As we head into the 4th of July weekend (when hopefully TeamRWB members can relax and enjoy some beach or staycation reading), we thought you’d enjoy an excerpt from Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness, by J.C. Herz  a book about CrossFit’s spirit and ethos and the biological and spiritual role of physical intensity in our lives. This excerpt about the kinship between CrossFit and the military has been warmly received by veterans from Fort Bragg to Camp Leatherneck. For folks interested in reading more, books purchased through this link will benefit TeamRWB.org, and Fire has a lively community of military and civilian CrossFitters on Facebook.


Fallujah, For Time: Sprinting Wars and the Next Generation of Combat Training

By this time, CrossFit was proliferating across two war zones and infiltrating military bases around the world. It was cheap, improvised, and time-efficient. It didn’t break in heat or dust. And it made soldiers physically more powerful than they’d ever been, in a new era of military conflict that demanded heavy loads be hauled as quickly as possible from point to point. Counter-insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan was not a game of long marches and precise campaigns. In a landscape of steep hillsides, hot stairwells, and dangerous corners, hazard boiled up in sudden twenty minute bursts of load-bearing cardiovascular suck. It was CrossFit as a live fire exercise, and any soldier with half a brain knows to train as you fight.

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Submitted by Team RWB Buffalo

Team RWB Buffalo and a few individuals from Rochester, recently had the honor of volunteering for the New York State Special Olympic Summer Games.  We were responsible for the scorekeeping of the throwing games, the softball toss and the turbo-jav throw, but most importantly, we were the cheerleaders.

To get out and compete is never an easy task.  It takes weeks, months, or even years of training.  There is the fear of failure, the agony of defeat, but also the joy of winning or even just finishing.  Boundaries get pushed, lifestyles change, and in the end, each of us finds our true strength.  Our families and friends encourage us to keep pushing and to reach our goals; for the Special Olympics competitors, it is no different.  They needed cheering, encouragement and a little bit of coaching that day, and we were happy to help.  We made sure they knew every throw was their best yet and that we were proud of them for competing.

The pure heart the competitors displayed throughout the day overshadowed any competitive spirit they may have harbored in their hearts.  While each man and woman wanted to medal, they were just as happy when a friend or fellow teammate from their region held that honor.  We were also able to help turn some frowns into smiles after a bad throw.  We cheered just as loudly for those who threw 10 feet or all the way to the fence.  Those cheers and a little bit of coaching enabled the competitors to throw even farther their next attempt.  Never underestimate the power of having something to aim for either.  We would tell them to aim for one of us out in the field, and sure enough the Eagle on the field would have to duck!

Team RWB was changed for the better that day.  We weren’t there for us.  We were there for them.  We were there to help them succeed. Looking through some of the Facebook posts from our members from Saturday, I see such inspiring and happy notes:

“You have not lived a perfect day in your life until you have helped a complete stranger.”

“Every one of these men and women have an incredible outlook on life reveling in joy after a great performance!  You guys rock and I am so happy I had the chance to volunteer at the 2014 Special Olympics summer games!”

“What great day today helping at the Special Olympics! I have been saying I’d do this for years, yet I’ve never done it.  So happy Team RWB got me out there today…definitely won’t be my last time.  So very inspirational!”

If your chapter or community is fortunate enough to have the Special Olympics come to your region, definitely make the effort to volunteer.  The organizers were so very grateful for our help and we are so grateful to Team RWB for establishing this relationship across our nation.  The Special Olympics relies on volunteers to staff the events, so every man and woman counts.  Take a day, get inspired and see the world through a new set of eyes.  Remember, if you don’t feel better at the end of the day, you did it wrong.

Written by Mike Holmes,

Snap shots of images and sounds go on throughout the day. Images lead to thoughts, sounds lead to questions; others just flash and disappear until the next time. This is a daily occurrence for me, and there was a time that I used weightlifting to calm my thoughts. Sitting and talking to someone would not get the images and sounds out of my mind; while I was lifting, it would help calm the thoughts and push them to the back of my mind. For a few hours I was able to just be me and let out that stress, and in a weird way, I was able to relax.

When the doctor told me I could not continue lifting, I had no idea what I was going to do. As a former college football player, I could not remember a time when I was not in the gym throwing weight around. Lifting was a part of me – like my head is a part of me. It was my own fault of course, since I did not listen the first time – I was warned not to lift the amount of weight I did; now I was paying for it.

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Shawn spent 10 years on Active duty and currently serves in the U.S. Army Reserves as a CW4 UH60 Instructor Pilot and a Department of the Army Civilian UH60 Instructor Pilot. Shawn is married, has two kids, three dogs, two donkeys (yep… donkeys: Fred and Lamont), 15 chickens, and one rabbit. This is the story of how Team RWB helped him.

Written by Shawn Holmes

It’s 6am on March 1st at the Longleaf Horse Trail in the De Soto National Forest, about thirty minutes south of Laurel, Mississippi. I am standing with almost 160 of my closest friends, getting ready for the start of the Mississippi 50 trail race. Okay, so I don’t really know any of the people here, and it’s actually a little after 6am because everyone is talking so loudly they can’t hear the race director trying to get their attention so he can start the race. But I am jumping ahead, so let’s start at the beginning.

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Written by Richie Evans

My name is Richie Evans, and my story starts a little different than most veterans featured on this page. I am young – just nineteen years old – and I have spent just under two years in the military thus far. I was trained as an Aerospace Maintenance mechanic on the KC-135 Stratotanker, and I spent a very short three weeks at MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL in the Air Force Reserve. I then transferred back home and into the Air National Guard, reenlisting with the 107th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls, NY. When my ANG recruiter, TSgt. Krystalore Stegner mentioned Team Red, White and Blue, a support group for veterans, I became intrigued. Upon my arrival home I immediately “Googled” this group. Without hesitation I signed up and the rest became history.

Though it took me a few months after signing up to be able to get out to a Wednesday evening run at Delaware Park in Buffalo, NY, I knew there was something special about Team RWB from the beginning. The group was extremely welcoming, and made me feel like I had been a member for many months. I was very nervous to make it to a run, since I only knew one person; however, that anxiety was unjustified and the decision to go has proven to be one of my best to date.

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