Like so many of our other members, Chris’s life hasn’t always been easy. Though he worked out regularly, once he became a member at Bellum, he began to use his time at the gym as a way to connect with others and hone his mental fortitude. As the years passed, his physical and mental endurance was shaped by his ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. As difficulties continued to present themselves (as they always do), Chris found himself better able to weather the storms of life with the byproducts of hard workouts that helped to improve his physical and mental fitness.

Several years ago, CrossFit headquarters granted a request to honor the sacrifice of Chris’s brother, U.S. Marine Cpl. Marc Ryan, by naming a benchmark workout in his name. This workout, 3 rounds for time of 21 pull-ups, 15 handstand push-ups, 9 heavy thrusters, is grueling, but is one that Chris counts as his favorite. Each year on Veterans’ Day, Bellum members (and other CrossFit boxes around the world) take part in completing this Hero WOD, MARCO, as a way to memorialize the life, service, and sacrifice of Marc, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on November 15, 2004. 

There is a great deal of personal pride in being able to recognize the value of hard work, and Chris certainly models that on the regular! Consistent attendance and dedication to the sometimes slow process of transformation can be hard to sustain, but as with so many other things in life, the best won rewards are hard-earned. From his years of practice and learning, Chris is always willing to share tips and techniques to those who need it. Whether it’s learning or improving the skill of double-unders, becoming more efficient at wall-balls, or practicing some of the more challenging gymnastic movements like pull-ups or rope climbs, he’s got lots of expertise that he’s willing to pass on to help others improve.

Outside of the gym, Chris loves spending time with his wife Barb, and his family. He serves the community of Gloucester City as a Firefighter and EMT, and appreciates how much more resilient he is physically and mentally, enjoying the results of years of hard work. Chris, thank you for being a great example of how hard work pays off, and for always being willing to help teach others how to improve their skills at the gym! 

What type of workouts did you perform before coming to Bellum?: The usual back/biceps – chest/triceps every day for many years.

Why were you looking for a new style of workouts?:  I was tired of the same old workout day in and day out and needed more of a challenge. CrossFit provides that on a regular basis if you’re willing to put in the work. Of course, in my line of work, it pays to be in shape, well in my eyes at least. I believe you owe that to the people you swore to protect, the men you work with, and most of all your family.

In a profession that will undoubtedly take years off your life, being physically and mentally prepared as best as you can give you more of a fighting chance. Putting yourself in harm’s way is somewhat of an unnatural act for people, but guts and pride are no substitute for physical fitness. (Gen. George S. Patton) 

What is your favorite CrossFit movement or workout?: This is a kinda tough one, I could just say my brother’s workout. (A CrossFit Hero WOD – MARCO) But just to have the honor of a CrossFit benchmark named after him is more than enough.

“Fran” (21-15-9 reps each of thrusters and pull-ups) though is the one that started it all for me, the first CrossFit workout I ever did and worked so hard to improve on all the time.

What is your biggest accomplishment since starting at Bellum?: I would have to say in the gym I became friends with people I probably wouldn’t have met outside of the gym. Outside of the gym, I went from losing everything in my life to overcoming huge adversities, rebuilding my life, and eventually regaining everything and then some. Realizing that life happens for us, not to us. And that it’s all in God’s plan…..

What is your favorite out-of-the-gym activity?: Not that I have a lot of out of the gym likes, but going to the range is always fun, but just being able to do the things that I can in my life because of working so hard to turn my life around, I am able to be with my wife and kids and hangout. Just being able to be a part of their life and have them in mine.

You’ve been a CrossFitter for several years, and a member at Bellum for just as many! How has being involved with CrossFit changed your life through the years?: Well I mean right off the bat, the physical and mental conditioning has helped me tremendously in my career and life itself. Learning that hard work pays off, not to be addicted to suffering, but to be addicted to the product of suffering.

Doing today what others won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t (Matt Fraser). And that to get where you want to be either in life or the gym you have Pay The Man (Josh Briggs). What gets measured gets done. And of course to keep an open mind. These are some of the big lessons CrossFit has taught me.

If you could go back to when you started at Bellum and give yourself some advice, what would that advice be?: The advice I would give myself is this- keep an open mind and have more humility than pride. Things will get better for you, just take it one day at a time. And to finish it off one of my favorites, especially when I finally realized what it meant.

“The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, but I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see I will never find the light unless, like a candle, I am my own fuel” – Bruce Lee.

What’s your “Why”?:  I would have to say wholeheartedly I don’t have just one why. For myself, I have to have many of them, because for me if I do reach the goal or why, then what? Is that it, I don’t have to try or push anymore? No – for me my whys as I stated above are for the men I work with, and for my family I owe them to be mentally and physically ready, not just for work, but in life. I owe my brother and Tommy, there not here, to live the life that I, and Lord knows they helped me get where I am at now. Anything less than outstanding is unacceptable (Terry Hatton).

I have a line that I must hold every day or I will take it all for granted and lose it all. The arrogance of success is to think what we did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

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