A Family Affair


Johnston Family Vacation, CrossFit style!

(Sorry in advance; this one’s a little long.)

The Johnston Family,

We all know how much CrossFit brings people together.  The bonds it creates.  The friendships it forges.  The camaraderie it builds.  It is pretty amazing, really.  As much as I have seen amazing relationships be forged through CrossFit, I have also seen it strengthen the bonds of relationships already in place, such as those between friends, co-workers and couples.  This is especially true of family relationships.

A while back I wrote a post about CrossFit Masters athlete, Bill Johnston, (“A Lion In Winter, Never”), and how amazing the CrossFit Masters athletes really are.  Pillars of wisdom that they are, we can learn a great deal more from our CrossFit Masters athletes than just the knowledge and wisdom they have accrued over time.  Powered by a tenacious work ethic, their continued effort and sacrifice are truly inspirational and exemplify what we are all capable of, should we choose to fight for it.

Bill Johnston and his family have been doing CrossFit for many years.  I started training Billy’s children, Daniel and Laura, back in 2006 & 2007 at their high-school (Aptos High) and later at the old CFHQ (“CrossFit HeadQuarters”).  Shortly after, I was training Billy and his wife, Judy.

Since those first years with the Johnston family children at the old CFHQ, gradually, many within the Johnston family clan started doing CrossFit on their own at locations across the west coast.  Slowly, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, from Santa Cruz to as far North as Oregon, all doing CrossFit.  What started as two high-school basketball players on my friend’s team is now over twenty family members across four Affiliates all doing CrossFit.  Crossfit West Santa Cruz and CrossFit Longevity in Santa Cruz CA, CrossFit 101 in San Jose CA and CrossFit Train in Corvallis, Oregon, all are home to Johnston Family members.

Recently, twenty members of the Johnston family reunited at Antlers Campsite in Lake Shasta for a family camping trip.  Almost all of them were CrossFiters.  The vacation consisted of all the usual things you’d expect on a family camping trip; hiking and climbing, fishing and swimming, meat and beer, and, CrossFit.  For the family vacation, Billy’s brother, Michael, who trains at CrossFit Train, built a large Pull-Up rig and Squat-Rack to take with them on the trip for the family to use.  Collectively, members of the family brought Bars, Bumper Plates, DumbBells, Kettle-Bells and more.  Throughout the vacation, the family would regularly gather together at “The Rig” and do family group WOD’s, both individual and team.  Together they shared in Pull-Ups and Thrusters, Burpees and Snatches, Clean-&-Jerks and Squats, Agony and Laughter, (and did I mention Meat and Beer?).

The Johnston family bonds have always been very, very strong.  Any member of the Johnston family will tell you that.  CrossFit has only further helped to strengthen those already solid bonds as it provides another healthy common ground they can all partake and share in together.  Billy says, “For me a strong bond already exists amongst my family and CrossFit has provided an incredible outlet for us to share the same experiences and a common language.”

Recently, Billy competed in the local Annual Santa Cruz CrossFit Affiliate Cup with both of his children, Daniel and Laura, as well as his brother, Dan.  After returning from the family CrossFit camping trip and competing in the Affiliate Cup with his family, I asked Billy if he had any specific thoughts on what CrossFit has meant to him and his family.  Upon reflecting on the trip, there were two things that Billy said that really stood out to me.  He said;

“…I’ll tell you this, Jason; two things really come to mind about what CrossFit has done for my family and I.  One; I come from a really competitive family.  I’m one of four brothers.  We all shared in Sports together and Football was something we all competed in together while growing up.  We had that in high-school and we had it in college.  Since college Football though, there hasn’t been anything like it that my Brother’s and I could still share in together and have that competitive outlet.  Now, with CrossFit, we all have that again.  A competitive outlet that we all can share in together and it keeps us healthy.  It’s great.  I love it.”  …and, “Two, being able to share this with my kids.  I can’t even tell you how great that has been; being able to compete in the same sport as my kids and just being able to share in this experience with them and relate with them in this way.  It’s just one more thing in life that brings us closer together.  Great community and outstanding trainers here.  It’s a blessing.  It’s awesome and I love it.”   

Billy’s son, Daniel, who recently put together This Video Compilation of the CrossFit West Santa Cruz and CrossFit Longevity teams competing in the Annual Santa Cruz CrossFit Affiliate Cup competition (and who PR’d his Clean-&-Jerk at the comp with an easy looking 275#!!), had this to say;

…“My family has always had a really strong bond because we all workout and love athletics.  I think CrossFit has definitely strengthened that bond through the community that is present along with great trainers. My family is also very competitive and we have found the competitive aspect in CrossFit as well.  Since I started CrossFit at age 16 I have had an overall great experience and it took me to new heights in basketball and increased my overall athletic structure.  Now I enjoy the competitive atmosphere of CrossFit and it keeps me healthy mentally and physically.  The greatest thing for me to see right now is how healthy and in shape my dad for his age.  My dad is from a family of nine and played football with two of his brothers at Cabrillo and Chico State.  It is so awesome to now see my dads two brothers (my uncles) competing in CrossFit as well and seeing them healthy.  And now both my dads sisters are starting CrossFit!!” 

Daniel’s sister, Laura, who also competed in the Affiliate Cup added;  …“Our family has that competitive nature and CrossFit has definitely brought that competitiveness out in us and made it a fun experience to see our family get stronger.  I have seen myself and others get stronger mentally and physically since we started CrossFit and it has made me a better athlete and overall better person.  I agree with Daniel, my dad is the backbone of this family and is a true inspiration for all of us.  I’m so proud to tell people he’s my dad and to see him in the best shape of his life at age 56.  I would definitely say my family is hooked on CrossFit. And I can’t wait to see where it takes us for years to come.  All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the great trainers at CrossFit West.  Jason was the first one to teach me proper form on all lifts in high school and I am so grateful for that experience.  I’m so happy to see my family grow in this way and have something we all share and are passionate about.”

I wanted to share this story because it is another great example of how CrossFit helps strengthen community, whether it be amongst family members or your fellow CrossFit Affiliate athletes.  The Johnston’s aren’t the only CrossFit family like this.  We have so many here at CrossFit West, CrossFit Longevity and at pretty much every CrossFit Affiliate around.  I come from a very close family myself.  Our family bonds are incredibly strong.  Still, I’m the only one who CrossFit’s.  …I wish I was able to share CrossFit with my family the way the Johnston’s share it with each other.