Yesterday we celebrated with a big ending to a big year.  No less than 50 Empower members completed this year’s 12-Days of X-Mas workout with many more present to cheer them on.  It’s a far cry from the 12-15 attendees at our very first CrossFit Empower 12 Days of X-Mas event in 2009!

Thanks to Sprite & Shades for coming early to help me set up for the event and to everyone who stayed behind after to help with clean up!

Members came decked out in their festive holiday best including the return of Buddy the Elf!

The 12 Days of X-Mas is a fun family event but CrossFitters, being competitive, high-achievers who like to challenge themselves, often turn even fun events into contests.  BFG & Quicksilver and HHH & Smash were two teams that spent Friday’s 6am class training the movements in order to finish the event with the best time.  And both teams blazed through it quickly, BFG & Quicksilver finishing at 17:40 less than a minute behind HHH & Smash who completed at 16:47 setting the time to beat.

Hard Rock & The Heat seemed a likely team to dethrone HHH & Smash but they came up short with a finish of 17:31.

Our last heat of the day pitted Silk & Sandman against Yeti & Bruiser.  It was a fun heat to watch as both teams raced out in almost perfect unison with each other through the first several rounds before Bruiser & Yeti started to pull ahead.

There was concern among the coaches that Bruiser would drag Yeti’s dead body across the finish line in order to win but Yeti held is own as they finished the final round at 16:38 just 9 seconds faster than HHH & Smash.  Silk & Sandman finished at 17:41 only one second slower than BFG & Quicksilver.

So for those of you who care about who finished a just-for-fun family WOD first, here’s your rankings:
1. Bruiser & Yeti 16:38
2. HHH & Smash 16:47
3. The Heat & Hard Rock 17:31
4. BFG & Quicksilver 17:40
5. Silk & Sandman 17:41

Great job to our Empower power couples.  And to everyone else who came out to have a fun time just getting the WOD done, many of you decked out with festive flair!

Our potluck table was overloaded with great eats.  There was so much great food to choose from.  Of course Fierce’s meat pie took the proverbial cake with it’s amazing Empower logo!

This year’s event did double duty replacing our Gala Award dinner as we presented awards and recognitions in the lull before the final heat.

First we called up past Spirit of the Open award winners Dangers, Silk, HHH & PomPom to present the Spirit of the Open award for the 2019 Open.  This went to a member who not only organized the 2019 Open but also pioneered the very popular individual challenge idea that has proven so entertaining.  Not only is she always there to help with set up and clean up but athletically she provided several 2019 highlights including repping out sets at her previous 1 rep max thruster and RXing chest-to-bar pull ups in competition for the first time ever.  She also became one of only 2 Empower members to ever defeat WOD Father in an individual challenge.  Spirit of the 2019 Open had to go to Sprite!

We then announced the winner of the 2020 CrossFit Open Intramural Teams.  It was a great year and all 3 teams deserve recognition.  But one team rose above all others.  While the Athletic Dragons Victory Quest and Sandman’s Sand Baggers were nearly tied in points by the end of week 5, the Super Fun Fit Heroes had accumulated nearly as many points as the other two teams combined!

We hung medals about the necks of DT, Mufasa, DK, CPA, HeeHee, UN, She-Ra, Fierce, Smash, Riot, Dauntless, HHH, War Machine, Pepper & Hard Rock.  Communications Officer DT is holding medals for absent team members MakMama, Jet, Intrepid, Electric & D-Knee.  Great work champs!

Then we got to call up the 2020 Spirit of the Open nominees.  Several of the ballots included written explanations for why that member deserved nomination and I got choked up reading some of these things because I am so moved by what a great community of people we have at Empower.  The way you help and support each other really makes such a huge difference in someone’s life and their experience of our community.  I am so grateful for wonderful people like you who make Empower so special!  Let me share again our list of nominees and what you wrote about them:

Name Reason
Fierce Empowering all women in all ages.  Inspiring!
DT Amazing in her 1st Open.  Great costumes.
Always dressed up with a smile & encouragement for her team.
She’s the best & kept us organized.
Captain extraordinaire.
The most amazing team leader.
Approachable, always wears a beautiful smile.
Did 20.4 in costume!
Attempted HSPU in 20.3.  A real inspiration!
CPA She is always one of the most encouraging and positive members of the community, both during the Open as well as the rest of the year.
She’s been working hard, very positive and a great team member.  She’s also so darn nice and encouraging.
The Heat  
HHH Enthusiastic, encouraging, inspiring & fun attitude
Hard Rock  
Dauntless Judging everyone, cheering everyone & working so hard!
Sprite Best participation & helpfulness
Thank you for organizing & motivating our team and being there start to finish every Saturday

What a great list of very deserving people!  Thank you to each one of you.

In the end, two members received more nominations than the others by a significant margin.  In the double-digits in fact!  And for the first time since 2014 we had a tie.  As coaches we agreed that both members stood out in the 2020 Open to such an extent that they both deserved to win and so we did not vote to break the tie but instead declared dual winners: Fierce & DT!

We took a moment to recognize our coaching team: Shades, Sprite, Super Mario, PomPom, Dangers, HeeHee, The Truth, Big Cat and our Facility Manager Fierce.  These guys do so much extra for our community making it possible for The Touch and I to work on growing the business and our community.  In 2019 the support of our team has made a real impact to the quality of your training from lifting platforms to Athletics classes to hand sanitizers and wipes for the equipment.  We are grateful for all the extra, unpaid work our team does to make you experience at Empower better!

And I had to give special recognition to my long-suffering wife who has had to foot the bills unassisted at home since we started this expansion.  August 2017 is the last time I contributed to paying rent at home, since then she has had to carry me – and by extension our entire community – while I work to make the expansion financially viable.  Without her love and support, none of this would be possible.  And lest I come off sounding like a dead beat husband, I assure you, she not only discovered our new gym location and convinced me to check it out, she also convinced me we should take the risk of expansion knowing it would cost as all the savings we had put aside, and plunge us into debt while getting us kicked out of our comfortable and low-rent home.  Was it worth it?  You bet it was!

Because you make it worth it!

Last year we hadn’t the budget to properly recognize our founding members but this year we were so proud to do so.  In the industry, most CrossFitters have a 2 year shelf life before moving onto something else.  Empower is remarkable in that 31 of our 90 members have been with us for 5 years or more.  Another 10% have been with us 4 years and yet another 10% have completed 3 years with us.  49 out of our 90 Empower members have outlasted the usual CrossFit year 2 drop-out date.  It is something we’re both very proud of and hope to improve upon.

We first called up our class of 2014: Big Cat, Magnum, Dangers, Peril, G-Money, Fe Prof, Bruiser, Doc Disc, HHH, Motor, Shades, Hard Rock, Sprite, MK & Mr. Fantastic and presented them with their 5-year Team Empower jerseys.

Then, one year late, we presented the 5-year Empower Team jerseys to our class of 2013, the members who joined us the year we first opened our doors on Vancouver’s West Side: Brick, BFG, Shine, Sandman, Road Warrior, Sam I Am, Skipper, Tamahock, Music Man, Yeti & Boomer.

And finally, we recognized CrossFit Empower’s longest standing member, he started with me in 2010 and 2020 will mark his 10th year at Empower.  It was his idea to move to Vancouver’s West Side.  It was his idea to offer a 5am class.  So he is in fact the founding father of 5am if not our entire West Side establishment: Dr. T.

It was a real honour to have the opportunity to recognize all the members who contributed to our start on the West Side and who have supported us since our start in this great neighbourhood.  We look forward to presenting 5-year Empower Team jerseys next year to our class of 2015!

Sandman took a moment to present WOD Father with the rightful title of 45-49 men’s champ and to recognize The Touch for his outstanding 2020 Open performance with a consolation belt for being the top athlete who is not yet age-advanced enough to be called “master”.

It was a fantastic 12 Days of X-Mas event.  I’m overwhelmed by the great turn out and the emotions.  Thank you to all of you who came out to celebrate with us and all of you who were celebrating with us from afar.  It’s been an amazing 10 year journey since our first Christmas event, we hope to be celebrating with you every year for the next 10 years!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2020!

WOD Father