The Train is about to leave the Station

The Train is about to leave the station.

The train or rather the training is about to reach its destination. Its been a long time since the Crossfit Open competition in February and March that resulted in my getting invited to compete in the World Games in Los Angeles.

Initially competing in your own gym and submitting a score was pretty comfortable. You did the best you could and watched the scoreboard to see how you compared to other athletes from all over the world. After 5 workouts I’d secured 15th place and knew I was California bound. For younger athletes the next challenge would be the Regional Games in Vancouver and as our two teams and two individuals prepared for that event I joined in their training. It was great to train together and enjoy that common goal to get ready to compete although their window of training was going to be quite short.

The Regional Games arrived and I was there to cheer on our athletes. They all did fantastic and proved themselves to be serious contenders but unfortunately did not make it through to the Games in L.A.

Their training was finished but mine was about to get more serious. Thanks to Dave Kitchen and Chris Schallo I was now being programmed for 3 extra workouts a week. These would be done on days that I was already doing the workout of the day. I was also just starting to get instruction in the Olympic weight lifting from Mike Cartwright one night a week. So I began a training cycle of 10 workouts a week that continued for seven weeks.

As my technique improved with the lifts from the instruction I received from Mike, I was gaining strength from the programming Dave & Chris provided and improving my stamina through the volume of workouts I was doing. It started slowly at first but soon it was happening every week. Whenever I was faced with a workout requiring me to achieve a Max weight on any lift I was setting a new personal record.

With each PR my confidence grew and I was ready to push harder.

A lot of this effort was done with the support of our athletes and coaches in the room encouraging me but a good number of those workouts were done alone, just me and the bar and a set of instructions for the next workout.

The training has now run its course and its time to taper down. Today I did my last double workout. It was actually more like a triple because after doing our workout of the day that I’d programmed because it was a rest day, then it was a strength workout focused on the Snatch and to put the final touch on the training my programming said I was to finish off with Fran.

Like most Crossfitters I have a love/hate relationship with this short but brutal workout. 21, 15, 9 repetitions of 95 lb Thrusters and Pullups is over quickly but it takes absolutely everything out of me. While I can be awestruck by those incredible athletes capable of completing this in less than 3 minutes, my own time has more often been around 6:00 +, it wasn’t that long ago that I finally got below that mark and then later set my PR for it at 5:37. Today, after having been in the gym for over two hours I faced Fran again and 5:27 later I was done. Completely done. On the floor panting like a dog on a hot summer day. But it was one more step in my journey.

That journey will reach its high point in just a few days. I will get on a plane and fly to L.A., arriving there two days before the Games begin. Hopefully that will be enough time to acclimatize to the surroundings and weather.

It’s been a long road but now its show time. I head south knowing I have trained hard and done what I could to prepare myself for this competition. No matter what the results I will be proud of my willingness to step way outside of my comfort zone and to compete against a group of my peers. I will do my best but I will also enjoy the moment and try to take it all in.

I’m grateful for every bit of encouragement and support I’ve received from so many wonderful people.

Ready, Set, Go…..

An upside down world

The World Crossfit Games are just three weeks away and it feels like I have been living at my Crossfit gym in North Vancouver to get ready to compete. I’m used to doing 6 workouts a week but for the past month I’ve been doing 10. All the extra training is working and I’m feeling stronger than ever. Every week I have scored new personal records on the various lifts we do. Deadlift, Clean & Jerk, Snatch, Back Squat, everything is going in the right direction.

But with all the extra work and special programming I still had a fear because I hadn’t been able to do a full Handstand Pushup. I feel they will be part of one of the workouts I’ll face at the Games and I have felt the pressure of my failure building.

Everything changed last night. I asked Corey, one of the other coaches and one of our top athletes for help. For half an hour while he held his tiny baby in his arms Corey patiently worked with me. With suggestions, encouragement and by example, while I held Jude, he connected with me on this movement. We all learn in different ways and sometimes it is the fifth or sixth or tenth time something is explained to you that you finally get it. That doesn’t mean the earlier instruction was bad but it just didn’t sink in with you. Last night the light bulb finally turned on and I got my first kipping Handstand Pushup. And then I did two in a row then three, then four. I was elated.

After a very long string of failures on this movement I finally got it. I was doing it and I felt like an enormous weight was removed from my shoulders. Now if this was going to come up at the Games I was confident I could get through the workout.

Tonight in my second workout of the evening I did 24 HSPUs. I got there because someone else was there to support me. That support has been there from the moment I qualified for the Masters division at the Games. Since the Open competition ended I have been riding a wave of support from the people at our gym that has astonished me and warmed my heart. The genuine enthusiasm and belief in my ability to compete with these other athletes from around the world has propelled me forward every workout.

I don’t know how well I will do in L.A. but I do know that I will be heading there as prepared as I can be and that I will do my best. If my best efforts puts me in 20th place, otherwise known as last, I will be fine with that because I will know that I trained hard and went ready to compete. I am hoping that I can improve upon my qualifying 15th place in the standings but simply to make to the Games will forever be a milestone achievement for me.

From my upside down position against the wall tonight I could see the two tattoos I have on my arms. The left arm says Keep Going and the right arm says Be Better. I plan on doing both. No matter what happens I know I got there because of the support and love I’ve received from so many. They are all important to me and for them as well as myself I will continue to train hard until its time to fly to California.

Its coming soon and I’ll be ready.

The capacity for love



There is a capacity inside all of us, which often remains underdeveloped. We know that if we regularly do more pushups then soon the number of pushups we are capable of will grow. If I ride a bike regularly then how far I can ride will increase. But what about our emotions, what about the capacity for love.

As any parent will tell you, the arrival of a child is astonishing at how much you could possibly love someone. You may have been in love with your partner but the child brings you to a new level. When a second child arrives that ability to love grows again.

Relating to your children in this way is easy to understand, even if you don’t have children of your own but have a niece or nephew, the lesson is the same. When we open our hearts and let ourselves love another person we find that we have room for that love in our lives and through it we grow. I believe we grow into better people.

Unfortunately we have a society that equates love with only romantic relationships or family members. You can enjoy lots of friendships but the L word is largely kept in reserve for only special occasions.  I refuse to believe that. I don’t want to put restrictions on my capacity for love and for expressing those feelings. There are a lot of wonderful people in my life who I love and I want to be able to share how I feel with them. There are people whose friendship has grown to be so important to me that inside of my heart I know that I love them. If you can remove all of the romantic packaging that has been marketed at us with regards to love and see that there is actually a pure emotion at the centre of it, then you can discover that hidden capacity inside yourself.

With each realization of love existing in your life you have the opportunity to do something about it and in the process feel your spirit expand. The wonderful beauty of this concept is there is no limit on how far you can grow.

I’m not saying that by wanting to feel this emotional growth you should proclaim your love to everyone you know. There are still going to be people you like who are your friends but may not resonate with you to the degree that you feel that next level of caring for them. That is as it should be. Blindly telling every person you know you love them diminishes that real love you may feel for those important people in your life.

Love is special, love is beautiful, and it exists already between you and many of the people in your life. All that is missing is your willingness to express it. I know this may sound so simple but I do know otherwise. Crossing the threshold and being ready to say I love you without any expectations or conditions isn’t easy. It likely goes against much of the way you were brought up and how you have grown into the friendships you have.

It is a raw moment to tell someone that you love them but it is nothing to fear. Better to fear the constriction inside of you when you suppress those feelings and settle for less than honesty.

I don’t want to confine myself in a world of muted colours and dull emotions. I want to express myself vibrantly. I want to tell the people who matter to me how important they are, how much I care about them. I know that I have the capacity to increase the love in my life and be a better person for it.

The itty bitty shitty committee



I love it when I learn something new. All too often I feel like I’m forgetting things I once knew, those hard earned lessons or well phrased bits of advice that seem to slip away through lack of use.

I was talking after a workout recently with some people in the gym. The topic came up about self-doubt and how you can undermine your success by letting negative thoughts creep in to your head when you are attempting something difficult. My friend Sue-Ann described those nagging doubts and worries that come into your head, as the ‘itty bitty shitty committee’, those negative thoughts that undermine your positive attitude. She said sometimes you have to get a new chairman for the committee and fire the old one so you can get on with things.

I love this description and like so many things that you can have explained to you in different ways, it is just hearing it in the way that makes sense for you to finally have a concept sink in.

There is no denying the itty bitty shitty committee or whatever you want to call it because we all have it. Some think of it as a fear of failure, I think of more of a fear of success. When you challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable and are successful it opens up a lot of other doors. Now you have to look at other things you have failed to do or never even tried because you thought there was no way you could possibly do such a thing. Suddenly your recent success shines a light on other things you’ve avoided and now have to consider because if you can achieve one goal then maybe there are other goals you can achieve as well.

I’m going to be ready to fire that committee next time their negative attitudes threaten my confidence. First sign of trouble from that group is going to result in a new leader being appointed who will encourage me to try.

At the end of the day all any of us can do is try and do your very best.


Sometimes it feels like I’ve been in training for decades. I guess in a way I have although I haven’t always known what it is I’ve been training for. I know that every step (and misstep) I’ve taken is what has led me to where I am today. Each new day I am the accumulation of everything I’ve done, or thought or dreamed up to that point in my life.

When I was studying Taekwondo I was always in training for the next belt testing. The march from white belt to my fourth degree black belt took many years but there was always a goal to strive for. Along the way there were tournaments to compete in, new martial arts like escrima and ju-jitsu to experience, and challenges like concrete breaking to give focus to the training.

After Taekwondo there was cardio kickboxing and the intense workouts I taught for many years. Kicking, punching and sweating to loud music just went so well together and in the process my fitness level increased. The goal was always to be fitter than anyone else coming to my classes. It was more pushups, more situps, more squats, whatever it took to stay on top.

Then I was introduced to Crossfit and my fitness world shifted into a whole new dimension. I immediately discovered that my level of fitness was drastically below where I’d believed it to be. I had my ass handed to me on a platter. Always up for a new challenge I jumped in with both feet, going to every class and working to capacity each time. I was training harder than ever and seeing gains I didn’t think were possible. I got certified and soon I was coaching.

I’ve always migrated to positions of responsibility and enjoyed being able to use that role to help others achieve their goals. Crossfit was no different and I loved the coaching. And still I trained. My frequency increased and despite the hours put in I never felt I had come close to my potential. And that is the secret of Crossfit, no matter how well you do, there is always the feeling that if you could just fine tune your technique or increase your strength, then you could improve your performance. It doesn’t matter if you are struggling with a modest weight or lifting huge amounts, there is a wonderful motivation right there in front of you every day. Can you go faster? Can you lift more? Can you keep going longer without slowing down?

Crossfit even offers a gigantic competition that allows you to see how you compare to your age group from around the world. The Open Games says here is our level planning field, are you willing to step on it and see what you can do? Do the same workout as other athletes and see how you rank. After 5 weeks find out if you are good enough to move on to actually compete face to face with your athletic peer group. There are Regional Games and from that incredibly talented pool of competitors only a couple will make it to the top level and compete in the World Games.

I’m in the old guys category but to give them their due, these are a pretty fit bunch of old guys. And it appears that I am too because I’m in the top 20 from around the world and will be competing against my peers in L.A. in July. It is exciting and scary at the same time but I will simply go down and do my best. No matter what happens I’ll be proud of myself for trying. If I come in 20th I’ll still be glad I did it. I am so lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of people who have cheered me on through the Open Games and given me their encouragement as I made it through. If I do better than 20th it will be because of their love and support because there is the intangible part of the training. The spirit that can be passed on by genuinely caring about how well another person is doing is so powerful in our gym that I will be taking a massive dose of that support with me.

So now I’m training even harder and trying to be more focused. In less than two months I’ll be there. Hopefully I’ll be ready and able to give 100 %. Until then I’ll do more, lift more, attempt to improve every technique. I’m training again with a purpose, to simply be better. And then it will be over and life will return to normal. I’ll still be training, trying hard to improve my lifts and my cheering on my fellow athletes in our gym, helping them to reach their own goals.

Within the Crossfit community I am delighted to be able to share in that common goal and make it my own. I just want to be better.

For Mom

The best worst job has to be being a mother. For nine months they endure rampant hormonal disruption, a physical metamorphosis unlike anything else, nausea, aches and pains, sleepless nights, all just to get to the final moment of then having to face delivering their child.

From the minute a baby is born it has jumped straight to the front of the line and its needs will come before all other concerns a mother may have. What follows is more sleepless nights, a monumental challenge to regain their pre-baby body, more laundry than could be imagined and layers of self-doubt that a year earlier would have been inconceivable.

It is enough to make any sane person decide to skip child-rearing completely. But then there is that smile. That look between a mother and a baby, which connects them down to the depths of their souls. The connection may be there in the delivery room or it could slowly build, it doesn’t matter because the bond between a mother and her child is their own unique experience and while others may love that child without reservation, there is only one mother.

As time moves forward like only it can do and the child grows through the many stages of their life, they can push against those family ties but even the most self-centered adolescent will discover at some point how important their mother is.

There may be no gratitude at the time for the sacrifices that moms make. But eventually we all come to our senses and look at our mothers with an appreciation for all they did. They spends hours and hours behind the steering wheel driving thousands of miles to get us to school, sports, lessons, activities, and jobs. They look after all our needs, and do it all for love.

We collectively set aside one day each year to recognize just what amazing people our mothers are. On Mother’s Day we call, we visit, we send a card or flowers we give presents but its not enough. We need to take the time to connect with our mothers all year long. We need to tell them we love them that we appreciate them that we are grateful for all that they’ve done for us. They deserve it.


we all hear voices

We all hear voices. They can bounce around inside your head sending all manner of thoughts your way. There are good ones that encourage you when you need motivation, that assure you that you’re doing the right thing, that help guide you to the best decisions. And then there are the other voices that always seem to echo your worst feelings and fire them back at you. The voices that cause you to doubt yourself, the ones that say you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough. Those ones can sometimes drive a wedge into your confidence and force your will to break into pieces.

            I’ve heard both types many times. I try to strain to hear the positive ones and ignore the negative but not always with success. Sometimes it takes a little help from outside to drown out that bad voice so you can hear the good one. Lots of times I’ll settle for no voice at all and just try to slip into a mental state that allows me to simply keep going.

            This past weekend at the Crossfit Regional Games in Vancouver there were an incredible number of truly outstanding athletes competing against each other in hopes of winning one of the top positions. Every one who made it there did so by dedication and sacrifice. To compete at that level means to have put so many things on hold for your training just so you can be there.

            Its easy to applaud exceptional performances but so much more so when you know the athlete. We were fortunate enough to have plenty to cheer for from our gym. Two teams and two individuals made it through, then the eliminations came up. Our teams facing their first competition together stepped up to meet the challenge head on.

And we shouted out the encouragement to Corey and Roe as they did workout after workout with outstanding results.

            Corey moved weights with an explosive power that left us wowed with his strength and athleticism. Our fantastic female coach, Roe showed us all what courage meant when she fought through pain to work her way through to the last elimination round. It broke my heart to watch her hold an injured shoulder but refuse to quit. They both made us proud to know them and be supporters.Image

            One team was knocked out but the other one kept going. Then our two individuals were stopped just short of the very last workout. Finally on Sunday afternoon we had just one team left to cheer for. They fought their doubts and rose above them with an incredible performance. They took on the very best of Western Canada and made them stop and take notice. As the cheers echoed off the walls our athletes powered through the course of the final workout to finish it in third place. It was an incredible ending for a group of outstanding athletes.

            Corey, Roe, Mandy, Kaitlyn, Lindsey, Dani, Shannon, Phylis, Jian, Rich, Rob, Pete, Adam and Tom, each and every one of them stepped up and pushed aside their concerns for themselves, drowned out the negative voices and showed us what great competitors they were.

            It was inspiring, humbling, powerful and just amazing to see. The pride I felt for their achievements was greater than if I’d done the work myself. I was so proud of each of them and so happy that I was able to cheer them on.Image



They Can’t All Be Great Moments

If we focus on the good things we can lessen the impact of the bad. A simple concept and one that I believe has some merit. If we focus on the positive can we stop the negative from happening? Not a chance. There is no avoiding it, into every life a little rain must fall.

The bad stuff that happens to everyone is just a fact of life. No one is free of bad luck. No one is going to go merrily along, never catching a cold at a bad time, never getting injured, never having money problems, relationship problems, work problems. The list goes on and on. Shit does happen. What matters more is how you deal with it.

You could go through life avoiding risk, emotional commitments, confrontations, all in an effort to protect yourself from any bad experiences but chances are things will still crash into you and in the process have an impact on your future.

Ultimately everything we are is a result of our life experiences up to that point. We get food poisoning from shrimp, and then avoid it in the future. We learn from our mistakes but that doesn’t mean we won’t make others. It is all part of our ongoing development. Life is not one giant bowl of perfect cherries, there are some rotten ones mixed in there too. When you get one what matters more than the fact that you’ve discovered the bad ones exist is how you deal with this discovery.

Life can slip off the rails quickly leaving you with the aches and pains that follow but you just have to pick yourself up and carry on.

Two summers ago I was in southern Utah on my motorcycle. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was traveling with my brother. Coming around one corner I noticed a stunning rock formation and an easy access to it. I pulled off the highway and rode my bike up the dirt trail towards it, then parked and got my camera out to take the photo. Picture taken I climbed back on the bike and headed slowly down the red dirt trail towards the highway. Partway down the red dirt changed into soft red sand and my front tire dug in and I felt myself losing my balance. I was going so slow I wasn’t worried at all about the fall and was probably too casual about it. In that moment that I went down I realized my foot was trapped under the bike and I felt the weight of the bike pressing down on my ankle. I was on my feet again quickly and although my ankle hurt I didn’t think it was broken. I continued to ride for the rest of the day with the throbbing in my boot steadily increasing. By the time we’d stopped for the night I could barely get my boot off, my foot was purple and huge. But no point whining, I’m in Utah with my brother, so I hobbled instead of walked but still made it across the road to the bar for a cold beer and the next day we carried on.

Terry still riding after the fall.

My purple ankle

The injury had an impact on the trip but it didn’t become the biggest part of it. I dealt with it and made the most of the journey. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches, knowing its going to be a pain for awhile but soon you will be able to carry on, hopefully a bit wiser for the experience.










The irony of this post is that I started to write on a Monday night and then on Tuesday I was working on my muscleups after the evening Crossfit class and in the process I badly pulled a muscle in my rib cage. There it was right in my face some unplanned crap that was now going to force me to miss working out and be pretty uncomfortable for awhile. But a few days later I was able to do some rowing and the next day do a workout. Life is like that, sometimes you just have the misfortune of stepping into something you wish you could have avoided but you wipe it off, you try not to let it stain anything else in your life and eventually the smell goes away and you keep on walking. You just keep going and try to keep smiling because there is always more in life to be happy about if you look for it.

Is your best good enough? Damn straight it is!



There are many opportunities in your day-to-day life to do your best. Sadly we don’t always take the time to do it. Sometimes we settle for less and tell ourselves that it will be good enough. We cut corners at work or at school, we short-change our families on our commitments to them, we don’t always give our friends the friendship they deserve. The problem with settling for less is it can become a habit then grow into a normal state for everything you do.

The other side of this coin is that conscious decision to do the best you can in every situation. There is a chance to step up and see what you can do almost every day. Sometimes the stepping up is a big deal and other times it is a small thing but either way there is a lesson to be learned, that everything you do in life matters.

There are plenty of activities that will quickly let you know if you think you can get away with less than your best. If you are a great bowler and you stop working at your score then you will quickly find yourself in the gutter. If you have been hitting home runs but stop being committed to your swing, foul balls and strikeouts are your new future.

When you do try to do your best all the time then you find yourself in a great new place. Living by this principle is a challenge but taking that approach with physical exercise is a great way to develop the habit. If I face a challenge to see how many repetitions of an exercise I can do and I keep going to failure then I know I’ve done my best. But if it starts to get hard and I decide to stop early then I have just shortchanged myself.

     Watching athletes I know push themselves to their limits is both exciting and inspiring to witness. With the recent Crossfit Open Games competition there have been plenty of inspirational moments and they don’t all come from the top athletes. It is often far more impressive to me to see someone who is struggling with an exercise continue to try even through repeated failures. When they do get it, the moment is so much sweeter and I am grateful for these glimpses at greatness that come from them. You don’t have to be an uber athlete to be great in my book. You just have to put forth great effort. To do your best is the reward. That your best doesn’t compare to what a stronger athlete can do doesn’t mean that your best wasn’t good enough, because it was. Putting everything into a physical challenge is enormously satisfying because you truly know then that you absolutely tried your hardest. If someone feels that your score was a lesser score because its numeric value was lower than another athlete’s, then they don’t know anything about effort.

With physical effort the measurable results make it easier to recognize that someone has done their best. It’s more subtle in other areas and often takes a bit more sensitivity to recognize. That person who is quick to lend a helping hand, the one who knows the importance of doing things the right way and following through on those commitments we all face. Those are people who inspire me and help guide me to making better choices. In the end I hope to be measured by the way I lived my life not what I accumulated in it. I hope to simply do my best in all things and to all people because ultimately I know short cuts are dead ends and the real route lies in effort and commitment and integrity. The great thing about this is we all know deep inside of ourselves what our best is. We know we’ve done a good thing when we help someone or do something that makes a difference. The secret is to see that inside yourself and make it your goal.

Every day is a new chance to try to do your best.

The Right Stuff

    Thomas Wolfe wrote about ‘The Right Stuff’ in his book on the astronaut program. He focused on that particular quality that made someone capable of doing what so many others couldn’t imagine doing. It was beyond courage or bravery, it was the calm belief in yourself to rise to the challenge, to not back down, to step forward when others would step away.

Very few people become astronauts and live the life that Wolfe wrote about but that doesn’t mean that the Right Stuff isn’t in all of us. The problem is not so much that we don’t have it, its just been buried too deep. The Right Stuff is not laying on the surface in most of us. It needs to be pulled from beneath the comfortable surroundings of a life too easy. It won’t be found channel surfing or buying take out dinners. It isn’t hidden in the cushions of your sofa or in the glove box of your luxury car.

The Right Stuff exists in struggle. It needs to be worked at and respected. It needs to be put to the test. You need to be challenged by it. We enjoy comfortable lives and it is easy to make comfort a goal and a standard to measure difficulty against. If its easy then its good, if its hard then its bad, has become an accepted mantra.

To find that Right Stuff in ourselves we need to be challenged. For most of us we are going to have to seek out our own challenges and sign up for the opportunity to push outside of our comfort zone. Physical challenges are our modern arena for facing the unexpected and finding the courage to step forward.

There is so much to be gained from facing a challenge that you think may be more than you can do but still going ahead and doing it. The Crossfit Open Competition is providing that chance to many of my fellow athletes and I’m delighted and filled with pride as I watch them take on these unknown workouts each Friday for five weeks. They push themselves to the limits of their endurance simply to face the challenge. I watch them dig deeper than they thought they could to do just one more repetition, to know that they held nothing back, to prove to themselves that they were up for the challenge. Each of them searches inside and discovers that they do in fact have the Right Stuff and learn a bit more about what they are capable of.

Complacency is the enemy of the Right Stuff. The more you fight against that easy path and seek the more difficult route, the more you will discover inside. The more willing you are to see what you are able to accomplish, the more you will expose your inner strength.

You don’t have to be an astronaut to soar, you just have to believe in yourself and be willing to commit to living life at 100%. The Right Stuff is waiting for you.