“Find your fire:” It’s the motto at Iron CrossFit, and it’s exactly what I’ve found there since September of 2014; but it wasn’t my first fire. In 1992 I fell in love with running. It took me around the country, helped pay for college and was my personal obsession, but for several years before joining Iron CrossFit, I had been losing my desire to train hard and travel to races. The planning, solo intervals and the time it would have taken to match my college performances were more than I was willing to give to the sport now that I have a family and a career.

     Running was still my primary form of exercise when I went to the gym with my brother around Christmas of 2013. I already knew I needed to find something new to stay motivated, but that day in the gym (arm day) was a wake-up call. I pushed myself to the limit to lift about half what my brother was doing, and I was so sore, that for the next three weeks I was regularly in fear of my triceps tearing loose – basically, I almost died putting the Christmas tree back in the attic.

     I did P90X through the spring and early summer of 2014, but the thought of doing another round of that alone in my basement was almost more depressing than sucking at running. A colleague at work had been achieving amazing results with CrossFit, and I was ready to try it.  I picked Iron because the sign for Iron CrossFit was visible from the Walmart parking lot (yes, I sometimes shop at Walmart, and I know you do, too, even though we’d all rather go to Target). When I called, Joe set me up for my first Foundations class the next day.

     I’ll never forget the first workout after I had finished the Foundations program. It was Labor Day 2014, and the workout was “Bull”, a “Hero WOD.” The workout was two rounds of a series of exercises, and each round included 200 double-unders – jumping rope where the rope passes under your feet twice each jump. For people who couldn’t do doubles, the number was tripled for singles. Yes, that meant I had to do 2 rounds of 600 singles, and I was still jumping rope like a school girl at the time – slowly, like two-hops-per-rope-spin slowly. But Jackie was killing it right next to me. Amazing. This twenty-something-year-old lady was kicking my butt, and I was a former collegiate athlete (now 36). I guess I could have been embarrassed or discouraged; instead, I was impressed. If Iron CrossFit could forge a Jackie (she still kicks my butt sometimes), it could whip my butt into the kind of shape that might rekindle the athlete I used to be. And it has.


     Iron CrossFit has put about twenty pounds of muscle onto this skinny runner’s body (I started Iron around 135 and am now about 155 pounds). I wear the same pants size, but the legs are a little tight (squats, baby); and so are my shirts – okay some of them, even some medium-size shirts – I’m trying to be honest here; so don’t come in and think I’m huge. You have to go to the evening classes to see those guys, except for Paul, who helps the 6-a.m.-ers represent on heavy lifting days, and I just remembered I’ll be posting photos with this; so I probably didn’t have to tell you all of that. I’m getting there.

     A huge bonus for me has been that my wife, Rachel, joined Iron CrossFit at the same time. Doing CrossFit together has been an unexpected bonding experience. Even though we rarely go to the same class, we’re doing the same workouts; we’re sore in the same places; we understand the successes and the frustrations that each of us are experiencing, and we are meeting a lot of the same people. (She was a little mad at me when I starting getting double-unders before her, but she’s kicking my butt at other things right now – she’s pretty amazing.) It’s something we both enjoy discussing, watching on TV (okay, mostly on YouTube), and she even recommended we get a new barbell for Christmas. (Guys, this is when you know you’ve made it to relationship heaven.) She doesn’t have to endure my new passion; she’s sharing it; it’s hers, too.

     I’m still amazed at the results I’ve experienced from working out for just one hour a day, but on top of that, I have a lot of fun at the box (CrossFit speak for “gym”). When I go to my brother’s big box gym, he knows maybe three people’s names, and one of those guys is from church. He knows their names, but he doesn’t really know them – except the church guy. At Iron CrossFit, I’ve gotten to know dozens of people – not just names, but the people behind them. I’m excited that this is just the beginning – the beginning of a new physique, new challenges, new friends and a new passion for fitness. That’s what we do at Iron CrossFit: We find our fire.

Thanks, Iron CrossFit.

-Scott Penick