As CrossFit boxes go, we’re pretty lax about punctuality. People roll in 1-5 minutes late on occasion, nbd. We’ll give them shit but they can usually jump right into the warm up without disrupting class. But we have to draw to the line somewhere, which Leo found out last week when he showed up 10 minutes late for a 7:00pm class.

“Sorry bro, too late,” Tyler said, quite reasonably. Leo was not exactly a first time offender, and the class was already done warming up and had moved on to mobility.

The 7:00pm WOD is the last class of the day on Wednesday, so this meant no workout for Leo. He kind of stood by the door for a few minutes, in seeming disbelief, perhaps hoping Tyler might change his mind. When it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen, he shook his head, visibly pissed off, and left.

20 minutes later, Leo jogs by the gym. He dashes by the window in full stride, heading west down Kalorama. The whole thing lasted less than five seconds, but Tyler and I both saw it. We exchanged looks, grinning at each other.

Homeboy went on a fucking run.

Leo joined Hierarchy two months ago and has since lost at least 20lbs. I hear people ask him about it all the time – how is he doing it? What’s his secret? He just shrugs and flashes this kind of slightly embarrassed smile, as if he doesn’t even know himself.

But I do.

He’s a Firebreather.

Firebreather – Fie-r-bre’-th-er: (n) 1. One who faces the triumphs and tribulations of great physical opposition with an indomitable spirit. 2. An optimistic energy associated with the heart of an athlete.

Being a Firebreather has nothing to do with your Fran time, your 1 rep max backsquat, or your ability to do butterfly pull-ups. Firebreather is an attitude, a state of mind.

Leo had a choice that night: he could have accepted defeat and gone home. He could have used it as an excuse to not workout – hey, he tried. As excuses go, it would have been pretty legit. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be tonight. Instead, he decided to Fuck. That.

It’s the same attitude he brings to the gym everyday. Leo doesn’t just do the workouts, he tries to break them in fucking half.  He pushes through the burning in his lungs and the pain in his muscles because no one asked for their opinion. He rarely has the fastest time or gets the most rounds, but he finishes every WOD on his back in a puddle of his own sweat.

What you get out of CrossFit is directly proportionate to what you put in. You can come and work decently hard and see decent results. Or you can show up ready to tear the roof off and breathe fire at every workout. That’s what Leo does, and it makes all the difference.

If you’re looking for the secret to his success, look no further than the fire.