Blogcast #5

Building a Community

Jenn and I have been CrossFitting since the summer of 2004.  I was deployed to Iraq and I’d shop online and call home to see what had been delivered for our Garage Gym.  Our patio had an 8′ Wallball Target for her and the biggest tree in our back yard had a climbing rope tied to it.  On my first trip home from Iraq we talked about opening an Affiliate.  About two days later we did.  We may have been the only Affiliate at that time who leased a space, fully equipped it (we even designed and built our own Pull-up Rig since Rogue was just being born at that same time and local welders here were completely befuddled as to what I was showing them on my legal pad/sketch book) who didn’t have a membership.
We opened CrossFit Pittsburgh in September of 2006.  We were freshly pained, newly equipped and ready ready to go.  If it was possible to actually weigh enthusiasm we had a ton of it.  The only thing we didn’t have were members.  Actually, that’s not true.  Right before we opened I did a very primitive yahoo based Blog that attracted a young, just out of the Pittsburgh Fire Academy, man named Toby.  He was our Athlete Zero.
In October of 2006 we flew to Boston and attended our first L1 at Neal Thompson’s CrossFit Boston.  Back then Coach Glassman did the L1(s) in person.  The first person to greet us when we arrived was Tony Budding who would later go on to start the National Pro Grid League.  He came over and introduced himself and said “Greg can’t wait to meet you” and off we went to meet Greg Glassman.  The welcome we received from everyone was amazing and genuine. The lectures were riveting and if you ever had the chance to hear Greg speak in person I think you’d agree.  Our first L1 was a Who’s Who of future CrossFit personalities but what struck me the most was how genuine it was.  Jenn and I were able to sit with Greg  Amundson at lunch on Day 1.  For those of you who don’t know him, Greg is THE original Firebreather.  He is also one of the most humble, gracious men I’ve ever met.  Jon Gilson who would later go on to start Again Faster was in my heat for Fran.  The list truly goes on and on.
Looking back at that first L1 the single thing that struck me the most was the feeling of community.  That same feeling was what Jenn and I brought back with us and reaffirmed when we set out to become an Affiliate.
Over the past 10 years we’ve had a lot of people come and go.  Many of them have chosen to stay with us.  Some of those who have chosen to leave did so because CrossFit “wasn’t for them.”  Of that number I have to say in all honesty, if you’re not getting what you want out of this program then you should leave.  It’s too hard to keep coming back if you don’t feel the reward.  For those of you who find it too much of a challenge and disguise it as “I’m going to concentrate on fill-in-the-blank” don’t kid yourselves.  It’s just too hard for you.  For those who have stayed and become a part of our community ask yourselves why you did.  We’ve recently begun a re-fit at the Box. The last two weeks have been labor intensive but through it all we’ve had Coaches and Athletes give up hours of their weekends to stay with us and get dirty setting up what’s going to be the finest Box in Pittsburgh.  Why?  Why do you give up that much of your time for the benefit of another person, group, etc?  You do it because you recognize the value of that community and you’re proud to be a part of it.  That’s it.  That’s all it is.
I would like to give the most sincere Thank You to all of you who’ve given up your Saturday(s) to make our community better.


Mike Pietragallo