Featured Member- John Herring
1. You are one of the longest serving CM2 members, but what originally interested you in starting CrossFit?
“Whilst recovering from an Ultramarathon I was receiving treatment from a Physio friend who I knew from my time playing at Chelmsford Rugby Club, where I also first met Rob. Anyway, whilst chatting during treatment I was being told of all this mad fitness stuff Rob was doing and it’s competitive, and that Rob was bloody good at it (not surprising!) and he’s opened his own gym!!
So, after plenty Googling and watching on YouTube, I knew that CrossFit was for me! Once I’d recovered from the Ultra, I did my Foundations in September 2012 and have never looked back.”
2. What about being a CM2 member has kept you coming back through the door week after week?
“The prospect of new CM2 T-Shirts and Hoodies!!!
It originally started off with me wanting to be fitter and stronger but has now changed to just wanting to maintain my physical and mental health. If I manage to get my performance and physique back to where it was before my long-term injury, that will be a fortuitous by-product.
The one thing more than anything else that keeps me coming back is the CrossFit CM2 community. The mix of characters that share the same passion for maintaining and improving their fitness makes you want to return to see how they are all doing. Over lockdown I found training on my own really tough, personally I need to go to the gym to motivate me to train and part of that is the people. The chats like; talking about how training is going, moaning about the football scores (Steve Hunt), me banging on about my injury, getting on my high horse about the anthropology of running and how everyone should read Born to Run, or just a general random chat. It all motivates me to keep coming back”.
3. What have been some of your biggest setbacks/ injuries whilst being a member of CM2, and how has this affected your training?
“I’ve had quite a few little niggles which were all related to mobility issues due to fracturing 3 vertebrae in my neck years ago. I worked on my mobility with help from Rob and the other CM2 coaches and things improved greatly. That was until 3 years ago, I was in a car accident. I was hit from the rear by a truck which wrote off my car and put me in hospital, having lost feeling in both of my arms. Luckily after the bruising and swelling in my neck reduced, I regained feeling in my arms, but had damaged one of the nerves in my neck which still affects my left arm.
I have gone from being able to do bar muscle-ups, to not being able to do one strict pull-up. Most things overhead cause me problems, but strangely snatching has little effect. I have good days and bad days but, I really struggle with comparing what I can do now with what I could do when I was at my fittest, and that really frustrates me which can make me rather grumpy after a bad workout (Sorry if I’ve just buggered off after a workout without saying bye, that’ll be why).
The issues with my injury are improving and I think I am now at the stage where I can now start to work on regaining the strength in my left arm/shoulder.”
4. What motivates you to keep working on your fitness, especially with those setbacks?
“Mostly knowing that if I don’t work on my fitness it affects my mental health. Training controls and lifts my mood, which is further helped by the CM2 community, there’s a lot to be said for shared suffering!
I may have quit if it wasn’t for the patience and knowledge of the CM2 coaches, changing the workout even sometimes midway through because my arm has lost feeling. So, I would like to say thanks to all the coaches who I’m also lucky enough to call my friends too”.
5. Do you have any main hobbies other than CrossFit?
“During rare bouts of fitness, I do Brazilian Jiujitsu, I think I must hold the record for the person to hold a white belt for the longest time.
I also play drums for a band called Lithium, that in a time before Covid, would terrorise the pubs and clubs of London and Essex with loud angry boy guitar music. I’ve been playing drums since I was 7, so years of experience have meant I can manage to play even with a dodgy left arm. Although I’ve now gone back to drum school to try and help repair the damage”.
6. What are some of your favourite memories of training at CM2?
“Damn, so many! Err I’d have to say either beating Gary “Del Boy” Denham (An ex-member who originally turned up with Mike Lee) on a sprint and deadlift WOD at the first Tribal Clash, which generated a reasonable crowd as it was so close. I beat him on the last rep after he took a sizable lead on the sprint element.
Or working until roughly 4 am to help get the gym floor laid so that everything was in place to open, when CM2 moved from its old location. I did the last workout in the old gym, dropped a few bits over to the new gym, helped out a bit and the next thing I knew it was 4am. I had booked in to do the first WOD in the new gym, so I had just enough time to go home, have a few hours’ sleep and get back to the gym for 9am”.
7. What are your next set of training goals and where would you like to be this time next year?
“Gymnastic strength work will be my main focus for a while as that’s where I’ve found that I’ve lost most of my strength. So, lots of static holds, Strict pull-up progressions and keeping up the all-important thoracic spine mobility work.
Along-side this I will be making a concentrated effort with my nutrition, working with coaches Rich & Katie to provide me with accountability and support.
Hopefully this time next year I will once again be able to do bar muscle-ups. If that happens it will have been a very successful year’s training”.
8. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone thinking about joining CM2, what would it be?
“Only one?? That’s tough. I’d say listen to and trust the coaches. They know exactly what they are talking about. Yes, even Rich does!
There’s other advice I could give but that is definitely at the top of the list, closely followed by: Enjoy your training. Damn that was 2, Sorry”!
Coach Rich- "I have known John for a long time now and it feels like a true pleasure every time I see him walk into the gym, he is one of the old school CM2 members being part of the community for as long as I can really remember. Being part of the community is something that I see John standing out at. He is always a friendly face with new members and constantly encouraging everyone around him during class. John has not had an easy ride with his own fitness journey, from severe heat stroke to broken necks, John has done it all, but the determination to rebuild and start again is nothing short of amazing. Just recently watching John perform a heavy squat clean, after months of having no real feeling in his arm was an outstanding moment for him, as a coach this absolutely makes my day. Thanks for the 100% effort you always bring John, I look forward to coaching you for many more years".
Coach Emily- "As an OG member John epitomises the spirit of CM2. John was in my first ever CrossFit class seven years ago; he came over, introduced himself, offered encouragement, making me instantly feel welcome and part of the community. John has been dealt many challenges of which he always comes back with a fighting attitude. Well deserved featured member"!
Coach Rob- "I met John in 2009 at Chelmsford Rugby Club; we played a few games together both at second row for the development squad. John joined CM2 in 2012 and has trained consistently since. As a former rugby player and marathon runner, and someone who likes to push his body to the limit in training he’s worked through some injuries over the years. Some people would use an injury as an excuse to put their feet up for a few months (or give up completely) but John has always been great at communicating with the coaches and understanding how he can adjust the programming so he can continue to train while avoiding anything that might slow his recovery. For some people ego gets in the way and they don’t want to train if they can’t do the session as prescribed like everyone else; but this is absolutely the wrong attitude. John leaves his ego at the door and focuses on what he can do to progress towards his goal. This dedication is really beginning to pay dividends as his movement is looking better than ever, especially his Olympic Lifts. Outside of the gym John has always got involved in CM2 whenever he could. In 2013 when we moved premises he was one of a handful of members who generously donated their time and stayed with me until 4am helping me cut the rubber floor tiles and prepare the new space for the grand opening the next day. I feel very lucky to have members like John. For several years John travelled down to Tribal Clash to support us with his family; in the later years he was also a volunteer helping to organise the event."