Ten Years Strong

If you had asked me twelve years ago what I would do with my life, I probably couldn’t have told you. I owe where I am today to my wife Arianne. On my birthday in 2006, she dropped a box off on my desk. Surprised, I looked in the box. Inside were a few huge books for the ISSA personal trainer certification course that my good buddy Jerrod had just signed up for. “Why?” was all my surprised self could muster. “Because this is your passion and what makes you happy”, she responded.

For weeks, I had been going back and forth about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. I had recently been laid off from a closed video game studio, and was doing some extensive travel in a new corporate job. Little did I know that the box Arianne gave me was the answer to those questions.

It took me a whole year to study the material, practice the tests and pore through the anatomy. It was an amazing time in my life, as I learned and grew daily. I passed my test in January 2007, exactly a year after, on my birthday in NYC.

I spent a year doing CrossFit workouts on my own, training friends, writing programs and trying to find a part time job at a gym. But everytime I interviewed at a globo or franchise gym, I got a knot in my gut. These places were not for me. I didn’t feel like I could really change peoples’ lives in these spaces the way I wanted to do it. Some were too sterile and lacked the right equipment. Some didn’t have like minded athletes and trainers. So I created what I needed. The vision and the mission. The feel and the style. The attitude and the purpose. I chose to build and create from nothing into something. And when I looked and evaluated, there it was: the creation of Mountain Strength.

Mountain Strength Fitness was conceived and born in 2008, and made official in June 2008. I planted my flag and was determined to create a training community that spoke to inner strength, resiliency, purposeful training and perseverance.

For another year, I trained clients in a park one on one, while I engrossed myself in the world of CrossFit at CrossFit Boston and was mentored by Neal Thompson and coached by Jon Gilson. The first Mountain Strength Bootcamps came out of working with other coaches at CrossFit Boston, first in JP, then Arlington. Shortly after that, we had classes in Arlington (in a baby tumble gym!), Somerville (a basketball court), and Cambridge (Redline Fight Sports). I met many of you and coached you in a dusty park, a basketball court, a field, and even in an MMA gym. I carried what little equipment I had in my old beat up wrangler, the back filled with dumbbells and medballs.

In 2010, I committed to coaching full time, we added CrossFit to our name and consolidated to Union Square Somerville (original home of Mountain Strength CrossFit and 1st CrossFit in Somerville) and our Mountain Strength Arlington Bootcamp at Robbins Farm Park. This was a beautiful time, as I was coaching from dawn to dusk, adding barbells and kettlebells and rings! We did Wall Balls on trees, and pullups on the kids playground. We grew! More people everyday joined us. We started training for tough mudders and the crossfit open. We ran in the rain with PVC over our head. Our crossfit gym was on the 2nd floor and we had to run up and down stairs to even start our warm ups and workouts! It was an amazing time for that year and a half in Somerville. Unfortunately, in May the building was sold and we had 30 days to vacate the Somerville location.

That was a real “oh no!” moment for us. We were not sure what to do, so we put everything in storage. Luckily, it was spring/summer, so I started running the classes in the nearby basketball court in the mornings and the bootcamps at night while I tried to figure out what to do and where to go. I spent the next 3 months (May – Aug) going to every free space available from Cambridge to Woburn.

It was starting to get cold and I remember at one Arlington bootcamp people asking when we could go inside. I think they were tired of burpees in the cold (and at some points snow). At this point it was looking tough, and my first son was on the way. It was getting to the point that I was asking myself if I would have to go back to a corporate life. Would I have to leave these wonderful people I had met and had seen their lives changed? I may have cried in my Jeep a few afternoons while trying to figure it out.

I had scouted more than twenty spaces for a new gym. I was close to leasing a spot in Arlington that was not right, but I needed something. Around that time, my real estate agent called and told me about a spot in Winchester. We went and looked at it. A former printing press shop, it was in rough shape with lots of water damage, drop ceilings, and dirt. But it was open, had parking, was close to Arlington where our current clients were, and was a great community for us to start a family. So we signed the lease on August 11, 2011, started build out, and opened in November for classes! The rest, as they say, is history.

Winchester has now been our home for 7 years! We have trained, lifted and raced together. I have had the pleasure of sitting down with a cup of coffee with many of you. I have hugged, cried, and said hello and goodbye to many athletes over the years. Every PR feels like the first. Every lightbulb moment when you get those double unders is precious to me. Your wins and losses are personal, even if I am watching from afar. You should all know I am proud of you. Proud you had the courage to walk through our doors, Proud you tried something hard and scary. Proud to be your coach.

Ten years strong, That’s what this year is. Every athlete makes this place what it is, and adds their strength to the community. Every clap, cheer and pat on the back to another reverberates across these ten years and hopefully for ten more. You made a change in someone’s life by being here, even if you don’t know it. I get to see it. And it’s because of all of you that my family gets to see it too.

I can’t wait to sit and talk to you all at the ten year anniversary party. To reminisce about the past training, to hear about the future, and to cherish the now of Mountain Strength. I hope you all can make it.

Thank you all,

Rich and Arianne Borgatti