Overcoming Obstacles: Meet the Monsters

The point in any story where the hero is forced to overcome obstacles is always compelling to us because it is the point where they’re forced to grow.

As a society, the typical heroes are athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and occasionally politicians. But we are all heroes in our own stories.

As we continue down our heroes journey, there are over 20 different types of hidden monsters that we can face to serve as obstacles to overcome.







Collectively, they make up the resistance. They’re the opposition to the Hero, to us, in our story. The resistance will stand against any act that we try to take for meaning, purpose or growth.

This includes things like any new diet or health program, a new exercise program, a weight loss journey, a program for spiritual advancement, any calling for writing or music or any unconventional art form, big commitments of heart like getting married or having a child, any program to help you overcome a bad habit or addiction, educating yourself, any business or entrepreneurial adventure.

Your journey is littered with opportunities for change, and this is their meal.

They’re invisible to the physical senses. You cannot see them, or hear them, or touch them or smell them. You can only feel them, down in the darkness. You can catch a glimpse, like a shadow in a darkened room. The force of the negative feelings they try to push from the core of your being is aiming to drive us away from where we want to go.

Each one of them is insidious. They’ll tell you anything to keep you from doing what you need to do or heading in the direction you need to go. They will lie, seduce, bully, and torment. Individually, they can take any form that needed to trick you. The resistance will present itself in the form of a well-meaning friend or family member or it will attack you like an armed criminal waving its weapon in your face. The monsters have no conscience, no moral standards and they feel the opposite of what you feel. Their nature is ever shifting and ever changing, making it difficult to identify them.

These monsters are unbiased, nondiscriminatory, objective. They are a force of nature, part of every life. That adds to their power because most of us believe they shouldn’t exist at all and when they do we believe they can be vanquished. But they can never be so and are an essential part of our nature, of our journey. Though we sense malevolence, they are truly the definition of indifference.

The monsters are universal. They are the opposition to everyone and everything, not just to you. Everyone experiences them. The more important your mission or call to action, the more the monsters will attack your soul.

The warrior knows that the battle must be fought and won anew every single day. The great artists understand this also. Everyone is an artist and their life is their defining work of art. The hero’s journey, your journey, is an endless work of art.

The monsters do not aim to wound you. They do not aim to hold you back or disable you completely. The monsters aim to kill. They want to annihilate the art entirely. Your genius, your unique gifts and experiences, and perspectives that can never be replaced. The monsters want to remove them from the history of the universe absolutely and completely.

Overcoming the monsters, the obstacles in your story, is a war to the death.

How do we overcome the obstacles?

You just do it. Start. Start now. Start before you’re ready. You’ll never be ready before you’re almost finished. So “waiting until you’re ready” is one of the monsters and it’s got a stranglehold on you.

The enemy, the opposition, the obstacle to our journey is not a lack of preparedness. It’s not the difficulty of the task or the problems that need to be solved. It’s the monsters of the resistance. The voice in our heads that tell us it’s too difficult, too strenuous, that is the voice of the monsters. The one that hears the voice is the artist, the hero, you. If we give that voice one second in our brain it’s going to inject us full of excuses and justifications and reasons why we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t.

So start now. Start before the voices get louder. Start to abruptly end their momentum. Good things happen when you start before you’re ready to start. Starting before you think you are ready thrusts you into a high-pressure situation.

When your natural fight-or-flight reaction kicks in, choose fight.

Choose to embrace the adrenaline, the head rush, the feeling of your heart slamming against your chest and courage coursing through you.

When you start the fight, when you dive in head first, you make a commitment. Without it, you only give the monsters more to feed on.

If you still have an alibi, an excuse, a justification, your monsters are still in charge.

Turn Small Wins into Big Victories

Kati is one of the members of the X-Project team, and has been training with Michael for over eight years.

I have always been naturally small, both in height and in stature. [I know, I know, so horrible right?] Because of that, it is normal for most people to assume that I put little to no effort into my physique. And for a lot of my life, that was true. Now, I was in no way healthy – I rarely exercised, and wouldn’t be caught dead sweating anywhere near someone who could see me. I managed to get through my teenage years by swinging between eating nothing or randomly binge eating garbage food. But being small didn’t save me from a decade of bullying, and I took on the persona I needed to survive, and that is the person you see most often. My opinions of healthy eating [why bother?] and the struggles of obesity [as if it shouldn’t be that hard] were ignorant and developed with an abundance of defensive mechanisms, arrogance, and combative attitudes that I was privileged enough to maintain.

College brought a whole new level of abhorrent eating behavior, coupled now with the pressures of remaining thin [freshman 15] and the new challenge of overcoming a drastic increase in caloric intake [purple drank]. My first year of college, my roommate and I decided a reasonable diet was eating a lot of salads and smoking a lot of Newport’s. My junior year, all of my calories came from either liquor, SlimFast, or late night McDonalds. I would spend my nights drinking my meals, and my days deleting pictures that I deemed ‘too fat’. I can probably count the number of times I ate the last six months of my college career because it is so few, and at age 21 when I graduated college, I weighed about 90 pounds.

I can hear you cringing because you know me now, or shrugging your shoulders because you did the same thing.

But here’s the deal – I learned at a very early age to absolutely hate my body. With a healthy dose of obsessive anxiety and more than enough perfectionism to cause a problem, I managed to channel my self-hatred into a single focus. Every failure in my life became another way for me to abuse it, to trash it, to be disgusted by it. Every moment where I lost control was another excuse to wreck the only thing I could control.

Unlike a lot of similar stories, my behavior was so much more than casual recklessness or willful ignorance. Not only was I perfectly aware of the damage I was causing, I was purposely and violently trying to destroy myself, seething with self disgust every step of the way.

I continued this pattern after college, now with an income to burn on thermogenic pills, cool sculpting, and 30 minute ab videos. At some point, my best friend and I decided that the correct cultural decision for 22 year olds was to join a gym. With our new memberships, we received 2 free personal training sessions with Michael.

Confident that we only needed to ‘tone’ and ‘maintain’, I didn’t even bother to behave in any way that indicated I was willing to work hard. Now when I think back on it, I can almost dictate Michael’s thoughts when I dumped my garbage life at his feet and expected applause. The first workout where I had to lunge with a 4lb med ball had me running to the bathroom to throw up. I still can’t believe he managed not to roll his eyes when I insisted on constantly complaining LOUDLY about every exercise he handed me.

When Michael decided that he had enough of working for other people and wanted to work for himself, I wish I could say I was already a success story that followed him to his new venture, like Maw-Maw or Swati. But mostly, I was still very much plowing down my path of self-destruction, and at the time thought I could become a runner [stop laughing]. It took me about three months to come visit his new gym. And embarrassingly, after being friends and roommates for over 3 years, I finally started to listen to what he had to say.

The first few months, first few years really, were hard. And I don’t mean because the workouts were demanding or because I was sore, but rather because I abruptly stopped my extreme bodily abuse and tried to play nice. And it paid me back by promptly gaining 50 pounds. I cried constantly, I never took pictures or went shopping; I didn’t even look in the mirror. I tried to compartmentalize and focus on the positives, but I threw away all my clothes in a fit of depression and wore huge baggy clothes for years.

Meanwhile, I deadlifted, squatted, and learned how to do double unders, handstand pushups and pull ups. I would drag myself to the gym at 7:30 after working 16 hour days. It felt good, to work hard and accomplish things. I enjoyed practicing until I could get better, even when I failed. Every tiny progression felt like a big step, and I couldn’t believe how quickly I forgot about my plan of destruction and changed my focus to improvement.

Slowly, with a lot of failures, stops, starts, skips, and stumbles, I learned to view my body as a weapon to shape instead of a vehicle for self-loathing.

There was no light-bulb moment.

There was no single action or reflection to look back on that changed everything. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t have to shove away deprecating thoughts about my thighs, or my stomach, or my chin, or my arms. I still have to work hard not to punish my body when I fail elsewhere, and I don’t walk around feeling confident and like sun shines out of my butt every moment of every day. I have made huge leaps in my own self-preservation, but I have to be reminded to take care of myself when I don’t feel like I deserve to be cared for.

I have so much work left to do.

But when I finish a workout and I know for a fact that I worked as hard as I could and did the best I could, whatever the result is, I love that feeling more than I want to hate my body. I built it with blood, sweat, and tears, and in those moments I can allow myself to be proud of it and of the work I’ve done. So I take it as a win. I no longer tie my self-worth to my body image, positive or not-so-positive.

Sometimes you’ll hear me say that Michael saved my life, and it seems as though I’m being dramatic. I wasn’t sick or heavy, fighting the clock against disease or to step back from the edge of my life. But I was barreling head first into a mental battlefield that my body was paying for, and it was only a matter of time until it had no more to give. Whether he knew it or not, he gave me the tools I needed to smash the person I was becoming, and the person I have re-built started on that foundation.

We will spend our lives fighting some kind of battle, and I don’t know that any of us will ever be free of that. But I can promise that we all have layers and layers of failures that hide underneath what looks like the result of a series of successes. This is only one of mine, and I have many more stacked underneath the person I put on display.

Most of us aren’t finished, and we all have a lot of work to do. But when you look around and feel like everyone else is ahead, remember their layers and get to work on your own. Put in the work to achieve those little wins, and make them matter.

Stop thinking of progress as trudging steps on a seemingly never ending path, and turn all those little wins into big victories that make you worth it.

Because you are.

Meet Raven!

Introducing our new Barbell Club Coach, Raven!

My name is Raven Faudel and I am the new Barbell Club Coach at The X-Project School of Fitness.

I have been a part of the CrossFit community since 2013, and just moved to the Frederick area, joining the X-Project team, about 2 months ago.

Before CrossFit, I was working out in my university’s gym alone, when a CrossFit gym opened in my hometown in North Carolina. I was pursuing my Master’s Degree in Business Administration and needed internship hours, so I began helping with marketing and community outreach of the new facility. I began exercising alongside a group of people that became family to me and decided (against what I THOUGHT I wanted) to compete locally for fun in 2015 and started coaching in 2017.

Outside of the gym I consult with businesses on marketing, operation efficiency, and team building. I also enjoy spending time outdoors and learning new things. I participate and coach in this industry because I have seen it change lives and bring people happiness and health they didn’t know was possible. The amount of growth that can be made physically and mentally is immeasurable!

Through Barbell Club, I hope to help our members build awareness of their movement patterns, improve their lift technique and strength, and have fun!

Winter Weather Policy

Winter is coming! To be prepared for snow frolicking, make sure you subscribe to our text messages for scheduling updates.

Our policy is to follow Frederick County Public School’s weather decisions. If the schools have decided to close, the gym will also be closed.

If there is a delay, the first class of the gym will be announced through our text message updates, but we will follow the time of the delay (2 hours etc).

If the announcement is made after 5am, 5 and 6 am classes will be open if Michael is there and he will communicate his attendance.

We will do our best to utilize as many channels as we can to communicate our status with our community, but highly recommend subscribing to our text message updates to ensure you have the most recent information possible.


Introducing: Barbell Club


You asked, we heard you!

Let us introduce you to our newest offering beginning Tuesday, October 23rd, The X-Project Barbell Club.

While not the traditional class structure with a MetCon, each club session will offer an opportunity to work on barbell skills and strengths according to your goals.  You will work with our newest staff member, Raven Faudel, as well as Michael on any of the power or olympic lifts you choose.

The progressions you work on in Barbell Club can easily transfer into class during the strength portion or the WoD.

Currently, the schedule is:

  • Tuesdays, 5-6pm
  • Thursdays, 6-7pm

with the opportunity to add more as interest grows!

Email us @ x@xprojectfitness.com and let us know you’ll be there. Currently, Barbell Club is free to members.

Transition to Wodify


Not all gym software is created equal. Our current software, ClubSystems, has been functional but it’s time for an upgrade to Wodify to improve your experience and eliminate small glitches. Beginning Monday, you’ll be able to register and check in for class at the gym using Wodify, and we will transition your billing information over the next month for a final billing transition on November 1st.

Here are just a few of Wodify’s cool new member features:

  • With the Wodify App, it will be easier to register for class ahead of time and sign in when you arrive.
  • Wodify’s social platform enables members to connect, build friendships, celebrate victories and more.
  • Never worry about missing a workout. If you’re traveling, you can use Wodifind to locate gyms nearby with Wodify to sign up and work out.
  • You will be able to update your profile on your own time, including billing updates and contact information changes.
  • Wodify will instantly notify you of any class schedule changes and new class opportunities.
  • Sign up for invoice emails, membership alerts and billing notifications to keep up to date with your membership.

So, what do I have to do?

  1. On Sunday, you will receive a Welcome Email from Wodify that will allow you to login to your new account and update your info.
  2. You will be asked to sign our Release Waiver and Contract terms. Please read through both the waiver and the contract as it may have changed since your original sign up date. Once you’ve signed these, they’ll be available in your account to access at any time.
  3. You will also receive a notification that your membership info has been added. Please ensure the membership and pricing is correct. You will not be billed through Wodify until November 1st. If you would like to add your billing information, please feel free to do so. If not, that’s cool. We will be adding it on your behalf in October.

What happens next?

  1. Our check in process will be switched to Wodify beginning Monday morning. From here on out, stop at the TV in the members area and check in. A staff member will be up front Monday to walk you through the process. Please return your keytag to the front desk.
  2. Download the Wodify app! The black app is the current version, but if your phone supports the new Wodify Athlete app trial, check that one out too!
  3. Register for classes ahead of time to make signing in easier when you arrive for your workout.

That’s it! Thank you for your patience, and we will do our very best to make the transition smooth and painless. Check out the Athlete Quickstart Guide for additional information.

If you have any questions, notice any issues with your account or membership, or do not recieve an email on Sunday, please contact Kati at kati@xprojectfitness.com.

SweatSocial: New Referral Program

Through the summer, we offered the opportunity to play a game with us BINGO style and complete an AMRAP card. We had a few winners, and lots of stamps all around.

As we move into a new season, we have a new way to collect credits towards your membership and hang out with your friends at the same time!

Let us introduce you to our new referral program, #SweatSocial.

We consider all of our member’s part of our X-Project family, and hope you feel the same. Because we love nothing more than extending our family to yours, you have several new ways to earn credits with SweatSocial.

The first is to bring in your friends to try out our classes. We offer a free trial class for every new member, and we’d love to meet your friends and family. For every TEN friends you bring in to try us out, you’ll receive a 50$ credit.

On top of that credit, for every friend or family member that joins us at The X-Project, you’ll receive another 50$ credit and they’ll get 10% off their membership!

To get started, download our new SweatSocial app and register for an account to access your rewards punch card. Share the app, share the referral page, and share the love.

For every friend and every membership, just bring your phone to a staff member with your punch card in the app open and let the 50$ credits roll in!

In addition to the referral credits, if you’d like to chat with us about our exclusive local business opportunities with SweatSocial, including business highlights, corporate discount programs and free trial programs for your company staff, send us an [email].

Working out with friends – does it get any better than that? We don’t think so.

Rules to play:
Must be new members for the trial and new memberships. Drop in’s, repeat visitors or previous members are not eligible to be included.

Beyond The Whiteboard: Logging your workouts

One of the things we stress the most is recording and tracking your workouts (and all levels of your fitness, but that’s another post for another day). In addition to the custom journals available to our members, we encourage anyone who prefers the technology way to use Beyond The Whiteboard to track their workout.

There is both a desktop version [here] and an iOS and Android app for your phone [learn how to navigate the app here].

You can also link to it straight from our website and login to your account!

You’ll need to create an account on a desktop, and then you can download the app. As part of the sign up process, you’ll need to input our gym name and code. Ask your coach for those.

After you are added to The X-Project squad, you’ll be able to see and log the WoD.  You can also encourage your fellow members on their results by giving them fist bump or bicep emojis, as well as see the leaderboard for the gym and your rank.

You can also create your own squad! If you and your classmates are always asking each other about their workout results, why not create a squad so you can log in and check it out?

On top of logging the WoD, you can track your weight, nutrition, lifts, workouts on the go, and injuries. There are advanced analytic and reporting functionalities for the nerds among us.

Keeping track of your workouts allows you to look back and see improvement in so many areas, and taking detailed notes and accurately recording your score provides insight throughout your progress.

If you prefer the old school pen and paper method, that’s cool! Everyone has their own style, but that means when your coach asks for your numbers, you have several choices of how you record it so there is no excuse 😉

Remember to use the app to encourage and support each other, and keep in mind that you are competing against yourself every day.

Helpful Resources Links

Terms and Phrases: Refresher Course

We have all been there.

You’re standing in class, and the coach is giving instructions on the workout but it is like they are speaking in a foreign language. You want to try to understand but they are dropping acronyms and you can’t keep up. You’ll have to Google it after class, but that won’t help you now…

Or, you’ve been in the game for a bit now and you’ve got it down for the most part. But every once in a while you find that you are following along but don’t know what the words everyone is using actually stand for.

We’re here to help! Every fitness style has it’s own set of terms and phrases that mean nothing to anyone else, and at the School of Fitness a lot of those words happen to be CrossFit related. Here is a refresher course for the veterans and a handy guide for the newbies with the most commonly dropped words. No extra Googling needed!


Kyle Boettner, Part 4

Every day, you spend an hour with your coach. But how much time do you have to get to know them? Our community is built on the foundation of relationships. To support that, each week, your coach will share a part of their story.

Kyle shares what he hopes for in the future for his family and for the members.

Check it out.

Continued from Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of Kyle’s story.

Follow Kyle on his journey on his Instagram page.