In Classic, CrossFit

January 05, 2010

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In Part 1 of this series, original firebreather Greg Amundson recalls the very first days of a movement that’s now a global phenomenon.

In December 2001, I heard rumors of athletic monsters being created inside a small gym on the east side of Santa Cruz and was intrigued.

My good friend Sam Radetsky had found the number for “CrossFit” listed in the Santa Cruz County Yellow Pages and encouraged me to call. After a few rings a now-familiar voice answered, “Hello!” I introduced myself and asked if I could visit the gym to check things out. None other than Greg Glassman answered, “Sure, show up tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. and be ready to work out.”

The following morning at about 5:45 a.m., I pulled into the small six-car parking lot in front of CrossFit Santa Cruz. I knocked on the door before entering the small garage and then stepped inside. With a huge smile on his face, Greg Glassman walked across the floor and reached out his hand.

Coach introduced me to the concept of the upcoming workout. It consisted of a 1,000-meter row on a Concept2 rower, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 pull-ups. If I felt up to it, I could repeat the workout after a brief rest. In the back of my mind, I thought, “Well, that doesn’t seem very hard to me. That should only take a few minutes!”

After the workout—I only completed one round—I stumbled over to the corner of the gym near the stairs and collapsed. Physically I was finished, but internally I was vibrant with the realization I had discovered something sacred. I had found a Coach who would share with me the Holy Grail of fitness: CrossFit.

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20 Comments on “CrossFit HQ, 2851 Research Park Dr., Santa Cruz, Calif. ”


wrote …

JUST AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!


wrote …

man how i wish i would have found crossfit earlier, Im jelous and very respectful of the early firebreathing crossfitters. To think that such a small group can have such an effect on the world of exercise is nothing less than a mericle


wrote …

I can't tell you how grateful I am for this article. I had the pleasure of meeting Greg A at my level one cert in San Diego and that man is incredible. His enthusiasm and humility still inspire my efforts daily. With all the bs that has been going on recently at the BBS, I am glad that Greg could share this article with the community. It really sheds some light on the type of person that Coach is and the giant contributions he has made to the world. I am saving this article to my desktop and plan on reading it from time to time when discouragement settles in on my world. What an incredible community we are a part of. My brother and I discovered CrossFit in 2008 and opened our box here in St George UT in April of 2009. Greg A has quickly responded to numerous emails I have sent with questions about advice he may have, he is %100 a class act in my book. I will hit today's WOD with more intensity now that I have a little more insight into how this all started. Thanks Greg A and thanks Coach and Lauren.
Kade Boyer
CrossFit Dixie


wrote …

For some reason it is posting my response as Kaden Rogers, could you please change that, it should say Kyle Boyer.


wrote …

Love the historical flashbacks, maybe the next classic article should be on Coach, I'm sure a lot of us would love to read that. I know I would. Especially with some photos or videos of the early CrossFit years with Coach doing the movements. I'm always amazed at how much video and photos are on this site but none contain Coach doing the workouts? how come?


Jaime Arashiro wrote …

A blast from the past. Thanks Greg A. Believe or not, you, the Nasty Girls and the Glassman´s have fans in such a far country as mine, Peru.

You are very humble writing about the great athletic performance of your friends.

About the good old times you has writen about, I remember a post saying that CF was no more than a combat of Coach Glassman programming WODs to destroy Greg A, versus Greg A performing and surviving those WODs.


replied to comment from Sebastian Rieder

Sebastian - well friggin' said. Paul


wrote …

Greg, you are a beast of an athlete and one awesome, stand up and humble dude. Crossfit is lucky to have you as an ambassador.

Great article my friend, thanks for sharing those memories with us!


wrote …

The first CrossFit video I remember seeing was one of Greg A and Josh E's epic Fran battles, and my jaw dropped. Greg is a constant source of inspiration (lets not forget about his 100 mile in 24hrs effort) and a prime example of CrossFit's sincerity to constantly improving all of our work capacities across broad time and modal domains. You are an amazing individual.

This member of the Canadian Forces will forever be in humble gratitude to Coach, Lauren, and ALL involved in CrossFit's past, present and future.

Go Navy!


wrote …

What an absolutely phenomenal article. I hope everyone in the community reads this. This is our history and it is important to know and pass it on.

And of course......Greg A. is my original CF hero.


wrote …

AWESOME! Thanks for sharing those memories with us Greg!


Dale Saran wrote …

Yup. This one is a keeper. I consider myself so lucky to know some of these folks (though not Greg A., oddly enough, though his wife and I work together), and anyone who gets the chance should go to a workout at CFSC Central or any one of the SC affils. Color me biased, but it was pretty cool to work out at Annie, Eva, and Rob Miller's place, and the warmup run takes you right by the original HQ (which is now a motorcycle shop, I believe).

Just an unbelievable vibe and pleasure to work out or be coached by some of the originals. What a great community and movement to be a part of.


wrote …

I was one of the people in the Feb 2004 photo. One of the highlights of that weekend was meeting Greg A. He is an amazing ambassador. First, I noticed that he regarded and treated everyone as an athlete. Then I realized that he does something even greater. He helps people recognize that they are athletes even when they don't know it. He looks at people and sees potential. Greg's role in forging an amazing community was tremendous. Prior to this Cert Crossfit was not yet much of a community outside Santa Cruz. It was merely an online source for great workouts and devotees of hardcore training with a passion for excellence. Both Gregs taught more than fitness at the cert. They taught and created a community. Fitness will never be the same. Today, I see Crossfit's influence extending beyond Crossfit as bootcamps and other trainers, and even some books try to imitate Crossfit's trademark style of metcon workouts, emphasis on O'lifts, bodyweight training, compound movements, etc. The influence is also extending a bit on the community level. There are more and more non Crossfit garage gym type places because of the path that Coach forged. There are many talented people who today owe much of their existence and success to the Gregs. While there are many imitators I have seen no equal to the Crossfit Community. It is our greatest resource. What counts is not the little differences in training styles or goals. What really counts is our core philosophies, our passion for excellence, and our appreciation for evidence based fitness.


Keith Wittenstein wrote …

Great article, Greg! You are a constant source of inspiration to me. Thank you for memorializing your early experiences with Coach and the 6am crew. It takes me back to when I first discovered the website and watched the videos in awe and fear. Even through the anonymity of the internet, Coach was able to communicate and instill in me the need to be part of this community and to teach what little I know to those around me.

It also takes me back to when I first met you and Coach and everybody and what an amazing, life-changing impact you have all made on me.

Thank you so much.


wrote …

Great and Inspiring article, i met Greg over in Camp Pendleton, wasnt sure who he was at first as he had hair!, along with many other great "Fire breathers", and what struck me is how humble and down to earth he is, a great embassador for CrossFit

Si @ CrossFit Fife


wrote …

Loved the article- this is a must read for every crossfitter!

I have to admit i do miss the days of the greg, annie, eva, nicole, brendan, zac, rob miller videos with tony coaching in the background. :-) maybe a reunion or where are they now video? :-)

Anyway, great article. Greg you have always been one of my favorites!



wrote …


I always enjoy your articles because of the passion that is evident. You put just as much of your heart into writing as you do into the WOD. Just like anyone who's been around CF for more than a couple of years, you are the "Original Badass." Thank you for everything.


wrote …

Wonderful article that is a must-read for all in the CrossFit community. The closest box is two hours away but the journal, videos and constant inspiration on the mainsite keep me motivated. Not only am I in the best shape of my adult life, but my ability to juggle motherhood and a business has been helped tremendously by the CF programming and nutrition guidelines.

Thank you Coach, Greg and all the early fire-breathers who got this awesome philosophy off the ground.


wrote …

Yes, a great article and it brought back some great memories. And the group photos! Everyone looks so young. Jason H looks like a teenager.
One thing that makes me happy is that so many of the people Greg mentions in the article are still doing CrossFit. Some work for HQ, some own affiliates, some are trainers, and others train, but the majority of names in the article are still involved with CF.
Greg, I might have introduced you to CF, but you were the one that got me back into it, kept me going, and inspired me to make CrossFit my passion and career. Thanks buddy.


wrote …

Central Valley shout out to Greg A - my childhood neighbor - for imparting Crossfit wisdom the average Janes and Joes of the world. I just started doing Crossfit in Arlington, VA - it has already changed the way I live life.

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