“Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain—your life will never be the same.” – Catherine Jones

Returning to fitness post partum was important to me. I trained all the way through my pregnancy until the evening before Molly arrived. With the help of the coaches at CrossFit 353, I modified a lot of exercises early in the pregnancy and removed elements such as pull ups, skipping & lunges pretty early. (I had SPD so this decision was quite easy). I removed other movements such as burpees, cleans and any form of handstand from the start as I just wasn’t comfortable performing them. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with those movements during pregnancy, they just didn’t feel right for me and my body.

I guess I’d be quite conservative by nature. I was quietly cautious from the start and the 353 coaches were extremely supportive of this. I continued with normal class and they helped me to modify as much or as little as I needed. In fairness to them, pregnant or not they do this for people every day to make sure every individual is safe, comfortable and getting away with any easy workouts!

Training during pregnancy seems an eternity ago now. I’m back moving and will talk a bit about my post partum journey. During my pregnancy I had all these notions of getting straight back to where I left off “pre-bump“. Anyway I’d have so much free time on my mat leave (yeah right) so I could train as much as I wanted and learn new skills that I’d never managed to master…I pretty much thought I’d be heading to the CrossFit Games 2020! I think McQuaid is safe for now. Needless to say this carefree, floating, zen like picture of early motherhood was…somewhat inaccurate. Along with my notions of Molly sleeping through the night, feeding herself a bottle and maybe a nappy or two here & there my training & fitness habits had to adjust also.

My Obstetrician signed me off to resume training at my 6 week check up. So off Molly and I went to start back with some very light training in Crossfit 353.

I found those first 6 weeks hard to not do any exercise. The hours of sitting / lying down for cluster feeds, plus picking Molly up and down from the co-sleeper all night meant that I was getting stiff and niggly so I was delighted to get back to some movement.

For the first few months I did Personal Training at 353 as I was still very unsure of my body and what it was capable of. We focused on gentle movements (bodyweight mainly at the start) and started to rebuild my confidence (& core) I only did what I felt comfortable with. I had to temper my enthusiasm  and slowly rebuild and the muscles that I had lost during pregnancy. It’s important to bear in mind how loose your ligaments are post birth and that you’re still grappling with tumultuous hormones and sleep deprivation every day! It was a fantastic hour of the day where I could do something for myself (with Molly cheering me on) and get the endorphines that had been missing from exercise for so long. I noticed genuine improvements in mood, sleep, stress & body composition. I also found myself craving less sugar and recapturing motivation to regain my figure. All from a bit of exercise!

Everything was great….until the 4 month mark that is. Molly hit a sleep regression (I didn’t know you could regress from newborn but there ya have it..!), and we started her on solids. I hit a bit of a mental block and spent a good month stuck in the house, playing games, making purées and cleaning…I thought I was totally back to square one. Peter persuaded me that for everyone’s sake I needed to start doing little things for myself and an easy start to that was trying to get back to the gym 2-3 times a week. Peter works one on one with his Dad a few times a week so I started joining these sessions. A few pals were asking about the training. That’s when 353 launched MomFit. The coaches could see first hand how important it was for my mental and physical well-being to get to the gym and like all things in motherhood…others were experiencing similar. What we didn’t know was how good it would be for Molly too.

The classes are all coach led, and everything can be modified. So there are moms who are 6weeks post partum and others who are 6 months. We all do the same movements but scaled differently depending on where you are in your personal journey back to fitness. We take lots of breaks for cuddles, toy re-stocks and mom chats too and poor Coach Shane has probably heard more than he ever needed about birth and babies!

I’m still a long way from where I was pre-baby but my approach to fitness has completely changed. I train now for function and to avoid sore backs and niggles. I want to be a fit and strong mom and to be able to roll around on the floor with Molly, throw her up and down and pick her out of the cot with ease! I’m not training so that I can do a handstand walk or a pull up anymore… I’m doing it to be the best mom I can, to set a good example for our daughter and to get my body strong again for another pregnancy one day (please god) and this is the first baby step on that journey!

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” – Oprah

As the saying goes.. monkey see monkey do.. we want Molly to grow up seeing how healthy and fun exercise is. We want her to be curious about training and comfortable and confident with groups of people. The important thing isn’t about CrossFit or Personal Training or Yoga. I think it’s about finding something healthy that works for you. We all put a lot of pressure on ourselves and it’s ok to spend an hour here and there on ourselves – whether thats the gym, or going for a burrito with a pal 😉 The better we look after ourselves the better we can look after others.   – Grace





There were times in my early 20’s when I would cry in my room for no reason at all. I had zero awareness of my mental health. I felt guilty as I knew there were others worse off than me but I couldn’t control it. I didn’t understand why I felt that way and how to fix it. Why are we afraid of the monsters lurking under our bed? Do we fear what other will think? We seldom talk about them often pretending they don’t exist. Some view their  recognition as weakness.

 I recently completed a Strongfit seminar with Julien Pineau. It is incomparably the most impactful piece of learning I have ever participated in during my 28 years. The strange part was it didn’t really hit me until I was on the plane home. I unearthed some challenging personal questions over the weekend. Through the course a lot of these were answered. The course also bonded several of our coaching philosophies with one overriding theme. It was truly amazing. A considerable part of the course was the connection between mental health and exercise, The effect exercise has on our mental state and nervous system and how they’re inextricably linked.


I train to make myself feel good both mentally and physically. I think a lot of people start training or doing CrossFit for a specific goal or outcome such as a holiday or a wedding. Often that focus (consciously or otherwise) shifts from the outcome (bikini) towards chasing that positive feeling. We chase that endorphin and serotonin release (the happy hormones).

We train because it’s good for us, it keeps us healthy but also it keeps the mind fresh and strong. Now I train to help my mental health. This is something I have struggled with for a long time. I was embarrassed by my poor mental health and pretended that I was perfectly ok.

The more I evolve as a human I realise the importance of working on your mental health. The importance of actively battling against your monsters in anyway we can. I am not a medical professional but I can offer myself to others to simply listen and to help them both inside and outside the gym. I genuinely care about helping people. It is my passion. It’s what I will do for the rest of my life. I recognise my struggle in others and want to extend my hand in help. If we can be the catalyst for a positive change for someone then we have achieved our goal. But we can only begin helping people if we are ok with helping ourselves. The first step to helping ourselves is to realise something is off.


It’s vital to talk about our monsters. Even if we don’t think they are a big deal. I still find it tough to talk about all things mental health. I tend to use exercise and WODs to beat myself up. To almost punish myself into feeling good. I’m slowly trying to teach myself to love myself when I train.This was evident in a workout on the StrongFit course. It was a sandbag carry for max distance. When you cant walk it any further, find something inside to hold on and keep going. When you drop the bag then you’ve got to walk all the way back. I got pretty emotional during realising anytime I dropped the bag, I never thought I wasn’t going to do it, but I used self hate to get me to pick it up again. “Pick it up you piece of shit” “Don’t stop moving you fat fuck”. It wasn’t till the next day I realised that a lot of my motivation when working out is self hate. Punishing myself for any bad done, any negative feelings. It was a crazy experience. What was even more that I spent a week thinking about it to the point I did it again. I was scared that I use this self hate so made a pact with myself to be one with myself and accept myself. I carried the bag 1k unbroken all through positive talk and breathing. Focusing on myself and that im not perfect but hey, who is. Training doesn’t have to be a negative experience. We don’t have to suffer in misery, anxiety & pain to achieve some endorphins. Have you ever finished a workout & only focused on the negative? “Ah I could have done better there, or I missed that”  Training can be such a positive experience especially when we can make the connection between that and mental health. The ‘money’ is in recognising this through the workout not just afterwards when rushed with the happy hormones.


The realisation that exercise can have such a transformative impact on your mental health (& life) has really changed my outlook on training, coaching, management & relationships. I have started to focus more on how I feel rather than the outcome. Worrying less about my times/numbers and more on being in tune with my body. Feeling my blood flowing, my heart rate increasing, my muscles burning.

This evolving understanding has also catapulted my coaching. The coaching profession is truly magical. It’s difficult to put into words. Connecting and helping others through challenge when vulnerable is so special. The endorphins we all get from exercise I also get from coaching. It’s addictive. Becoming a coach and investing in my craft has helped me immeasurably as a person. I’m so grateful to have found this walk of life. I don’t know where I’d be without CrossFit 353. I’d bet my monsters would still be winning the battle & influencing my self talk. I’m not sure the monsters ever fully go away. Now when they re-emerge I try to face them head on. This is an ongoing struggle. I find it tough to balance life and everything it throws at me but i’m recognising my frailties, working to improve them & being honest with myself. I think if we can recognise it then we are on the right path. I ain’t perfect, i never will be, but I’m going to keep battling the monsters head on. Sometimes I love other people more than myself. I now know I’ll be able to have a deeper and more meaningful impact on others if I can first love myself. I suppose that’s what life is, that constant battle against yourself. The old saying “you vs you” couldn’t be more apt.

I’ve been truly blessed with the people in my life, I don’t always show my appreciation but I do love you all. From my family to the incredible tribe of 353, you have all helped me in ways you will never know over the past 6 years. You have given me the most unique opportunity in the world to be on the front line helping people everyday. Having the smallest positive impact on someones day. Building relationships and making connections. For that I will be eternally grateful.

If you too have monsters and are in the trenches, give me a shout! I’m always around to grab a beer or a coffee, just reach out and i’ll be there. Try and remember we are all battling. The more we can show love & compassion to each other the better this world can be. No one is perfect, we all fuck up, recognise your mistake, own it, and move on. We can get through anything together and remember there is always someone who cares and that is willing to listen.

As always

Peace and Love

Coach Gaz x



Almost a decade ago I was working in a job I didn’t like. I wasn’t very good at it and I wasn’t very happy. Roll it forward to present day and although there have been many bumps along the way, now I enjoy coming to work. Of course working in the fitness industry has some obvious benefits…from slipping into your lulu’s on Monday mornings to spending most of your day not behind a screen. But the primary reward for me, is the opportunity to help others. Trying to help others can make us feel good about ourselves. Narcissistic…? Maybe, but we leave work everyday thankful, knowing that we’ve achieved something important.

CrossFit 353 represents a small sanctuary or hideaway in the heart of leafy Dublin 4. Those that attend soon recognise that the aesthetic goals and improvements in performance are a by product of regularly turning up, having fun and hitting refresh from the stresses and strains of daily life. All classes are lead by qualified coaches. We’re incredibly proud of the coaching team here at CrossFit 353 and invest heavily in this area. We run a dynamic & challenging coaching development program & believe we are on the way to developing some of the best in the business. Our focus isn’t on who can lift the heaviest, run the fastest or shout the loudest. We challenge our coaches to communicate effectively, connect with members and help them feel safe. To give confidence to our members and to deliver on that trust. Trust is earned from investing time and effort in individuals. This is impossible / transparent unless you really care about helping them.

The majority of what we do at CrossFit 353 is class based group training. The social benefits of training with others of different ages, backgrounds and nationalities are considerable. Importantly we are also device free here when on the floor. For some this may represent the only hour of the day away from their smartphone and encourages good old fashioned conversation.

Over the last few months we’ve noticed a significant pick up in Personal Training here at our Bath Avenue base. But which is better… Personal Training or CrossFit? I guess like all things; it depends. Let me use my dad Gerry who has recently started some Personal Training with us here at 353 as an example. Gerry is 65 next month and hadn’t set foot in a gym in the last 64 and a half years. Dad has changed nothing else in his lifestyle other than coming in and training twice a week. The difference in the space of 2 months has been encouraging.  Weight-loss, mobility, cardiovascular & respiratory markers are all moving in the right direction and he is now actively driving the training. It almost seems like he’s enjoying it! Could he do a CrossFit class, sure. But maybe for those later to fitness some one on one attention might be the best place to start. Others prefer the intimacy and focus of one on one training. Again this comes down to the individual. In essence what’s most important is that we’re training regularly. As a wise man once said; “use it or lose it”. And it’s definitely never too late.



Marc Anthony said “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I pretty sure we’re working here but we’re definitely enjoying the journey. The fact we can help others mental and physical wellbeing along the way is the greatest reward. Often a “high 5” or “well done” can go a lot further than we know. Maybe someone is living away from home, in a new city and may not receive any affection or physical contact day to day. The importance of a small gesture or caring word can consciously or otherwise help that individual feel valued.

If perhaps you find yourself in a rut or feeling a bit down in the dumps now & again why not try do something good for another. Give blood  (contact coach Siobhan about doing this with the gym soon) ? Carry the shopping for an elderly neighbour? Give up your seat on the bus? Or maybe just give the Ma a call! Who knows you might even feel better for it!

Best, Peter


Is CrossFit the best training out there?


I believe so. If programmed sensibly and delivered with compassion, there is no reason why we cannot CrossFit several times weekly for the rest of our lives.

– But what’s different and special about CrossFit?  

  1. 1.  The Journey is the destination:

A lot of us began training with an aesthetic or performance goal. To get bigger or smaller, fitter or faster, maybe more attractive and (hopefully) desirable. There is nothing wrong 

with channeling this motivation for change. Let’s assume we reach our desired end goals…what then? With CrossFit this doesn’t happen. As CrossFit is a sport, we focus on learning new skills, improving movements and becoming accustomed to our own body and what works for us. Accordingly the visual transformations are often a by product of improving at the sport rather than crunching our way to oblivion for the perfect bikini insta on hols. With CrossFit there is no end goal. Accordingly we can be present and enjoy the process of training and meeting new people in a positive environment – every day.

2. True Love: giving people what they need vs. what they want:

We do one thing @353, we have one membership and one program that every member follows. We program for longevity, safety and happiness. Is this the sexiest, most exciting “insta-worthy” programming in the world? Probably not. Will you be unrecognisably fitter in 10 years from now if you train with us. I believe so. We add value to our members by helping them get leaner, more flexible, and, slowly but surely stronger. The emphasis is on our physical & mental development. This is achieved by following a low trajectory to a distant horizon*

3. Pressure is a privilege:

Life’s tough. So is training. But who wants an easy life? When we complete a challenge the brain rewards us with a little dopamine hit. If we earn this dopamine in the gym/work/home then all good. If we’re getting these hits from social media likes…not so good (read more on this here). We put our members under physical and mental stress by design. Once moderated carefully we learn to manage relative pressure, perform under stress and come out the other side feeling great. It might seem like a stretch but this practice performed regularly is uniquely transferable to everyday  life. When faced with an obstacle will I complain or get the head down and solve it?



4. Application to the stimulus:

CrossFit is amazing because it truly is for all people. If you’re super heavy & strong you’re probably better at strength training. Conversely if you’re light and lean you cardio could be your jam. If it doesn’t

challenge you, it won’t change you. With CrossFit we cannot cherry pick. We hit all movements every 10 days so if you’re overweight it’ll likely get you losing some timber. If you’re underweight the increased activity will require more calories to fuel which should normalise our bodyweight closer to a healthier level. Sometimes people prefer to X vs Y which is ok. However if we can apply a growth mindset to the stimulus and trust that the coaches are there to help your long term physical & mental health you won’t go wrong. As Jack Sparrow once said; “The problem is not the problem. Your attitude towards the problem is the problem”. In other words the stimulus is only as good as our application to said stimulus. Trust us-we’re here to help!

5. We’re not trying to be Pro-Athletes:

Many professional athletes have carefully designed nutrition programs. They have access to medical, physio, massage on a daily basis. They get paid to train, eat, sleep but most impactful: recover. We cannot or should not try emulate their training. Ask yourself: Why do I train? I know for me its mental first and physical second. Training is like therapy. It levels me out, reduces stress and helps me feel good about myself. If you’re not a pro athlete, is trying to train like a pro athlete a long term investment in your wellbeing? Who are you? What are your goals? And Why? If we dig into these questions honestly, I think we can find a training environment that suits our needs.

If you’re interested you can check out the broad guidelines on how we design classes here at CrossFit 353.

You can see our Programming Principles outlined below:

Look after yourself,



*Ben Bergeron piece.

My Journey from CrossFit to a broken shoulder and back.

–  Paula Downes

A bit about my injury: 6 years ago, I fell off my bike and broke my right shoulder. A metal plate and 9 screws were put in to stick the bone back together. It hurt, a lot.

I spent 3 months in a sling, and about 6 months attending painful physio, often twice a week. After all of that, the physio gave up and told me that the range of motion I had (~70%), would be the best I’ll get and I’d have to live with having a weak arm. That wasn’t good enough as far as I was concerned!

A year after my original surgery, I joined a Crossfit gym. One of my first workouts included wall balls, I was angry with myself at how easily everyone was throwing so high when I couldn’t even lift it over my head. I worked closely with coaches, did extra mobility at home and gradually introduced overhead movements with light weights and/or lower reps. It was a frustratingly slow process but within a year I regained 100% range of motion, I could do strict pull ups and I’m still very proud of my 2x30kg OH squats in Open event 14.2.

Thats me attempting some wall balls on the left
2 reps in 14.2
A 40kg Thruster

The metal plate was irritating my arm, and giving me some pain and minor restrictions so my surgeon thought it would be best to take it out, the bone had healed well so we expected no complications, surgery and recovery went really well and I was back using my arm within 6 weeks.

Post surgery bruising
The plate & screws (I kept them!)

After a while my shoulder strength sort of plateaued. I could do weighted pull ups with relative ease and manage some legless rope climbs, but push ups were super difficult and caused me pain afterwards… My anterior deltoid (the muscle at the front of your shoulder responsible for pushing movements) was visibly atrophied (wasted) and not getting better, so a physio I was attending suggested getting a nerve conduction test done. This involved sticking needles into different parts of my shoulder and sending an electric current through it. The nerve for my deltoid gave no reaction whatsoever, and the conclusion was that I had irreversible nerve damage. Yay.

I’ve had to re-evaluate how I would approach the gym. This injury is for life, I’ll never do a 50kg jerk again, push ups will always be a killer, overhead squats and double unders just mean pain (not the good kind). Quitting Crossfit was not an option. I considered it, and took some time off, but I love it too much – Crossfit changed my life (a story for another day) and I wasn’t willing to quit – still amn’t!

Recently I discovered I have a torn rotator cuff in the same shoulder, probably an unnoticed side effect from the original injury that gradually got worse. I’m working on getting that fixed at the moment… but still training.

Some things I’ve learned over my 5 years Crossfitting with an injury that I hope will help others:

Injuries don’t mean you can’t go to the gym. With most injuries there is still something you can do! Talk to the coaches, I have yet to meet a coach who isn’t willing to modify a workout to accommodate an injury, they tend to get creative which is fun. For me, this usually means extra lunges or squats but the silver lining is I’ll get super swole legs!!

You probably can’t train every day, and that’s ok. I learned this the hard way. If one body part is injured, you’ll be putting extra pressure on another part. For me, my legs take the brunt – and doing leg day 6 days a week isn’t realistic (for most people). Even if you go to the gym 3 times a week, you’re still doing better than most of the population!

Take your time. Do the rehab. Do the annoying, boring accessory exercises & stretches. Gradually re-introduce movements and stop if you have pain. Recovery shouldn’t be taken lightly, I can’t stress how important this is. You’re in this body for the long term, you only get one spine. Get a plan together with some goals, it’ll help! I gave myself a year to get one strict pull up, and then I didn’t allow myself to start learning to kip until I was able to do six consecutive strict. Be patient!!

Perspective is important: we want to be healthy when we’re older, avoid the nursing homes and osteoporosis – I can still do that without hitting big snatch PRs!


It’s frustrating, but you need to get over it (I’m still terrible at this). The Open is easily the worst for me. Watching folks get their first ring muscle ups or HSPU, congratulating them, being happy for them but knowing you might not even have the option to try it. Its really difficult, and there’s no easy solution. Concentrate on your own goals, little wins become huge wins when you’re injured, and they can be extremely rewarding because you know you had to work that little bit harder to get it!

I guess the main point of this post is to mention that injury is not the end of the world, if you’re smart about it you can recover well, make progress and still have fun!

Still Not Going To The CrossFit Games

“There is only one certainty in life and that is we are all going to die”

Another year, another amazing 5 weeks, another trip to the CrossFit Regionals (to party) is upon us.

The Open represents an incredible time of year. The Thursday evening nerves, the Friday adrenaline, the Saturday reality check of failing to keep pace with Mat Fraser.


My favourite part…seeing people step outside their comfort zone. They attempt the impossible. They see fear ahead of them and stare straight back. We as a gym had a litany of firsts; First pull up(s), muscle ups, handstand push ups, weight that seemed impossible a few weeks go, floating up like it was nothing. 30kg thruster…ha easy. Deadlift this 60kg 45 times… no problem. Doing a WOD into some lifting? Oh you mean the thing we do once a week at 353? It’s so humbling as a coach to watch people you see every day step into the darkness and embrace it. Not giving up, pushing out every little ounce of energy left in their bodies for that extra rep.

The few weeks following the CrossFit Open are always curious. Murmurs in the shadows of crazy ring things they have seen… and they want them by next week. The lament; “had I just repeated those workouts 5 times I could have got 3 spots higher in the world” The crazy idea that if I train 9 hours a day, twice a day, for the next year i’ll make it to the CrossFit Games!!
We all get a little frustrated that we can’t link 17 muscle ups, that bloody Annie Thorisdottir has beaten us…again!


In the excitement of competition we can easily forget why we do what we do. I don’t want to make it to the CrossFit Games. I want to help build 353 to be the best CrossFit gym in the world(Because we already are the best CrossFit Gym in Dublin ;)).

After the Open I briefly thought about training outside class, doing more than the hour a day I do. The thoughts of getting personally programmed to improve my weaknesses. But to what end? I want to develop as a coach, be the best damn coach I can be for the members of 353. I love having the opportunity to train with class every day. Outside of coaching y’all it’s the happiest I am. Throwing down with the lunchtime crew, having the banter, experiencing the finest grass fed filet mignon Ireland has to offer.
Im in this game to live as long as I can. To stay out of a nursing home and kick chronic disease in the dick. Competition is healthy, pushing yourself and going darker than ever before is healthy. Beating Andy Hickey in the Open is healthy. That’s competition and now we go back to training. The speedo season is upon us.

The goal is to get fit, high five some people, turn the music up and have an hour to ourselves…with others. We forget that our injury rate at CrossFit 353 is nominal. If we stay healthy and train often we will get better at snatching, we will get our pull ups, those hspu’s will be there in time. Trust the process, train hard, eat clean, have fun. If we can do this we will get there. As ma boi BB(me and Ben Bergeron are on nickname terms) says “ it has to be a low trajectory to a distant horizon”.



What we learnt from this years open is that we are extremely fit. Maybe not compared to the Sara SigmundsDottir or Noah Olsen (Pete Conlon). But we are so far ahead of the general population its scary. Ben Bergeron (BB) told me that 20% of Americans have a gym membership, and only 0.01% of Americans do CrossFit. We forget how we fit we are, how well we are doing, that we have already taken the right steps towards living to 125 and playing tennis with our great grand kids.

We are here to help you inside but more importantly outside the gym. We have Coach Andy ready to get people sexy and ripped. We have Coach Benjo raring to go with some goal setting. We have Coach Siobhan loose and supple for Saturday night twerk night. We will be fitter next year. We’ll also be healthier. We’ll be happier and we’ll be bloody sexier.

As Mark Manson says “we only have so many fucks to give in life, let’s make sure we give fucks about the right things, don’t waste them on the small irrelevant things. We all have problems so lets make them good problems to have. We don’t have to do things, we get to”

We as coaches love you, we always have your best interest at heart. All we want is for y’all to succeed and we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen. Our goal is to make you better human beings. We will do whatever it takes to keep the train that is 353 moving forward. Get on board because it’s going to be some journey.

Peace and Love
Gaz xxx



A huge shout out to Connor Colson, an incredible young man who wears our core values on his sleeve unawares. His integrity, humility and hunger over the last the last 6 months has been inspiring. He has made it to the next round of qualification in the 16-17 yr old division. This qualifiers are in April and we know the whole gym is behind him. Best of luck brother. Leave it all out there x

CrossFit south dublin

Read into the inner workings of programming and coaching head Gary Featherstone at South Dublin’s premier CrossFit gym, CrossFit 353.

Post workout rest during CrossFit Competition


Here’s what I think, I think…

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Invest time and energy in your mental and physical wellbeing (ideally in a crossfit gym near me)
  • Be kind to others
  • Don’t settle

Growing up Frank was the kid. He was first pick on all the teams and when he played you were likely to win. Victories came thick and fast and soon became the norm for Frank. At 12 he won footballer of the year. Driving home after the final Franks mum said: “that was a great year, you must be very proud of yourself. Well done”. Frank barely noticed, winning came easily to him. A few years later Frank and his teammates lost in the semi final. Driving home after the game Frank’s mum said, “maybe not your best season, what do you think happened?” Frank was less than impressed; he didn’t like losing and was in foul humour with the ma. During his final year Frank and his pals won the cup. Post celebrations Frank’s mum offered, “ That was a great year, you must be very proud of yourself”. Frank shrugged this off – he had always won.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later Frank understood the lesson being taught. In this instance sport represented the ebb and flow of normal life. Day to day we traverse a subconscious emotional midline. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. When we win it is important to try mark, celebrate and be present in the moment. This is a valuable (yet transient) elevation above the midline. We should try and bank these good feelings. Conversely, sometimes things may not go our way. Here we can try reflecting on the banked feelings of the good times. To understand that like the good times this dip too is transient and normality will return.

Who or why?

Soccer aside or (title) I have no issue with competition. I believe competing to be a great learning tool. To quote McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh “Win or Learn”. My query isn’t on the why or the what, but vitally the who. Who are you competing with?

See Casey Neistats greatest ever Vlog.

Casey alludes to this magnificently in this video. Who are you competing with? If Irish Rugby international Garry Ringrose just competed with a centre in Leinster would he be on the cusp of Lions selection for this summers tour? To compete with another or to set tangible external markers of “success” is limiting and ultimately may leave you unhappy. If I achieve X then I will be happy. Insert “six pack”, “Boyfriend”, “200kg Deadlift” where relevant but when you achieve that, what then? Compete to learn about and better yourself. Try not sweat the small stuff. (P.S it’s all small stuff).

I’ve been involved in CrossFit 353 for the last 4 years. For the first three of these years we were concerned with the activity and movements of our competitors. How were Rob and Alex in Navitas programming class? How many members do Rudds and the FFS boys have? It took us a while to appreciate we are not competing with any of these. There isn’t a finite pool of CrossFit customers that we’re fishing from. It’s quite the opposite. The more people deciding to train – the better for us all. Ben Bergeron suggests your most valuable marketing asset as a gym is your current members. Look after your own. If you’re perpetually looking outwards trying to fill the bucket maybe you’ll miss the leak in the bottom?

For me the paradigm of endless (externally focused) competition cannot be healthy. I was in it for a while but exited swiftly…twice.

Where do I get this stuff?

I’m not great for reading (too impatient). Instead I listen to podcasts. I switch them on when driving or doing the chores – to keep me sane through an hour of hoovering / ironing (more ironing than hoovering – our place isn’t very big). One of my favourites is “The Tim Ferriss Show”. Tim is a serial entrepreneur & investor and interviews high performers across all walks of life from Schwarzenegger to Jamie Foxx. Tim is also a ‘life hacker’. He pushes the boundaries of human performance and shares his journey via audio interview. Admittedly I probably started listening to podcasts like this to see if I could glean some competitive advantage in business or life or somewhere… I wasn’t really sure. The more I listen to Ferriss interviewing, the more the same messages ring home loud and true.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Invest time and energy in your mental and physical wellbeing
  • Be kind to others
  • Don’t settle

I listened to a Ted talk on the nuisance of social media. Result: I no longer use personal social media accounts. Since removing myself from Facebook I am genuinely happier. I have greater clarity of thought and am more focused. I am embarrassed at the immediate (but fleeting) gratification I used to get from ‘achieving’ 100 likes on instagram (full disclosure very rarely got above 11 likes). I am embarrassed that I would check various social apps innumerable times daily seeking external validation from effective strangers. Then I’d mindlessly scroll, zombie-like, glazed, consuming nonsense. I’d often do this while driving which is probably the most worrying of all.

At the same time as quitting social media I began writing twice daily in the 5-minute journal. This is a super twice-daily ritual. On rising & before sleep you note a few things you are grateful for, what good things happened today and what could have made today better. It’s not so much the content of what you write, more the process of recognising and practicing gratitude and reflection daily. Almost immediately I became a little bit of a nicer person (not hard when you’re naturally grumpy)  – magically beneficial!

The final podcast is “The Brute Strength Podcast”. This is a coaching & training channel and has some outstanding interviews. My favourite was with Michael Gervais of the Seattle Seahawks. Michael opened the interview with: “The origins of sport were to prepare soldiers for combat in times of no war”. I was hooked immediately! Through this podcast Gervais speaks on the psychological benefits of team sports. Gary, Kevin, Andy, Claire, Royce and I all come from team sport backgrounds. I’d like to think we bring some of the elements of team sport camaraderie onto the floor here in CrossFit 353 .

Undoubtedly sport is special. It’s an incredible vehicle to help discover perhaps life’s most important question for any individual “who am I”? Joking aside – who am I? Am I the beautifully edited images shared on social? Or am I the person cursing at a cyclist in traffic? Or am I trying to do good by others mostly?. Personally I’m trying to address this daily. How can you help others if you’re not comfortable in yourself? My good buddy Gary goes into this more in depth in a recent blog post on CrossFit & Training .

Undoubtedly sport and competing can help us unearth this. The key is to understand that in the end, we are only competing with ourselves. If our goals are to make the team, or to get the job or to win the race – whether you achieve it or not…what then? Are you better or worse for winning or losing? There’s an old adage that goes “it’s about the journey not the destination” and I’d tend to agree. Peace!



Don’t waste your time on jealousy;
Sometimes you’re ahead,
Sometimes You’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

– Baz Luhrmann