Thursday, October 25, 2012

SVG FIT Interviews Kelly Bock Stripling from CrossFit 816

Hello my fellow Savages!

Today we are talking with Kelly Bock Stripling, owner of CrossFit 816! Kansas City-area CrossFit gym and, on a personal note, one of my favorite CF boxes out there. My history with Kelly and 816 hail back to the days of my own CF box, CrossFit Wichita and the “XFIT League”.

Kelly, CF 816 and a group of nearly a dozen gyms went head-to-head in one of the first online CF competitions in the country. We had a great time and I made a lot of good friends, including Kelly during that time!

Kelly is going to tell us all about CrossFit 816, her views on the CF paradigm and what she thinks it takes to make a successful CF coach and gym in today’s post-Reebok era.

Matt - So, Kelly, thank you very much for joining us for this interview! I’m so excited to talk with you about CF 816 and how you’ve been rocking and rolling up there!

How about we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself? How did you get started in CrossFit? Where did it all begin?

Kelly - I had been a distance runner for 10 years.  Overuse injuries including a femur stress fracture led to me entertaining the idea that there had to be a more effective way to stay fit.  I was nearing age 40 and wasn’t happy with the aesthetic results of so much cardio.  Lots of research led me to the idea that not only would I have to train smarter not harder with running, I would need to add the element of heavy weight training to combat age related muscle loss, and add some intensity to see improvement in performance.  CrossFit was the answer.  The rest is history.

Matt - When did you get certified and where? Any good stories to tell about your experience with the whole certification process?

Kelly - Summer 2010 in Boulder, Colorado.  Any reason to get to Colorado!  Pat Sherwood was my instructor, he is absolutely charming and easy on the eyes.  Cherie Chan was there, and seeing her in person – wow.  I knew this was good stuff. I was also vegan at the time, and began entertaining the idea of eating meat when Cherie told me I’d never get my  Fran time down without it!  I am 100% Paleo now!

Matt - When did you decide you were ready to open up your own box?  

Kelly - Chris and I had always led a fitness based lifestyle.  When we began training CrossFit, we wanted all of our friends and family to experience it, as CF enthusiasts do!  We recognized the need in our area for a CrossFit gym,  we had an empty warehouse space,  we grabbed my brother and another good friend and decided we had to take the plunge.

Matt - How did you get started? Did you have working capital or did you build from the ground-up?

Kelly - We had an empty warehouse building from another business that grew out of it.  We used savings initially, started small, and reinvested and continue to reinvest profit into growing the business.

Matt - What is it about being a CF gym owner that you love the most? What do you hate (if anything)? What would you change if you had it to do all over again?

 Kelly - I love it all.  It is my lifestyle and my passion.  It is very true that if you are doing what you love it is not a job.  Even when I’m doing admin stuff or cleaning the gym, it is an act of love!  There is absolutely nothing better than seeing the change from within people.   People expect outward changes, but the inward changes always surprise them.  That is magic. The biggest challenge is finding time to workout myself!  I wouldn’t do anything differently, because ignorance is bliss!  I had no idea what I was getting into as a small business owner so nothing to be afraid of.

Matt - Obviously you are as sold on the CF methodology as myself or anyone probably reading this is; what do you think it is about the CF paradigm that has fundamentally changed SO many people around the world?

Kelly - First off it’s different than anything they’ve ever done before.  It’s challenging on a whole new level.  It is something that is intriguing, challenging, and competitive.  For these reasons, people stick to it – NOT sticking with a program is the number one reason for failure!  As a result  they start experiencing the physical and mental changes.   Then there is the community aspect.

Matt - Along the same lines, what is your 60-second, “elevator speech” to people who are new to CrossFit?

Kelly - This usually comes after “do you workout?” or “you have great arms – what do you do?” I answer “CrossFit” they say “What’s That?”   I say it’s a blend of high intensity cardio, weight training, gymnastics and bodyweight movements, strongman elements, and general fun and merriment.  CrossFit will change your life.  It will change how you look and how you feel in ways you can not even begin to imagine.  It is for everyone.   It is the fountain of youth.

Or a personal favorite – I was checking out at Target in shorts and a tank top, street clothes, I turned around to make small talk with the college age girls behind me because it was taking so long (I was that person in the check out line) – and one of the girls said “Oh! I thought you were our age until you turned around!  What do you DO?”

Matt - As a coach, when someone new walks in the door for the first time, who is it you hope to see? A new, blank slate with little or no developed capacity, OR someone with a relatively high pre-CrossFit capacity, but already “knows” many of the movements (i.e. someone who has been improperly trained on the bar, but still thinks they know what they’re doing)?  

Kelly - Blank slate!

Matt - What is your approach to training? How do you set up your “elements” (basic) classes for new athletes?

Kelly - We offer a 5 class On Ramp to CrossFit series.  Besides going over standards and range of motion to keep them safe, it gives them a non intimidating environment to figure out scaling options and get used to a high heart rate!

Matt - What is it at CF 816 that really sets you apart from other gyms in your area? …traditional gyms?

Kelly - You know the answer to that – no mirrors and no machines.  The group dynamic and the workouts for sure.  Our people and the community you experience at our box is second to none...  I’ve been complimented on the programming from people coming from other CF gyms around.  We have Hot Yoga – the only place north of the river that offers hot yoga classes.

Matt - Do you provide any other types of classes at CF 816? If so, do these compliment your CrossFit programming or run parallel to it?

Kelly - Hot Yoga and Vinyasa yoga.   CrossFitters tend to have tight shoulders and hips, hot yoga stretches you out while vinyasa works your core and improves your gymnastic movements.   We also do a lifting class that people love.

Matt - How many athletes are you currently training? Are you regularly competing in any CF tournaments?

Kelly - We have around 60 athletes.  We are taking a group to the Life Equals CrossFit competition next month as well as “Chalkin up the Deuces” in Omaha in December.

Kelly Bock Stripling
Height: 5'4"
Weight: 125

Most Surprising accomplishment since starting CF?
My running times finally came down!

Favorite WOD?
I love a good barbell complex or anything with OHS.  I also love burpees and wall balls

Least Favorite WOD?
Anything with double unders or that requires an under 5 min finishing time.

Deadlift  225
Push Press  125
Clean 130
Snatch  95

Cindy  18 rounds
Fran  6:06
Murph  43:00

Crossfit 816 from Austin Walsh on Vimeo.

Well that about sums it up! Kelly, thank you very much for your time and we love hearing from you! If you’re a fellow SVG out there, be sure to keep up with Kelly ( and CrossFit 816 ( regularly! They put up some great WODs and awesome healthy living information!

Stay Savage, my friends!

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