Craig Johnston



Before joining CFRL, what was your biggest struggle? What were your biggest frustrations?

I was working out in a commercial gym for 2 and a half hours every day, weight lifting for an hour, running 6-7 miles for the next hour, 6-7 days a week and getting nowhere. I was doing everything and every movement wrong. I had a back injury I didn’t know about, I just thought it was “old age” after 30. I wasn’t seeing any results physically. I was stuck lifting the same amount of weight without seeing any progress. Would lose motivation. Would be in constant pain. You name it, that was my struggle…then my life changed.

What was it about CFRL that made you join?

My soon to be Wife. 100% her fault. I was too wrapped up in my own world of working out at a commercial gym on my own but with enough push and encouragement she got me to walk in through the door. Not gonna lie, I was nervous, like the new kid in school trying to find a table to sit at in a packed cafeteria, but I thank her every day for doing what she did because without her I wouldn’t be here.
She had told me that they were doing a Spartan Sprint in August 2018 and I had always wanted to do one. I went in for a trial for Spartan training. Immediately was greeted by Charly and David and they were the two most genuine caring people I had ever met in my life. Coach Charly on the first session corrected the way I do my burpees. He realized a slew of movements that I had been doing wrong my entire life that I had to fix. We went through that race with a “no one left behind” mentality. It was the first experience I had in my life of a team that knew the true definition of camaraderie and working together as one solid unit. And at the end of that race when we crossed that finish line, I broke down crying because I had just realized that I had just beaten Plantar Fasciitis that I had back in 2016. If they got me through all of that I wanted to see what else, they had to offer. After I came back from Disney in October of 2018 I decided that was it. It was time to change my life for the better, forever.

What made you stay with us? What do you enjoy the most about CFRL?

Couple things. 1.) The coaches care about you & are friendly. They take the time out to know everyone on a personal level and what everyone’s individual fitness goal is. They then strive for everyone to get where they want to be and then exceed those expectations. It doesn’t happen overnight, but IT DOES HAPPEN if you stay consistent and trust the process. They also focus on form. They want to make sure everyone can lift and move as fluently as possible to prevent injury. Safety is a huge component in a gym for me and should be no matter where you get your ‘gainz’ on. 2.) The community is a huge factor of what I enjoy the most. Everyone is so welcoming. They keep me going more than you would expect. When you walk into some gyms, no one wants to talk, they have their headphones in and they are working on them, which is respectable but not what I would look for. For once in my life I feel this community makes working out fun, which I think is rare in a gym. Sometimes you just move and you don’t even remember that you’re working out at all. How cool is that? And its super clean to boot. What’s not to love.

Were there any specific goals that you reached that you are particularly proud of? How did it make you feel?

I lost 34 pounds, I see the results in the mirrors reflection. This place was where I climbed a rope for the first time in my life when I couldn’t do it to save my life in middle school. I ran my first spartan sprint. I worked my tail off to hit my first ring muscle up which is one of the many hardest moves to do in CrossFit with the guidance of the best coaches this planet has to offer, I’ve recovered from two back injuries and plantar fasciitis… At the end of the day though, I want all of what I do to tell a story to everyone who is reaching for their goals. If I can do it, you can 110% do anything that you set your mind too. I am not the strongest out of the men or the women for that matter in this gym. I’m not the fastest person on the planet. I like to look at myself as the little engine that could and that never gives up. But I see my heart and determination in all athletes here at the gym. At the end of the day for me, its not about what I have done or what I have personally accomplished. I like to see what everyone else is doing. I want to know what everyone else’s goals are, and I want to encourage you to reach higher than you ever have before for them. If I can dig deep and pull it out of me, I believe were all capable to do the same and break down any wall or barrier that we create in our mind, and I will not hesitate to pull it out of you. If you ever need that encouragement I will give it to you 100% and teach you something that you didn’t know about yourself. I am blessed with all the “thank you’s” I get throughout the day but you should be thanking yourself for taking it to heart and going out there and showing the world what you are made of. A lot of people at the end of the day will say “at least I tried” and don’t realize that they didn’t just try that day but “they did”.

Your accomplishments, the mountains that you climb, the happiness that comes from you, and that smile on your face at the end of the day, to answer this original question, if you can hit one of your goals it makes me feel great and it fuels me to keep going. It lets me know that I am doing is the right thing and hopefully making the gym a better place to be and maybe life more comfortable to live one day at a time. Know that you are worth it and know that you can do anything. <3

What would you tell someone interested in joining CFRL?

This membership is worth every single fraction of a cent that they charge. You’re not going to find a better gym, period... And if you’ve stopped reading at this point because I was too generic in my opening statement or this review went on longer then a tweet, let me break it down for you.

If you want a place where you can unlock that true potential that you know you have brewing inside of you that’s deep within your soul, this would be the place to do it. I’ve seen 40-50 year old’s conquer mountains bigger then they could ever dream of, I’ve seen new comers humbled because they thought they were going to come in and own the joint, and I want to believe we have the strongest women in Rockland County to boot #justsayin.

Have you ever wanted to be surrounded by the friendliest people? “The friendliest gym in rockland county isn’t just a saying but I believe we prove it daily! At CFRL, everyone throws their ego to the side and they work on themselves. We all encourage each other to push past and shatter the glass ceiling we have set in our minds daily in and out of the gym.

CrossFit sometimes gets a bad reputation because stories get passed down of ‘injuries’ and the “people that do CrossFit it are considered sometimes egotistical because all they talk about is CrossFit.” I can tell you with 100 percent honesty and two back injuries under my belt that the ‘injuries’ happen because either you don’t listen to the coaches or you push past something that you know deep down you’re not ready for or that you shouldn’t be doing and do it anyway. And yeah ‘guilty’, people here do indeed talk about CrossFit all the time, but in life you want to celebrate your accomplishments and successes no matter how small or big the feat… No?

If you want to turn your life around for the better, whether you’re just getting up off of the couch or you think you have room to grow as a super athlete or you are just looking for a challenge I would strongly advise you, for even a week, to come see what all the fuss is about because with all of my confidence I can say “You really don’t know what you’re missing out on”. I wear my heart on my sleeve and you have no reason to trust me, but you owe it to yourself to keep you in good state of health for life because remember ‘fitness is forever’ and I wish someone would have told me that earlier. CrossFit Rising Legends is the be all, end all gym to do it. I promise you.

Is there anything personal you would like to add?

I wanted to thank the powers that be for the consideration for April’s Athlete Of The Month. It’s such a huge honor and I hope I can keep it up and wear the badge proudly. I want to thank the coaches for making me better athlete. I want to thank all of you athletes for assisting in making my life so much better then where it used to be and making me a better person. I really don’t think you guys & gals know how much each of you mean to me individually or the giant impact you’ve had on my life. Thank you all for being so accepting and welcoming me with open arms. The words ‘thank you’ doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Please do yourself a favor and follow any and all of your dreams. You may not get there today but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get there someday. I can’t wait to watch all of your progressions into stardom.
From my heart to all of yours, I love you all.

“Johnston’s Never Quit” – Richard Kenneth Johnston II (Dad)