being assigned someone, who obviously didn’t want to work out with me, and then feeling further humiliated that I felt that way (as an adult no less!), and couldn’t I just get over myself?  It’s just a WOD, not panel of executioners!

But then Liz Rihani picked me.  She waded through the waves of seriously uncomfortable-in-my-own-skin vibes emanating off of me and said “I’ll start on the row, you start on the bar”.  Then Alison – that nurse from Texas (remember her?) and then Josh Porter started talking to me.

My big breakthrough was Liz Krimmel inviting me to run Ragnar with other people from the gym.  You needed 8 people to run it, and somehow my name got tossed in the hat.  Yes, I was still in full odd-ball mode that weekend, but man, I had the time of my life!  I think everyone else hated it (you had to camp in the rain and go run 4 miles in the middle of the night), but I had the time of my life. (Malcolm and Colby feeling fresh at Ragnar in 2014 on the Left).  And I started to relax, and get to know people.  It took six months, but I think “the gym” at large had realized I was going to stick around, so they might as well get used to me!  The next year the gym all did a Spartan Race, and again everyone hated it but me.  Except, Theo Hadjimichael and Andy Howells also didn’t hate it.  And for the next … gosh has it been 5 years?  Anyway, for the next long while, running and training for Spartan Races was 100% of my fitness life, doing crazy two a-day workouts, running for 10 miles before Bootcamp, and then immediately running another 4 before doing the WOD and sometimes running *again* afterwards… we had some crazy Saturdays. It was inspired!

But there were inspirational people all around me at the gym.  Brian Bunch training for and completing a half then full Ironman, KLin running marathons every other weekend, and Briana Cash… you couldn’t toss a kettlebell without hitting someone doing something absolutely amazing, and I really found a home at the gym.  Hit my stride.  *This* is a place where you can do impossibly hard things together with your friends. (Below: Theo, Andy, and I doing Murph on a random Friday night to get ready for the Spartan Ultra!)

I’m good enough friends now with some people that they might actually believe how intensely introverted I am(!), but I was always looking to be more involved, and so excited to learn new things, and celebrate other’s accomplishments with them.  At some point Steve put the idea in my head that I could be a coach, and when one of the coaches I admired most, Courtney Butowicz moved away (only temporarily, thank god!) I just thought… I wanted to be as good a coach as she was someday, so I could inspire someone else like she inspires me.  I blinked twice and suddenly I was in a CrossFit L-1 class.

Day 1 (Coach): Panic & Panic

To everyone who suffered through my first few classes (or, um, months of classes) 1. So sorry! 2. Thank you for your patience! I remember standing in front of 12 people holding barbells (one of them being Steve!) waiting for me to walk them through the Burgener warm up for snatch and freezing like a deer in headlights, unable to get the words out.  Oh, my mouth was making sounds, for sure.  But words?  Instruction? Like everything else in fitness world, you get better at it the more you practice and do it. And the way the schedule was, I got to take Janet’s class immediately after I just taught the same class, so I got a weekly master class in “here’s how one might have done that instead”.  Steve must have really believed in me to give me the time I needed to really calm down and find my footing as a coach, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that opportunity. And so began my journey to better coaching!  I’m thankful to have a group of coaches who all exceed me in excellence because I learn something in every class I take, and now I really *get* just how good our coaches are.  In no particular order: Morgan Pleasant, Richard Hoar, Josh Porter, Janet Hume, Jennifer Rieser, Gayle Moseley, Trevor Baker, Eric Reiser, Holly Cuozzo, Brian Bunch, Courtney Butowicz, Andrew Howells, Elizabeth Rihani… These are the people who make me a better coach, a better athlete… a better me.

Day 1 (Owner): Giddy with Excitement

Now it’s Day 1 for me as an owner of the gym.  I say “an” owner because I feel like we all own part of the gym.  We all have made time and financial investments in the gym, and all of us want to succeed, and see each other succeed.  I’ve wanted to own a gym for more than a couple years now, and a few of you may know another short story about an old firehouse in Baltimore in a sketchy neighborhood with a heart of gold that just needed some burpees, but was slathered in an extra hundred thousand dollars of lead paint I couldn’t afford with the change I found between the cushions on my couch.  Even after serious digging.  At first I thought I was just disappointed that it didn’t work out, but a few months into it I realized I was heartbroken over it.  It’s rough to be like, ‘here’s your dream, the chance of a lifetime… psych!’.  Fortunately, I’d recovered by the time Steve approached me to see if I still had any interest (I told him years ago if he ever wanted to sell to keep me in mind… and he did!), I was like “Where do I sign?”  He said, “Maybe your first question should be ‘how much?’ followed by ‘What are the terms of the lease?’”.  He said Melissa Patel (Loyal Second Winder and friend to both of us) was a business broker and that I should ask her for help.  She guided us every step of the way through this process.

Now it’s happened! I’m living out my dream, and I’m giddy, positively giddy with excitement!  Ok, right at this moment it’s an hour before boot camp and I woke up at 4 am wound up about everything I need to do so maybe this is a stress/anxiety moment, but generally speaking I’m giddy.  I’m still working on my personal mission statement for the gym, but I didn’t change the name to Second Wind Community Fitness for nothing… I did it because “Second Wind: A Community Fitness Fitness Community” is such a great tag line 😊.  I’ll be drafting the Gym’s mission statement with the coaches.  I’m thinking something along the lines of “The mission of SWCF is to Inspire and Support its community in achieving long-term well being across all domains, and especially though fitness instruction.”  To be a place where you can be yourself and do impossibly hard things together with your friends, and do them correctly, safely, under expert supervision.

Day 2: What’s next?

Well, I’m not going to be making any big changes for a while.  We have a good thing going here, I don’t want to screw it up right off the bat.  This is like an AMRAP infinity, and I’ll need at least 3 rounds to settle into a pace.  We may, hopefully, be adding to the coaching staff soon, and there may be a tweak here and there in the schedule, but not much more than that for a while.  That being said, I think the gym has some untapped potential for engaging its members, and people have been sending in some really good ideas along those lines, speaking of which, please keep them coming! I’m all ears and love ideas! If we try 20 and 2 work, then all I can say is we have winning ideas.  But the sky is truly the limit.

Thank you for listening.

Grant Barker
Proud new Owner, Second Wind Community Fitness.