A Change in Perspective

A Change in Perspective

I opened the doors to my affiliate in 2012, a “wide eyed kid” with the dream of helping people find a healthier lifestyle. At the time, I had been doing CrossFit for almost 2 years and really loved the sport, and was ready to transition into making it a career.  The following piece discusses the change in perspectives I have had along that journey, and how they have shaped me to this day.  From Athlete, to Aficionado, to Coach, and then Owner, each stage equally valuable and I have learned so much during each phase of my journey.


I started like many of you, with a baseline workout that sparked my journey with what I call “the Athlete Perspective”. I found CrossFit as a good way to get into shape for the career path I was pursuing, and everything I did revolved around my goals. Intent on absorbing all of the CrossFit knowledge I could, I stayed after class, watched countless videos, tried to follow what I thought was a healthy diet, and generally did everything I could to improve myself. I spent most of my time assessing my performance and how I could improve as an athlete.  I learned so much about myself, my movement patterns and where I could push the limits of my abilities during this time.

In the fall of 2011 I decided to get my CF-L1 Certification. My goal at the time  wasn’t to become a coach or to own my own affiliate, I simply loved CrossFit and wanted to learn more. The month after my L1 I went to the CrossFit Mobility Seminar, and the month following that I went to the CrossFit Weightlifting seminar. I felt like I was starting to approach what I call the “Aficionado Perspective”. I had acquired a good base amount of knowledge from the seminars,  my outside readings, and was beginning to share that knowledge with others. My focus was still mainly on myself and my performance, but I began to share some of my experience and knowledge with others.

I was still in the “Aficionado Perspective” when I opened my Affiliate in 2012. I still had my workouts, pursued my performance as a priority, and largely viewed myself as an athlete.   At the same time I was coaching 7 classes a day and, predominantly  “winging it” when it came to the business aspect of Ft. Wright CrossFit. I had a vision of what I wanted my gym to look like someday, but no clear path or steps to get to there. I continued soaking up knowledge and attending as many seminars as I could; all in an effort to become an “expert” in every field within CrossFit.

In retrospect, I lingered in the Aficionado stage for too long, but all that time spent absorbing knowledge did pay off by giving me self confidence when coaching, especially to large classes. I’m not by nature outspoken, and wouldn’t label myself as a performer, so coaching and speaking to groups didn’t come naturally to me.  I had to put in time and effort to become comfortable and confident in my coaching skills. Knowledge helped me overcome that fear, and made me better at my job.

It took a few years to break out of the Aficionado Perspective and get to the Coaching Perspective. I had an empathetic base of knowledge from the Athlete Perspective, meaning that yes I knew the frustration of missed double unders, the joy of a PR and the pain of getting a little pukey during a workout.  I had an educational base from my time in the Aficionado phase, certifications on the wall, and some coaching experience so it was time to approach the Coaching Perspective.  In the Coaching Perspective you have to put your athletes needs above your own. You’re in the middle of your weightlifting, but your athlete has a question about muscle ups? Looks like you’ll finish your sets later. It’s 11PM on a Saturday night and your phone lights up with a message from an athlete with a nutrition question. Better find someplace quiet to type out your paragraph answer explaining how the athlete can improve their eating habits. Your needs, your goals and sometimes even your performance take a backseat to the people you are coaching and a good coach wouldn’t want it any other way.  But now, now you’re shifting focus, putting that energy you so carefully crafted working on yourself to others and you get to see the fruit of that labor.  Your members are hitting PRs left and right, limitations both mental and physical fall by the wayside, and they’re seeing meaningful changes in their lives. Fulfillment and satisfaction come from seeing the people you help, achieve things that they never thought possible.  You’re beginning to have an impact that’s bigger than yourself and you feel full in a completely different way.

The next stage is one that I’m still working on, and that’s the Owner Perspective. My focus has shifted at least partially from coaching athletes, to coaching coaches and running the business. Setting up expectations and guidelines that allow each class to run exactly as others that day, to provide a consistent client experience, all while allowing for coaches to get creative and continue working on their skills as well. Focusing on things like creating a more specific vision for the gym, and writing a path/plan for how to get there. Setting daily/monthly/90 day/6 month/yearly/5 year/10 year goals. All while trying to create a legacy for my daughter, establishing a FWCF that she can be proud of when she is my age.


My focus now is on creating a business that sustains more than just my family, and setting goals that affect more than just us.  Instead of trying to change the perspective of one teenage girl, that being strong is in fact beautiful, I want to change the entire world’s view on women (a rabbit hole that I jump down much more quickly now that I have a baby girl.) I don’t want to change one guys diet in my gym so he loses 30 pounds this year. I want to change his lifestyle so that he is now the example to his family and coworkers on what healthy eating is and how to achieve goals.  I want to empower him with the tools and knowledge to be the expert in his own community. My goals are bigger, my dreams focused on changing the world not just one person but to see the ripple effect of one person who goes and changes another person and then another until we start kicking down the doors of mental, emotional and physical conditions that hold people back.  Not just the people of Ft. Wright, not just of those in Northern Kentucky or the Tri-State area but to anyone who wants to go after a life without limits.

It’s been a humbling journey to say the least.  A journey I can honestly say was filled with mistakes but also so many lessons learned.  Maybe, maybe I may have spent too much time in some of those perspectives. Maybe I would be farther than I am now if I hadn’t, but I can’t change what has already passed. And if I can’t change it, then why focus on it? I choose to focus on the now, while looking forward. The questions that come now are “Is what I’m doing now going to get me where I want to be in a year? 5 years?”  If not then I re-evaluate, and make the necessary changes to correct my course to meet my goals. I’ve learned that I can take action now to become who I want to be later, and implemented careful planning to ensure my achievement of these goals.  


It’s easy to go after the “quick fix” when it comes to so many areas of your life.  But, what I have learned over the past 8 years is that there is no “quick fix” for a “new you.”  It takes diligent planning and dedicated focus to get where you want to be, and to achieve your goals. Maybe a year from now you’ll have a change in perspective and different goals, and that’s ok.  Each day is an opportunity to grow and to get better, take advantage of that. So, what are you going to do today to get better and/or achieve your goals?

-Kyle Stark