Karen and value of the dark place – by Coach Ben

“Karen” 150 Wall Balls for Time (20/14) 

The workout Karen has a special place in my heart. It was the first benchmark I ever did in 2013 and it changed everything I thought I knew about exercise. Being the hotshot I thought I was, I did it as prescribed with a 20lb ball. Because it’s only a 20lb ball, how bad could it be…. The answer was bad, very bad. Everyone in the class had finished and I was still doing sets of 3-5 while keeled over my ball during breaks. I swore I would never do it again. That was, of course, a lie. I now do it every few months as a personal check in. There are two sides to the workout, the physical and the mental. I’m going to focus on the mental side since lots of workouts are physically challenging.

A 315 lb snatch is cool, so is a sub 5 minute mile, but the person who can do an unbroken Karen is who you want with you in the zombie apocalypse.  Now most of us mortals will probably not go unbroken and that’s ok.  One of the original sayings in CrossFit is that the greatest adaptation is between the ears. Karen is the epitome of that epithet. It teaches you how to take an intimidating goal and break it down.  You don’t focus on the daunting 150, you just get through the next set (whatever that number is for you).

The unique thing about Karen is that there is no change of scenery, you don’t even get to watch other athletes, it’s just you, the ball, and the wall, and in that way it’s beautifully simple.

It is a test of character, it is an opportunity to go to the dark place. An opportunity to have a nice 5-15 minute chat with the demons in your head.

Just seeing 150 wall balls some people will think about maybe staying at home. Maybe they will go for a jog to justify their absence and make them feel less guilty. Right there was your first check in, the demons won. The good news is if this is you, you have a chance to make a change.  After the warm-up the coach yells “3-2-1 GO!” and the real conversations start.  The demons will tell you to go get a drink because that seems like a valid excuse to pause and walk away.  But somewhere in your head you know the water you consume in that moment will have no effect on hydration.  The demons will say that squat was deep enough, keep going, when you know you didn’t hit the  standard. The demons will tell you to count the rep that was so close to the target but didn’t quite hit. They will tell you it’s ok because your lungs are screaming for air and the burning in your muscles justifies it.  Welcome to the dark place….

This is your chance.  It’s time to make a choice.  Yes you already showed up to do the work and you could settle for that. Just cruise it in with lots of breaks to the end…  Or, you can say “F*** you demons, pick the ball up and embrace the darkness.  Force a gasping smile, stay moving and hold on.  Trust yourself you’re not going to fail a rep.  Convince yourself it’s just discomfort, not pain, and you can deal with a lot of discomfort*.  Stick to your plan, focus on finishing your current set and nothing else.  It will end, and the rubber mats of the gym floor will feel like a soft cloud knowing you gave it everything you had. And after your legs and lungs start working again, you will wipe up your sweat puddle and go about your day wondering what other challenges you are capable of conquering.

Coach Ben holds a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and Master’s in Physical Education from the Univeristy of Maryland.  He has been a CrossFit coach since getting his Level 1 in 2014 and currently holds a CrossFit Level 3 certification.  He is a full-time physical education teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools and proud father of two beautiful children.

*line paraphrased from Ben Bergeron CFNE

CrossFit Enforce Celebrates 10-years as a Fitness Leader

CrossFit Enforce, a local leader in fitness and nutrition, celebrates its 10th year Anniversary April 2023.  To commemorate this event, CrossFit Enforce announces its new website and tag line, ALWAYS RISING.

The gym was founded to bring coaching excellence to a community who otherwise did not have ready access to local fitness options.  Originally located in the Red Barn Retail Shops of Laytonsville, CFE opened in a tiny space of less than 1000 sq ft, nestled between a frame shop, a bike shop and a bar.   A few years later CFE doubled in size to occupy about 1500 sq ft after Just Riding Along Bikes moved to its current location a few hundred meters away off route 108. Through word-of-mouth, membership blossomed and soon CFE was bursting at the seams.
In 2019, CFE relocated to a 5300 sq ft facility near the Gaithersburg Airpark where it still resides today. Just as the gym settled into a new location the COVID-19 pandemic forced doors to close in 2020 while the world went into hibernation. Like so many other businesses the financial impact on the business was severe and took a toll on the membership and owners. 

By the end of quarantine CFE changed ownership twice. Like so many other businesses the financial impact on the business was severe and took a toll on the membership and owners.  By the end of quarantine CFE changed ownership twice.

Current owners, Flavia Herringa and Maria Lempicki, have been staples at CFE since the gym’s beginning.  “As a service business, and one that provides personalization, accountability and community, we take our relationships very seriously”, says Maria Lempicki.  Building on the solid foundation, CFE is now offering services to take better control of your fitness to include nutrition coaching, personal training, specialty strength training classes and in-house massage therapy. The gym is happy to report a revitalization of membership of over 30%. “CFE will continue to provide outstanding business practices, programming, coaching, and education to our incredible community” says owner Flavia Herringa.  “The term “ALWAYS RISING” embodies our attitude as owners, CrossFit ethos and what we want for our members.” Both owners stated that, “Along this 10-year journey, we have been supported by so many wonderful employees, members, partners, and mentors. Sustaining an incredible community around an inclusive, supportive culture.”

In celebration and with deepest gratitude, CrossFit Enforce invites past and present members and the community at large to enjoy a 10th Anniversary workout followed by breakfast and an award ceremony on April 22nd at 9am.


About CrossFit Enforce

CrossFit Enforce is a small, independently owned and operated business located near the Gaithersburg Airpark at 7851 Beechcraft Avenue. We provide a safe, supportive, and empowered environment where members can embrace their fitness journey, working with expert coaches, in pursuit of becoming their best selves. In addition to group fitness classes, we offer nutrition coaching, personal training, specialty strength training classes and in-house massage therapy. For more information about CrossFit and CrossFit Enforce visit www.crossfit.com and www.crossfitenforce.com.