CFKI – Coaching – CrossFit – Community

Those of you that have picked up one of our new shirts and tanks may have seen a really cool new logo on the back.  CFKI – Coaching – CrossFit – Community.  Thanks so much to Alicia’s sister Maggie for the awesome design!

The idea for this logo started a couple years ago as a napkin sketch and dinnertable discussion to rebrand CrossFit Kent Island, as CrossFit was getting a lot of bad press.  It ended this year as a decision to refocus and recommunicate our priorities as we crossed the 10-year threshold.  We are a CrossFit gym.  We always have been, and always will be.  CrossFit is the absolute best training methodology you could select for general physical preparedness… just getting really really fit.  Want to get strong?  CrossFit.  Want to build endurance?  CrossFit.  Want to build strength and an engine at the same time?  Oh, man, that’s a lay-up.  CROSSFIT.

But covid taught us that CrossFit classes are actually not our biggest strength, as much as they would seem to be.  Remember, we couldn’t workout together in the gym, and everyone had a different combination of equipment at home.  We assigned every member that wanted to continue to train (something like 90% of our membership) a coach.  And they COACHED.  They took each daily workout and made it work for each person at home.  They checked in to see how it was going and what sort of adjustments they could make.  They made personal connections on goals and aspirations and what life was like at home.  They coached.  That became a revelation for me — that it didn’t matter if we were coaching people through group CrossFit workouts, or virtually through a single session in the driveway, or a work-up to a Spartan Race or a weightlifting meet, or a personal issue at work.  Our coaches are very understanding, and caring, and authentic, and really good at getting people to achieve the results they are looking for.  They are outstanding at COACHING.  And that is our biggest strength and our main selling point.  So, thanks covid for that!

We connect with each other through coaching, we practice CrossFit, and because of those strong focuses, we have become a COMMUNITY.  And our community itself has become a strength, and a force to be reckoned with.  You can’t just blow a tornado through this town and expect people to not band together at CrossFit Kent Island to raise money and find places to stay for one another.  A member of our gym has a life-threatening illness?  You better believe our community is going to surround their family with love, raise money for their medical bills, and support them through their fight.  Negativity cannot penetrate our community – it will be repelled by the positive attitudes and love that we have for each other.


What we’d like to do over the next few weeks is highlight our amazing coaches that have helped to shape this awesome CFKI community, along with all of you.  I volunteered to embarrass myself first, but next week stay tuned for a personal look in on another of our coaches.  Why do they do what they do?  What inspires them?  We need to know!


Ryan Wolf, Coach (CrossFit, Unbeatable Mind, and Flag Football)

My “origin story” of coaching goes back to my first career before CrossFit – 8 years of management consulting in the healthcare industry.  If you like to wear suits and fly on planes, this is the job for you.  If you like to sleep and have a family life, this is not the job for you.  I did enjoy the job most of the time – the people I worked with were the most talented young consultants I ever could have imagined, and our clients always started by hating us and after 9 months were giving us hugs for saving their hospital and asking us not to go.  Eventually, Denee and I started to have a family, and when our second son Oliver was born, I began to get on the plane Monday morning seriously depressed.  I knew that I needed to make a change.  In thinking about what I should do, I started by thinking about what I liked about my current role.  As a project manager, I loved developing my project team as consultants and as young leaders in the world.  As a mentor to my clients’ executive teams, I loved identifying where they could lean into their strengths and hedge their weaknesses with strong subordinates.  In short, I loved developing people and seeing them succeed.  I was really into CrossFit training myself at the time, and so starting a CrossFit gym of my own seemed like a very good fit.  As the coach of every class, I would have the opportunity to help each member find a goal to shoot for and achieve it through CrossFit training.  As the years went by, my role shifted a bit to develop new coaches, mostly by identifying members that shared a love for personal development, and helping them find their leadership role within CFKI.  Although all of our coaches have different styles and come from different backgrounds, we all share that love and focus for connecting with and developing our members, and we all know that through CrossFit training and coaching we can affect many people’s lives for the better.

When I’m on the job, my personal methodology of coaching starts with understanding my client’s goals.  Wait, I take that back – their GOAL.  I think it’s important to have a singular focus on one most important thing that you would like to accomplish, or a vision of who you want to be, from your training.  Having a laser focus on one goal will give you something to quickly snap your mind to when the training seems too tough, or your motivation to get to the gym is waning.  Splitting focus into multiple goals can be pretty easy once you learn of all the movements that we practice in CrossFit – and how many of them you are not great at yet!  But trying to work toward multiple goals that are equal in your mind can diffuse your training focus and become demotivating when you’re not progressing toward any of them very quickly.

In my own training, my goal has most often been an upcoming event of some sort.  Each winter, my short-term goal becomes to perform better than the previous year in the CrossFit Open.  But most often, the event on my horizon that fuels my training is not CrossFit-related, but instead is a crucible event that checks at least two boxes:  1. It’s not something I’ve accomplished before, 2. It seems difficult enough that there is a decent chance that I will not succeed.  In the awesome book The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter, I learned that this type of maybe-I-can-do-it-maybe-I-can’t challenge is what the Japanese call a misogi.  A misogi challenge offers me the external motivation to train hard and smart toward the looming challenge, usually chosen about a year out.  I truly then enjoy the process of training, because I’m looking forward to testing myself and my training during the event.  When I finish the event, I feel like I have not only “checked that box,” but I have elevated myself physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I have even more confidence leading into the next one, whatever it is.  Some of my previous misogi challenges have included earning a full Navy ROTC scholarship when I was two years into college, a 31-mile trail race through the woods of West Virginia, this year’s 1-mile Bay Swim (it had been a while since I swam open water!), and SEALFIT Kokoro – a 50+ hour gut check administered by current and former SEALs.

Each of these misogi challenges tested me in different ways, but they all went way beyond the physical work into forging more mental toughness and emotional resilience.  These experiences, and the lessons I learned from them, guide my coaching with small groups and with individuals that I train toward their own specific goals.  I try to integrate physical, mental and emotional training in each session, identifying opportunities to practice techniques like breath control, visualization (win in your mind), positive self-talk, and setting micro-goals.

If you haven’t picked up a new shirt yet, do it soon, they are going fast!  If you have, we thank you for your support.  You, wearing our gear and spreading the gospel of CFKI, are our best marketing tool.  We actually don’t have any other marketing tools.  So, you’re alone on the front lines out there, sorry.

Seriously though, thank you so much for everything that you guys do every day to make this such an amazing place to work.  On behalf of all of our coaches, we love you and appreciate you.  You are CrossFit Kent Island!