In August 2010 I signed up for a month’s membership at CrossFit Virginia Beach to train for the Metro Dash race in Atlanta. I had no idea that it – IT being CrossFit – would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. After a month passed by and I completed the Metro Dash, I thought I would try it out for another month. And then another month passed, and another…and one and a half years later I was still “just trying it out” one month at a time, attending classes 3-6 times a week. My rationale was that I was paying less than $10 per hour for top quality, personal training sessions – and who could argue against that?!?
While the rest of the world is spinning on the CrossFit “cult” movement, CrossFit Virginia Beach remains genuine and raw, with no heat in the winter time and no A/C in the summer to alleviate the individual pain that we impose upon ourselves to become stronger, healthier individuals. Thomi Gill and Rob Wilson are two of the most knowledgeable and passionate trainers I will ever meet. Their expertise, advice, training, physical therapy and treatments eclipse the callousness of the warehouse gym environment. I was always intimidated by heavy weights but I am now confident in exercises that include 165# deadlifts, 135# back squats, 15-20 foot rope climbs, and so much more due to the level of care and attention that the trainers provide during any of the workouts. Their years of experience allow them to gauge my strength and capabilities better than I can even do so for myself – to me that is priceless.
CrossFit VB is a unique gym where everyone knows each other by name, and new faces quickly become new family. Women are still feminine, no matter how strong they become. Men are definitely, more manly no matter how many tears they cry (maybe because they are flipping 400 pound tires, named Leroy). Everyone works hard and pushes an individual threshold each and every time that they step foot on the speckled mat made from recycled material.
CrossFit shifted my entire perspective on life. I gained a new kaleidoscope view on what it means to be fit and to be able to “play” as an adult. The things we did as children; to be free and enjoy movement and agility, to challenge one another in playful competition – we are able to do it here and now. Thanks to CrossFit, I can run faster, lift stronger, and explore new sports like tandem surfing because of the foundation I’ve built at CrossFit. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and the happiest I’ve ever felt with this lifestyle. It’s contagious that’s for sure, so be careful how close you come – before you know it you’ll be writing your own CrossFit story.
I guess I’m supposed to start this thing with a story about how I
found Crossfit or maybe how Crossfit found me. So there I was,
walking my dog minding my own business when I came upon what appeared
to be a bunch of crazy people working out in my neighbor’s garage.
Being a person who worked out on a regular basis, this intrigued me,
so I drew closer to investigate these individuals. As I walked by I
watched these people doing all kinds of crazy stuff and they didn’t
appear to be having a good time, yet they persisted, and this only
served to make me even more interested. As I continued on I noticed a
sign with a website, and when I returned home, still intrigued by this
gross display of athleticism, I looked up the website and that is how
I found Crossfit. Having been lifting weights since I was about 14, I
was very familiar with the inside of gym and while I enjoyed
exercising on a regular basis, there was something missing. The years
of lifting had grown monotonous and I needed something new. I still
remember my first day in the box, I knew instantly that Crossfit was
for me. It was the bars, weights, rings, GHDs, everything that makes
Crossfit, Crossfit, but above all was the whiteboard. The great
equalizer, always watching, always judging. It was the completion and
camaraderie that was missing from my workouts and it is exactly what I
found in Crossfit. Crossfit not only feeds the competitive urge that
is in us all, it makes you want to be better than yourself. It’s
gratifying and humbling all at the same time. It highlights your
strengths and weaknesses and gives you the desire to constantly
improve. There are no days off when you’re in the box, no socializing
between sets, only blood sweat and tears, and sometimes puke, between
the words “Go!” and “time!” The greatest thing about Crossfit is,
while it’s not for everyone, it is for everyone. I’ve WOD’d with 12
year olds and 55 year olds and had a blast the whole time.
“Crossfit is not my life. I Crossfit so that I can have a life…and be
awesome at it”
Thanks again Thomi and Rob for helping me be awesome at life.
I started Crossfit when I was living in Hawaii and kind of ran into
CFVB by accident. I received temporary duty assignment to the
Virginia beach area for about six weeks and I wanted to keep up my
Crossfiting. So I looked on the internet and found CFVB and shot an
email to the owner explaining my situation. Thomi was more than
welcoming and completely understanding of my situation and instead of
trying to make me take some kind of special training session, which
I‘ve seen at more than a few boxes, she asked me a couple questions,
checked my lifting form and away we went. Those six weeks were great,
Thomi and Rob helped me correct imperfections in my form and give me
great advice. I think I learned more in those six weeks than I had in
the previous 9 months I had be doing Crossfit. I returned to Hawaii
and by using what I had learned my performance continued to improve.
Lucky for me I received a follow on assignment to Va Beach and without
hesitation, back to CFVB I went. There are two big things which
really set CFVB apart from the rest of the boxes I’ve been to. The
first is the people, from the moment I stepped into the box I felt
completely welcome and instantly meshed into the group. While no
matter where you go, you typically fall into the group of people who
work out at the same time, I feel just as comfortable walking the box
and working out any other time of day. The second thing is the
trainers. Having not only one, but two, level 2 trainer with probably
5+ years of experience is amazing. If you’ve got something jacked up
in your form, chances are they’ve seen it and know how to fix it. It
is their dedication and training methods which keep their athletes
consistently improving and minimize injuries. Without a doubt, hands
down, CFVB has been the best box I have had the pleasure WOD’ing in.
I found CrossFit VB (CFVB) by luck and only luck. Through my travels of life I have been fortunate to consistently train at 4 different Crossfit facilities around the country and by far CFVB has set the bar so freakin high for me and what I expect out of a facility that I’m let down by the others even though they are quality places in their own light. The facility does not pride itself on their smoothie bar, high-tech fancy machines, or glamorous look because it and the management doesn’t believe in that crap! The place is designed for one thing; to make athletes stronger when they leave the place, period.
But what makes CFVB so addicting and a worthwhile experience is the people. Every single person their breathes life into the place and makes it a close and positive community with one another regardless if they’re the loud mouth heckling the trainers, the quiet guy leaving just as quietly as he came in, the female who can make a man question his manhood because she can shatter the WODs better than most men can, or a the brand new person coming in to check the place out; there is a sense of family with everyone having an interest in the success of everyone.
At the heart of CFVB are the trainers Thomi Gill and Rob Wilson. These two individuals have contributed to my physical strength more than any other coach or trainer combined. They’re multi-dimensional coaches who will focus on your form (relentlessly), dieting, sleeping habits, and natural movements of the body to increase your overall performance. The impact they will make on your life will be everlasting, even though I don’t train there anymore I can still hear them in my head screaming at me about my form when I’m lifting.
I was never the guy that was in shape. I tried working out on my own, i tried going to countless gyms, tried the home videos, but never lost any weight or got into anything that resembled being in shape. I was told by a friend to give Crossfit a try. Seeing how i have tried everything else, what did i have to lose? After one class i was hooked. It was the structure and attention I was looking for. What I love about Crossfit is the simplicity. You show up and bust your ass on the WOD, (workout of the day) and go home happy. But don’t get me wrong, there is so much more to it. Crossfit is an absolute family environment and the trainers give you the attention that you need. You learn what works and why. The reason I never lost any weight before was because I didn’t have all the puzzle pieces. At Crossfit you are given all the pieces and how to put the whole thing together. I just turned 30 years old and weighed 200 pounds for the past 10 years. I had all the excuses in the world–past knee surgery, foot surgery, a bum shoulder and…it doesn’t matter! They show you how to work around it or fix it. I have been at Crossfit for about 10 months and I am in the best shape of my life. So far I have lost 40 pounds and I look and feel great. My knees and back no longer ache and I sleep like a baby. And it only gets better. I always thought places like Crossfit were for freaks of nature that were already in shape. WRONG !…. this is the place were they are made. All you have to do is show up again and again. Do that and I promise you will be in the best shape of your life!
CrossFit is one of those things that is nearly impossible to describe to an “outsider.” When friends ask if I’m on my way to the gym, I always hesitate before saying, “yes.” In a normal American gym, you walk in, say “Hi” to the employee who swipes your card, grab a towel, and then spend the next hour by yourself on a variety of machines, some of which you aren’t sure you’re even using correctly.
CrossFit Virginia Beach is at the other end of the spectrum completely! It’s all because of the coaches, Thomi and Rob, who make you feel like family from the second you step foot in the door.
Being a competitive tennis player, I thought I knew what hard workouts were, and I thought I had seen it all. Ha! You do things you never knew were possible and only existed on television (sled pushes, tire flips, olympic lifting)…and you LOVE the feeling after a tough WOD (workout of the day) knowing you’ve pushed your body to it’s limits and come out a stronger person. The atmosphere and instant friendships of CFVB are nothing short of addicting. I literally cannot wait to go back each day, regardless of how sore I know I’ll be a few days later.
At CrossFit Virginia Beach, you get far more than an insane workout and a better body. You get training from true professionals, who don’t care how little you can lift, or how long it takes you to finish a workout; all they care about is that you give it your best, have proper technique, and have fun along the way.
The one thing that never ceases to amaze me about Thomi and Rob is their level of personal attention given to each member. They know who needs to be pushed, who needs gentle encouragement, or in my case, who needs to be reigned in. There’s not a doubt in my mind, that had I chosen another CrossFit Affiliate, my already broken shoulder would have caved in and I’d be unable to ever dream of doing a pull up. Four months ago I couldn’t do a push up, box jump, and my idea of lifting weights was doing 15lb bicep curls. I’m now doing “boy push ups”, jumping boxes in my sleep, and sumo deadlifting 200lbs!!
It’s because of Thomi and Rob that I’m a stronger person; physically and mentally. There will never be two other people in my lifetime who make such a life-changing impact in such a short period of time. The friends I’ve made, and the bond that’s formed from simply sweating together is priceless. CrossFitVB is hands down the best decision I’ve ever made.
Brian AKA “Cookie”
I started CrossFit in late February 2010. I have been training on my own for some time, mainly running and occasionally lifting. I would notice gains here and there, competed in distances I hadn’t before, etc. I started CrossFit because I didn’t like the mind-numbing nature of the distance running and was interested in trying a Triathlon. I signed up for a Triathlon “Sprint” and began CrossFit with a running and biking routine. Finished the Tri in about an hour on March 27. Deadlift was around 250 with bad form and tight hamstrings. Back Squat was around 225. Overhead Squat and Press was challenging but with every WOD, I felt a little stronger and the movements became more natural. In the meantime, I changed my diet from eating whatever I wanted to Paleo-ish, no more sugars and only milk as Dairy, with a cheat day once a week or two.
Results-Body weight went from 183 to 170. Deadlift max in July was 360 and Back Squat went to 245. I feel stronger and faster than I can remember. My flexibility is improving and I’ve been exposed to a wealth of knowledge and experience at CFVB. The community feeling in the gym is intoxicating and contagious. Joining this gym has foundationally shifted my perspective on fitness. There is selfless attention applied to all the athlete’s individual performance, and somehow that aggregates into daily and weekly communal achievements.
Rita AKA “Rita Bear”, “Rita Beeta”
Rita before and “after”
I will try to avoid hype, clichés, and jargon, and be as concise as possible, thou that’s not my strength. Where do I even begin…CFVB has changed my life. Time really does fly when you are having fun – and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with each and every WOD over the past two years. When I joined, I came in with the goal of finding an effective way of dealing with everyday stresses…a place to go where I could escape from the realities of everyday life. I didn’t have a slightest clue what journey I was embarking on, all I knew, I wanted to be pushed and challenged, mentally and physically. I encountered an amazing group of people, led by a passionate owner, Ms. Thominatrix. I’ve never met a more friendly, more encouraging group in my life. It’s literally like everyone shares in everyone else’s accomplishments. CFVB became a place not just to escape workday stresses and ‘re-charge my batteries’, it became a place to live and a perfect addition to my “world.”
I’m not an athletic coach, but I was an athlete, been trained and have a few years behind me on how to lead teams and coaching people in the business environment. There is a clear parallel to me between the two, I’m not trying to give an accolade, but I thought this was imperative to emphasize: Thomi and Rob are superb coaches, and all of the things I know about CF and training was “embedded” into me by them.
Somebody very dear to me, my Dad, also my best friend and the big influence on my life told me once something that will stay with me forever, he said: “It doesn’t matter what you end up doing in life, all I want you to do, is to make a Difference. It doesn’t have to be grand “Change the world”, just make a difference in someone’s life; make a difference by doing something noticeable enough to others.” Well Thomi aka Ms. Catalyst, in my opinion you already had done just that, You have made a tremendous Difference in my life and I bet many would agree their lives were changed when they walked thru that CFVB door! Not once did I imagine CF would present the opportunity to meet somebody remarkable that would become my best friend, I got lucky, I found you. To the Best Box aka our own Catalyst for growth.
Pete AKA “BP”
It doesn’t happen very often when you meet someone like Thomi Gill at CrossfitVB. Call it fate or luck (readers choice) when you intersect with someone who changes your life whether you were looking for it or not. She is like the ONE teacher or professor you had in school that made you realize you are better and more capable than you ever thought possible. While I was looking for a more intense physical program, something that emulated my 20s and college athletics, I was introduced to CFVB. I have been training there for about a year and a half, and can say I’m in a better and more comprehensive physical state than I was back then. And that was 24 years ago! Her passion for strength and conditioning is undeniable, and I consider her a blueprint for what crossfit means.
But, that’s not all. As any great talent knows another, Rob Wilson adds a vital dimension to the athletic and fitness process. Also a Level II Certified Crossfit Trainer, Rob is a Certified Massage Therapist who specializes in performance therapy with an emphasis on Russian neuro-muscular recovery and adaptation. He has a distinctive intuition for performance factors and has helped me immensely throughout the development process.
Whether you are looking for something new, in need of special physical performance metrics, or prepping for the rigors of very intense elite military demands, CrossfitVB is your new home!
Katie AKA “KT”
About a year ago (July 2009), I finally drank the kool-aid and walked through the doors of CFVB. It took me a couple months after first hearing about CrossFit to make the decision to try it out as I had just ordered the P90X DVDs and decided since I spent the money on them, I would give them a try first. I had always been active, playing soccer for 12 years through high school, doing the typical cardio/weight machine routine at the gym in college and grad school, and then again finding myself playing soccer in adult rec leagues on and off after that. I also did a lot of running, but would end up taking long breaks because of injuries. I had just moved to Virginia Beach after living in NJ, California and Las Vegas and needed something that was different and not as monotonous as running to keep me active. So P90X it was. Well, I got bored with it really fast. My couch looked way too comfortable and I found it hard to stick to the DVDs. I finally gave in and drank the kool-aid that is CrossFit and it was probably one of the best things I could have done.
I chose CFVB over the other CF boxes in the area on word of mouth. The person that first told me about CrossFit insisted that I go to Thomi’s box if I decided to finally try it out even though he didn’t train there. He had nothing but great things to say about her as a trainer and a person so I made the call. I was extremely nervous just to go to my first fundamentals session, but from the first time I stepped through the doors at CFVB I felt welcomed and like I was part of a growing family. People I had never met before would cheer me on to finish the final reps of a WOD and gave me pointers to help conquer things like double unders (we were on very bad terms for a very long time). The friendly competition is like none I have seen before. The personal attention everyone gets during a WOD even with 10 people in the room is amazing. I honestly don’t know how Thomi and Rob do it! Of course, I’m not complaining. I am a stronger person physically, mentally and emotionally thanks to CrossFit and the people at CFVB.
I started Crossfit V.B. in May 2010 because I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease/diabetes and was overweight and out of shape. I tried working out at the gym (treadmills and such), swimming laps, bike riding, jogging and every diet I could think of and just could not seem to get any real progress. I started searching for something different, new, fresh and challenging. I wanted a place that spent less time showing off fancy gadgets and more time focusing on me and the things that would actually make a real difference.
In three months I have dropped a pants size, lost about 10 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol have both normalized for the first time in several years and all of my friends have commented that they can tell I am doing something different. I’m doing things I never dreamed I could do and feeling good about it. Crossfit seems to have really cracked the code on true fitness. My goal is to drop another 30-40 pounds and given the results I’ve gotten so far I have no doubts that they will come.
Brian AKA “Brine”
Let’s see…I’ve been doing Crossfit for a little over a year now at CFVB and I have to say: it’s been the best decision in my life so far. See, I thought I was “fit” when I was in the Navy. Yeah, sure, I did all the PT: running, a little swimming, you know, run-of-mill globo-gym stuff. I’d break my days up into bis- and tris-, quads and hammys, 5 minutes on this machine, 10 minutes on that one. I was SOOO freakin bored! Until one day my friend introduced me to Crossfit via the internet. I was looking at their workouts and wondering, “How do those guys do that?” “I want to do that!!” I figured the only real way to find out was to do it. I’d go to the gyms on base and try the movements and loads and people would look at me like I was stupid. But whatever, I kept going. The workouts were Crossfit-ish since the base gyms didn’t really have the equipment or space needed to do the workouts as prescribed. I finally got fed up with having to half-ass the workouts and decided to look for some other gyms in the area. I saw Crossfit Virginia Beach on the affiliate listing at the main site and decided to check it out.
I had no clue what I was about to get into….
My first workout was 50-40-30-20-10 of double-unders and sit-ups….I remember because I hated it so much, and well…since I had never done a double under, this one took me quite a while. I want to say something in the neighborhood of about 30 minutes. I was miserable. I hated (and still hate, only not quite as much…) double-unders with a passion. But I didn’t quit. I focused on what I knew I needed to work on. I was constantly asking Thomi and Rob for advice. I’m surprised they kept me around, I was bugging them so much. Well, I stuck with it and as of a month ago I crushed that same work-out in about 7 minutes. Talk about a Personal Record!!!! I can finally do the muscle-up, only not consistently (still needs some work). I’m still working on bringing my 415lb deadlift max up, even though that PR s up from my 385 previous max. I’ve definitely gotten back what I’ve put into this program. And the returns are surprising me…
Another thing that really surprised me was the community. At other gyms you may see the same people around the same time doing their own little workout thing, you may catch eyes and say hello in passing, but at CFVB I got to know EVERYONE really fast. I came for the workouts but ended up finding my niche. It really is a community of shared knowledge and experience. You won’t find an atmosphere like that anywhere except at Crossfit Virginia Beach.
Jonathan AKA Johnny
Looking for a change, I started going CrossFitVB last year. I have been a full time crossfiter for about 3 months now. I wanted to get stronger, faster, leaner, and healthier all around. Being a Marine I became accoustomed to the Marine physical training program of run run run tell the run is done and group PT sessions. The problem with group PT is that, similar to a chain, you can only train as hard as the slowest or weakest link. It is sustainment training. The WOD’s at CrossFitVB are also oriented in a group, however, you are never slowed down. If you are struggling with a WOD you never feel left behind. One particular WOD took me 53 minutes to complete, and I had 53 minutes of motivational cheering. The environment there is like no other; Pain for Time. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone before, but never like I have been, and hope to continue doing at CrossFitVB. My original fitness goals have been molded into something much greater. Thomi and Rob were born to train! OohRah
Josh AKA DikDik
It is not often that you leave one home to find the same level of happiness in another. I started CrossFit in February of 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia, where I go to school. When the semester was coming to a close I began looking for a gym to train at for the summer months. I called around to several affiliates in the Virginia Beach area trying to get a feel for a gym that was good for me. It was during this time that fate took over and I received a call back from Thomi, the coach and owner of CrossFit VB. Of the three gyms I called, Thomi was the only coach to call me back.
When I returned home for the summer, I was feeling nervous and excited at the same time about my first day at Thomi’s gym. I’ll never forget all the questions I had racing through my head on the way to the gym, how are the people going to be? Am I going to like the coaches? How am I going to compare to the other athletes in the gym?
CrossFit VB instantly became my new home. Starting on day one, I felt right at home in Thomi’s gym, and I knew without a doubt I was going to have a great summer. Through Thomi’s great coaching and challenging programming I have gotten stronger and faster in a very short amount of time. My Back Squat went from 235 to 255, my Dead Lift went up to 335 from 315, and my shoulder press went up from 115 to 125.
Thomi is an amazing coach, and anyone who is willing to put in the work should definitely give CrossFit VB a look. We should always strive to better ourselves on a daily basis, there is always room for improvement, and there is no shame in failure, cause you can always get back up and try again.