“Just Play. Have Fun. Enjoy the Game.”
-Michael Jordan

Before we started 717, we were all doing CrossFit.com workouts.  I just got out of the military, and moved back in to my mothers house. I even slept in my childhood bedroom.

I came from Wright Patterson Air Force base, where I helped establish an affiliate.  We were spoiled with lavish equipment, free Level 1 seminars, and absolutely no business stuff to worry about. Yet, the 10 of us who were chosen by the Base Commander to “change the fitness of Wright Patterson”, had no clue what we were doing.  We’d post workouts from last months CrossFit.com website, and learn how to teach the Snatch from watching HOURS and HOURS of old-school original Mike Burgener YouTube video’s.  It was quite the adventure and challenge.

Fast forward to my Mom’s house.  CrossFit York was the closest affiliate, and hell, I couldn’t afford $100+ a month even if I wanted too. So I drove to Perry county and grabbed a tire for free from an old farmer (which we still have), got an old rusty barbell with equally rusty metal plates from craigslist, and found some old dumbbells in my Mom’s basement.

This is when I learned to simply start playing.  I would make a little workout on paper, change the rep scheme and order about 10x, and then go at it. I’d do my tire flips in the cemetery behind her house, throw around some ugly hang snatches, run to the playground and do 3 rounds of Cindy, then run back.  5 round for time.  Yet in reality, who cares about the time. It was fun.

I was then lucky enough to run into Paul, Aldo, and Ian, who were all starting 717. They all have their own stories about doing CrossFit in LA Fitness or their back yards.  All we really wanted from 717 was some place that we could slam bars, take off our shirts, and scream obscenities without the lunk alarm going off.  We also just wanted to be with other people who enjoy it as much as us. No matter the background, no matter your political views, if you want to squat, run, and climb a rope, we’re going to be friends.

717 006

Old Box. Probably 10 members. Jared Briggs who just came back a couple months ago. Truly a 717 OG.


During those long hours between classes, I would attempt to study or get homework done, but it was pointless.  I was constantly in this playground of fitness.  There was always something new I didn’t try yet, or even a combo of movements I didn’t try yet. I still sucked at everything. My 1RM snatch was 135. So, I’d start snatching. I’d record the video on my original Iphone, and be completely appalled. I’d give up for a little, and remember my tire is outside.  Cool, let’s do a quick workout.

I would roll out the one tire we had, and begin thinking of what else I can do.  I’d remember somewhere on Youtube seeing people hit it with a sledgehammer. Shit… We don’t have any. Let’s go to Ace Hardware and buy one.  I’d get back, and continue making my workout.  Rope climbs are my shit… but how can I make those fun? LEGLESS ROPE CLIMBS!!! So I’d start my WOD. 5 Tire Flips, 15 Sledgehammer swings, short block run, and 3 legless rope climbs.  By round 3, I’d switch to L-sit rope climbs, because hell… why not? There’s no one to race, the clocks running, but who cares, it’s fun.

We offer so much Open Gym time to give you guys that same freedom.  We want you to play. Jamie suggested the Weakness Wednesday’s, and they’re working better than I ever expected. Why? It’s because we’re just playing.  We all picked something we kinda suck at, and we’re hitting it once a week. No pressure, just fun practice.  It reminds me of the days I used to just show up with no plan, throw something together, and have fun.

Look at some of the best athletes you know. Yes, they’re following a solid program, but how often do you see them just in the corner playing around. Doing handstand walks, snatching just to snatch, or practicing bar muscle ups.  They make working out “play time”. CrossFit has completely changed my body.  I’m able to do things that I never thought possible, and a lot of the cool things I’ve done in the past was because of my time spent playing around.

Use your new body. It’s like buying a Ferrari but never stomping on the gas… what’s the point? Paul’s programming is the best 717 has ever had. As a whole, I think we’re all stronger and faster than before. That alone is enough for 99% of us.

Do you have the desire for more? Have you tried different programs for weightlifting, strength, or gymnastics?  Cool, but how about just playing more. Pick one thing you hate, one thing you love, put some random rep scheme to it, change it mid workout if you want, and have fun. Come into Open Gym and take an entire hour to find your 1 rep max Turkish Getup. Then run to city island, do 10 rounds of Cindy, and run back.  Time? Who cares… Grab a couple friends and just hit it. Grab a coach and spend 20 minutes nailing down the TGU form.

Have fun.  Laugh at your failures, and celebrate the small victories. When we take fitness too serious is when we lose the most important aspect… enjoying it.