My Kinetic Gym Hymn
Physical training has—for as long as I can remember—been a grounds for my spiritual training. There is a phrase I refer to as my kinetic hymn, which often takes place as a kinetic gym hymn (I like rhyming, unapologetically). It’s like this.
There’s a physical DNA that gets expressed in the phenotypes (my size, build, structure) and the way my body adapts to various sport and fitness. The physical is how I experience everything that is unphysical. When I was 4, I started relating to God, and asked Him if He would show me more. It was then that I started the expression of my spiritual DNA, and it was much later that I would learn to work out the pursuit of who He says I am. In essence, He became my Coach and training became my kinetic hymn. I learned to RESPOND to Him, knowing that He pulls me into the folds of courage, not fear.
Ever since I was a kid, there was a little fire in me—on the soccer field, on the basketball court, and eventually on the running trails. You could also say I had a gnarly chip on my shoulder, partly from some bullying and partly because I felt misunderstood by my peers. At a young age I lost hearing in one ear, but in return I became a visionary. They say when you lose a part of your senses, the others pick up the slack. So I could see plays well, and could feel the field in a way that deemed hearing less relevant. And so it became with things off the field—the training up of a young brave heart. The lies/voices/false claims I would hear would become less important than the vision I could learn to replace it with. This became my functional paradigm for how I would live and move and have my being.
Once—as a little 5th grader—I recall running the 2-mile loop with my Dad, before school. In classic pre-teen melodrama, I mentioned that I had an agonizing side stitch, hoping for some sympathy. Instead, he offered matter-of-factly, “it’s just pain, it’ll go away if you keep running.” The message I heard: Pain is a necessary part of the process to get to where we are getting to. It might not be our original intent, but we can expect it. Don’t believe the associative lie that pain is a reason to stop. Embrace the pain but don’t pay it too much attention. The pain is not the point, the journey is the point. If we stop now, you are giving too much weight to the pain. Let’s keep going, little brave heart.
There were many lessons that I learned as a kid, and as life added doses of adversity those lessons became principles to test in the gym, in relationships, and in my vocation. I now own a gym. It’s much more than a gym, though. It’s a space for healing. It’s a space for dreaming the kind of dreams that require action, movement, kinetics. It’s a connecting point for people who have a life narrative that needs to be shared. It’s the eye of the storm for life’s grievances, and an epicenter for the red-lettered words to come to life. On our gym walls we have 13 hand-painted words that act as targets for wall balls. I will tell my story from these 13 words:
Courage to do hard things in training can be a fortifier for courage to do hard things relationally, or outside of the gym. Much of the mental endurance I can claim has been forged by my years as a cross country runner. One particular run stands out in my mind. My sister ran cross country and needed to do a recovery-paced run for 50 minutes. I asked to join her. I soon found out how nurturing my sister was, as she coached me through her favorite mantra of, “no pain, no gain.” It was the allure of finishing that seemingly insurmountable run that gave me the bug. In fact, I would name one of those hills “Sir Mountable” in a later run, joined by my teammate Kelly Jones.
When I was a junior in high school, I was cut from the varsity basketball team and instead of dwelling on the implications as if it had anything to do with who I would become, I ran. I processed. I became. More of myself listening to my Coach, less of the world branding me by what I do. Naturally, I decided to train for a marathon. I remember waking up at 4am to log my miles on a basement treadmill, inevitably falling asleep in first period, and eating my entire lunch by second period. After school, I’d log some more miles outside and learned to process my thoughts in a healthy way. Sometimes I would start a run with a problem in tow, and come back with a solution, a mission, and a passion to be courageous for real life. The process of courage in the physical sense often tapped into the reservoir of mental capacity for the same.
Finishing the marathon and at the pace that I trained to complete it was a mental milestone for pushing the capacity of what “kind” of person I want to be. I want to be the kind of person who says yes to hard things. When I ran cross country in college, that meant I would “respond” to a grueling pace the coach gave me with fight, and choke that pace in the throat to maintain it. In life, that means I often ask Him, “what plank is in my eye before I judge the speck in another’s,” or “how can I love this person better,” or “what does love look like in this situation?” Truthfully, I cannot do any of these things well on my own, so I invite Him in to give me courage. I want to be the kind of person who presses into a relationship, a situation, a dream with an acute awareness of what my weaknesses are so that I can offer more than just me. I want my raw offering of friendship, coaching, and camaraderie to come from a platform of “though I am weak, I AM strong.” As it says above the water fountain at our gym, “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on. It is going on when you don’t have the strength.”
Humility is a funny thing. It doesn’t catch me off guard if my view of myself is based in reality. It also doesn’t catch me off guard if I have more interesting things to think about than myself. I think I am generally a more interesting person when I spend more time thinking about how to love other people well, rather than myself. For me, this stems from a place of impenetrable security in who I am. Sometimes this looks like wanting good to happen upon those who have no desire to return the same. This means cheering for those who don’t have the capacity to cheer back for me. Sometimes these are fleeting moments in time as they arise, but to choose how I will engage allows me to see that I am a vessel for Love. When I choose to protect myself by not engaging with someone who can’t return love, I am choosing pride. I am choosing to worship my own needs. Of course, there are various contexts that I’ve encountered that require a specific wisdom on how to navigate operating out of humility. The point is that courage and humility are cut from the same cloth, and this is the community that I envision at Parable. In part, this culture was the dream because of the lack thereof in my past experiences. Sometimes, growing this kind of culture requires a dark period in order to evolve into a substance with medicinal properties. You know, like mushrooms, kombucha, and wine. Courage begets true humility and humility begets courage. It’s about being real with where you are and who you are, and responding.
Ewe are the Lion. This speaks to the heart of our community and the hearts of the ewes that are in it. Parable is a place where you are celebrated for being humbly courageous. If you are proud, be proud of your struggling friend who grits their teeth to climb a rope for the first time. Be proud of the mental fortitude that is forged in the soccer mom, retired veteran, and developing teenager alike. Be proud of the consistency and patience that surround those around you who earn new skills, express greater fitness, and in turn thank you for such. If you are humble, it is not for lack of courage or strength but in response to knowing your strength is not your own. Be humbled by the roaring souls around you who strive to push you to greatness. Be humbled by your courage, for it is not self-made but rather fashioned by the banding of like-minded humble warriors.
Something that has easily become one of my favorite things is coaching coaches. I’ve asked my coaches what the difference between a trainer and a coach is. The general consensus is that a trainer has knowledge, and can utilize their skills to teach proper mechanics, scientific approach, and goal acquisition. Coaches marry the former description with a conscious mind to the whole person; their needs, their mind-wiring, and even their story. The heart of a true coach is not just someone who wants to HELP. They are not just a helper by categorization or by nature. They are a servant. As in they CHOOSE to be the servant. Who would choose to be a servant, when the messages all around us say that the harder you work, the greater your status will be, and the more respect you will gain from your community? If the anticipated reward is respect, then it is self-seeking. If the motive to coach is to be seen as knowledgeable, then the coach is immature in their journey, with hopes that more time with people will season their posture to serve without regard for applause. To coach from the mind of consciousness to the other person’s needs, and a heart of availability, is a coaching practice that is an honor—not a right—to walk into.
Integrity starts with myself. We have to grow something internally before we can offer it externally. Integrity is a progression in this way. If we build it, we have seen it within and know what to call others into. These have been the layers of my integrity, through the lens of fitness:
Integrity with myself to keep the commitments I make with myself in training. Generally, most of these are process goals, habits, and mindset check-ins.
Integrity to do the extra rep when the judge miscounted and gifted you an extra one.
Integrity about the joints of my body, as a bricklaying process for longevity.
Integrity to program for my members with an awesome burden to advocate for their longevity.
Integrity to create a system that allows for greater member empowerment, as opposed to hoarding knowledge.
Integrity to be the example, not the exception.
Integrity to keep becoming courageous and humble, within a workout and within a relationship.
Integrity to keep weaving these threads in my training mindset, so that I am not preaching but simply just living.
Kinetic hymning is my act of worship to the One who made my DNA for living and moving and having my being in Him. As I strive, push to find more endurance, dig deeper into the storehouses of pain tolerance, I feel His delight. Because He delights in me, I delight in Him. I want to create integrity in the structures of my joints, I want to move with virtuosity with every rep—to create art with barbells, and express science with energy expenditure. I want to move beautifully through space and understand the physiology of training adaptations to the nth degree.
One of my journal entries of Kinetic Hymning, by way of Cleaning a Barbell:
There’s a magic to the dirty work, this “clean” art. It’s the way my shoes give way to the innate power of my feet. It’s the way they strap on, as if to say they’ll lose their lunch if they don’t. They know it’s about to get wild, and so they prepare for controlled chaos.
It’s the way my bar puffs up her chest as soon as I decide it’s her turn to make art in the air around us. It’s the way the plates wait in anticipation to be put in the game; each one with glory day memories clad in chalk.
It’s the way my muscles get excitable when I take that first lift; how the ratio of tension and lax is constantly coming into greater alignment. How my triceps lock into a quiver, how my hamstrings beef up for the barbell pageantry. How my toes pick their points, my feet calibrate even pressure, how my entire body is a most joyful slave to the master in the upper room.
It’s the way my brain has gently released the training whips over time, and has replaced them with sweet strings of myelin. Therein lies a remembrance of the drill master and the welcoming of the artist. The scientist has put in the codes, the framework, the hard wiring. The artist takes up full residence.
It’s the way the orchestra plays together. The shoes, the toes, the muscles, the brain, the barbell, the loose-but-tight grip, the taught but tender placement of each finger, the calibrated hip placement in space, the quip of the barbell from still to kinetic. It’s the vibration of the air that is displaced by the charge of energy that is violently mitigated to a finite and narrow line of action. It’s the kinetic hymn that reverberates in the gym into an eternal arena.
It’s the way I get to play and be delighted in by my Coach, who is always watching. Always. I never have to try to get His attention. I have it. I have Him. But more, He has me. He always has. He always will. One day I will clean sequoias for Him in the New Earth (2019).
There was a time when much was taken from me, and with it went my passion for expressing myself through moving and competing. In its stead I was met with the looming shadow of grief. In a time when my livelihood, my community, my training, and my marriage were all under siege, things looked dark, like climbing a wall in the pitch black. It was then that I made comrades with the darkness. Since I could not see the horizon of, “what does life look like now,” I put my hope in the shadow of His protective wings. Within a couple of days of being fired, I was given my marching orders to open a gym. While sucking wind on a ski erg at a friend’s gym, I had a strong image enter my mind’s eye. In it, there was fire, a lion and a lamb, and many people. Remember, I was in no state of mind to be daydreaming; grieving 50 layers of shade does not lend itself to vision casting. Yet, there I was; my heart no longer burning from cardia ataxia, but from a passion and a purpose that the darkness could not quench.
So, as I made plans, as I set aside many hours to pen up this vision I had, there were a few narratives occurring, like multiple threads weaving in the same direction to purpose a gift of offering at its completion. One narrative was my personal pursuit of healing through the darkness, and through this I was forged into a warrior who learned how to fight for my marriage and how to fight with Truth. I learned how to fight the lies as they came and use the power of the Holy Spirit to breathe life into my true identity. Each lesson, each sprout of victory growing in my heart came out in my training. If I was waking up with a heavy heart, I would bring it to Him and it would come out in that day’s workout sweat and groans.
Even when I wasn’t in my own corner, He was. He is the original “mighty warrior who saves,” and that’s when He started to become my COACH. It might have been a 12-minute AMRAP of power cleans and burpees, but underneath the METCON was a fighting ring with a battle for my mind. The punches of wrong thinking, guilt, shame, and memories all came from a self-proclaimed title champion. These punches were leaving some nasty shrapnel on my heart, but I learned to invite my Coach to tend to me. I would feel His passion for me and be won over. Though healing required much surgery, each scar is a story worth sharing.
It was during this time, that I truly learned that the people that I call friends to this day are a direct bloodline of allies to the heart of healing. Community is never an accident. It might look that way when it’s all said and done, but that’s a matter of perspective and right reality. There’s a beautiful duality to being a part of a community that is small enough to see the ripple effect. On one side of the leaf, there’s a sense of Greater Design with intricate proof of why these lives have encountered each other. On the other side of the leaf, there’s a deep sense that what I put into the roots of this thing will show up in the growth. The beauty of community is that if you want to be amongst the fold, then all you need to do is commit to being real and bettering others. In this collective vision, community is meant to be a space where the real self emerges, free from judgement and yet still called to a standard befitting the shared character. I have experienced the healing of telling my story in community, the joy of being received in Love, and the support to carry out a vision.
They say, “if you fall, its best to fall with friends.” That’s nice, but I would like to consider the flip side as more apt for the community I dwell in: if I rise, it is shared. When I rise, it is a collective victory. Before the walls to our gym were open for business, I started making a list of the amazing sacrifices and contributions of labor and love people were making. The tile in our updated women’s bathroom? Professional grade work done by Jen Wagoner, who would become a coach eventually. The beautiful garden out front? Matt and Anna Wheeler, John and Jen Jenson, and others. The flooring, each piece weighing 100 lbs each? Frank Notarangelo (my Pops), Chris Hanger, Kurt Greening (my cousin), Monroe, Kenta, Phil, Matt, etc. The mounting of the rig and extra long peg boards? Frank, Phil, Matthew, and many others. Staining the top of the kiosk desk? The kitchen cabinets were donated by Andrea Therrien (my cousin) and stained on a sunny afternoon with Coach Sandra Lopes. Piecing together all the concept 2 machines? Special honorable mentions to Frank and Coach Josh, as well as Coach Allie, Coach Sandra, and Coach Ryan. The paint in my office, as well as the bathrooms? Anna, Allie, Coach Stephanie, Michelle, Stacey, Bekki, Robin, etc. Creating our platforms and homemade plyometric boxes? Marie-Noelle, Anthony, and Phil. Staining our boxes? Erik, Sarah, Nikki, etc. The celebrations that occurred before, during, and after opening? Michelle Milgrim gets a standing ovation, along with Charlene Notarangelo (my favorite mother). The lockers that were obtained from non-local situations? Frank Notarangelo and Phil Scott. The word art on the wall? Nikki. The mural above our platforms? Ruben and Nikki. The gifts of tools that I definitely did not have? Bekki Lamb and Phil Scott. The floor scrubber that I was saving up for but was gifted one instead? Crystal Armes and Phil Scott. The 6-month package of top-tier business coaching? Gifted to me by Jeff Scarritt. The Lion’s Den that I had a partial budget for, but then I came back on a Sunday to find the WHOLE community had worked to create that space ahead of schedule, on their own time and dime? Juli Brocato, her sweet father, Dharshan, and actually a whole list of names that can be found on a placard in our den. I realize I am not listing even HALF of the contributors of success here. The honest truth is that it was exhausting just logging every name to every deed. That is saying something!
There is a circuitous quality to a community with healthy plumbing. What pours out, comes back around. People like to credit me for building this community. The truth is, in part—they built me. Perhaps it is a matter of perspective. From a microscopic view, you’d see that “the degree to which you can tell your story is the degree to which you will heal.” I have known this truth first-hand among many of the above listed people. From a macroscopic view, you’d see that we are a people who move virtuously together, cheer each other on at competitions, and laugh often between all of this. My sentiments about creating community are that if you believe in why it exists, and can create a consistency and intentionality as the driver behind this why, then the WHY will become a tangible force to invite others into such a community.
Excellence is something that everyone can appreciate, because it’s rare. It is the quality of excelling by becoming the best possible outcome of the truest potential. So, my question became: what does a COMMUNITY of EXCELLENCE look like? The vision that I have for this community starts with the heart of the organism, and that is found in the character and leadership of our coaches. The heart bleeds into every member of the body, and therefore what the heart beats to sets the pace for the rest of the parts. Thus, we have our Coach’s Creed, which is a direct bloodline from my heart, and I am honored to have allies in my coaches to see this vision out.
[Our Coach’s Creed]
…in a genuine and passionate community.
… in virtuosity of movement.
…that programming and exercise must have a rhyme, a reason, and an evolving quality of relevance.
…in COMMUNITY, INTEGRITY, and INQUIRY.
… in fun.
… in “the process” of hard work, which consists of patience and consistency.
…in multi-joint exercise, moving on all fours, pushing and pulling heavy objects, and twisting.
…in the training of growth for mindset, as well as the body.
…you must never be comfortable. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If we aren’t growing, we’re dying.
…in every red-lettered word.
…in taking care of the soul by finding habits of restoration, not relief.
…that no matter your physical condition, you can grow and succeed according to your current abilities.
Our community is one we protect, one we serve, and one we enjoy. It is one that grows at the gym, but does not stay there.
Above all, we believe in the courage to BECOME, and the humility to want the same for others.
Excellence is a two-fold endeavor; in the gym we are focusing on Virtuosity of movement and outside the gym we are applying all the principals that create integrity with our individual values. Each of these have their own Process to trust. The Patience that is organically grown is a choice, not a fixed personality trait. It’s a grace-based way of seeing, it’s a lens of choosing kindness over judgment. In the gym, that progression has looked like choosing to acknowledge and encourage anything that is good, even as I have things I want to be better today. It means saying things like, “you did a hard thing, and you’ll do another tomorrow because you’re made for adversity.” At one point “the hard thing” was just choosing to show up and workout. In other time, “the hard thing” was doing the full spectrum of training in addition to living out the sleep, nutrition, and recovery lifestyle. In another time, “the hard thing” was learning to step away from the false identity of “badass” fit person, because for me it was a distraction to my true self. I don’t mind if someone wants to say a thing or two about that, but I needed to learn to be patient with myself as I slowly removed that identity like an overgrown scab. In another area, “the hard thing” means allowing relational mending the time and space to work toward gracious ends, meaning holding out hope that hearts would soften and offering strength by speaking the truth in a situation. This means that if patience is done well, then something that would not have grown, now has the raw materials to flourish. It’s like the Parable of The Tares/Weeds:
The Parable of the Weeds is a parable of Jesus which appears in Matthew 13:24-43. Tares are weeds that resemble wheat. The parable relates how servants eager to pull up weeds were warned that in so doing they would root out the wheat as well and were told to let both grow together until the harvest. In the parable, a wheat field had deliberately been polluted by an enemy who sowed the seeds of the weeds intermixed with the wheat. Only after the plants were partly grown did the problem become apparent.
And so, I’ve learned to be patient with correction, needed changes, and growth. This can be related to personal growth and it can be related to community growth.
Patience and Consistency go hand-in-hand in my book. On a fitness note, they are sister virtues that make the steady rise to greatness. When I wanted to be proficient at gymnastics, I dedicated myself to gymnastic bodies programming for 12 months. The first 3 months were the absolute most basic movements and positional holds, many of which I could already “do” but maybe haven’t mastered. Over consistently putting drops in the bucket, and choosing to honor the process, it served to build the foundation for being able to know how to string together gymnastic skills and then how to teach it. On a relational note, Consistency is like making deposits of security. These add up to a storehouse of adding substance to a place to offer from because of mounting growth. This is the place where we gain wealth in our relationships. This is the place where we get out “gains” in our fitness goals. In terms of the consistencies that I decided I want to invest in, here’s a summation:
I will learn how to Love you well.
I will listen with my mind and my heart.
I will offer from the resources I have, even if it hurts—time, money, giftings, emotional energy, and prayer.
In thinking of these sister virtues, it’s interesting to consider patience without consistency. It’s not very compelling when considering the kind of growth I want to see. It’s just as interesting to consider consistency without patience, because it’s only rote and lacks humanity without the grace-based element.
There’s learning in everything. Pain is a great teacher, and pain is part of the process. Part of the process is also practicing consistency. If I can’t describe what I am doing as a process, then I don’t know where I am going. I have goals, but it’s the person I become while I chase these goals that I care more about. There have been many times when I haven’t seen the fruit of my labor, the skill to the progressions, the numbers match the strain. It’s during these times that I take a moment and consider the kind of person I want to become in this process of chasing down 10 unbroken muscle ups, creating a gym where warriors can play, or achieving a specific strength metric. If I trust the process, then I am saying I believe in the work that it takes. When there is an element of going somewhere I have never been before, then I’m uncertain what the end will look like. There is an agreement I make in dying to current self so that evolving self has room to grow. This process is uncomfortable, and it means facing the doubts, lies, and constraints head on. The process of getting my first handstand walk of 6’ took many rollouts, progressions of holds and months of mastering positions. The patience required for a skill is a sister virtue of Process. The process of creating the team handbook for Parable was a constant start and stop, dream a little, cry a little, stress a little, and then splash cold water on my overheated brain. But I grew.
Process is like developing a photo in the dark room. Open the door too soon and the exposure to the negative will damage the development. Lift the pretty picture out of the solution too soon, and the development is awash. Stay in the dark room and grind, with trust for the outcome, and reality will say that what is true in the dark is also true in the light.
One of my journal thoughtlets that was processed immediately after a 5x200m ski erg session:
“There’s an emotional place after certain workouts. There’s an acute process of grief. It’s light speed compared to the actual time speed of dealing with life’s losses but similar in that there is a maturity and wholeness that forms when processing with healing in mind and understanding that there is joy on the other side of the seeming deficit of pain; there is more grit and resilience on the other side of excruciating writhing. Each little chip causes a surge of newness. Been there. Dealt with that (rightly). Now onto bigger battles. The warrior rises once again. Naming the losses-that’s the heart stuff. Workout—loss of oxygen, possibly glycogen, and loss of comfort. All good stuff if it’s recovered. Life—friendships, opportunities, etc.
The hope. Redemption. Redemption of blood gases. Redemption of relational wounds gone awry.”
It was about 5 years ago (2015), when I vividly recall walking to my car from the gym when He branded something on my mind. He called me Warrior. I stopped in my tracks. The spring breeze was swirling in a romantic dance, and I lifted my chin as if someone had just called my name faintly. He was preparing me for a long season ahead, and I took Him at His word. He called me His. His warrior. Who is this, who just speaks identity into me like this? I would learn that He is the original “Mighty Warrior who saves,” who would take “great delight in me. He [would] rejoice over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).” It was through the most trying times, I learned to speak from deep to Deep, and to use Truth to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Him (2 Cor. 10:5).”
I would say to Him…
“Abba, Lord, King of my Heart:
I ask that You would unlock my heart that I might be fully alive to my true identity in You. Give me clear revelation to see myself the way You see INTO me. Help me to stand in Your truth against all enemy attacks and guard my heart–the heart that YOU made with all vigilance (Proverbs 4:23). Help me to identify the lies, and reveal to me any places where I am chained to the past in a negative way. I repent of any lies of the past. Abba, search my heart; allow me to see so I can bring them to you and turn from the lie and turn toward your forgiveness…Forgive me for choosing to live in this lie instead of your beautiful truth.
Teach me to hear Your voice and not believe the enemy’s destructive lies about who I am. I thank You for my uniqueness and that I am made in Your image (Genesis 1:27). I want to understand and feel the deep things in Your heart for me (1 Corinthians 2:10-12). I choose to believe the truth about how You see me. I thank You that I can hope in the future and believe in the Good plans, ideas, and adventures that You have for me. You have vision for my future.
I want to know You on a deeper level, and I don’t want anything to hinder my relationship with You. Thank you that what has hindered love has only become part of the bigger story—because you make beauty from ashes.
Help me to hear your voice RIGHT NOW.
Help me to hear with the ears of my heart. Let the truths that you speak to me bypass my ears and pierce my soul, ripple into the entire being of WHO I AM.
I thank You that I am Your child (John 1:12),
I thank you that I have been justified (Romans 5:1),
I am Your friend (John 15:15),
Abba, I belong to You (1 Corinthians 6:20),
I am a member of Your body (1 Corinthians 12:27),
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by You (2 Corinthians 1:21-22),
I am a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20),
I am chosen before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4, 11),
I am holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4),
I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:8; Colossians 1:14)
I am adopted as Your child (Ephesians 1:5),
I have purpose (Ephesians 1:9; 3:11),
I have hope (Ephesians 1:12),
I am included (Ephesians 1:13),
I am an overcomer (1 John 4:4),
I am protected (John 10:28),
I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17),
I am qualified to share in Your inheritance (Colossians 1:12),
I am the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21),
I am safe (1 John 5:18),
I am part of Your Kingdom (Revelation 1:6),
I can understand what Your will is (Ephesians 5:17),
I have Your power in me (Ephesians 6:10),
and I am victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Abba, I take this time to stand on these truths. And while I am standing, I am also asking that you speak a NEW word to me. I will bring my question to you and wait for your voice. Lord, you are truly GOOD and You are truly Joyful and truly filled with Mercy. So, on this declaration of your Good character and your desire to give to those who ask, and to give generously, I ask.”
The truth of who I am became the fire that burned in me as I would push through a workout. The truth that He is so Good became my gurney when I would begin to stumble. He led me to find the warrior within me, and so I revel to elevate the stuff inside others who have yet to discover they are also made for greatness, by Greatness.
Virtuosity is what I want to sow into every fiber at Parable. Doing the common thing, uncommonly well—this is a theme that Greg Glassman infused into the ethos of CrossFit. Thematically, this is meant to touch on the pursuit of great movement mechanics. Beyond that, if we take that same definition and apply it to the way we relate to ourselves and the way we relate to other people, we end up pursuing what it looks like to Love people well. We Love people well when we seek to serve their needs, not just their wants. We advocate for them in areas that they have yet to learn their own value in. A number of times I have told people that Parable is place for healing. It’s a place for people to be seen, known, heard, and Loved. In this way, it’s fitting to use the word, “conspiracy,” since we are a training facility on paper. We will make you better movers, we will unearth your unknown physical potential, we will care for you body using the best practices. Even more, while we are coaching you into mastering movements, we are also available to Love—in a way that might get messy, might get inefficient, but for the purpose of seeing a better way to do Life. While I may teach you how to go through 10 progressions of a muscle up, I am also wondering what God wants to speak into your heart today. So Loving uncommonly well comes from the Master of Love, in whom I desire to co-labor with on daily basis. He Coaches me, and I coach from that platform.
There is a word that is wrapped in passion and perseverance, which grew inside of me in great measure as I leaned into His ideas. He grew a deep passion for wanting to be a part of what He wants to grow through the gym, my life, and my leadership. I believe that in the process of working out the person that He has made me to be, He has used the rough sands of life to procure a pearl that is befitting for a King’s adornment. In the process of leaning into the vision He gave me for Parable, the sands of refinement are the difficulties and the shell is the protective shield, that is Him. A steadfastness in pursuing what He laid on my heart became the road for the vehicle of passion. In short, He made me Gritty. He taught me how to persevere through 17 name submissions, which would eventually become Parable. The first submission was called, “Lion and Lamb” CrossFit, and then it was a number of cool sounding names but just not fitting. Eventually I formed our business DBA as CrossFit “Parabolic,” which many months later would need to be changed due to a “cease and desist” letter from a rehab clinic in NY. The reason I loved the name Parabolic, was because it had a dual meaning. The nerd in me loved the idea that a parabola expresses the moment of weightlessness, which is the pursuit for much of weightlifting and gymnastics. It expresses a level of mastery that takes patience, consistency, excellence, courage, humility, and even kinetic hymning. The other half of the meaning stems from the word “parable,” which denotes (1) a simple story to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson and (2) a story that Jesus also told. The first one speaks more to our community at large, and thus “the story of your fitness” tagline was born. The second meaning of Parable is more of a personal one, which is this: I want to imagine that Jesus is proud to show His angels the sub-story of Parable in His grander story. I feel His delight and that is the fire that is my passion, because it is bigger than me, and it is bigger than my own doing.
So, after 17 name submissions, 1 cease and desist, we searched for our physical space. The space God hand-picked for us is the same space I was fired from. It’s the same space I learned how to handstand walk in. It’s the same space I made many kinetic gym hymns, starting around age 18. It’s the same space I got my first strict muscle up in on the morning of my wedding. It’s the same space I experienced both community growth and community trauma. It has been a place of personal and community redemption, of which the ashes of such ruins are streaked across my cheek by Abba’s thumb. It’s the mark of my Warrior, who fought for my soul, who says I am ready to fight for others. He has shown me what it takes to protect what is sacred and Parable is sacred. This is the story of my fitness.