In 1983 I enlisted in the Army and I took notice of the physical fitness requirements needed to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test. It was during my time in the military that I learned the importance of physical fitness preparedness, especially in the role of a soldier.
After I left active duty in the Army I continued my service in the Army reserves. Back home in New York I joined a gym with my best friend and my bodybuilding, or what we simply called working out, era began. My goal at that point of my fitness path was to get as big and strong as I could. My friend and I did our best, training hard 5 days a week and eating just as big. I went from 155 lbs to 210 lbs in about 14 months. Big and strong yes, but fit, maybe not so much.
In 1990 I was fortunate enough to begin a career I always wanted. I was hired by the NYPD and entered the police academy as a recruit. There we trained every day in the P.A. gym performing physical training, calisthenics, running everyday along with rigorous tactics classes. Upon graduation I was assigned to the public housing projects in some of the most violent areas of NYC. During my time as a patrol officer I learned quickly the importance of being fit! During my time on patrol I changed my personal training to keep pace with the demands of my profession. No more classic bodybuilding. I concentrated on keeping strong and incorporated different forms of cardio training.
In 2000 I was promoted to Sergeant and remained on patrol until 2003. In 2003 I applied to and became a physical training and tactics instructor in the Police Academy, exactly where my career started as a recruit. It was there where I became passionate about training others, especially in regards to physical fitness. It was there I would attempt to teach recruits the importance of being physically prepared for their profession. I would let them know from day one when they entered my gym floor they gave up the right to be out of shape, and that their real test awaited them out on the streets of NYC. It was my job to prepare these recruits to become first responders for the citizens of NYC, which meant the recruits also had to pass the NYPD physical fitness requirements. Trust me, not all the recruits came into the Police Academy in good physical condition, (similar to many people who enter a CrossFit gym for the first time.)
As my time went on in the Academy, our physical training and testing requirements changed to what was labeled as job specific tasks. It was during this time I began to search for a more efficient way to better train our recruits who were failing their physical fitness requirements. I began using this thing called a computer and found an information highway called the internet. I know, hard to believe. It was on this internet thing I came across some videos where people were doing these crazy workouts, workouts I have never seen before. I was so intrigued. I wanted to know more!
I found this workout program called CrossFit and I began reading articles written by this man, Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit. The more I read, the more I learned and I began implementing his fitness methodology into my own training and then began using it on our recruits who were currently failing our fitness requirements. Now CrossFit was still in its infancy and the barbell movements being performed were movements I have never seen before in any of the gyms I trained in. I learned that it was not necessarily the barbell movements that mattered but the methodology, that’s where the magic was.
Enter the beginning of my functional fitness. I kept learning what I could, I couldn’t get enough and I was using what I could with our recruits along with my own training. I believed that these functional movements performed at high intensity would carry over to real world fitness and better prepare the recruit officers I was training as first responders.
In 2011 I retired from the NYPD and I moved to Cape Coral, Florida, but I still had a desire to train and help others become more fit and healthy. I was already certified as a personal trainer. I took a job as a trainer at a local gym about two weeks after I moved to Florida. That’s where first implemented my years of training and teaching along with CrossFit’s methods of weightlifting, gymnastics movements, cardiovascular training and nutritional principles to enhance the quality of life for my clients.
All this time I was doing all this on my own, but I had not yet stepped foot into a real CrossFit gym. On October 8th 2012, I joined my first CrossFit gym and performed my first CrossFit WOD, and I yes it was just like every other person’s first day, it sucked. And yes, I went back the next day. It was during my time at this CrossFit gym I met a coach by the name of Abba. I also met some guys named Nick, Shanen, and some big loud guy named Charlie. Fast forward to January of 2014 and I was brought on as a coach to what is now CrossFit Cape Coral, working for Abba and coaching with Nick and Shanen.
Our first location was where friendships were formed and this young man named Nick who was nearing the end of his enlistment in the Army tells me in the gym one day that he knows what he finally wants to do with his life. “This” he tells me “I want to do this.” Well the “this” is CrossFit. I think we all know how that has gone.
This has been my personal path to CrossFit. It started as a senior in high school who enlisted in the Army and brought me all the way to a place called CrossFit Cape Coral in sunny Florida.
Jym Meers is an Army veteran, retired NYPD Police Sergeant, Security Specialist at North Fort Myers High School, and CF-L2 Coach at CrossFit Cape Coral.
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