To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

My wife and I own a gym called CrossFit Mountain Island. At any given time, we have about 100 people in our community doing their damndest to improve their life. Part of that journey is getting control of their physical health by pursuing strength and fitness.

Another aspect of that journey is their mental health. Everyone at my gym knows they’re not only getting stronger, but every day they show up they’re building their mental toughness, too.

You can’t choose to do hard things on a daily basis and NOT become more mentally tough. One of our amazing members, Kraig, recently wrote a thoughtful and meaningful column for our community on the topic of mental health, and I couldn’t be more grateful or excited to share it with you here. I know that this message will resonate with a lot of you.​


Dear CFMI Community,

As we embrace our fitness journey together, it’s important to recognize that transformation
extends beyond physical strength. Our gym is a place where many have found themselves in
the best shape of their lives, thanks to the support of our coaches and the dedication and hard
work that CrossFit demands. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge a parallel journey that often
goes unnoticed until a crisis occurs: the quest for mental wellness.

Mental health challenges, often stigmatized, especially among various demographics such as
middle-aged men like me, are battles fought in overwhelming silence. The conditioned resilience
and stoicism in facing life’s adversities sometimes mask the real need for empathy and
understanding, which mental health rightfully deserves.

With its cheer and abundant festivities, the holiday season can also be a period of increased
stress, loneliness, and emotional challenges for many. It’s a time when the importance of
community and support becomes even more pronounced. Our gym offers a unique support
system where encouragement and camaraderie are as common as weights and WODs.
Embracing this community spirit is not a weakness but a courageous step toward
acknowledging and addressing mental health.

It is vital to recognize the importance of seeking help and not delaying it. The notion of “toughing
it out” in a solitary struggle against mental health issues is not just flawed but can be dangerous.
Timely intervention and professional guidance should be encouraged and normalized, not

That’s why just showing up to CFMI is so essential, even when you don’t want to. Consistency
in exercise, a cornerstone of our CrossFit regimen, plays a significant role in mental well-being.
Data from the American Psychological Association highlight the incredible stress-management
benefits of regular physical activity. Our varied, high-intensity, and communal workouts do more
than shape our bodies – they fortify our mental resilience.

As we navigate the highs and lows of fitness and life, let’s remember to extend our
conversations beyond physical health to include mental health. Creating an environment where
such discussions are as normal and vital as talking about our physical routines is essential.
Let’s remember, during this holiday season and beyond, everyone is fighting their own battles,
often unseen.

Let’s be kind, understanding, and supportive. As a community, we have the power to break the
stigma surrounding mental health, one conversation, one workout, and one day at a time.
In solidarity,

~ Kraig Kern

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