The first time I meet Brandon Chapin was at the Dan Davis Memorial 5K Turkey Trot at Furman University. I saw his t-shirt across the field behind Paladin Stadium, and when our paths converged on our way to the race’s starting line I said something to him about it.
Brandon was wearing a CrossFit Reaction t-shirt, one that was navy blue with gold lettering, advertising the box he owns in downtown Greenville. If you don’t know much about CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that trains athletes using functional movements executed at a high intensity, then you may not know that CrossFit gyms are commonly referred to as boxes. And if you don’t know anything about CrossFit you probably don’t know either that someone who is bold enough to wear a CrossFit t-shirt to a race’s starting line is most likely going to kick your ass.
I can’t remember what I said specifically to Brandon about his t-shirt, but I do know that he asked me which of the “Girls” I’d done and I mentioned doing Helen and Karen. He wanted to know my finish times, which I told him, making a point of mentioning how Brian had altered each workout so that I’d actually done them with heavier weight than prescribed. Because, you know, I’m the kind of person who thrives on competition and dominance and I sure didn’t want this guy I’d just met to think I was someone less than who I am. In other words, I’m certain Brandon walked away from our first conversation thinking I was a complete and utter tool.
At the starting line I positioned myself about three feet behind Brandon, who had walked up to the line as if he owned it and confidently claimed the preeminent position right in the middle of the cones. There was a girl running with Brandon, who was also wearing a CrossFit Reaction t-shirt, and my last-minute race strategy was to hang onto her as long as I could. When the gun sounded Brandon and the girl, Kristen, sprinted ahead of the pack and I knew before we rounded the first cone marking the right hand turn one-hundred yards into the course that I’d have to revise that race strategy.
I may have ended up winning my age group that morning, and I may have improved my time from the previous year by a full minute, but I didn’t see Brandon again until I crossed the finished line and he was standing there, talking to another runner. He’d finished fifth overall, and he’d won his age group, too, but I’m pretty sure Brandon missed the awards ceremony because I spotted him later, darting around the parking lot, tucking laminated cards advertising his box underneath each cars’ windshield wipers.
The next time I saw Brandon was on Good Friday, at his box. Brian and Brandon had competed at the South and North Carolina CrossFit Games Sectionals, and both had qualified to advance to the Regional competition in Jacksonville, Florida. Brandon had opened his box on Friday afternoons to non-members for something he and Brian were calling the “Next Level WOD,” and Brian had invited me. So I went and dropped Brian’s name, which I’ve discovered carries a lot of weight in certain circles. Brandon looked me up and down and I remember wondering for a moment if I’d be better off excusing myself and mumbling something apologetic like, “I’m sorry for crashing your Black Panther party.” But before I could tuck tail and turn away Brandon smiled and said something kind that put me at ease and I knew I was right where I belonged.
I’ve spent time with Brandon since that afternoon a few months ago and I really think he’s a great guy. I’ve gained muscle and lost weight since we first met last November. I’m also a better athlete today than I was then, one who’s attained more but who has also been humbled. Those achievements aren’t Brandon’s, to be sure, but I wouldn’t be who I am right now if he hadn’t opened his gym to me, if he didn’t remember what we talk about each time we see one another and bring it up later when we meet again.
Last Friday morning I was training with Brian when he told me that he was planning to go over to Brandon’s later that day. “Why don’t you come to?” he suggested.
“I have my kids today,” I answered, shaking my head. “I don’t know if I can get someone to watch them for me on such short notice.”
“Why don’t you bring them?” Brian asked, shrugging.
So I did. Brandon visited with Kit and Jack for a long time before he, Brian and I trained, and by the time we left Kit was flirting with Brandon and Jack declared him to be his bestest friend ever and wanted to know if I thought Brandon would come to his birthday party. If you know anything about kids you’ll agree with me that they don’t react like that to an adult unless he makes them feel extra special.
I’m telling you all of this because Brandon is beginning a kids’ fitness camp in July. It’ll run from Monday, July 12th, until Wednesday, August 11th. The class will meet three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. Based upon the concept of CrossFit Kids, Brandon’s class will introduce fitness in a fun and creative way, working toward the goal of teaching children good, healthy habits that will create lifelong benefits. Brandon and the kids will run, jump, skip, throw and generally have a great time together.
I’ve already registered Kit and Jack for Brandon’s class. The cost of the class is $50 for one child (or $75 for two children from the same family, a 50 percent discount), which figures out to about $3.50 per class. On paper that’s a great deal, but it looks even better when you consider that figure in light of Brandon’s credentials. Take my word for it: He really is the kind of guy you want influencing your child.
If you’re interested in learning more about CrossFit Reaction, you can visit the box online or on its facebook page. If you want to learn more about how Brandon trains himself, or about his training philosophy, you can visit his blog. If you do you’ll come away with an idea of how much Brandon knows about fitness and how accomplished he is as an athlete, two things he’s too modest to elaborate on himself. And if you want to sign your child up for Brandon’s fitness camp, which I certainly suggest you do, you should send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go ahead and do it right now.
You’ll be glad you did.