In CrossFit, Sports Applications, Videos

December 03, 2011

Video Article

“I was pretty decrepit when I started,” Dan MacDougald says. “I was about to have doctors recommend spinal fusion in the low back, couldn’t stand for more than a few hours at a time, sit for more than a few hours at a time. I had bulging disks that were pinching on nerve roots.”

Dan MacDougald is the owner of CrossFit Atlanta. He shares his story of recovery through CrossFit and how a love of coaching has shaped his career.

As a college rugby coach, MacDougald was impressed by another team and found out they used CrossFit training. In 2004, he started following the main site and incorporated it in his coaching. A year later, he attended a Level 1 Seminar.

“I just fell in love with the people and with the whole concept,” he says.

MacDougald says he has seen great success in his rugby athletes who follow his CrossFit training, but unfortunately he cannot force them all to participate.

“For the ones who dedicate themselves to coming here and doing CrossFit, every single one has made the South Select Collegiate All-star Team,” he says. “I need more guys doing that.”

MacDougald shares the success of his affiliate, CrossFit Atlanta, which still follows programming. His passion for coaching is clear.

“For me, it’s very satisfying and gives me a lot of joy to teach something that helps somebody else be better, and I get to do that every day,” he says.

8min 26sec

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Weekend Edition 9 by Dave Young, published April 29, 2009.

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13 Comments on “The Joy of Coaching: CrossFit Atlanta’s Story”


Just have a look at the CrossFit games mate and call anyone of those athletes crappy. The 'absolute worst results' your talking about of CrossFitters training methods is actually creating extraordinary positive change in even high level sportsman results. Start sipping the cool aid brutha cause your mindset is holding you back.


wrote …


Indeed, you built it and the people came. Know that you have touched and continue to touch many people's lives. The community would not be what it is today without you...and that is not to be taken it lightly. Thank you for always staying true to the "old school" spirit. Also, thank you for giving me my family.


wrote …

Dan -

Bethanie said it perfectly. You have changed my life and the lives of so many others for the better. You've given me my "home"... Thank you doesn't even begin to cut it.


Phillip Sarris wrote …

We both have a lot in common. Rugby is my passion as is CrossFit. Keep up the good work!

Phil Sarris
CrossFit Signal Hill


wrote …

Dan, thanks for drastically changing my life for the better. If it weren't for you i very well might have done chest, back and bi's this morning. oh, the horror!


Dan - you are inspirational man! It's because of you that CrossFit Gwinnett has gotten off to such a great start - your advice, wisdom and kind donations. Keep up the awesome work at CF ATL!


wrote …

I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since I started working with Dan! I feel younger today than when I started those 5 years ago. Many of those days were spent one on one with Dan which was great. Of course it also meant a lot of attention and no reps. :)

Thank you for everything (including all of those no reps)!


wrote …

I have the same condition (disk herniations at L5-S1 and L4-L5) and mine are degenerative. CrossFit is a real challenge especially when it comes to lifting heavy but after almost a year of CrossFit I'm in the best shape of my life. Great video.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

You've stood the test of time with your CF affiliate.
We both found CF in 2004 and got started shortly afterwards.
It was quite an experience to see CrossFit go from about four gyms worldwide back then to what is is now.
I remember the 3 day CF trainer course, too.
You were a CrossFit pioneer and are still going strong.
Keep up the good work!


wrote …

Hi Dan-

Just wanted to say "hello" from up here in Chicago. I remember starting out at CFATL in the old building right after you moved out of the barn. You, Russ, a skinny Mike G, Frank and everyone else made me feel right at home.

In traveling the country, I can honestly say that the most successful (in my view) boxes are those that appeal to a wide range of people with varying abilities and goals. The ability to attract and retain such a diverse group is a direct reflection of the leadership/ownership at the different boxes.

I was one of those who generally only made it all the way to downtown on Sat & Sun, and the primary reason I made the drive was because of your positive attitude and support (and that you let my two little kids swing on the ropes and play in the chalk buckets while I did the WODs).

Regards, and keep up the good work.

Brad Saviello


Dale Saran wrote …

The original pro bono consigliere, too. Nice to see you gettin' some love, Danny.



wrote …

Nice story Coach! You've certainly been a great influence on me through Rugby and Crossfit

- Brett Markwort


wrote …

Dan is the OG of CrossFit. There isn't a better ambassador to our sport or a better man to be a leader in our community. I'm so thankful I had a chance to coach for Dan. All that I have learned from him and his coaches have changed my life. I look forward to seeing my crew at CF Atl everytime I go home to visit!

Thanks Dan for everything!

Brendon Mahoney

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