Chris Shell’s CrossFit9 Story

“My name is Chris, I am 44 years young, and this is why I started going to CrossFit9.”

When I was a youth I was very involved in scouting. I spent my summers traveling the country on high adventures. I hiked the Appellation Trail, canoed through Maine, Minnesota, and Canada, and attended summer camps. I never got to visit the most challenging camp, Philmont. Philmont is more than 214 square miles of rugged wilderness in northern New Mexico. A typical trek lasts 12 days and will involve several mountain climbs over 10,000 feet while carrying all necessary gear on your back.

Fast forward 30 years and I have been in scouting with my son Spencer. I now have a chance to visit Philmont with him. Fate had shined on me and given me the second chance of a lifetime. The problem I faced was that I was in no condition to handle this trek. I weighed in around 240 pounds and was basically living a sedentary lifestyle. Though I had experience with running and playing tennis, I knew that in order to prepare for this trek I needed something more, and I would need help to ensure my success.

In January 2016, with only seven months before my big adventure, I knew the time for procrastination was over. By chance, a friend on Facebook liked CrossFit9’s page and I saw that they were offering a three-month special to start. I knew very little about CrossFit at the time. I visited, met with a coach, and attended a free session on a Sunday.

The biggest things that attracted me to this type of workout were that one, you just needed to show up, and two, it was a total body workout. I felt like this sort of training could really be the answer to preparing myself for Philmont. I went to classes four or five days a week in the mornings before work. I made a few small changes to my diet such as adding protein shakes in the mornings and trying to avoid excess carbs. (I’m not too good at that second one.)

After six months I was down more than 20 pounds and I felt amazing. I had energy all day long. During practice hikes with my Troop, I honestly had no issues keeping up with the teenagers. I left for my trek on July 10th, and I hiked over 80 miles through the mountains and climbed several peaks over 11,000 feet. I enjoyed every day of the trek and never felt like I wouldn’t make it through. During the tough climbs and long hikes, I would tell myself “this is just another WOD.” I could hear my fellow members cheering me on as they had so many times when I was the last to finish a tough workout. I would hear the words of encouragement from my coaches, which were sometimes positive and sometimes negative depending on how hard they knew I was pushing it, or whether or not they had their coffee yet.

Yes, the physical changes CrossFit gave me made the hike something I could enjoy rather than regret. More importantly, though, were all of the daily lessons I had learned from my fellow 9’ers. There are too many to name, but my 7 a.m. class knows – these people don’t use the words “can’t” or “quit”, there is only “do.” They show up ready to get physically exhausted and have a smile and a high-five to share afterward. The culture at Crossfit9 gave me much more than the physical challenges did; learning to keep going long after my mind is telling me to rest, encouraging others, and making progress rather than excuses. It’s these lessons that I am most grateful for.

Chris Shell

Age 44

Let’s Do This!