I will discuss CrossFit and how it has changed my life, I will discuss my love for COFFEE, and I will talk about how the CrossFit community has helped to redefine me as a coach and a leader! I invite you to take this journey with me. Let’s go! ..
I am Jeff Giosi. I am 35 years strong, and proud to say that I have packed several lifetimes worth of living into those 35 years.
In my youth, I was a competitive athlete. As I approached my college years, I was led to West Virginia University to run track and field. There I became a Decathlete, regularly competing in ten track and field events that took place over the course of two days. Through the help of my training partner, Kent McBride, and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Mike Barwis, I was able to earn the title of “All Big East”.
After my collegiate athletic career was over, like many, I searched for the “next thing”. Until one day Kent bet me $10 to do an all natural body building show. Being someone that cannot turn down a bet, several months (and several spray tans) later, I found myself under the bright lights competing in my first National Physique Committee (NPC) Bodybuilding show. My college Strength Coach, Mike, who had become like a big brother to me at this point, wrote all my training cycles and gave me macronutrient (protein, carbs, and fat) breakdowns for my nutrition plans.
During my training for this show I was able to learn so much from Mike about building programs for specific needs, as I was now training very differently than I was as a track and field athlete. Competing in college and taking several undergrad classes specializing in nutrition, I learned the basics. However, none of that education addressed specific requirements of athletes, so during my time as a bodybuilder I was able to pick Mike’s brain about different training and nutritional protocols for different sports. I always asked “why” and his answer was always “go look it up and come back”.
No one was more surprised than I was when I took the top spot in my very first Bodybuilding Show. Looking back, I am not sure if I realized it then, but what I learned from Mike was better than any first place trophy I received. In my natural bodybuilding career, with the encouragement of my family, friends, and Mike’s coaching; I was able to compete and win on state, regional , and national levels and eventually went on to win a world level title!
The last time I competed was in 2008 at a World Show in Miami, and I began to realize for the first time how lonely bodybuilding was. I went to the gym alone, put my headphones in, lifted, and spoke with very few while I worked out. Competing in bodybuilding is about aesthetics not athletics and, honestly, it was not fun for me anymore. I wanted something different, but what?
While all of this was going on, I became a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach under Mike Barwis at WVU. From there I worked my way up to an Assistant Strength Coach working with the Men’s & Women’s Basketball Teams. The amount of knowledge I gained from my colleagues and on-the-job experience during my stay at WVU was insane. From 2005-2008 we had the “Dream Team” of Strength and Conditioning Coaches and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of that.
After leaving WVU, I went to North Carolina where I became a Firefighter. This one event was a catalyst for so many things in my life. I designed a functional training protocol for Structural Firefighting. I did not see it or understand it at the time, BUT it closely resembled CROSSFIT!
I quickly made the connection that if I could move better and increase my work capacity I would, ultimately, be better at my job. To be better at my job meant I could get to that victim no one else could, I could bear the load of my colleagues if one of them went down, I could remove people from danger, and I could provide hope to those that were in a hopeless situation. I knew if I wanted to achieve all of that, I needed to be more than an athlete. I needed to be an industrial athlete.
Once again my training and my ideas around Strength and Conditioning were forced to grow and evolve due to my life experiences. I worked on writing training cycles that would make me better and more efficient at fire fighting tasks. First hand, I saw things that worked and things that did not. Every day my knowledge of human performance grew and adapted to new stimuli. As a rookie Firefighter I was asked to run the Fire Academy Physical Training course. Fire Fighting AND Strength and Conditioning! …I was in love.
After a two year stint at Greenville Fire-Rescue my journey took me to Michigan to work at Barwis Methods Training Center, reuniting me with my old mentor and friend and giving me the opportunity to work in a unique and multifaceted training center that was featured on the Discovery Channel with a show called American Muscle. We trained professional athletes in a variety of sports from football to bull riding, and we also worked with individuals with special needs. Training the professionals was an incredible experience and I am so grateful for that opportunity. – Working with an athlete and then seeing them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or the NFL Playoffs is surreal BUT my favorite part of the time I spent in Michigan was spent with the special needs athletes. Mike is the most gifted Strength Coach I have ever been around. The sheer knowledge and experience I received from him while working with paraplegic, quadriplegic, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy athletes has completely changed who I am as a person and has shown me, more than ever, what my mission is.
Every experience I have been blessed with has shaped my life and cultivated my passion. Each step of the way, I have picked up skills and education on how to be better so, ultimately, I can positively affect the lives of others and inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
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