The Woodshed Story

At some point for me, 2009 turned into the year of the Fox Business Channel. Or maybe it was CNBC. Probably both.

2008 had been a momentous year for my wife and I. In early summer we bought our first house in Littleton, MA, and in late fall we welcomed our first child into the world. She had a great job teaching at a local vocational school and I was running operations for an innovative painting company just outside of Boston. Things were looking up.

Until they weren’t. When the housing bubble burst that year, the home improvement industry soon followed suit. And when your job is in operations and the schedule has dried up, well, the writing’s on the wall. Pretty soon I was a new dad with some more time on my hands and a novel habit: watching cable business channels in the morning, wondering when things would get better.

There was one thing that kept my mind right, though. That was working out. Since 2007, I’d been attending classes at CrossFit Boston in Mission Hill, which was about a 10 minute drive from my office. Their mixture of strength work, hard conditioning, and a diverse, inclusive community had been just what the doctor ordered for me after a few years of hit or miss gym memberships in my late 20s.

It lit a fire under me, bringing me back to what I loved most about sport and training in my younger years–the focus on improvement, the physical work, and the sense that there was a place in the world for you to get your mind and body right at the same time.

Unfortunately, with my job loss I had no real reason to be in Boston anymore. Littleton’s about an hour outside of the city, and while I kept driving into class for a while, after a time I had to pull the plug on my membership at CFB. We couldn’t afford that time or expense. And it stung. I was leaving a place I loved deeply.

So I did what anyone would have done in my situation. I looked at the shed in our backyard–this weird little structure with a loft, old carpeting, and electricity–and I said “okay, here we go.” I went out and bought a 40 lb dumbbell. Just one. That was where we’d start.

I needed a place. And that’s what that little shed became for me, one scribbled dumbbell workout at a time.

But it also became an idea. What if there were other people out there, maybe close by, who needed a place like this too? Something simple, no frills, a place to work hard, feel better, and then go back to the rest of your life having gotten just a little bit better.

What if?

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