204 Blog

Trainer Crystal Kirby coaches an athlete to improve the rack position for a push press.
Coaching and smiles—the heart of our program.

You might have seen an announcement about a few changes to the CrossFit Games.

If you didn’t, the announcement is here: Morning Chalkup.

I’ll tell you what it means for us at CrossFit 204: Absolutely nothing.

We made a number of changes years ago that put our focus squarely on health, and we’re right in line with CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman’s vision. That’s why we have a Legends program, it’s why Rise Up Physiotherapy is in our building, and it’s why we invested so heavily in starting 204 Lifestyle to help people improve their health by eating better.

We have for years known that diet and fitness with friends are far more important than any competition.

That doesn’t mean we don’t think you should compete or that we don’t support you when you do. We’re happy that people choose to apply their fitness in competitions, and we’re proud of everything they accomplish. We just don’t place any extra emphasis on competition, and we haven’t for years.

Those of you who have been around for about five years have no doubt noticed the change. The best example is how we treat the Open. Back in the day, it was a stressful time with so many competitors vying for spots in Regionals. Now, we treat the Open as a five-week celebration of our 204 community. The scores don’t matter, but the smiles do. All we care about is fit people having fun and being healthy, and we’ll leave the leaderboard to you if you’re interested. You’re all No. 1 to us.

The time we once spent organizing or training for competitions is now spent making our nutrition program better, meeting with seniors about our Legends program and finding ways to make our CrossFit program even more fun and inclusive.

The CrossFit Games will always be there, and they’ll always be interesting—just like the Olympics. But I’ve been to the Games for 10 years, and if I had to choose between watching the Games and watching our Legends push sleds around the gym at 10 a.m., on a Thursday morning, I’d be on Berry Street with a cup of coffee and a smile.

The squat racks with a loaded barbell at CrossFit 204 in Winnipeg.
Under construction on Berry Street in July 2011.

We’re heading into Year 9 as an official CrossFit affiliate, though we’ve been coaching CrossFit for almost a decade.

With that in mind I’ll share nine lessons I’ve learned over the years—with thanks to all the coaches, gym owners, colleagues and clients who helped me learn them.

1. No single workout matters, and it isn’t worth being frustrated on any day. Weeks and months and years of training matter. One day does not. 

2. Look at the whiteboard after your workout, not before. Stow your ego, do your very best, then see if you beat your rivals. Whether you did or didn’t, congratulate them.

3. Reduce intensity when you need to. Recognize that life happens, and your best effort doesn’t look the same every. Sometimes you need to reduce the load, slow down and just move. That’s OK. You’re best is good enough, and you’ll still get fitter.

4. Listen to your coach. Your coach isn’t holding you back or showing a lack of faith. He or she is watching out for you at all times—but especially when you’re being greedy.

5. Don’t be greedy. Take what’s there and be grateful. If you hit a PR, smile, unload the bar and cheer for everyone who’s still working.

6. Be patient. You’re building something great. It took 632 years to build the Cologne Cathedral, and it will take more than a week for great things to happen to you. Set your sights on the horizon and enjoy every milestone .

7. Focus on what you can do or what you did. It doesn’t matter what you can’t do or what anyone else did. It only matters that you showed up and did something. Your coaches think you’re a super hero just because you walk in the door.

8. Food matters—more than you think. You will never, ever outwork a bad diet. Not ever. But if you make healthy diet changes—even small ones—everything will get better. I won’t describe the things we’ve seen people do when they eat better because I’ll sound like I’m on an infomercial. But trust me: If you work out and eat better, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

9. Keep going forever. We’ve seen people lose their canes and then need them again after taking time off. We’ve seen people make amazing positive changes and then make equally dramatic negative changes. Momentum is key. To stay healthy, you can’t stop working out—not on vacation, not because you’re busy, not because you’re tired. You have to keep going. You’re a person who works out now, so do it regularly no matter what. If you do, you’ll be richly rewarded.

Hi guys! Now that we’ve completed the 204 Lifestyle website, we’re making some adjustments to the 204 site.
We’ve realized a lot of people look at our workouts and say “I could never do that” before we have a chance to explain how we modify all of our workouts. To remedy that so we’re going to put the workouts in a members-only area and feature some other content on the front page.
Starting today, members will have to create a free account to log in to see our workouts. It’s totally free. You can do so via the link below, or you’ll see a prompt on the WOD post to login.
More good changes to come!

It dumped snow earlier this week.
It was a lot of snow, and it was heavy. Really heavy. It wasn’t the kind you can just broom away or quickly push aside. This was wet snow with just the right amount of freezing rain to make it very dense.
It was annoying, and it slowed us all down as we tried to get out and about.
But it didn’t bother you that much, did it? You didn’t look outside and think, “I can’t move this snow. I’ll have to call someone. I can’t go anywhere until I get help.”
You probably just put on your boots, grabbed a shovel and started working.
I did that, and as my muscles started to burn and my breathing got heavy, I found it funny that shoveling felt a lot like doing a workout. You might have thought the exact same thing.
As I was shoveling the front of the gym, some of our 60-something Legends clients started to arrive. They waded through the snow with smiles. I congratulated them on making it to the gym on a day when many people around the city cancelled all appointments. One of the women simply said that if she can do our workouts, she can deal with a snowstorm.
That’s the reason our gym exists. We’re here to help people deal with life.
Many people didn’t feel like our members did on Monday as the snow came down. They felt trapped, they thought about calling for assistance, and they felt helpless. Some might have even felt a little afraid.
I bet you know someone like that—someone who struggles with physical tasks and maybe doesn’t enjoy life as much as he or she should. If a person can’t shovel snow, a heavy bag of groceries or walk to the mailbox can be intimidating, too. Physical challenges suddenly seem insurmountable. 
Here’s how you can help these people in your lives: Tell them about our Legends program, then help them make an appointment to talk to us. No workouts, nothing scary. Just a talk about health and fitness. You can come along and join them for the appointment. That might help a lot.
But please remind your friends and relatives that a snowstorm doesn’t have to be house arrest. We can help anyone at any age become healthier and more functional, and it doesn’t take that long to see changes. People only have to show up three times a week, and their fitness will improve dramatically. Change a few eating habits and things move even faster.
And suddenly someone who might have shut the blinds on a snowstorm is more than ready to pick up a shovel and clear the sidewalk. The feeling a person gets from thriving during challenging times creates a ripple effect throughout his or her life. Bags don’t seem so heavy, mailboxes don’t seem so far away and playing with grandkids doesn’t seem so tiring. Life is better.
So here’s your assignment: Think of someone in your life who could use a bit more strength and confidence, then tell him or her how you got so fit.

You might change a life.

If you’d like to book outside the times available, email info@crossfit.com or call Crystal at 204-880-1001.

On Dec. 5, we posted this picture of Niki, and it was a hit on Instagram.

Niki joined us in January 2017 as part of a six-week New You Challenge, and she didn’t stop when the challenge ended. Over the last 11 months, she’s lost 40 lb. by training three times a week at 6 a.m. and eating better. It’s amazing but not surprising. Our members have shown us that they are regularly capable of incredible things.

I get to see a lot of pictures like this as part of my day job at the CrossFit Journal. Just last week, I saw a 300-lb. grandfather on the left and a 190-lb. guy on the right. His transformation also allowed him to eliminate symptoms of disease, and his health improved so dramatically that his doctor took him off medications. All that happened in about a year, too.

Earlier in the year, I read about a husband and wife who weighed 932 lb. combined. Over three years, they’ve lost about 400 lb. together

These are very obvious transformations, and you’ve no doubt seen others on the Internet and in our gym. Beyond visible changes in weight and body composition, we’ve seen strength and conditioning improve, we’ve seen health markers improve, and we’ve seen people smile more and stand up a little straighter as they find success and confidence.

So what does it take to make a transformation like this? We believe it’s two things: commitment and support.

No change is easy. You have to break a habit, forgive yourself when you make mistakes, and commit to new behaviour. Expect to stumble a few times. Maybe many times. But true commitment means you’re prepared to keep going in the right direction no matter what. We can’t make this decision for you, but we can tell you with certainty that your life will improve if you commit to health.

That commitment needs to be reinforced with support. That’s where we come in. You make a choice, and then we’re all in to provide you with sound training plans, nutrition information, motivation, community, accountability and praise. You have to commit to doing the work, but we’ll tell you exactly what to do to become fit, and we’ll be right beside you.

To get you started, we’ve created the 204 Vitality program. It’s the perfect support program for a lifestyle change whether you’ve fallen off a fitness program or have never worked out. We’ll provide you with nutrition information that will complement your time in the gym, and we’ll do before/after Inbody body-composition scans so you can see exactly how your body changed.

No experience required. Just commitment.

Here are the details:

Program length: Jan. 8-Feb. 27 (6 weeks)

Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 a.m.

Cost: $250 + gst

Includes: Nutrition seminar, 2 Inbody scans ($55 value)


If you’re a current member and have a friend or family member who wants to get fit in 2018, please send them this link: https://www.crossfit204.com/204-vitality-program-jan-8/

I recently got back from a trip to Scotts Valley, California, where I listened to CrossFit’s founder speak about his goals for the company. Earlier this year, “60 Minutes” suggested Greg Glassman is generally regarded as “the most powerful man in fitness today,” but Glassman isn’t like most people in the fitness industry. In fact, he’s not like anyone in the industry. He’s not a loud, bouncy, high-energy trainer like the ones you see on TV.

He typically wears jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap. He’s about as far from Richard Simmons, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper as you can get. He sounds more like a mathematician than a trainer. That isn’t an accident. Greg was raised by an actual rocket scientist who taught him to demand data and proof. Science is a big deal to Glassman, and when he created his program, he based it on data.

I’m no mathematician, but Greg’s system instantly appealed to me because I’m also not a salesperson.

In fact, I hate selling things. I used to dread going door to door to sell chocolate bars or fundraise for school projects. I was a poor shoe salesman when I worked at Sport Chek. In another job, I gloriously failed selling knives. I think I sold exactly two, both to a relative who took pity on me, and I was so nervous during sales pitches that I once chopped the tip of my finger off in front of a customer. Selling just makes me feel weird.

And yet Crystal and I run a business and offer services. Here’s why we can do that: The CrossFit program doesn’t require sales. Sure, we speak to clients about our services, but those conversations are about as far from sales pitches as you can get. When we talk to potential clients, we’re able to tell them with confidence how we can help them, not what we can sell them. That important difference was highlighted for me by my friend Chris Cooper, who runs a very successful gym in Sault Ste. Marie. 

Over the last nine years, we’ve seen people get stronger, lose weight, lose body fat, improve health markers and completely change their lives. It feels weird to say it, because I’m not a salesperson hawking magic tonic. But we’ve seen these changes repeatedly, and we can say with absolute confidence that everything is going to improve if people work out at our gym and eat the way we say they should eat.

As an example, everyone who steps through our doors gets fitter. That’s documented in the giant stack of logbooks at the front of the gym. Not one person ever got less fit. 

As another example, we saw dramatic improvements from every person who followed the plan in a recent nutrition program. Crystal went to the gym to scan people after the challenge, and I sat at home waiting for her to tell me how much weight they all lost. All told, it was about 120 lb. as a group. That’s a lot of weight.

Those results make it very easy for us to explain how we can help people. I don’t sell anything. I just tell people about our members and their many successes. 

As 2018 rolls around, fitness and health often come to mind for people who know they need to start moving in the right direction. We’d like to help those people accomplish their goals because we know they can improve their lives. 

That information doesn’t mean a lot coming from me. But it will mean a lot coming from you. If people in your life could use help with health and fitness, please do us a favour: Show them your data. Show them your numbers. Show them your log book. Show them documented improvements in strength, conditioning, weight, body composition and blood work. Show, don’t tell, as the old saying goes. 

And if you’ve fallen off your fitness plan in the last year, review your own data. Review health markers and note if they’re moving in the wrong direction since you stopped training. Review your goals and ask yourself if you’re moving toward them. Take a look at your logbook and review what you accomplished when you were training, then make time to train again so you can reap the rewards. 

If anyone you know could use some help with fitness, please help him or her to book a free consultation by clicking here. And if you need some help, book a session. We’d love to talk with you and tell you what you can accomplish. 

“Looks like someone has something to prove.”

I bristled at the cashier’s words for a second.

I’m not “that guy.” I don’t feel the need to show off or brag about walking uphill both ways into the wind. It isn’t Festivus, and we are not performing feats of strength for glory.

I just didn’t need any help getting the groceries to the car. It was about seven or eight bags, but it was mostly vegetables. The load was more awkward than anything, and I was sure I’d be just fine if I hooked all the handles in the crooks of my elbows and went through the exit sideways.

The cashier was exceptionally friendly, even at the end of her nine-hour shift, and she was just trying to help. She said she’d even make space so I could leave half the groceries by the till for my second trip.

I smiled, thanked her, and told her I’d be just fine. Then I picked up the bags and started lumbering toward the door.

And then I realized that I actually do have something to prove. Not to her or the people in line behind me, but to myself.

I have no competition goals with fitness. But I have life goals. I want to live a long time, and I want to be independent forever. When I die, I hope it’s while I’m working out and some vital organ simply reaches the end of its run and explodes after about 10 decades of faithful service. I recall watching my 97-year-old neighbour as he shovelled snow off his roof a few years back, and I want to be just like Ray even if a few others were really worried about him. Better to die on your roof than in a hospital bed, I’d say.

So I look at life’s physical tasks as challenges. I generally type all day, and grunt work is refreshing. It’s a chance to go caveman and reconnect with a body that’s been immobile for hours in a society in which physical tasks are disappearing. I like carrying my own groceries and dog food. I like moving furniture. I enjoy pushing cars out of snowbanks. I want to move that heavy thing just to see if I can.

As I got to the truck with all bags intact, I felt a real sense of accomplishment even if Brussels sprouts, bananas and ground beef don’t weigh very much. I felt good about having the capacity to do something another would have avoided.

So yes, the cashier was right: I have something to prove.

Do you?

If you know people who might benefit from improved health or fitness, please have them visit us for a free consultation.