Announcing Strength and Speed Sports Performance class

The Arsenal is proud to welcome Coach Zach Posey, ACE Group Fitness Instructor and School of Kinesiology Strength & Conditioning Instructor at BSU, to our team for our new Strength and Speed Sports Performance class (3SP).  This program is designed for athletes ages 10 – 18+ years of age who are active in sports at school.  This program is built on world class programming and tracking technology, informed by experienced coaching and tailored to accelerate every athlete toward her/his desired goals.  The first class is Monday June 12th at 3:45 PM EDT.
What will this program do for me as a young athlete?
  • Improved speed and mechanics = run faster and start quicker
  • Increasing strength and mobility = reduced risk of injury and increased durability
  • Increased energy = when others stop, I have more gas in the tank to compete
  • Increased training IQ = better understanding your body, what it needs and how to manage it throughout your sports life
  • Increased self-awareness = Ego is the enemy, so knowing how to navigate your life, in and out of sports, and make decisions that provide you the best options long term
What should parents expect?
  • Pre – post testing = programming and instruction tailored to meet the specific needs of your daughter or son
  • Competent and experienced coaching team = collective 30 years of training experience to inspire confidence
  • Mobile programming and tracking = know exactly what is being done, what needs to be done and how your athlete is being accountable to your training investment (all tracking will be accessible via our Zenplanner app on your phone)
  • Sport specific focus = knowing that your athlete is recieving training that makes sense based on the time of season and sport they are playing
  • Fun = love of sport is what drives most athletes, if training is not fun we won’t do it.  We want your athlete to be eager to get back to The Arsenal for training each day
Great, what does this cost?  When is it?
The program is priced straightforward: $125 per athlete per training month. This includes 6 total training sessions per week broken down as follows:
  • MWF 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM.  Coach Zach Posey leading dedicated sessions for the athletes
  • Saturday 10 AM – 11 AM. Group training with The Arsenal athlete community (conditioning)
  • Saturday 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM. Weightlifing instruction class
  • Sunday 1 PM – 3 PM. Open gym.  Programming may be set by Coach Zach, and is the responsibility of the athlete/parents to complete and log.
Weekend sessions are optional, but we recommend not missing any available weekday sessions.  As things come up, we will work with each athlete to ensure they are caught up appropriately.
What do we expect of athletes and parents?
  • Be on time (5 minutes early) and ready to train
  • Required gear: basic training clothes (shorts, shirt, socks), training shoes are better than ‘running sneakers,’ water bottle
  • Others first, then me philosophy.  We are here to not just create outcomes for you as an individual, but training each athlete to operate on a team
  • The coach is the coach, the athlete is the athlete.  You, the parent, are free to stay and observe any training session you wish.  However, it is important that you allow the coach to his job without added commentary
  • Parents ensure your athlete is completing an ‘off day’ accessory work that is programmed
  • If there are challenges, communicate pre or post session with your coach so we can take action and adjust whenever necessary
If you have additional questions email us with with subject line: 3SP.
There are limited spaces in this program, so sign up now and we’ll be in touch prior to our Monday June 12th start date.

Runner / Bowflexer / Insane 6-Minute-Abber Christian Morgan finds CrossFit

One of the first times I worked out with Christian Morgan he ran so fast I thought he was joking. As if he were just trying to win the first round of the workout and there was no way he could run at the pace throughout.

I was wrong. He is fast.

Grandma & Grandpa, I have a confession . . . I’m a runner!

“I’d always lie to my grandparents, saying I was at a friends,” Christian told me when we sat down to talk. “I knew they wouldn’t want me to go to the track alone.”

Christian grew up in Marion just down the street from the track at Indiana Wesleyan University. He’d sneak over when he was in 6th grade.

“I was really chunky. I just decided if I’m going to feel good about myself, I need to take initiative and start doing something. I didn’t have any exercise equipment at my house, so instead of playing video games after school, I would go run a mile every day. I started to see a little change in myself.”

Christian’s mom had him when she was really young and gave up custody to his grandparents who raised him.

“After a few years, I was running two to three miles a day. I was losing weight, looking better and feeling better about myself. So in high school, my grandparents noticed and asked what I was doing. ‘Oh I kind of have been running.’ So my grandma started buying me exercise equipment. She bought me a Bowflex, stuff off the TV. She would watch infomercials and buy me random stuff like Six Second Abs. The Bowflex . . . I used a lot. Grandma bought me a weight bench. I cleared out the garage and we made that into a mini gym. I’d be out there for hours. But I always had to do my homework first.”

Imagine for a moment Christian’s grandma, sitting in the living room, seeing a commercial for an As Seen on TV exercise product, and ordering it for her grandson. She bought him a Bowflex! How sweet is that? No one in Christian’s family was into sports, but, by God, was she going to support her grandson.

“My grandparents never ran, but they always wanted me to,” Christian said.

With the support of his grandparents and his daily commitment to running, Christian was able to run a mile in five-and-a-half minutes when he was in high school.

“I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror.”

When he was 17, his grandma passed away and his grandpa was too sick to look after him, so he moved in with his mom for a bit. That didn’t go the best. They got along better when they weren’t living together. As classes got harder in high school, Christian stopped focusing on working out.

“I gained a lot of weight.”

At 19, he followed a relationship from Marion to Muncie.

“By the time I moved to Muncie, I was back to the 200’s. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to do something about this.’ I started working out again. I did Insanity when I was 21 for six months. I have pictures of my transformation. I got to the weight I wanted to be at and just stopped. Then I gained weight again.”

Christian has an uncanny ability to gain and lose weight. At his heaviest, he weighed 280. Then he yo-yoed through the years–215, 250, 195.

“I got to a point where I couldn’t even look in a mirror. When I was 21, I was so big, I didn’t want to leave the house. I would go to work, come home, and not want to do anything. I would sit on the couch all night and watch TV. I got really depressed. I was like, ‘I want more out of life than this.’ I was embarrassed to even be seen in public. I’ve always been a really outgoing, fun-to-hang-out-with person, but I just lost it because of the way I looked. That’s just how it was every time I gained weight. I lost a few friends over it because I just didn’t want to do anything. A lot of them moved on, started making other friends.”

With Applebuddies like this, who need Friendly’s?

Christian met Muncie CrossFit coach Sam Jones while they both were working at Applebee’s. Sam has converted a lot of her “Applebuddies” to CrossFit.

“Sam literally slapped fries out of my hand,” Christian said and I totally, 100% believed him. “She was a big motivational person for me from the beginning. We went grocery shopping together. Afterward she wrote out a meal plan. She was just like, ‘Follow this. If you need help, let me know.’ I was hardcore on that for about three months, and I was losing weight like crazy. From March until August, I lost like 30 lbs. I was at 220 when I started at The Arsenal in August. I weigh 175-185 now.”

Before Applebee’s, Christian had worked at the following places: McDonald’s, Mo’s, LifeTouch, and Walgreen’s. He supported himself. When he turned 24, he was finally able to apply for financial aid on his own without a parent co-signing. He immediately enrolled at Ivy Tech and now goes to Ball State. He has a student membership at Muncie CrossFit, but he still has to prioritize and sacrifice time and money to afford it. When I chatted with him his car had recently broken down, which meant he had to dip into his grocery budget. To compensate, he took advantage of the manager meals at Applebee’s.

I’ve been going to Muncie CrossFit for almost four years and I’ve known folks who’ve quit because they looked at their budget and CrossFit seemed like a luxury they couldn’t afford through tight times. But for Christian, it seems that CrossFit is something he can’t afford to lose.

“If I’m determined to do something, I do it. I have a lot more confidence. Before, I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. I know what I want now. I’m more focused, and I know how I want to look, I want to be healthy. I just want to feel good about myself. I’m not perfect, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there.”

From CropFit to CrossFit: A Farm Boy becomes a CrossFit Coach

Jacob Competes in Strength on the Streets

Muncie CrossFit Coach Jacob Sprong often coaches the 5:30 AM Muncie CrossFit class at The Arsenal. He’s not a stranger to the early hours.

“I lived on a farm, so I got up at 5:45 AM, dressed, and went to work real quick. We worked 6 AM to 11 PM during planting season. Those were long days.”

His family had hogs for a few decades, before selling them off and moving exclusively into corn and soybeans.

“I remember when I was real little, walking into the hog barn and hogs going crazy. Back then they were huge to me. Four hundred to Five hundred pound hogs. Growing up in the country . . . I liked some of it. I would have been the fourth or fifth generation Sprong to be a farmer.”

But Jacob found sports, especially baseball.

“I played baseball since I could walk. I played middle infielder and center fielder. I wish I could go back and have trained like I do now. I maybe would’ve been a better player, gone on to play in college. In high school, if you weren’t super-motivated and didn’t want to lift weights, they didn’t make you.”

Jacob also gave football a shot, but broke his foot his freshman year and his arm his sophomore year before calling it quits. At 5’10” and 150-pounds, he was as thin as a stalk of corn and nearly as fragile. It bugged him.

“I was super small growing up. I was the last one to hit puberty, get armpit hair. I was always the smallest kid. I still can’t even grow a beard yet. I was really self conscious growing up, but you wouldn’t know it because I came across kind of cocky.”

Jacob graduated from Delta High School in Delaware County and went to Vincennes for one year where he majored in agricultural engineering. He was still on the path to being a farmer or at least working with farmers when he decided to come back home. His girlfriend Sammi lived in Muncie and he just missed Muncie.

Growing up Jacob’s dad encouraged him to do whatever he wanted to do, but, still, Jacob thought his dad actually wanted him to work on the farm. Jacob finished a year at Ivy Tech while helping out on the farm and then he found CrossFit and started to question his future in agriculture.

Finding CrossFit

“The first time I ever came to The Arsenal, I was terrified because my mom had done it, and at this point she was fitter than me. She had told me stuff you guys did, and I had watched the CrossFit games on TV, the 2014 games had just finished. Rich Froning . . . I watched every video, every interview, every workout.”

“The first time I came in Greg was teaching. It was a little partner WOD on a Saturday, and it was like a med ball carry and burpee workout, nothing too crazy. I was dying during the burpees, literally dying. Then I stuck around and did the Olympic class. There were probably 25 people in the class. Nat Carpenter was my partner. We were snatching before the class, and I did the bar the entire time. I tried to put on tens, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t snatch 65 pounds. I remember I saw Nat snatch 135 pounds, and I thought he was the strongest guy in the world. ‘A snatch with the red plates on!’ I thought it was so cool. I ended up getting a membership after that and the rest is history.”

Jacob took a short break from CrossFit when it wouldn’t fit in his schedule working as a mover, a job he labels “the worst job ever.” When he returned, he approached CrossFit with a newfound vigor.

“I started going again around September 2015 and when I got back, a light bulb went off. I was like, ‘This is what I want to do!’  In February of 2016, I got my Level 1, and I just nagged BJ for the next two months nonstop trying to get hours. I started in May.”

Becoming a Coach

For the first time in his life a job wasn’t just a job, work wasn’t just work.

“When I got the job, it was actually kind of selfish, because I wanted to just be able to have a job I liked. I got to work out all the time, but I realized that I love coaching. I had wanted to be a coach in some sense, maybe not a CrossFit coach, my whole life. Now my goal is to be a strength and conditioning coach for a university. I love coaching all the athletes, but I do have a passion for coaching elite athletes like you Kelsey. [Ok, he didn’t say that part about me being an elite athlete.] That would require my Masters. After I finish at Ivy Tech, I’ll have to decide if I want to stay around Muncie, go to Ball State or go somewhere else. I’m just not sure right now.”

I remember Jacob’s first day as a CrossFit coach. It was a surprise. “Huh, you’re our coach now?” I’m not a leaderboard hawk by any means, but earlier in that week I noticed I had topped him in a workout. “Not bad old man Timmerman,” I thought to myself, “not bad.” That’s all I remember from that day, having a rare moment of pride in the gym. I’m pretty certain that’s the last time I ever beat Jacob at anything other than resting.

Here’s how Jacob describes his fitness level coming into CrossFit:

“If I didn’t walk any of a 400-meter run, it was an accomplishment. My deadlift was like 275. I couldn’t back squat 265. My best clean was 205 at the time. I had no capacity to do anything, not strong at all. I was kind of filled out because of bodybuilding a lot, but no fitness at all.”

So . . . he basically just described my level of fitness and capacity. Anyhow, enough about me, I think it’s important to see where he started from to where he is now.

“Now it’s kind of cool because I can snatch 20 pounds more than I was able to clean. I snatch 240, and I just cleaned 300 about a month ago.”

That’s the fun part. Remember when Jacob said he thought Nat was “the strongest person in the world” when he snatched 135 pounds?  It’s great seeing people grow during their CrossFit journey.

“I pretty much only hang out with CrossFit people anymore. A lot of my friends are either busy working or moved away for college. I usually take weekends off to hang out with my girlfriend, but other than that, I’ll hang out with Andrew, Skyler, Ahmed, Emily, and all of them. That’s part of another thing I love about CrossFit. People become your best friends.”

“It sounds kind of weird, but I want to do well in the open and make members proud. Skyler and Adam? They are going to go to a competition and win or be in the top two. Me? I’m not as good. I’m trying to get better and be an example for the members of how you can come from nothing and get good at CrossFit.”

Coaching at Muncie CrossFit has given Jacob a new appreciation for CrossFit.

“Working out in the gym as an athlete, there were only certain people I’d have the chance to interact with. Being a coach, I get the full community aspect of it. I interact with all the members and genuinely care about what they are doing. Getting a PR, finishing a workout.

“That’s one of my favorite things to watch. If I have a new person, I love watching them figure it out for the first time.”

Being a part of a community where you can celebrate the successes of others and not just your own means you get to celebrate a hell of a lot more.

Introducing the EVOLUTION Series. Do you need to attend?

“The truth is that there can be no proper training that does not educate the whole system of the man (woman).” – Edwin Checkley

Why do we have the best intentions to be a better version of ourselves, yet continually fall short of our expectations?  It seems that our intentions haven’t changed, so why is it that taking action consistently toward that better version of ourselves is so elusive?  This truth is lived out every day by most humans, and the good news is we can solve it, right now.  

At The Arsenal, we believe you need to be fit to be useful.  Fitness is not isolated to the body only.  We are talking about comprehensive fitness which includes the mind, emotions and relationships.  This work starts upstairs, in our heads, and in our hearts.  It is the interior work of managing needs, drives and emotion amidst the competing demands of our lives.

We will be launching a new seminar series.  Dates will be selected once we have our first 10 participants signed up, so sign up today!  Be warned, it will be interactive and will not be a passive lecture.  The three-part series is called EVOLUTION, because we are readying ourselves to make real, consistent, sustainable changes to our lives. Essentially, we are evolving to a version of ourselves that we have dreamt about and have intended to become.  

personal development

At the first session, you will be getting results from your Predictive Index® survey which will share deep insight into needs and drives that we must understand to install new habits.  This data point will serve as a consistent road map throughout the process.  Also in this session, you will be sharing, taking notes and building accountability for personal development.  

Sign up here (maximum capacity is 20 people)

Take 5-10 minutes to complete The Predictive Index here

bj headshot advisaThis is not focused on my weightlifting goals, my score in the Open or simple physical fitness.  This is focused on the whole person and my whole life.  The program is designed and led by BJ McKay, who most know as the owner of The Arsenal, but many do not know as Sr. Management Consultant with the firm ADVISA with headquarters in Carmel, Indiana.   This is a role he has served in for over 7 years, working with hundreds of leaders in industries throughout the USA and abroad.  

If you feel you are at your potential as a person and as useful, self-aware and emotionally intelligent as you can be, this session is not for you.  This is built for those who are striving to grow, to gain more self-knowledge, to build self-awareness and to take control of aspects of life that remain elusive.  This is for the hungry and the humble.  

This is for members only and the cost is $30 for the whole series.  Similar courses delivered by BJ range from $500 to over $2,500 per person.  There are only 20 spots available as the sessions will be highly interactive and we want to be sure that each person has space to share, be heard and connect.

I’ll close with this great quote from Christopher McDougall:

We’ve lulled ourselves into believing that in an emergency, someone else will always come along to rescue us.  We’ve stopped relying on our own wonderfully adaptable bodies; we’ve forgotten that we can think, climb, lead, run, throw, swim, and fight with more versatility than any other creature on the planet.

Let’s stop forgetting.


EVOLUTION Series Description:

The EVOLUTION Series built to provide deep insight into my needs, drives and sources of self-confidence.  It is made up of three seminars over the course of three weeks.  Outcomes from the series include:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Insight to develop greater emotional intelligence/EQ
  • Building personalized strategies for adoption of new habits and behaviors
  • Accountability for goals and progress
  • Highly interactive sessions with equally motivated peers

This is not a lecture, it is a shared experience.  Scheduling email will go out to participants once our 10th person is signed up, expect within the next 30 days.  


CrossFitter Anna Marie is Still the Same Her, Just 155-pounds Lighter

I feel like I've accomplished something. It makes me feel good. - Anna Marie Steinbarger

Everyone has their pre-workout routines. Some stretch. Some use the facilities (why lift more weight than you have to?). Some chat with their fellow CrossFitters. But there is only one person at Muncie CrossFit who reads calmly before a workout–Anna Marie Steinbarger.

I have no idea how she sits there and turns page after page while the rest of us prepare mentally and physically for a kick to our ego. Maybe after working for years as a nurse and then a nurse practitioner in clinics and ERs, not much phases her. She’s an island of calm in the CrossFit storm.

Growing up in a military family, Anna Marie moved around a lot. She wasn’t really into sports, but she was always into a good book. On the road, books are the best friends.

Shy girl becomes a Nurse Practitioner

“I wore glasses,” she told me. “I was kind of heavy.  I’d bring my book along and read in the corner.”

She still likes a good mystery and averages about a book per week.

“I don’t make friends well. My sister and I are total opposites – I’m very introverted and she’s very extroverted. I’ve gotten better at that. As a nurse practitioner you have to talk to people.”

Anna Marie came to Muncie to go to school at Ball State.

“I got married while I was in school and basically never left. We lived in New Castle when I first got out of college as an RN because I worked at Henry County for a little while.  And then I went to Ball, and we moved here, and I’ve been living in Muncie pretty much every since.”  

“In 1996 I decided to go back to school.  There was an overage of nurses, and they were actually laying off nurses in Indianapolis, so I thought if I got my Master’s, it would make me more marketable.  So I decided to go back. They told me about the nurse practitioner option, and I was like, ‘That is what I would like to do.’”

“I’ve been a NP for 16 years now.  We can see all but about 20% of patients, like people who need intubated or are coding, critically ill patients, I don’t do those.  We can evaluate, diagnose, prescribe medications.”

The decision to become even more engaged in the health of others, led to her evaluating her own.

“When I became an NP, I decided that if I had to tell people to quit smoking, I needed to quit myself. You can’t tell other people to quit smoking if you are sitting there smelling like smoke.”

But the long shifts and the irregular schedule of working as a nurse then as an NP didn’t make for the healthiest environment.  

“You have a high stress level, you are so busy, you don’t have time to eat.  You are picking up snacky stuff.  If you do eat a meal, you eat it in such a hurry.  When your work a twelve hour shift, it’s hard to work in exercise and take care of yourself.  It’s hard.”

This is going to kill me

“I was fat most of my life. I probably tried every diet in the world. Finally my turning point was when I walked up  a short flight of stairs, with an overnight bag on my shoulder, and it probably took me 5-10 minutes just to catch my breath.  ‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought.  At that point, I was 285 pounds.”

“I remember flying, being in those seats and having trouble with the buckles. I remember how hard it was to sit in those seats when I was heavy.  The seats are narrow, you feel cramped.  It’s awful.”

Anna Marie decided to get a lap-band. an inflatable device placed around the top portion of the stomach that slows food consumption.

“You have to have a psych eval to make sure you will be ok with losing the weight.  Food for most overweight people is a coping mechanism, and if it’s a strong coping mechanism, and you take that away from them, they don’t do well. They have depression, psychosomatic issues.  They get a lot of perceived illnesses that are not there.”  

“I finally said, ‘I have to do something, or this is going to kill me.’  I did really well with it. I lost 155 pounds.  That’s a whole other person!  I still have it.”

“Losing weight has made me feel better about myself.  It was hard to interact with people when you are that heavy.  You are just treated different.  People are not as friendly to you when you are heavy.  They don’t want to be your friend.  You’re treated like you are lazy.  They think that is why you are heavy, because you are lazy.  They think you don’t care what you look like.  That’s not the truth.  That’s not how you feel.  You try and do all that stuff.  When you try to exercise, it’s hard because you don’t have any energy, stamina. My whole life, I was treated different.  Now that I have lost the weight, the difference is amazing.”

We interrupt this story for a few thoughts on weight discrimination from Kelsey

Weight discrimination is real, and it’s almost accepted by our society.  Susie Orbach, author of “Fat is a Feminst Issue” wrote this in The Guardian.

Fat shaming is a new and vicious sport … Children and their parents are being shamed for looking different than the thousands of Photoshopped pictures we see weekly on our screens … No wonder society has a thing about fat.

The paradox of consumer culture is that we should and must consume — our economy depends on it — but we should at the same time do so discreetly and expensively. Fat challenges this idea. Fat dares to show. Fat is disdained because it is read as greed and an inability to choose or say no…We value holding back and then assign to fat people the contempt we can feel for our own longings.

Many medical students have an unconscious bias against overweight patients. Heavier workers earn $1.25/hour less than their peers.  

As a fitness community, I think it is our responsibility to not contribute to body size discrimination. One of my favorite parts of CrossFit is that our community is made up of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities.

Still the same me

“I feel like I am still the same me, and I, to be honest, still look at myself and think I am fat sometimes.  But that feeling is still there, you just feel like you are still fat.  I mean, people will say you have lost so much weight, and you are so skinny.  I’m like, ‘I’m not really skinny,’ but when I look in the mirror, I’m like, ‘Yes, you are skinny.’  I used to fixate on my weight.  I used to weigh myself every day, and if I gained a pound, I would hardly let myself eat that day because I would be worried.  That has been a struggle for me.”

Anna Marie was working out with a personal trainer, but when he left she struggled to workout consistently.

“I was looking for something that would make me commit to exercise, and I knew going to the gym randomly wasn’t going to work for me.  The personal trainer had been gone 6-9 months.  He had given me a list of exercises, and all I had to do was go in and do them, but I wouldn’t make myself do them.  So after someone told me about Muncie CrossFit, I went in and met Adam.  I really liked it.  I like the fact that they change it up all the time.  You might in one week do several squats, but you are doing them in different ways.  I love that it’s always changing.  They do accommodate people who have a lower fitness level.  The modifications that they do are wonderful. When I’m done exercising I feel like I have accomplished something. It makes me feel good.”  

“I still watch the scale like a hawk.  But with Muncie CrossFit, I’m like it’s alright, it’s alright.”

So that’s Anna Marie’s story. She’s not shouting, “I lost 155 pounds!” from the rooftops. She sits quietly in the corner reading a page-turning mystery until it’s time to workout. She has a remarkable story, but one that she’s not quick to share unless she feels like it can help a patient.

“I can kind of understand where they are coming from when they are struggling.  When someone asks me, I try to help where I can.”

CrossFit Helps Marissa Dudley Face Life After High School Sports

Even though I literally feel like I die every time I do it, CrossFit makes me as happy. - Marissa Dudley

There are two kinds of people in this world. CrossFitters who love to talk about CrossFit and non-CrossFitters who will set PRs in speedwalking and eye-rolling to avoid ever being a part of a conversation about CrossFit.

If you don’t fall into the first category, I’m not sure you’d want to join Arsenal member Marissa Dudley’s family for dinner. They are a family of CrossFitters. Marissa often works out at the 8 AM class, her 12-year-old brother does the CrossFit Kids class, and her mom and dad both take private coaching.

“We all have struggled with weight and working out,” Marissa told me. “But since we’ve started CrossFit, we are all losing weight and eating healthier. It’s awesome. It’s making my family nice! We aren’t mean, but we all get in good moods when we get a good workout in the morning.”

If you know Arsenal member Pam “Pamalee” Peters, you know Marissa’s mom, Geneva. They are BFF concert-going buddies who are surely the country group Parmalee’s biggest fans. I asked Marissa about the concert thing.

“Honestly, by now they should be famous. Pamalee and ParmaGe! They like know them! My mom is friends with one of the band member’s mothers. I’m like, ‘How is this a thing?!?!’ They get right up to the stage, and they are not afraid to punch people if they get up in their face. I think Pam dances more just because my mom likes to listen to the music rather than feel the music.”

Marissa and Pam’s daughter Alyssa played volleyball together at Munciana and at Burris.

Life After Volleyball

“I started playing volleyball in third grade, just doing little lessons and stuff with my sister because she played.  And then at Burris, I played on a team in fourth and fifth grade and then I played for Munciana for years and years. I liked meeting a lot of new people.  Munciana is so big. People from Ohio, Indianapolis, everybody comes.  I met [Arsenal member] Megan Hicks there. Every weekend I was doing volleyball, and it’s crazy. My entire life was volleyball.”

Her entire life was volleyball until it wasn’t. Her last two years of high school volleyball didn’t go as planned. A new coach started at Burris and taught a different style than she was accustomed to at Munciana.

“I was clueless and looked like I never played volleyball before. I wanted to play volleyball.  Volleyball was my life.”

Marissa stuck it out despite the struggle.

“All my life I thought I’d play volleyball in college because I never wanted it to end. But I literally cried my way through both junior and senior year. I started to get burnt out. My senior year . . . it was awful. I don’t talk about it a lot because it was such a bad time in my life.”

This isn’t uncommon. When we live and breathe a single sport, and that sport becomes not as fun or we walk off the court for the last time, we mourn the loss. Many of the former athletes I talk with suffer through this period. When you define yourself as a volleyball player, what do you do when volleyball ends?

A Family That CrossFits Together

Marissa graduated and is attending classes at Ivy Tech with the intent of enrolling at Ball State in another year. She’s not sure what she wants to do yet. She’s still getting used to all the time she has when there are no volleyball practices. One of the ways she is filling that time and facing life after volleyball is through CrossFit. Pam Peters convinced Marissa, Marissa convinced her mom, and together they convinced her dad and her brother.

“I found The Arsenal. It makes me happy. Even though I literally feel like I die every time I do it, it makes me as happy as I was before all of that went down with volleyball. All the people are so nice. I just love going there. I just love the atmosphere, so friendly and uplifting.”

At home, the Dudleys are complaining about workouts, getting in a few burpees before dinner, and talking about something they never thought they would be talking about…CrossFit.

“Now we have The Arsenal, it’s something we can all talk about. It’s more like laughing at each other. My mom will be like, “Oh man, I can’t walk,” or “I can’t get up off the toilet!” I’m kind of nervous about when she comes to actual classes because she will probably kick my butt! She wants to make the transition. I know she’s going to come, so I’m trying to get really, really good.  She’s actually really strong, she doesn’t give herself enough credit. It will be a fun day when she comes.”

“My brother is a big video gamer and doesn’t do a lot of physical activity, but he loves it and never complains about going. Afterwards, he’s always like, ‘Well, Skyler just killed me!’”

“It’s made us a fun family because we are laughing all the time at each other. My dad will come home after a workout and lay on the living room floor, and I’m face timing my mom telling her how funny it is. Dad doing CrossFit . . . it’s crazy.  I love it!”


“My whole life I have struggled with confidence. I’m trying to get it back up so it helps when the coaches say something positive or when Dani Wasson says, ‘Oh my gosh you are doing so well.’ I am just one of those people who thinks I can always do better. I often don’t think I’m good at anything. I’ve always been like that. Being good at something helps me see, ‘Oh I can do it.’  With volleyball, I felt good about it because I know I’m good at it, I know what I’m doing.  And then when that stopped, I’m like, ‘Ok I’m not good at anything anymore.’”  

And that’s where Marissa is wrong. She’s good at laughing and smiling. She seems to be good at being a daughter, sister, and aunt to her niece Franni. She’s good at CrossFit. Don’t take my word for it, I asked Coach and Arsenal General Manager Adam James to weigh in.

“It has been incredible to see the transformation Marissa has undergone in her time at The Arsenal,” Adam told me. “Not just in a physical sense, but a mental and emotional one as well. Seeing her transform from a shy, timid, athlete into a strong, confident athlete, has been truly inspiring.”

Agreed. Marissa is so much more than a volleyball player now.

Staci Anderson: Finding perseverance through CrossFit

When it's too uncomfortable...that's when you know the end result is worth it. - Staci Anderson

Arsenal member Staci Anderson fell off her horse in 2007.

“We were out looking at a horse,” Staci said. “The horse was very out of shape, hadn’t had his feet trimmed.  I wanted to check out the horse for my daughter, and I made the poor thing jump.  It was uneven ground, I just fell right on my back really hard. I wasn’t a good enough rider to maintain my position as he stumbled. I was trying to brush it off like I was fine.  On the way home I was like, ‘Oh, this doesn’t feel good. Should I go to the doctor?  No, I’ll be fine.’  I just ignored it.”

“I didn’t realize it then, but I had fractured one of my vertebrae. I didn’t do anything about it at the time, just struggled through it and rested a lot.”

Staci still struggles with her injury. But it doesn’t keep her from riding or from doing CrossFit at The Arsenal.

If you see the mother of three grown children at The Arsenal deadlifting 215 pounds, you might think the same thing 19-year-old Kylie Mennel thought when she first worked out with Staci: “The first person I saw was Staci, and it was crazy because she was doing a pull-up and I had always wanted to do a pull-up. I was like, ‘Ok, she’s a badass!’”

When I sat down with Staci she tried to convince me how unathletic she was since she was a kid. Yet she is the same person that said these two sentences:

“CrossFit is so important to me that I don’t want my riding to keep me from doing CrossFit.  And I don’t want CrossFit to keep me from riding.”

Have Kids will Travel

Horseback riding was something Staci wanted to do since she was a girl living in Ft. Wayne.

“I always dreamed of having a horse. Every Christmas morning I looked out my window and wondered why there wasn’t a pony, even though we lived right in a neighborhood!”

Staci started to ride in high school, but riding is a hard hobby to keep up in your twenties with moves, school, and young kids. Staci married her high school sweetheart Drew Anderson. They met at a pool party. Staci was 16 and Drew was 15. Staci was taking driver’s ed that summer and a friend had to drive the young couple home from their first date–a high school football game.

Staci earned a degree in culinary arts and operated a catering business with her mom. Ft. Wayne could’ve been her forever home, but Drew was destined for med school and the semi-nomadic lifestyle that can come with residencies and speciality training.  

Drew’s first year out of med school, they had their first child in Indianapolis before they move to Muncie. Next they lived in Warner Robbins, Georgia for three years, where they had their second daughter and found a church community that strengthened their faith.

“That was our first move so I immediately got really involved in that church and built really close relationships. Then when we were going to leave, it about killed me. So the next place we went to, I was like, ‘I’m not going to do that again–open myself up.’ I protected my heart a little more from friendships.”

The next move was  to Dallas, Texas, where there third daughter was born followed by another move to Charleston, South Carolina, and ultimately back to Muncie where Drew settled in at Lifetime Skin Care Center.

Making Muncie Home

The move back to Muncie was one of the more difficult moves.

“I have to say when I came to Muncie, I didn’t find community right away. I found people were a little more guarded.”

In Houston and Charleston people come and go all the time, but in Muncie it seemed everyone went to kindergarten together. Staci found it more difficult to connect.

“I think just the fact that I don’t feel like I make conversation easily with people.  Once I introduce myself and get beyond, ‘I have three kids…,’ and then that next level, I don’t know what to say.  I love being around people. I draw energy from being around people. But I want to be sincere in my interest in other people.”

As she settled into life in Muncie, she had the opportunity to pursue her love of horses and riding once again. She started taking English Riding lessons from Arsenal member Liz Carder. Staci now has two horses, including one that is retired.

I had a lot of questions about what retirement looks like for a horse.

“He’s in a little private place where he kind of babysits the younger horses,” Staci explained.

As a girl, Staci wanted to grow up and be a mom. She considered careers in catering and respiratory therapy, but put those aside to be a mom who successfully raised three girls while moving all over the country.

“There is no higher calling than motherhood and taking care of your home and your family, however, I am encouraging my girls to have a higher education, so there is a piece of themselves that maybe they can pick up in the future.”

Staci’s youngest daughter is a senior and soon she’ll be facing an empty nest. But riding her horse two to three times per week and working out at The Arsenal five times per week keeps her busy.

Finding CrossFit

Staci heard about CrossFit at The Arsenal from Jennifer Stanley and went to the new gym’s open house.

“I was like no way I can do this because of my back.  I left, and the more I was thinking about it, the more I knew I had to try it.”

After one month she was hooked.

I was hooked, but scared to death every time I came in for a workout. ‘Am I going to throw up in front of people?’

Staci’s back nearly kept her from continuing (keep in mind this was 3 years ago). She took some time off and worked with a chiropractor before getting back at it. She even started to sell Drew on the idea that he should join The Arsenal.

“I was like, ‘Honey, you don’t have to do this!’  He was really seeing the change in me. I dropped 10-15 pounds that first couple of months of CrossFit.”

Drew started and has been a staple of the 5:30 AM class ever since.

“Now we talk about workouts every day over dinner. ‘How did that go? How many reps did you do? Did you do it unbroken?’  I feel badly sometimes when the girls are around because they are just sitting there listening to us talk CrossFit.”

At times, Staci worries that CrossFit could keep her from riding her horse, but it has also helped her in other ways.

“I think CrossFit has helped my body awareness which has transferred to my riding because of my core strength.  Core strength is huge in riding.”

She’s had other falls riding and admits to getting down on herself at the gym, too.

“CrossFit is very humbling.  I look at all the people on the leaderboard.  I do compare myself, and I have to remind myself that they are a lot younger.  I have to not get overwhelmed that I can’t do such and such. I have to be ok with being at the bottom; that was a process.  You just have to accept that this is what you can do. You take little steps forward. I have always struggled with self-acceptance and just being comfortable in my own skin. Not growing up with sports, that ‘keep going!’ attitude, that perseverance when it gets really tough.”

Staci credits CrossFit for enhancing her perseverance.

“Perseverance translates into personal struggles or relational struggles. This feels really, really hard right now, and I just want to give up, but the clock is still ticking, this is going to be over. There is a tendency to think, ‘I’m just not going to engage in this relationship anymore; I’m just going to be done because it’s not worth it.”

Here’s one of the things I like about Staci: she is real. She didn’t sugarcoat her story. CrossFit is tough, but not as tough as riding a horse, not as tough as being a mom, not as tough as life. And sometimes we fall off our horses, and even though we are scared to get back on, we do, and have to look deep inside ourselves–not others–for the confidence that it take to know that we belong here.

“When it’s too uncomfortable,” Staci told me. “That’s when you know the end result is worth it.”  

Your Body is Your Business

Repeat after me: My body is My Business. It is time to shift how you think about your health, so that you can make your body ripe for miracles. Most people believe that to be healthy you simply have to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and follow doctor’s orders. However, if you look around you, many people who follow all those habits are still ill –one of those might actually be you. This tells you that there is still a missing piece of the healthcare puzzle. How do you find what’s missing? Ask yourself the following questions:

What is it that your body is trying to tell you? What are the changes you need to make in your life in order to have perfect health?

Your body is your business. Most people think their body is their doctor’s business. Nothing farther than the truth. The reality is that you know your body better than any doctor. You have more power over the outcome of your health than you may realize. The combination of positive beliefs, the support of the right health-care providers, and a proactive approach on the part of the patient can transform the body in ways that scientists are only just now starting to understand. It all starts with changing your beliefs. You are responsible for your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, which are critical when it comes to your health because they affect the physiology of your body, as scientific data prove, more profoundly than you may realize.  Every negative thought you have is poison for your body. If you’re stressed at work or in an unhappy marriage, you’re potentially harming your body. And every time you think optimistically, or feel supported by a community of people, or you get in touch with your life purpose, you’re healing your body. This is a huge part of how you can be proactive in taking back your health. However, many people experience what Martin Seligman calls ‘learned helplessness’; they feel like helpless victims of bad luck or bad genes. But in research studies this passive state has proven to harm your health, while being proactive improves your chance of cure.

What really makes the body healthy? What really predisposes us to illness?

Sure, traditionally healthy behaviors can help, but this simply isn’t enough. In order to be wholly healthy, you need to look at different aspects of your life –which may be causing a stress response in your body. The goal is to put your body in relaxation as often as possible. No matter how much you meditate, or give generously, or exercise, if you’re in a soul-sucking job or in an abusive relationship, your amygdala is going to be triggering stress responses. Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine, created a new groundbreaking wellness model based on scientific evidence where she includes each of the aspects of your life which have been scientifically proven to affect your health, and which you need to assess because they can be triggering stress responses, so that you can learn to make choices that help you transform stress responses into relaxation responses. In order to be optimally healthy you need: (1) healthy relationships, (2) a healthy professional life, (3) time to express yourself creatively, (4) a feeling of spiritual connection, (5) a healthy sex life, (6) a healthy relationship with money, (7) a healthy environment, and (8) a healthy mind. At the very top of all these aspects is where your physical health rests. Each of the stones that make up this whole health tower is possible of triggering stress responses or relaxation responses in your body. You may not think that your relationships or your spiritual life or your financial life affect the health of your (physical) body, but the scientific literature proves that they do. The body is the physical manifestation of the sum of your life experiences. It’s the outward reflection of your precious inner life.

Your inner wisdom is your internal pilot and it answers the question: what does my body need to heal? It’s your own inner doctor. In order to be able to identify the root of what is going on you need to listen to the voice of this inner wisdom. Making healthy decisions about your life and your body requires continually coming back to the question: what is true for me? What’s true for me about my relationships? What’s true for me about my work? You can always trust your inner wisdom to get you back in touch with your life force. You know your body better than any doctor does, and following your intuition is key to fighting any illnesses.


To Be or Not To Be, is that the question?

Taking time for yourself, taking time to be.

Do you need to be doing something productive all the time or otherwise you feel like you’re wasting your time?

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with a new group of people that I had recently met. These were all professionals, most of them in academia, very interesting group of people. A much-anticipated spring had just arrived and had brought warm, sunny days. So, as one does around here, we got to talking about the weather. As I heard one of the ladies say that she actually preferred cold days, I found myself wondering how that could even be possible. She went on to explain that on cold, windy days it was easier for her to delve into work. Let me just point out that she was not referring to regular job hours; she was talking about doing work after finishing her job hours. She said that on sunny, warm days she just wanted to be outside, so, instead, this made it easier for her to stay inside and work. Now you may be wondering “where is she going with this?

As I was thinking about this exchange, it occurred to me that many people tend to feel guilty when they take time for themselves. I think this lady mentioned it as she talked about how she felt: Being outside on a pretty day “doing nothing” when I could be inside doing some work and being productive just makes me feel a little guilty. Have you ever heard anyone say anything like that? Have you said that?

Doing nothing. Just being

IMG_3613Some people have a problem with “doing nothing”. Many people seem to have an attachment to being “productive”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very responsible person and I make sure I get everything done when it needs to get done, and I understand and involve in work ethic and reaching goals. However, it seems to me like more and more people are obsessed with being productive, and regrettably forget about actually living. They keep working towards a tomorrow, always striving, always reaching, never arriving, completely missing today. They are the ones always complaining about time, as there never seems to be enough time in the day for them. And that is because they are not present in the moment, even though now is all there is. What are they trying to prove? If you have ever felt like this, rest assured you’re not the only one.

We tend to live our lives feeling that we’re not good enough (on a subconscious level) thus need to do things to prove that we are worth it. During our upbringing, there is a moment (early in childhood) –just around our school years start- when just being doesn’t cut it anymore, and then comes the moment when we feel that we need to do things to prove that we are good enough to earn the love that we should deserve, so we think we need to get better grades, we need to run a little faster, we need to lose a little more weight, we need to make more friends, and so on. One thing all these different events have in common is that that is the time when we start comparing ourselves to others. Then, we lose touch with ourselves and begin following others’ desires and/or notions of what constitutes good actions and right decisions, looking for approval and acceptance in the form of (conditioned) love from others, thinking we need that to feel better about ourselves. Fortunately, there is always an opportunity to return home, to return to who we really are.

IMG_3614We tend to forget that we are human beings, not human doings. How often do you give yourself a chance to just be? Spend time with yourself, be silent, find yourself, deal with your thoughts and your feelings, get comfortable in your own skin, rejoice in your true spirit. Find moments to reconnect with yourself and be present, right here, right now, for there is no other place where you need to be. Be mindful. Make it a priority to make time for you to spend with you and just be, get to know yourself and love that person unconditionally by telling yourself “it’s okay”. Whatever thoughts you may have about who you are or what you’ve done, tell yourself “it’s okay…(to think/do that)”. Cultivate your relationship with yourself because it is the only way you will know what you really want in life –not what others want-and what really matters to you. Once your relationship with yourself is strengthened, all your other relationships will naturally follow. It all starts with you.
Then, make time to spend with those you love, for, what else really matters in life if not the relationships we have? Find the joy in “doing nothing” while spending quality time with family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, pets, or anyone you meet. All that positive energy that you get from joyful interactions boosts your immune system and helps keep you strong and healthy. Relationships feed you, too; they are your primary food, actually, so you need to take care of them, beginning with the relationship with yourself.

It all begins with you, with accepting and loving yourself for who you are, not for what you do or for what you wish you were. This means that you need to get to IMG_3516know yourself well. Drop your preconceived ideas of what you think you “should” be like for they are most likely not your own but a result of your environment. Take time for play, for joy, for silence, for stillness, time for just being, and let go of the guilt of not doing things. This is what being productive is really about, it’s about making life matter. Life is not meant to be logical, but mainly meant to be enjoyed. It’s about making your relationships be the best they can be by giving them all of who you are –beginning with the one with yourself. In the words of my (very wise) brother, if you are not happy today, where you are, right here, right now, you will never be. If you are doing things to get somewhere to then be happy, you’re doing it in the wrong order. Be present in your life today, for there is no tomorrow. What are you waiting for? What kind of life do you want to live?

Look around you and open your eyes to all the love that surrounds you.