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The day that changed my life

The day that changed my life

My Why

I started my CrossFit journey back in May 2016 shortly after my dad sadly passed. I’d separated from my estranged wife earlier in the year and moved back in with my parents, I was tipping the scales at 23 stone and I was suffering badly with depression and just felt lost in life.   It was the day I was returning my dad’s car to a dealership and was walking back home scrolling mindlessly through Facebook and a random suggestion popped up for CrossFit Ulysses. I didn’t even know what CrossFit was, but knew I needed to find out. Maybe my dad was looking down on me that day, maybe it was coincidence. But that day was the day that changed my life.

I messaged Ben and we got chatting and I decided to go in for a look around and to see if it was for me. Once through the door, I found myself loving the atmosphere and decide to join up.   

In my first three months, I’d lost over 3 stone and felt the best I had in a long time. Not just physically but mentally too. Through my grief and depression, the training helped me forget about the outside world and the more I focused on training the better I felt about myself and life in general. I was hitting amazing milestones in my training, and my personal life, I‘d stopped taking antidepressants and I had a new outlook in life. I found the more I trained alongside people on the same journey the more I wanted to be in the box with all the like-minded members.

Fast forward two years.. I wanted to find a way to pay Ben back for all the awesome support and great mentoring and also pay it forward to help others the way I had been helped. So after a lengthy talk with my soul mate Yvonne (who I met at Ulysses, but that’s a whole different story) I decided that I wanted to become a PT.  This way, I could pass on my knowledge to others about my journey and how I’ve battled with food and depression and hopefully being able to help others overcome their body issues and nutrition problems.

I still have a few stone to lose to be the weight I want to be, but know I’ve already come a very long way.  I am no stranger to the CrossFit ways of taking your top off mid WOD and I love showing off my newly found muscles, which I never dreamed I‘d ever have before starting at Ulysses.

My passion for CrossFit is undeniable and I love helping members feel their best and overcome their in-habitations.  Helping members with technique and my safety first approach and being a stickler for rules are undeniably some of my greatest qualities as a PT.

Myself as well as all the other coaches and PT’S have worked our way up from the bottom.  We’ve spent hours upon hours working our weaknesses and learning new things. We stay humble and know we still have a lot to learn and we’re always learning new things every day.  Christ, there are members who can do things I can’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to coach you safely and efficiently in doing these.

So when we say “we know”,  we really do know and when we say “ we care”, we really do care!

You trust us to give you your best hour of the day, so the least I can do is try to make that hour a memorable, fun and sweaty one.

Come along and see how Ulysses could change your life.



Damo and his WHY.

Damo and his WHY.

My why,

So, I’ve recently been asked to do my why and it had me stumped for a wee bit. When a lot of people do their why it seems to be orientated to something personal in their life that happened and changed their perspective, I’ve been blessed in that I have always been supported and surrounded by the best people.

With that comes my why, I have always been supported by people who want to help others. The rugby club was one large family environment, everyone helped each other with any issues or problems they had, my dad has always been the type to drop what he is doing and help no matter what and my mam has always worked in community roles, helping those around her to find employment, training or even just as a friend. Having these people around me has always inspired myself to help others, within my employment I have had the chance to take on advocacy roles, helping others like my mother find employment and training. This line of work allowed me to develop friendships and see that there is a lot more importance than work and education, that there is holistic approach to life.

When I joined Ulysses this continued, from the start help was always there, from everything including movements, nutrition and any barriers with life. This instantly echoed with me from the previous environments I have been in and instantly felt comfortable and the need to give back. As the gym grew, I found myself becoming one of the senior members, having others ask me about training and nutrition. I was already a self-confessed CrossFit geek and understood a lot about the movements as well as training, which combined with my background in fitness allowed me to start helping others. At this point I was instantly hooked, hooked on the gym, CrossFit, the environment & people, this is when I was given the opportunity to start interning and help coach others.

So, to conclude my why has never been some big life changing event. It’s been the people around me, the opportunity to develop and grow as an individual, to learn from their beliefs and values. Now my why is simple, to give back to people, give them the opportunity I have had in life, provide them with a support network, not just as a coach but as a friend. Help people become the best versions of themselves in the best environment we can provide. Alongside this to provide for my family, to give them a safe, healthy and supportive home to live and grow up in, give them the best quality of life as well as be the best version of me.

And to us CrossFit Ulysses is home.

Me, my why and what drives me?

Me, my why and what drives me?

Me, my why and what drives me?

I grew up never meeting my father, my mother being beaten by guys and life in teenage years got no better. I was bullied for 5 years in secondary school, bounced around relationships 16-21 trying to fix girlfriends until I joined the army.  All these led to lack of confidence, bouncing around broken homes and hating conflict. As much as loved the initial buzz of fitness I didn’t fit in the army due to male ego’s and didn’t agree with respect the rank and not the person.

I’ve seen in the last few years people close to me including the death of my own mother , friends parents die too. Its something I wouldn't wish on anyone and we look as a Family/Tribe/Community to anyway we can reduce Lifestyle diseases and chronic illnesses in ourselves, our families, friends and the Tees valley community.  I think a lot of these can be avoided or at least reduced and I want the Ulysses community to be the epicentre for change. Affecting others with knowledge of gut health, sleep, fitness, nutrition, movement, light exposure, the list goes on!

These simple beginnings have shown me where my why and core belief comes from, the belief that form our why and culture at Ulysses.

Integrity- Doing the right thing and challenging others to do so.

Fun- Fitness is just a byproduct of what we do, making the hour you spend with us each day as fun and memorable as possible.

Trust- Trust like any relationship, family or organisation must come 1st. Trust in our cause to improve the lives of us and those around us. Trust the person next to you, the people in front and behind. Trust the process.

Leaders and leadership- You don’t need to be in a position of power to be a leader, lead by good example so that others may do the same. Lead beyond Authority.

No Egos- We are all equal here, At Ulysses we have Managers, CEO’s, Teachers, police to students. Our positions mean nothing, we are not our jobs and We are all equal as we are members of the tribe.

Thinking as a team- We don’t complain, we feedback. There is a difference. We craft ideas and discuss the benefits and drawbacks to any idea. Always starting with why?

Help First- Help first and be rewarded with a bathing of oxytocin the love hormone. Oxytocin is a feel good hormone and  It plays a role in social bonding in the tribe and helping others. It's how humans survived, in a tribe working together. Helping others naturally feels good.

Support others- Be supportive of those next to you in class, the staff, family, friends and strangers. Pay it forward!

Caring- Our members don't  care what we know until they know we care.

My realisation since the loss of my mother 2 years ago has made me find my why. I now realise from trying to fix broken relationships growing up I was just trying to help people. Mostly I wanted to be loved, respected and be part of a family/Tribe. I am as you know now happily married, the happiest ever in work. . My beautiful wife supports me in what I do and I feel I’ve found the perfect team after 3 years of trying. I believe any issue I've ever had leads down to poor communication and turns out I wasn't communicating my why, something I'm striving to improve in order to help others.

We human animals seek groups of like minded people where we have the same beliefs known as culture. Our culture is of integrity where we always are expected to do the right thing, where we support each other wins and losses in relationships, marriages, births, deaths and more. We don’t complain and believe everyone is equal. Our open-door policy means we expect feedback from members and staff, not gossiping or inciting mutiny behind closed doors. We realise that every decision we make affects both mine and our staff’s family, our livelihoods and futures. Think before we speak. Knowing our  why helps shape the beliefs who want to join our cause.

With adopting the same beliefs going forward, using the Ulysses vision to make Our tribe healthier, happier, more supportive and humbler whilst affecting positively friends, family and loved ones around us.

We thrive with positive influences and challenge any negativity. . We have already started goal setting sessions to help you find your why, this will be further improved  with interviews of new and leaving members that should help strengthen and support our culture by communication.

We now realise we don’t sell fitness, we sell a limited number of memberships into a tribe of like minded, supportive professionals which is its greatest value.  An intangible that cannot be grasped or replicated elsewhere and that’s why I believe we are not rivalled.

There are plenty of gyms with shiny equipment, provide low cost training, have cool programming  and so on. There is a gym for everyone and we’ll even help you find one if our culture isn’t for you.

We share and think of others first. We are members of the tribe first, athletes second.

We want seeds to be grown,  we will farm and grow these seeds, breed them into strong trees. Trees have strong branches that can support and shade those underneath as they grow and one day bear fruit. Fruit and food for the tribe.

I started Ulysses in April 2016, almost 3 years which is scary! I did what all business owners do at the beginning, they just look for customers. We now know the type of people that will support our beliefs and vision going forward and look to find more of us like minded hard working people.

We don't just want clients , we want members that respect our beliefs and others in he tribe. In return they get our love, help, advice, attention, support and the best hour of their day.  

Weirdly enough, Ancestrally we lived in tribes of generally no more than 150 apparently, it explains why cultures are hard to manage when they grow over 100. Communication is the key, something we are humbly trying to improve on so please keep coming to us with ideas and feedback.

A limited edition members only club where we stand back to back in conflict and hand in hand in celebration.  We don't seek greed, just a place to support our families and grow strong trees.

You know our why

Will you share yours with the tribe??

Individual programming, the who, what, how & why

Individual programming, the who, what, how & why

Individual programming, the who, what, how & why.

Firstly, what. We would class individual programming as when an athlete decides to step away from class to do their own thing, this could be self programmed or by another coach/organisation. This programming could be individual to the athlete or part of a group. For instance one to one coaching or a competitors/strength cycle.

How, as mentioned above, athletes will normally pay for individual coaches or organisations to provide them with daily programming. This could be either through the internet, word of mouth or internally within their own gym.

Why, the why is normally the simplest. They are wanting to work on a weakness or feel individual programming will offer them more.

Finally who, now the who could be anyone. From someone who has spent 1 day in the gym to someone who has spent 1 year, programmes are available and accessible for all ability levels.

So why this post, in the rest of this blog we are going to address the good, the bad & the ugly of it all. As always we will start with the ugly, and while individual programming may seem sexy the ugly side for us coaches is seeing someone who isn't suited, or not ready for it. Now as mentioned above, there is programming available out there for people on day 1 but we probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone within the first 6 months of your journey. With group programming we tend to find a lot of movements aren't scaled properly, meaning a beginner athlete could not only be doing a scaling inappropriate for themselves but also a full movements. As well as this you aren't actually receiving any coaching, your form cannot be corrected, your not being educated on movements & your not getting taught the movement patterns and basics that we need. Even for someone 6-12 months in to their journey this can still stand true.

The bad, this comes mostly down to the individual as well in some cases the coach. When we come to the good you will see how the good coaches are the ones who have been working with & have access to high level athletes, have masses of experience themselves competing & coaching as well teams of experts around them. However these are few & far between and if you carry out the proper research should never happen to yourself. So then the bad comes down to the athlete, studies have shown that the amount of work completed in open gym is roughly 20% of that in class, alongside this without a coach there, an athlete is prone to sandbagging and cherry picking workouts. The athlete has no level of accountability and without the correct drive can be wasting both time & money (trust me i've been there & done it)

So finally the good, the good are sooooo goood! What these coaches know about programming & periodization will keep you on your toes for a lifetime. You can expect cycles & blocks, peaking for competitions, working on your weaknesses, expert help with nutrition, injury recovery and lifestyle as well as planning all this around your daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly schedule.

So with that being said when is it & is not right, at the end of the day that decision is yours, but we can give a few guidelines for when, as coaches we would think it's suitable.

1. You are aiming for regional competitions such as sanctionals & or placing within the top 20 consistently for local competitions.

2. You are recovering from a serious injury through rehabilitation which may be beyond your gym coaches knowledge.

3. You work shifts or offshore, meaning you can not attend class on a regular basis or lack of equipment.

4. You have outgrown your box, we sometimes see athletes go above and beyond what their box programmes and may need an extra push.

At the end of the day the choice is yours, but before you jump into it, have a think.

Can I speak to my gym coach about small extra programs? Do I really need this to reach my goals with individual programming? And is it worth it to myself?


CrossFit Ulysses