Good Afternoon, Playout Players! I posted this on the Playout Facebook page already, and would love to share my story with you all here!
A few months ago, I received a message from the Operations Director of Rogue Fitness. Could I build the obstacle course for the 2017 edition of The CrossFit Games... in 3 days? Completely inexperienced with working on a project of this scale, I decided to approach the opportunity with honesty and enthusiasm. I didn't act like I knew more than I did. I was candid about our lack of experience, but let him know that I was thrilled for the opportunity. The first person I instinctively reached out to was Garfield Griffiths, who proved to be nothing but a blessing for our team throughout the entire process. Garfield signed the NDA and gave confirmation that a project of this scale was possible, and agreed to come onto the team. What followed was a 200+ hour sprint with my business partners, Adam Lombroso and Levi Noam Siegelman, along with our Mech Engineer recruit David Buzdygon, to prepare a proposal in just 3 days. We finished it in 2.5. Negotiations went back and forth, and the scope, scale and pay of the project was largely undetermined. We set a price based on their new terms, and they agreed. Playout was on its way towards building the 2017 Crossfit Games Obstacle Course.
With the help of Garfield, we added more members to our team and geared up for a pre-fabrication at Rogue's secret warehouse facility in Columbus, OH. We coordinated materials shipments, created final designs and plans, and came in to OH with all guns blazing. The team we assembled was incredible - Garfield Griffiths and Ian O'Hara as leaders, Bobby Shelton and Brian Morgan as our big bad foremen, Hubie Cushmanof Indian Mud Run, Jae Lumley, Chad Roberts, Ruin Fey, Rusty Fry, Jaquan Lamboy, Justin Saucier, Jack the "Ironman", Kyle Valentine, Bryan Fisher, Matt (from Teamwork) and Robert Valentine. I can't thank these guys enough for the amazing effort and craftsmanship, despite all the ups and downs. When it came down to it, Playout was responsible for building the entire obstacle course except for the metal footers and braces that Rogue was custom making for our team and the 2 rigs on the course. Prefabrication was an amazing team bonding experience, and despite all the changes that kept coming at us from the top, we finished on time, tested the obstacles, and loaded the trucks for the main event in Madison, Wisconsin.
During our 4 day break, what little down time we had was quickly swept up by a request from Rogue to renegotiate the contract based on the amount they were spending on the project. All previously offered perks were now off the table, including branding and social media coverage. 3 days before the build, when all we should have been thinking about was the installation itself, I was caught up in one of the tougher decisions I've had to make in my life: get muscled by the big man or let down a team of 15 people and lose out on a big opportunity in the process. I chose to accept the new terms and move forward with the project.
We knew we were gearing up for an eventful week when 11/11 flights were cancelled on Sunday. Despite the challenges, we were able to operate at 60% capacity on Monday when we got to the site and began the installation. By Tuesday we were moving in full force. Despite our amazing performance in the actual installation, our team struggled with the new terms of our contract, as many of the guys had set aside an additional week to stay for the games and the teardown, which were no longer part of the agreement. There was a great deal of internal conflict, and I learned about the challenges of working teams of total strangers, managing expectations, contracts, and working with huge companies. Despite all the challenge, and working side by side with Rogue employees, we were able to complete the installation by Friday, one week before the actual event. Levi and I even got to run the course in front of Dave Castro, CEO of CrossFit, and I made a time that would've placed me in the top 5 of the entire games.
All in all, the experience was hugely fruitful; if nothing else a uniquely valuable learning experience that put my faith, leadership, and core team to the test. We made it out alive, and the course proved to be an awesome feature of the 2017 Games. I am eternally grateful to God for granting me this opportunity to learn, grow, and permanently shift the way I see my role in the fitness industry and world at large. Of course, a huge shout-out to my teammates, Adam and Levi for sticking by my side through thick and thin... Sahh duuue, and to the whole build team for your tireless effort to make all of this happen.
Would I do it all again? I'm not sure. Ask me in a month or two. Did I gain new appreciation for the work that Playout does for camps, schools, and communities to promote a strong foundation of health and fun fitness, particularly for kids? Absolutely. I've learned a lot about who I am and who I'm not; who I want to be and who I don't want to be.
When it comes down to it... I think the truth is crystal clear:
Why workout... When you can PlayOut!