After my daughter was born in August of 2015, I spent the next year being stressed out with a job change, sleepless nights, and having a borderline horrible diet. I tried to exercise when I could, but I wasn’t focused and had no defined goals on what I was trying to accomplish. This caused me to continue putting on weight and feeling sorry for myself, until I was up late with my daughter and the Crossfit Games happened to be on ESPN. Probably like many people, I thought that the Games was Crossfit.

I assumed you had to be in great shape and have an affinity for going shirtless to be a Crossfitter, so I never considered joining a gym until that night. I talked to my wife about it the following morning, and made a ‘No Sweat Into’ appointment for later that day.

What struck me the most was that Recursive didn’t seem like any other gym I had seen. I have had memberships at a few globo gyms, and those worked like they’re supposed to; go religiously for a month, then quit going and continuing paying until your contract is up. I remember being surprised at how minimalist Recursive was compared to other gyms I had joined before.

Still a little nervous, I decided to sign up for Foundations just to see what it was all about. The six classes were an eye opener, and a great avenue into full classes. I had done some Olympic lifting in high school, so I was familiar with some of those movements. What really stood out was how difficult moving my body weight around was. I had never really done that before, so I realized pretty quickly what my strengths and weaknesses were.

Fast forward to my first few classes, and I finally started to understand what Recursive was all about. I naturally felt intimidated my first full class because I was the oldest person there by about ten years, and overhead squats and running were on the menu that morning.

Like most newbies, I felt like I needed to keep up with the rest of the class and I went out way too hot. About round 3 of Nancy, I thought about walking out the front door and never coming back because I wasn’t ‘good’ enough. What I didn’t expect was the positivity coming from the other athletes in the gym. I was getting high fives on the run, and was being encouraged by the coach and the others when they finished up. Had I been doing that workout on my own, or with a group that didn’t care about helping others finish, I probably wouldn’t have come back.

The same thing happened on my first Sunday workout. Hot Shots 19 seemed simple enough on paper, but it completely wrecked me. I finished dead last, but even the people that finished 20-25 minutes ahead of me stayed to cheer me on. That’s what kept me motivated and coming back. Finishing that workout finally made me realize that it isn’t about competing with others, it’s about getting better every time you step into the gym.

After a solid five months, I decided to sign up to compete at the Festivus Games this past weekend. I think I needed that because I had been going to class anywhere from 2-4 times per week, but hadn’t really changed my lifestyle habits other than showing up to the gym.

I’ll admit that I was starting to feel a little discouraged when I had to step on the scale during my daughter’s last check-up. Check that, a lot discouraged. I finally decided that I needed to take this seriously, otherwise the money I was spending and pain I was putting myself through each week probably wasn’t worth it.

I made a few changes, including giving up alcohol until the competition was over (roughly 40 days) and completely giving up soda in favor of water. I also made it a point to go to Open Gym on Sundays and work on the WOD’s that made up the Festivus Games. In that 40 days, I dropped about 15 lbs and can now fit into a few pairs of pants/jeans I hadn’t been able to wear in over a year. That’s a great feeling.

I know it might sound cheesy or cliché, but the past eight months have really changed my life. I have a newfound toughness in my work life, and I fully contribute that to having to gut out a few more reps before the clock hits zero.

And though she doesn’t even know it yet, I’m setting a positive example for my daughter that I wasn’t doing before I started at Recursive. Another big part of me getting to the point I have is the support of my wife. She has been unbelievably supportive of me and has probably taken a back seat at times when I want to go to the gym. I think it’s vital to have someone in your corner, and I wouldn’t be making the positive changes I am without her.

Overall, the entire experience has been fantastic, and I hope that anybody that is on the fence when it comes to starting Crossfit takes my story and decides to jump in the deep end. It’s totally worth it.