I came across this old blog post recently, one that I wrote just 4 months after we opened the doors of Arena Ready. On the heels of the article Ivan shared with us this week I thought it fitting to re-post the old blog, and revel in how much of its sentiment remains the same nearly 5 years after our first days of AR. So much has changed since this was written - so many accomplishments & defeats, milestones, tragedies, joyous events, growth, learning, and humbling experiences. But through it all has been a surplus of inspiration - and for that we are, and will always be, grateful for our Arena Ready family and our/your AR home.
I was going through my phone and happened upon this picture (see below) - it was taken a little over 4 months ago. When Sarah and I started the gym it was a big, scary undertaking. Who am I kidding, it still is. But at the time I think the initial weight of it all was exacerbated by a few other major life events we were also tackling head on - we were selling & moving out of our apartment (where I had lived for over 10 years), transitioning out of other professional careers we spent years building, and had recently become first-time dog parents to an odd yet endearing little mutt that thought Sarah's nicest socks were chew toys.
In short, the inaugural creation of Arena Ready - and the passionate (and often exhausting) process of filling it with tools to help folks get better, with ideas to keep us all learning and growing, and with just plain ol' stuff we thought was cool - felt to Sarah and to me like a dramatic and daunting move into a new home. An empty new home. Seeing this picture on my phone today jogged that memory so vividly.
The very early days at AR were at once exciting and terrifying for the two of us. We used to try and reassure one another with the old Field of Dreams mantra, "if we build it, they will come." But for what felt like an eternity we found ourselves thinking, "will they really?" It's amazing that was only a few months ago, and that I actually use the word "eternity" to describe our anxiety. Hey, I'm dramatic at times.
Soon, each week brought with it a new face or two. Somehow it seemed that cool people were finding us, slowly. We tried some things out - some stuck, some not so much. We made a few mistakes. We nailed a few things. We felt blessed and fortunate every day, even after the hardest/longest/scariest ones.
I kept telling myself that this was our house, and that "guests" deserved the attention and respect of VIPs. I would welcome everyone that came through the door with a smile and a desire to help them get better. I tried so hard to make folks feel welcome, and encouraged, and (hopefully) inspired. These are things that Sarah has taught me over the years - that encouragement and support, along with hard work, begets inspiration.
And so with that approach constantly in mind, somewhere along the way - over the course of the last 4 short/long/blurry sleep-deprived months - we've filled our AR home with some pretty inspiring people... Individuals brand new to athletics and training who are getting stronger every day. "Old" CrossFit vets who have rediscovered their fire and are smashing numbers they had been stalled on for years. Athletes working to becoming coaches, and coaches getting back to being athletes. Strangers who have become some of our best friends. Friends who have become our mentors. Members who want to help us - move things, organize events, give back to the community.
While we're still in our infancy at AR I think it's important to note what is perhaps the first culture-defining corner we've turned. When you're at the gym tomorrow and the place is Hopping (see what I did there?), the energy's flowing, and the faces are smiling & laughing, take a second to recognize what I've come to realize recently. This is your house now. You make it awesome with your outlook and attitude. You put in the hard work when you walk in the door. You bring your loved ones in to meet us, you encourage them to join us, and you spread the word of how much you enjoy your time at AR.
And so now I ask you to keep the young tradition going, with the same message you've built here in the gym with us. When a new face walks in the door, or if you find yourself next to someone you don't yet know, please welcome them with a smile, and shout some encouragement when they're busting their butt to keep up with you. We all know how it feels to be a newbie, to be the new face showing up to the house party. But this is your house now, so make them feel welcome. The empty home is starting to feel alive, and we need your help now more than ever.
WOD for 06-23-17:
AMRAP 15 Minutes With a Partner:
9 Dumbbell Bench Presses @ 50/35 lbs (each side)
7 Deadlifts @ 245/165 lbs
5 Strict Pull-ups
Partner A completes AMRAP of the 9-7-5 triplet while Partner B runs 400m, then athletes switch. The team's score is total rounds & reps completed of the triplet.