In CrossFit

June 21, 2009

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Paul Eich, a.k.a. Apolloswabbie, toiled many years in a wilderness of plyometrics shoes and Bowflex. In 2007 he finally found his way to the Land of Murph and Cindy. This is his story.

I hit a couple of home runs in the fourth grade. From then on, my athletic career was mostly downhill. In 2007, I discovered CrossFit and everything changed. It’s been quite a journey, with many lessons learned along the way.

I think of myself as a blue-collar athlete, which is to say I work to be fit and have consistently done so since I was 18. But I don’t have a lot to show for it. I’ve wasted a bunch of time feeling frustrated with those athletic limitations but recognized long ago how much better my life was when I worked at some aspect of fitness. I always expected my athletic breakthrough was right around the corner. It finally came in Baghdad in December 2006 when a fine young soldier, Sergeant Alan Fetter, suggested I look at

I scanned the site for about three weeks and started reading about the concepts behind the crazy workouts. My first actual workout came on Jan. 9, 2007. The prescribed WOD was a 5x5 shoulder press. Soon after I attempted and survived notable CrossFit WODs such as Helen and the Filthy 50, and I knew I was onto something good.

Almost 40 years after starting, I was stumbling out of the fitness wilderness.

For me, it was transformational to have new fitness goals to pursue and a program that allowed me to achieve them. Competing in the 2008 CrossFit Games left me both humbled and fiercely proud, but the life transformation comes in the daily courage check, the chance to test myself physically and mentally against whatever challenge delivers.

Performance improvements made it easy to stay with CrossFit in the beginning. Now I have performance goals, skills goals and coaching goals to pursue in what is now my third year in the fitness promised land.



17 Comments on “Forty Years in the Fitness Desert”


wrote …


thank you for your article. It was very well written and instructive as well as being incredibly enjoyable. I am about a year behind you in my own trip out of the fitness wilderness and I recognise many of your lessons and benefits from my own journey, to the extent that you have written a better version of the article I had intended to write on my first anniversary of Crossfit in a couple of months.

I have also wondered how I will approach Crossfit in the future at the point you feel you are at...when the easy gains have gone. I very much hope you could write another article in a year's time (and potentially annually after if you have the energy & inclination) with your learning from another year's Crossfit maturity.

either way, thanks again and congratulations on the positive difference you have made to your health and fitness

Nick in Sydney


wrote …

Good stuff Paul.

It's kind of funny, but it doesn't surprise me that that some twenty something studs can do this stuff, that's just the way of the world.

What does surprise me is what a fountain of youth (a short painful fountain . . . ) this stuff is for those of us in the "Masters" division . . .

I didn't think I was going to get close to the underside of a 6 minute mile ever again, much less a 60-70 second 400 meter run.

That a fatty overweight lawyer could lose 40 lbs and be stronger overall than he ever was at 21.

And running into Coach Glassman at the games last year where he shook my hand and thanked me for being there, when I am the one who owes the debt of gratitude.


Jeff Martin wrote …

Great article. Perfectly captures the CrossFit experience of us not yet ready to be over the hill athletes.


wrote …

Paul, thanks for writing this and well done. I appreciate the humour, humility, and sense of gratitude that permeates this article. It echoes my own thoughts and feelings closely.


Joseph Powell wrote …

Looks good Paul. I look forward to your next visit!



wrote …

Hey Paul, great article, so many of the things you describe I can relate to.

Really interesting read :-)


wrote …

Fantastic article.


wrote …

I was remiss - the squat photo and the last photo should be credited to Mindy Bush of 3 Cubed Photography - thanks Mindy!

Thanks gents, I am grateful for you kind words, they confirm that (with Daniel's help) I was able to hit the desired mark. Paul


wrote …

Thanks Paul for a wonderfully inspiring article. You expressed much of my own experience. You're a great asset to the CF community. Thanks again.


wrote …

Thanks, Paul. You're the one who got me into this thing. I haven't been in a gym class or an organized sport since 7th grade. I had no idea that exercise was something that people should do until I was in my late 30's. Coming to Crossfit at 45 having never touched a bar and not knowing what *any* of the exercises were (Ok, I knew what a pushup, pullup, and situp were). Four months in, I can do 4 dead-hang pull-ups, which, of course, is four more than I could do when I started at the beginning of March. (Hopefully I can start adding more than one per month.) I think it's amazing that Crossfit convinced me to do any of this stuff.

I overheard a 50-something woman who just joined Crossfit Knoxville saying how much more comfortable she felt at Crossfit than she did at The Rush (or whatever, I've never been in any of those places). To me, that's one of the coolest things, that the people who are scaling push-ups feel at home working out alongside people who can do muscle-ups.

I'm not that impressed that Crossfit can get a life-long athlete like Paul in great shape. I'm blown away that it works for me and the 50-something women.


wrote …


Thank you for the great article. I enjoyed if very much. I especially appreciate your sidebar about Josh. We can all benefit greatly by remembering to "earn it" everyday.



wrote …

"How we earn what we've been given is likely different for all of us. For me, the essence is making the best of each day, each moment, each chance to be loving to the ones we love, and always seeking what is good.”

Paul, I wholeheartedly agree—it's humbling to realize that we sometimes have to "earn" what we've been given. I spent a long time taking for granted the athletic capabilities I was given. I think I mentioned to you that I came face to face with possibly losing those capabilities through a pretty severe long term injury. I can say now, after rehabilitating, that I have been given a second chance at taking advantage of these strengths and really enjoying life because of it. As you say, I plan to earn it this time and appreciate every day of it.

I loved reading this article. And it was wonderful to meet you out in Ohio. That’s a goofy picture of the two of us—I think I may have been trying to be taller than you in that photo? Ah well, height is definitely not one of my gifts :)


wrote …

Anyone could point me to that crossfit radio piece about pacing in the article ?


wrote …

Excellent article, Paul. Inspires me to keep pushing on...Thanks!


replied to comment from Tamas Kormos

Thomas, Here's the link,, OPT's name is James Fitzgerald. Hope you enjoy it, Paul


wrote …

Great article Paul. Many points you made rang true from my own experiences. Great meeting you at the Certs at BrandX!


freddy camacho wrote …

Awesome Paul!

I've had a couple chances to touch base with you over the years. Your article just solidifies waht I already knew... You are one cool dude.

Great stuff. Way to keep representing us over forty guys!

See you at the Games.

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