Coach Sven's story
Every once in a while you need to take a look at the past, compare it to your current position and set new goals to help you back on your quest called life. Where do you want to go and what does it take to get there? When there is a bumb in the road, you scale down, do what is necessary and take a little detour so you can get back on track. You need to be ready for all kind of situations and that is why Crossfit is so important to a lot of us. But sometimes a rare opportunity comes along and you need to make a split decision that will effect the rest of your life.
Three years ago, a friend of mine, Cassim, invited me to come over and train at a little club called Sixforty. I was introduced to a guy who, I thought at the time, was called Joris. The Sixforty club was located in a sort of school gym that reminded me of my high school days which i tried to avoid as much as possible. So this Joris guy took us outside for a workout and started a basic warming up.
Now you have to understand that my overall fitness at the time was, well let’s just call it as it was, horrible. My overall weight was a 100 kg and since i left the military in 2006, i spent my days working, gaming and partying. Especially the gaming and partying was something i was very good at. At one moment in time, my friends gave me the nickname “the Beer Tender”. My closest attempt to a run was getting to the bar to order drinks. Thinking about it now, i don't think i ever knew a different kind of bar. If i would have a talk with my old me, i would have a hard time explaining what a barbell is.
Although beer tending was my specialty, i can tell you, pushups were not, and during my first workout it came very obvious to me, this workout thing with Joris (who everybody called G?) was going to be a one timer. So after the workout i politely gave Joris a hand and thanked him for a nice workout, got home, fired up my playstation, drank my captain Morgan diet coke and grabbed a bowl of chocolate flavored peanuts. Next morning people asked me why i was walking like i had the biggest case of hemorrhoids ever, why i wasn’t able to pick up my cup of coffee and kept on coughing while i was smoking. I told them of my horrible experience and my fear of this getting in the way of my big planned party for the upcoming weekend.
On Monday, after my big party weekend, i reflected back on how i was walking, "dancing" and feeling like a rusty robot who had the worst case of hemorrhoids ever. I talked to Cassim and he urged me to give it another shot and try it out for a while. So i calculated what was the cheapest alternative for me, and decided to go for a punchcard and combine the whole workout thing with some running in my own time. That week i contacted Vivienne and told her i wanted a punchcard and she told me i could drop by next week on a Tuesday for my next session.
One week later, on a Tuesday, i told my friends i was going to skip our daily GTA5 session to do a workout. I promised them i would be back on time for the Call of Duty session later that night. After i arrived at the gym, Vivienne told me i was in luck and was going to get a P.T. Not realizing what this meant, i bravely walked into the the classroom and was surprised that there we’re no other people around for the workout, accept those who came in for the kickboxing class. I was told to join the kickboxing group for the warming up and boy, did i get a warming up. After almost dying for 15 minutes, i was told to get back to Joris who explained me i was the only one in class. Suddenly it hit me and i realized that it was going to be up close and personal…
I’m not going into details about the workout, but i would mark this one as my first. I can still remember that workout in detail. The continuous smiling face of my personal trainer, who clearly enjoyed my suffering. Filled with hate i finished my workout, crawled home and went straight to bed. Next day was even worse than last time and promised myself it was only going to be once a week.
As time progressed, i slowly raised the frequency of my training sessions and convinced Linda into trying out a session with me. If i was going to suffer, i surely wasn't going to do so alone... She probably had the same experience as i did, if not worse and she also started out with a punchcard. As Sixforty moved to a new location and slowly grew into Sixforty Crossfit Wildhearts, we all grew with them. Not only our overall fitness but also our love for the gym was growing steadily. I was seeing what they were trying to achieve and how much effort it took to realize it. I was spending more time at the gym than at home, so i decided to pitch in and offer an helping hand where i could.
I was learning so many new things and had so many new goals to achieve. It was like i was a dried up sponge and Crossfit was the water i needed. It probably was so obvious to Georgios that he threw bucket loads of this Crossfit water in my face. At one moment, during an early morning bench press session, he planted a little seed in my head, and asked me if i ever looked into the Crossfit level one course. What? Me? Standing in front of a group and leading a class? NO WAY! I'm just fine the way i am...
A couple of months later, one year after I started out at the gym, me and some others decided that we were going to try to get our level one, so we could offer a helping hand. Doing the level one course got me super excited about Crossfit and for the first time in a long while i got nervous about passing an exam. Two nervous weeks later i got an email with the message i passed the exam. I was relieved and at the same time i got even more nervous, because i knew what would come up next. Shortly after, Georgios came up to discuss the next step: Leading a class.
For those of you who were there on that special evening, during my first class, the skill wod, i thank you from the bottom of my heart not mentioning this to anyone. I still get daily reminders of our lovely head coach about that night…
Let’s go back to my high school period. Like i mentioned before, i was not a big fan of the gym. But there was one thing i hated more than those weekly gym hours. Something that made me so nervous that i would get sick from it. Something that haunts me to this day. Talking before a big group and having all eyes on me. Stage fright. And to make thing a little worse, my entire youth i had mayor issues with performance anxiety. In high school i needed some serious counseling for those issues. Of course at that time i covered it up with a tough performance, skipped a year and switched schools. I literally had to scale high school down just so i could make it and didn't had to worry about it.
After my face plant during the skill wod, i was determined to improve my first attempt. Making notes and looking at the others i felt quite good about my next attempt, but again, i failed miserably. It was going to be a long road. Slowly but steady, with ups and downs and with help from all the Wildhearts, i started getting more comfortable in front of the group. As Georgios kept on pushing me i started to fill my backpack with experience. Like a lot of you probably noticed, we slowly raised my teaching frequency.
One year ago, Linda, Vivienne, Georgios and myself were on our way to a dinner at Little V. While walking past the Pannenkoekenstraat and between the high buildings near the Blaak, we were wondering about the future and thinking of things to come. At one moment Georgios asked me where i would see myself in one year. As i was trying to answer his question, i thought of all things that happened in the past two years. Keep in mind, i was just starting to teach classes and i was not feeling comfortable about my progress at all. But i was determined to turn this into something good. I found a sport, met beautiful people, made loads of new friends, had tons of new goals and achieved so many new things. It kinda sounds like a cliché, but Crossfit literally changed my life. So i decided to raise the bar and answered...
Sometimes, in front of a class, i see all your eager eyes while i explain a workout, ready to attack a wod or set a new pr. Eyes of people who i've seen walking through the door for the first time, a bit awkward, nervous and sometimes afraid. I've seen people change, feeling confident and good about themselves. I look at everyone of you, see where you come from, know what you are capable of and are going to achieve. Some will do it fast and some of you will take a little bit more time, but all of you will keep raising the bar in search of your best you. As the never ending search for the best me keeps on going, i realize that all of you guys are part of that journey. Everyone of you had an influence that led me to this point and made me who i am today and wil become in the future. Something i am greatful for every single day. For this reason it is my goal to help all of you achieve yours, so you can inspire others to do the same.
In the past three years i learned that if you set your mind to something, stay focussed and keep your eyes on the task that is in front of you, you can accomplish anything you want.
So my answer to Georgios was:
"Next year i see myself quitting my job and starting as a full time coach working for Sixforty."
And so this brings me back to the present. When i returned from my Canada trip last June, Georgios and Vivienne sat me down at the bar and made me an offer i could not resist. So i went to work and told my boss that after 14,5 years of working for the government, starting from a military police officer and now as a law enforcement officer/ prison guard, i am quitting my job so i can become a fulltime Crossfit Coach.
I would like to thank all the Wildhearts for there patience and support in my development as a Crossfit Coach. Also Vivienne and Georgios who gave me this opportunity. We've become so more than just Crossfit buddies. And of course Linda, who helped me realising this in the first place. She sacrified a lot so i could follow my dream and kept on supporting me in the gym and at home.