Not an Athlete – Brian Warford


I’m not an athlete.  I’m not very athletic.  I don’t even like sports.  In fact, for most of my life I avoided stereotypical jocks on principle.  Yet, despite all of this I now find myself determined to master double unders, watching videos on how to do a proper snatch and trying to get to the gym as often as I can.  So what’s changed?  In a word, nothing; although I suppose that’s only partially true.  Apart from a brief stint in my early 20s working out at a conventional gym in an effort to try and get girls, my first real foray into physical fitness was just over a year ago.

For most of my life I’ve suffered from lower back pain.  I tried everything; chiropractors, massage therapists, doctors, x-rays, expensive beds, conventional gyms and physiotherapy.  Nothing seemed to work except Advil, which I was taking almost daily, sometimes in excess of a dozen pills when it was really bad just to make it through the day.  I was buying it in bulk, which began to seriously concern my wife.  But when my best days meant my back pain was only a 2 out of 10 I didn’t know what else to do.

After struggling through parenthood for a few years and having essentially given up trying to fix my problem I was pretty unhappy.  My pain limited my ability to play with my children and affected my mood, which was affecting my marriage.  I wanted to be a better husband and father for my family, but felt like it wasn’t possible.  My wife however, never stopped urging me to keep trying to solve the issue; something for which I cannot thank her enough.  She convinced me to try physio again, but a different therapist, one who worked out of her Crossfit gym.  At that point she had been doing Crossfit for a few years (she, as most of you know, is an athlete) and seemed sure this person could help me.  Although I was skeptical at first I was willing to try again.  Unlike the previous physiotherapist I had been to, this one actually made me do physical things; no electrodes, no machines, only a barbell.

So there I was, once a week, at a Crossfit gym, deadlifting meager weights (85lbs I think) watching my wife and a handful of other people doing their WODs.  I watched as they congratulated each other after finishing every workout and wondered where the meatheads were, flexing in the mirrors.  But there were none.  There were no mirrors.  There was nothing intimidating or off-putting whatsoever (except for maybe some of the music selections).  Then I started getting congratulated; the first time I deadlifted 100lbs, the first time I did a wall walk, the first time I stumbled through the first minute of skipping I had done in almost three decades, which was something school children would have laughed at…but nobody did.  Instead they were all proud of me and supportive of the fact that I had merely attempted it.  Eventually, I began to feel less pain less frequently, and the better I felt the better I wanted to feel.

Then, as I was beginning to transition into doing WODs once or twice a week and physio every other week the gym shut down and my therapist moved out of the city, which is when Andrea and I joined M3.  I was really nervous.  I don’t like change.  I’m not good in social settings where I don’t know people.  I didn’t know if it would be the same supportive setting that I had become accustomed to.  Would there be meatheads and mirrors?  Would I be able to scale everything in order to be able to get through a WOD?  As it turned out, my worries were completely needless.  The M3 family could not have been more positive and welcoming.  They have helped me improve immensely and I feel great, physically and mentally.  I can keep up with my kids, which is no easy task if you don’t know them, and I’m generally happier.  But more incredibly, I don’t even remember the last time I took an Advil.

Now, my deadlift is over 250lbs, I can kick up into a handstand against the wall and am getting ever closer to consistent double unders (before 2017 is my goal).  So Crossfit for me is more than just a fun way to get fit or an alternative to conventional gyms or sports I can no longer play.  For me, it’s the thing that’s changed, or rather that is changing, my life.