This summer we’ll be opening a CrossFit box in east Tennessee. The area we’ve chosen is one of a few in this nation that hasn’t been over-saturated by the sport and if anything the population there is relatively ignorant to and about the trend of CrossFit. The one real gym they have is largely empty regardless of the time of day and its largest clientele are house-wives chained to treadmills and elliptical. Tennessee is not well known for its interest in health and fitness despite some of the world’s most gorgeous terrain and natural training environments and the statistics on obesity would support this. Ironically, CrossFit’s own two time defending champ Rich Froning is from central Tennessee.
Going back more than a decade ago, it was the prevalence of obese people filling my community in East Tennessee that first led me towards becoming a certified trainer. I saw a need not being met and a potential to make a fortune for anyone willing to step up to the plate. I also saw a need to educate and inform a large group of good-intentioned folks on how to live better and smarter. My industry is not known for its affordable pricing and unfortunately as I have repeatedly said people need affordable practical access to physical training and nutritional guidance. The question becomes; how do you make money catering to a clientele that’s less than wealthy? Do you focus on quality and do it for the passion and love of it? Do you focus on volume and target as many people as possible with a generalized program? These are the questions that gave birth to Modern Savage.
Tennessee is a good representative of many parts of the south in that fit, healthy, and athletic, people are a minority and outright rare (yes I know it’s not like that everywhere in the south or indeed in Tennessee). You could blame it on the rich southern food, laziness, and to some extent simple tradition. I think it has more to do with changing lifestyles, boredom, and technology but that’s a discussion for another day. Personally and in my own interactions with clients and potential customers its ignorance that’s doing the most damage to people’s health in the south. They just don’t know any better and the largest sources for information and practical functional advice on the subject are notorious for twisting the facts in order to sell product: Magazines, media, TV, and the internet. Most regions in the state lack serious, experienced trainers, fluent in High Intensity training and healthy nutrition.
I’m what you might call a crusader. I believe in change more than I do profit, popularity, and fame. I don’t want to be the South’s largest fitness chain. I don’t want to sell the most Workout DVD’s or be the largest training facility anywhere. I would however like to say that I helped thousands of people change their lives and become healthier, fitter, and stronger. It’s very important to me that I pass on knowledge and practical measurable result to the people I train. I want them to succeed, and in doing so tell their friends and When their friends succeed then so too will I. Let’s not bullshit around here; I’d love to be fabulously wealthy. More than that though I’m seeking freedom, the kind of freedom in life that comes from doing what you love to and in being the one who determines your own direction.
I think fitness and good health are one of the single most important factors to happiness and satisfaction in life even over wealth. Taking charge of your life and watching the changes unfold is liberating and addictive. It also teaches people courage, conviction, and belief in their own ability, and before people can change the direction of their lives they have to first believe they can. For me that starts with a fitness program. Now earlier today I read a great article on the CrossFit Journal about philosophy and CrossFit. I’m not going to go into it as deep as they did but there are certain life truths that transfer over from CF into everyday life. There are lessons to be had and qualities that can be learned from a program like CrossFit that are just lacking in many traditional forms of education today these days.
My problem and my call to arms so to speak is that as a trainer today I see a lot of miserable unhappy people in the world. I see people living as prisoners to doubt, to fear, to depression, and ignorance. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in my old community in Tennessee. Too many people there just don’t understand or know that there is more, they can be more, and they don’t have to settle for shit from life. They don’t know that because they’ve grown up fourth and even fifth generation poor and destitute, uneducated, and walled off from many of the opportunities many of us take for granted. That’s just the nature of the culture in that area and until you’ve lived there and built relationships with the people you just don’t realize how pervasive the cloud is that hangs over the lives of many of the people there.
Modern Savage is about giving people the chance to find a measure of greatness in life, even if that greatness is nothing more than finding a community of people that believe in them and nurture their dreams. It’s about sharing what we as athletes have found and fallen in love with in fitness and spreading the gospel so to speak. I hate to use that metaphor but it is apt in this situation. If you’ve ever had the good fortune of watching a person who thought themselves weak and ineffectual throw a loaded barbell over their head for the first time than you know how powerful an experience that can be. You’ve seen the change as the cloud was wiped away and light reached into the darkness of that person’s soul when they realized maybe for the first time ever that they could be strong.
We’re packing up shop and leaving the sun-kissed shores of Central Florida and taking our mission into the mountains and hills of East Tennessee. My goal is to make CrossFit, fitness, and nutritional programming not only affordable but available to people who need it. I’d like to set-up outreach programs to the area youth and impoverished and more than that give them a place to come be and hang out, to train and learn from mentors not just marketers trying to sale memberships. I think everyone deserves an opportunity to train with all the great equipment we take for granted to learn workouts and belong to a culture at large that many of us cherish, but for many there’s a barrier standing I the way of that and it shouldn’t be there; price. It’s time to dismantle that barrier.