I wanted to take a minute to share my garage gym with you and, if you think it’s valuable to them, the rest of the CFFB community.

MAking it work #1

A little background first – I’m 29 years old and I’ve been in the CrossFit & CrossFit Football community for about a year. I was a mediocre high school athlete at a tiny high school in Metro-Detroit. In college (Michigan Technological University) I met some varsity athletes, as well as a number of athletes who had graduated from larger, more competitive high school programs. It was that group of people who inspired me to pursue fitness.

I spent the next several years dabbling in typical bodybuilding programs with mixed results. Fast-forward to 2010, and I had fallen out of any meaningful fitness routine due to the typical lack of results and boredom associated with working out in a globo-gym environment. My wife urged me to get back into it, and I set my mind on achieving “all-around” fitness. I wanted to be able to run for a reasonable distance, but also be respectably strong, all while maintaining good health (physique, body composition, etc.).

I set out to design a program for myself that mixed the best and most effective elements of all of my previous training – namely compound heavy lifts and sprint intervals, with a sprinkling of assistance exercises and longer distance (5k) runs. In order to track and assess my progress, I started researching benchmark workouts. I found things like the military and law enforcement physical fitness tests, the NFL combine and the Men’s Health 300 workout (as inspired by Mark Twight/Gym Jones). From there I discovered CrossFit, and was specifically inspired by Greg Glassman’s “What is Fitness?” article.

I must admit, I drank the Kool-Aid.

In 2011 my wife and I attended the Arnold Sports Festival where I competed in the Pump & Run event. Our first in-person experience with CrossFit occurred at the Arnold where we witnessed Graham Holmberg, Mikko Salo, Jason Khalipa, Rob Orlando and a number of other top CrossFitters doing workouts right in front of us. We were struck by two things: first, the incredible capacity of these athletes, and second, the stark contrast between the “typical” fitness culture and the CrossFit culture. Walking from the Expo Hall (crammed full of all the Gordons seeking out the latest supplements) to the CrossFit arena (sparsely populated with healthy-looking individuals calmly rolling out or snacking on fruits, vegetables and jerky) was quite the “Eureka!” moment for us.

A few weeks after the Arnold, my wife and I stopped in at the local CrossFit box and signed up for the unlimited membership. Given my enthusiasm and studious approach, I was encouraged by the owner to go get my CFL1. I received my CFL1 in October 2011 with Joe DeGain, Rob Miller, Denise Thomas and Chuck Carswell. It was a great experience, and they were great instructors.

After studying the CrossFit materials for some time, and comparing that to a large body of other fitness knowledge (Mark Rippetoe, Louie Simmons, Prilepin, Mike Boyle, Tudor Bompa, Poliquin, Greg Everett, Robb Wolf, John Sheaffer, Justin Lascek, etc.), I approached the owner and head coach at the box to discuss a number of topics, among them safety, effective programming and athletic progression for various states of development (novice, amateur, intermediate, experienced). I went in expecting a welcoming discussion around “broad, general and inclusive fitness,” and instead received a “narrow, specific and exclusive” response. I was disappointed to say the least (especially considering that the guy has his CFFB Certification and proudly displays a photo of himself with you from that cert).

Dejected, I set out to find a way to pursue my fitness goals as best I could outside the local box. What I arrived upon was that there were two publicly available programs that could help: CrossFit Football and Rudy Nielson’s Outlaw Doctrine. Both programs fit very well with what I picked up from Rip, Louie, et. al. and neither strays far from the positive aspects of the CrossFit community. I now follow CFFB because my goals align more closely with CFFB than Outlaw, and because I suck at Olympic Weightlifting.

This was more than just a reaction to having a bad experience at a CrossFit box; CrossFit Football just made more sense.

To facilitate this, I’ve put together a fully functional CFFB garage gym. The amazing thing (IMHO) is that I’ve managed to fit it all into a 115 square foot (11’ x 10’ 6”) space in my 1-car garage. I also store a rolling toolbox, 4 bicycles, 2 motorcycles and some typical garage stuff in there. I know some people struggle with finding a place to work out, so I thought this might be useful or inspiring to those who might have a small space at home and can only afford a small stipend with which to buy equipment.

I’ve attached a picture (labeled and un-labeled), and here’s a list of the equipment that I’m working with. I’ve got a good mix of purchased and homemade equipment.

Making it work #2

PowerLine Squat Stands (modified to include spotter/safety bars)
Rogue Barbell
Unknown barbell and EZ Curl Bar bought on Craigslist
160 lbs Bumper plates (Pendlay)
375 lbs of iron plates (Craigslist)Dumbell handles with 100 lbs of standard platesKettlebells (35, 45, 55 and 70 lbs)
Refurbished Weider flat bench
Pull Up bar
Dip Bars
3-way Plyo Box (20”, 24”, 30”)
Weight Belt (for weighted pull ups and dips; sled drags)
Jump Rope
Medicine balls (20 lb and 15 lb)
Evil Wheel
Truck Tire with tow straps for sled drags (not pictured)
iPad (with timer apps) and PC speakers

Feel free to share all or part of this (on TTMJ or, including the pictures if you think it might add value to the CFFB community. I also wanted to say “THANK YOU!” for providing such a great resource and for free, no less!!