January 1st, 2014 at 530AM marked the very first class offered by Evolve Fitness Clearwater. It was a quiet class compared to the 5AM and 6AM Rise and Grind classes that are now blaring music and doing work before the sun comes up. In fact, there was nobody in that first class – not even a coach. How could there be? We hadn’t done our first orientation yet, but everything was set and ready to go for the new year.
When our doors opened in 2014, Evolve Fitness Clearwater was 2 deep – Coach Chris and Coach Sebastian. Over the past couple of years, this community has flourished into something amazing and now we stand #200deep. Even with all of the planning and preparation, and even if that plan had been executed to perfection, we could never account for all of the experiences, friendships, and other intangibles that have formed this community we have today.
This group of people has done some special things together. We have suffered together, learned together, and we have done much laughing and celebrating together. For many of us, Manta Ray is our second family – and I don’t use the term “family” sparingly. At Manta Ray we hold accountable and motivate each other, we confide in and uplift each other, and we celebrate each other’s achievements. We would like nothing more than to see our EFC family succeed. That is why we represent that orange and black loud and proud wherever we go. Most definitely people have taken notice to our large numbers, our manic enthusiasm, and our SWEET gear designed by EFC member Jeremy Duncan.
There is no doubt that we have a diverse crowd, and that is what makes this family that much more special. Manta Ray consists of our CrossFit Kids ranging from 7-13 years old, including 11 year old Sophia who may be our biggest cheerleader. We have teenagers such as 16-year old Johnny who if they keep it up, could be outstanding athletes in the near future. We have adults such as Hilda, 66, and Mary, 59, who are grinding as hard as anyone else and inspiring anyone lucky enough to meet them. At Manta Ray we have newbies to fitness and experienced athletes and competitors alike – Business professionals, students, police, fire, and military veterans – the list could go on. What is incredible is that you can take any combination of these people together, and no matter the age difference, personal beliefs, or political views, they will still have something in common. That common connection is CrossFit, and more specifically, this community – Manta Ray.
We have officially reached our 200 member mark, and we are now #200deep. For a CrossFit box, this is a tremendous accomplishment and it speaks volumes to the strength of our community. There are certain key elements that have allowed us to reach this point together. In the past two years, we have taken on an amazing coaching staff that in large part has contributed to our success. Coach Luis and Coach Anmarie were the first to join our team. We now have a thriving team consisting of Fitness Director Coach Sammie, Coach Stephanie, both “Coach Nick P’s,” Coach Cliff, Coach Mark, Coach Kyle, and Coach Chad. Yoga Coaches in Coach Colleen and Coach Rachel. Kids Coaches in Coach Sue and Coach Shannon. All of these people have played an active role in growing our community by offering their own unique approach, style, and personality to our program. Then there is all of you…
What does #200deep mean?
Any group, organization, or in this case, CrossFit box, can only be as good as the individuals who make it up. By that criteria alone, one could determine that Manta Ray must be pretty damn awesome. Like I said earlier… #200deep speaks volumes to the strength of our community and more specifically the EFC members and athletes. Having 200 members isn’t a direct reflection of the size of our gym or the amount of equipment we own. It doesn’t directly correlate to the cleanliness of the box (even though we are pretty clean) or the fact that we have A/C (although that doesn’t hurt). Not that those things don’t matter or contribute, but there are boxes out there much bigger than ours, with more equipment, that don’t have as many athletes inside their walls. Our community is strong because of our members and their enthusiasm and positive attitude towards our program and each other. Our members are welcoming to new athletes and are quick to make them feel at home. At Manta Ray, we continue to forge elite fitness without sacrificing community for competition, and that is what keeps the EFC Family strong, healthy, and representing in large numbers.
For the month of May, we will be celebrating #200deep. We will be taking some time to reflect on what #200deep means to us as owners, coaches, and athletes. For some it could be the theme of family, or it could be more specific: maybe this community has taught you something about yourself or helped you through a tough time in your life, and that is what #200deep signifies to you. Over May we will offer some videos and testimonies from fellow athletes and coaches giving their personal take on this accomplishment. Make sure to include #200deep in any social media posts about EFC and feel free to post on what 200 deep means to you. Perhaps you guys will even see some 200 themed workouts this month?? Possibly 200 burpees for time? Just kidding! Or are we? …
In closing, we would like to say thank you to our coaches and our members for your continued support. This is a milestone in our growth but we are nowhere near our peak and we are certainly not going to slow down. Congratulations on all of your hard work thus far and there are only more PRs and podium finishes in the future. As a group we will still laugh and celebrate many more times, just as we will shed blood, sweat, and tears together. So don’t let up, keep moving forward, and never forget that your “Ability is Limitless.”