CrossFit Affiliate Head-Trainer & Owner
Hello, my name is Chris Dessi, and I’m a CrossFit addict. Phew. There, I said it. I didn’t start off addicted to CrossFit. Like a bad after school special warning kids of the dangers of drugs, I had heard about it from some friends. They knew I enjoyed staying fit, so they made a suggestion. “Just try it once.” And just like the knucklehead kid in the after school special, I decided to give it a try. Now I’m hooked. Full blown addict. If working out is a gateway drug, CrossFit is heroin. And just like anyone else who is sick with addiction it’s hit my body hard. As I write this, my entire body is sore. Right now, I’m having trouble straightening my arms because my biceps are still on fire from a WOD (work out of the day) I did 2 days ago. When I sit at my desk I bend my legs just a bit and fall back into my chair. I can barely hobble to the mens room without wincing in pain. But I have a huge smile on my face the entire time. Oh the sweet pain of my CrossFit addiction. I love every bit of it. But why?
Well, let me try to explain how immediately CrossFit has impacted my health:
At 40 years old I’m stronger than my 18 year old self. I can squat more than I did when I played football at Mahopac High School. I can bench more than when I was playing Rugby at Loyola University, Maryland. My cardio is stronger than when I ran a Marathon in my 30’s. My range of motion and flexibility has surpassed my mid 20’s when I was taking 3 yoga classes a week. I’ve seen the light and it’s name is CrossFit. While I’ve been falling in love with this style of workout, I’ve been spending a great deal of time in the “box” (CrossFit lingo for gym). I’ve also been watching the owner of my CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit Westchester grow his business at an insanely quick pace. Chris is no meathead gym rat. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan, but that’s not what has impresses me most about Chris. Chris is a one of a kind, and he has created a community of like minded people at CrossFit Westchester. He is insanely knowledgeable about CrossFit. He’s whip smart. He’s also a stickler for proper form, etiquette, respect and fun. He’s the life force in a gym filled with bigger than life personalities. If you read this blog, you know that Chris is the type of no nonsense hard core entrepreneur I love. He’s growing his business by following his passion and bringing the thunder on a daily basis.
For my sixth Success feature, please welcome CrossFit Affiliate Head-trainer & Owner Chris Guerrero
Chris Dessi: How did you first get involved in CrossFit?
Chris Guerrero: I’ve been involved in fitness my whole life. I was training for my middle school sit-up record since I was 8. I’ve always been into challenging myself physically and went from bodybuilding workouts, to circuit training, to mixed martial arts training. In early 2008 I read an article in Muscle & Fitness about CrossFit. I put it off because I didn’t want to “get small.” A few months later one of my co-workers at JP Morgan suggested I try CrossFit, and sent me some youtube links to his brother in law Rob Orlando – one of the CrossFit OGs who made CrossFit what it is today. I was instantly intrigued and went back to that Muscle & Fitness article from a few months back. They had a “hell week” challenge put forth by CrossFit LA. I chose a Monday to start the week long routine and never looked back since.
Chris Dessi: Your gym is thriving. It seems like it’s less a gym, and more of a thriving community of like-minded people. Why do you think this is true with CrossFit?
Chris Guerrero: I truly believe the community above all drives the product. It is exactly that, a place where like minded people get together to push themselves past their physical and mental limits. The bond forged through sweat and hard work is almost as strong as any other in my opinion. I’ve have made some lifelong friends here.
Chris Dessi: Starting a business is difficult in the office and at home. How much credit do you give to your support system/family for your success? Or have you done it all alone?
Chris Guerrero: From a financial and labor perspective I have done everything alone. In terms of advice, opinions, and decision making, I have had the amazing support of my girlfriend and family from the beginning. I always have the final say in tough decisions but to have the ability to bounce around ideas and always get honest feedback is invaluable in my opinion.
Chris Dessi: I recently learned about the expansion plans for the gym last week. What was your vision for CrossFit Westchester? Did you have a roadmap? Or are you just following your passion and letting that lead your expansion?
Chris Guerrero: To be honest I don’t have a road map. I’m just letting what happens happen. The old spanish phrase, que sera sera. I’ve never been motivated by money, expansion or anything else. I’m motivated by enjoying what I do and sharing my passion for fitness with others. I come across as hard at times, but I think people know I’m extremely genuine which helps people follow me into the CrossFit abyss.
Chris Dessi: You’re very natural and relaxed with the way you interact with your gym members. You also don’t take any BS (ie, people not listening when you’re explaining movements etc) Does this just come naturally to you, or do you work at it? I guess what I’m asking is – how do you get through a bad day when you have to interact with your clients so intimately all day? Have you ever lost your composure?
Chris Guerrero: Time, time, time. I’ve grown up so much in the past 6 years, mainly because I’ve been forced to in order to survive. One of my strongest suits as a business owner is self reflection, and knowing where I’m weak and where I’m strong. I’ve lost my composure many times in the past, and in turn surely lost tons of potential members because of it. The way I look at things is there is no need to dwell in the past. Move forward each day and present the best version of yourself possible.
Chris Dessi: CrossFit athletes are making headlines with some huge endorsement deals etc. You compete at a high level and we all see you training v-e-r-y hard. Is that the goal (to get paid to compete)? If so – what would be the pinnacle for you?
Chris Guerrero: Money for personal glory has not, and will never motivate me. I think my tenacity comes from not being the most physically gifted, however the desire to outwork everyone else. I’ve gotten pretty far in basketball and CrossFit from that alone. I’m willing to do what people won’t all the time. I’d love to make the CrossFit Games one day in any regard, whether individual or team but I won’t let that define me as a person.
Chris Dessi: You have a phenomenal education from a great university (University of Michigan) – how critical has that education been to your success? What do you say to those who say college is a waste of time?
Chris Guerrero: To be honest in this business not much. I think it helped me get my foot in the door in my finance career at different institutions, but I truly think college was a place for me to get my partying out and grow up. I became a man. I loved every minute of school, if there was one takeaway it was responsibility and learning to rely on yourself for most things.
Chris Dessi: I know some guys who are born to run businesses. The type of guys that had an army of kids selling lemonade for them by the time they were 10. You’re a successful entrepreneur – have you always been inclined to run your own business? Or did it just happen because it was CrossFit? I guess what I’m asking is – if it weren’t for CrossFit would you still be a business owner, or would you be sitting in a cubicle somewhere?
Chris Guerrero: I’d probably be hustling doing something else. I can’t imagine my entire life being miserable and working for someone else. From a young age I’ve always been a business man. I used to run a pretty awesome candy business on my bus in 5-6 grade. The desire to work hard to better yourself and your position has always been enough.
Chris Dessi: Your CrossFit gym has been in business since 2010 – what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
Chris Guerrero: To be more patient, open to suggestions, and less scared to fail. To not be so hard headed and be more friendly and approachable to new clients. I have a thriving business now, and had I been the way I am now back then I’d have 500+ members.
Chris Dessi: As a fellow entrepreneur I know that there are high times, and very low times. How do you push through the bad times?
Chris Guerrero: Things change and God has a plan. I don’t know what the plan is, but I know I have a good heart and am a good person and do a lot to help people. If CrossFit fails I’ll find something else. Since money is not my main source of motivation I think it makes hard times easier for me to get through.
Chris Dessi: What can you point to as your best habits that have led to the success of your business?
Chris Guerrero: Discipline, work ethic, and self reflection. The discipline to get stuff done no matter how tired I am. The work ethic to understand that being lazy will only affect me and my bottom line. I know I have to be a go getter. Finally, realizing that I have a staff of people that are much better than me at certain things, and not being scared to admit it and use them where they are strong.
Chris Dessi: You have a great group of people around you. Your Coaches are fantastic. Creme of the crop athletes -but even better people. What hand do you have in that team? Do you work with them – and coach them? Where have you found them, or have they found you?
Chris Guerrero: My coaches are all home grown. They were all members before, and I saw something in them which I liked. I have never, and will never hire a coach outside of our community as I need to thoroughly trust someone and their intentions prior to allowing them to play such an important role in my business.
Chris Dessi: It seems (to me) as if you’re always in the gym. I talk a lot about work life balance on this blog. I’m curious – what’s your rhythm? What time are you in bed – wake up etc? How long are your work outs?
Chris Guerrero: I’m the first to admit I lack balance for sure, and its something I’m working on. I’ve lost touch with a lot of good people over this. Normally I wake up between 6-8am and am in bed around 11-12. I workout 2-3 hours per day. The workouts for me are not stressful, it’s just something that’s become part of my everyday life that I feel I must do in order to feel normal, like sleeping and eating.
Chris Dessi: Do you meditate?
Chris Guerrero: Sometimes, but not nearly enough.
Chris Dessi: People define success differently. For instance, wealth, increased free time, lifestyle, social impact. How do you define success?
Chris Guerrero:To me success is based solely on happiness. Most people define it as how much money you have, but the bottom line is, money DOESN’T buy happiness for most people. I’d rather be happy and poor than rich and miserable. I love waking up and doing what I love because I decided I was going to take a chance on myself.
Chris Dessi: Do you consider yourself a success?
Chris Guerrero: I’m successful yes, but not a success just yet. I’m getting started and realizing that I have quite a few things left to do before I’m done with CrossFit.
Chris Dessi: I’ve been preaching to whoever will listen about CrossFit. But some have replied that they tried it, and have injured themselves. Is injury a necessary evil with CrossFit or are there ways to avoid injury altogether? I guess what I’m asking is – are people just doing it wrong?
Chris Guerrero: Just like anything else, if you do it wrong you can get hurt. Shitty trainers lead to shitty outcomes. I think consumers need to be more intelligent about where they are shopping for certain things. We have a track record of helping people recover and rehab from injury. I’m confident most anyone who gave CrossFit Westchester a shot for more than 1 class would feel the same way. Maybe CrossFit wouldn’t be for them, but they’d agree that “those guys know what they are doing, and I feel safe there.”
Chris Dessi: You’re offered $5million dollars cash (after taxes). One condition – you can never do CrossFit ever again. Do you take the money?
Chris Guerrero: Not a chance. My freedom and happiness doesn’t have a price.
Chris Dessi: Last thing you bought?
Chris Guerrero: Lokai Bracelet
Chris Dessi:Last person you argued with?
Chris Guerrero: My Girlfriend
Chris Dessi: One of your stuffed animals’ names as a kid?
Chris Guerrero: Honestly I only remember one which was the flounder from the Little Mermaid
Chris Dessi: Favorite day of the week?
Chris Guerrero: Monday
Chris Dessi: Favorite curse word?
Chris Guerrero: Fuck – I curse way too much
Chris Dessi: Do you play a musical instrument?
Chris Guerrero: No
Chris Dessi: T.V. show you secretly enjoy?
Chris Guerrero: Alaskan Bush People and most things Discovery
Chris Dessi: One place you could travel right now?
Chris Guerrero: Hawaii
Chris Dessi: Who is the first person you call when things go wrong in your day?
Chris Guerrero: Either my mom or my girlfriend
Chris Dessi: Mets or Yankees?
Chris Guerrero: Yankess but I don’t really like baseball
Chris Dessi: Favorite band?
Chris Guerrero: N/A – very close minded with music
Chris Dessi: Rap or Rock?
Chris Guerrero: Rap
To learn more about how you can join CrossFit Westchester click here.
Remember – the first rule of CrossFit is to tell EVERYONE about CrossFit – so share this post below!
Hey there thanks for reading! My name is Chris Dessi. I’m the founder and CEO of Silverback Social. I’m also the founder of the Westchester Digital Summit, and the author of Your World is Exploding: How Social Media is Changing Everything and How You Need to Change With It.
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