How he incorporated CrossFit into his Ironman training with Kurt Revels of Crossfit Vertigo

Good morning Fringe fans, this is Peter from Fringe Sport, and today I'm talking with Kurt and Laura Revels of CrossFit Vertigo in Houston. Kurt, Laura, how are you guys doing this morning?

Kurt Revels: We're doing pretty good.

Awesome, great to hear. So, we were chatting a little bit in the pre-show about the name CrossFit Vertigo, and you were telling me where that came from. I thought it was pretty interesting, so why don't you share with our audience? Where'd you get that name from?

Kurt Revels: Well, the actual time that I came up with the name, I was working flying on helicopters, and we had to go out and pick up some of our pilots that had vertigo from the helicopter blades with the sunshine, kind of like a strobe light action, so I kinda wrote it down and thought that it fit because we're close to the Air Force base and NASA base, and they do all kinds of crazy stuff with the NASA pilots, so Vertigo kinda hit it.

Awesome. I love it. I was thinking when I saw Vertigo, which I mentioned before, about being WOD drunk. After you do FRAN really fast or something like that, you've got definitely that uncomfortable vertigo feeling, but you guys are going in a little different direction with it. I love it.

So, why don't we get into your backgrounds? Where did you guys come from? Why CrossFit, and why opening a box?

Kurt Revels: Well, I was always the typical athlete in high school and stuff. When I graduated high school, joined the Coast Guard, did the whole rescue swimmer thing for 23 years, so I basically stayed in shape. As I started aging out of the Coast Guard, I started getting involved with Ironman, the triathlons. A couple of my friends and I while we were training for our second Ironman decided to give CrossFit a go, and it turns out that CrossFit actually works. The Ironman triathlon ... I got faster. I recovered better. Just felt better while I was training. That long, slow distance stuff ... Kinda took that out and did this and incorporated the strength, and just fell in love with CrossFit. 

Awesome. If I can interrupt for a minute, I'm really curious about that as a, I call myself a reluctant distance athlete, but I do a lot of barbell work and a lot of CrossFit style training in my personal training. How did that interact with your long runs, your bricks, and things like that doing the Ironman training?

Kurt Revels:  So I kept my swimming, and I still swim by the way, but I kept my swimming the same. Didn't change any of my swimming. The bike portion we just cut down on the distance. Didn't quite ride so far. And the runs, I brought the runs way back. I felt that the longer runs, the pounding on the pavement or wherever you're running, just wear and tears on the body, and when you can incorporate strength and cut down on the distance runs, you recover better.

That's really interesting. So, one thing I'm curious about, how did your body handle the sheer time that you were gonna be doing the Ironman when you were incorporating CrossFit into your training versus doing traditional triathlon and Ironman training?

Kurt Revels: I mean, I got better. When you're on the bike, of course you're on the bike in a typical Ironman for us, mortal people, not the big athletes out there, but you're on the bike for six hours, and you're pedaling, pedaling, pedaling, so if your legs are stronger, obviously pedaling is a lot easier. Coming off the bike into the run usually takes a little while to get going, but if you have the strength portion there, it's a lot easier to start generating your pace in the run and keep your pace all along it.

Now, I'll tell you, I've started breaking down towards the end of the marathon portion, and it's just cause I didn't put distance in, so I would maybe next, if I was gonna do it again, add some more distance, but for the most part, I felt good the whole race, and it took maybe a couple days to recover, and I was right back at the CrossFit gym working out.

Wow, that's awesome to hear. So sorry, I took us down this tangent and you were kinda moving on from getting involved in CrossFit with your Ironman training. So, where did you go from there?

Kurt Revels: From there I got the endurance certification and started doing endurance classes at the CrossFit gym I was at at the time and just started getting more involved in the whole coaching aspect and teaching people how to run correctly and working on some of the longer workouts that you don't normally get during the regular CrossFit day. We would have an hour and a half on Saturday class, and just make some long 40, 50 minute workouts. And then just went from there.

Awesome. And Laura, how about you? What does your background look like before opening up a box.

Laura Revels: Well, I have to say, Kurt, he's the one who piqued my interest in CrossFit. I mean, I did athletics in high school as well. I did track and basketball, but then I had babies, so I'm a mom and working full-time, and so I didn't CrossFit until I watched him a couple times, and I was like, "Man, that stuff looks kinda crazy in there. I don't know about that." But I took an On-Ramp Class that he paid for, and it was a struggle mentally a few times; I cannot lie, but at the end of the day, I was hooked because I wanted to be able to do some of the things I couldn't do because I was like, "Well, I should be able to do this."

And so, I just kept following him and kept going to CrossFit, and eventually ended up helping the times I would go. He just was coaching. He's like, "I think we should just go do this ourselves." And I was like, "Well, okay. Finally."

Oh, you sound so enthusiastic. "Okay, finally."

Laura Revels: Yeah, well, you know, there's a lot of work involved. I don't think people really totally get that when they start this.

Help us understand a little bit of that.

Laura Revels: Well, you've got to secure a place. There's a lot of competition. I mean, there was competition when we were starting five years ago, and now the competition is even more fierce, and it's not just CrossFit boxes. You've got other things coming out. There's a huge push in kickboxing right now. Here in Houston I heard that OrangeTheory is opening up five more places. So, you think that people just want to come to CrossFit, but CrossFit since you do it and I do it is kinda hard work, and it's kind of a dedication. Either you love it and come back in more and more, or you hate it and you're like, "There's no way. I'm not cut out for this."

Yeah, absolutely. And those of us who love it, we love it a lot.

Laura Revels: Yeah. And you get those people, and you get that core group in your gym, I feel like, that you know that the people want to get better, and they seek you out, and they glorify in their triumph, you know? Which is awesome. There's no better feeling than to know that Kurt and myself were behind that and that they become better people not only inside the gym but outside the gym as well because their confidence is boosted. It's empowering.

In the pre-interview, you had mentioned, or even before we had the interview, you had mentioned what is the best thing about running a CrossFit gym. I'm wondering if this is the best thing for you. I'm hearing in your voice that you're getting a lot of self-actualization and even pleasure from helping those people reach the next level. Is that what you get? Is that what you like?

Laura Revels:  Yeah. I mean, I definitely agree. I mean, right now, as you know, we're in the middle of the CrossFit Open, and so I believe, Kurt can correct me, but I think we have the most people involved in the Open that we have in the past. So, we're running it as teams, and this last WOD that Dave Castro pulled out of his hat, isn't he awesome? All these people PRing their cleans. I mean, the excitement, the people yelling and screaming in the gym, and the many people in the gym as we run it competition-style, there's nothing better. It's awesome. I walk in the gym; I'm like, "This is why we did this."

I love hearing that. What were you doing professionally before?

Laura Revels: Myself?


Laura Revels: Well, I'm just kind of a part-time bookkeeper, make sure ZenPlanner is working for everyone. I mean, I can coach; I have my certificates, but I still work full-time. I'm a processor in the mortgage business. I have been for a long time.

Oh. Okay, awesome. Let's take a slightly different tack. What's it like working together?

Laura Revels: There's some good things and bad things, I suppose, just as anything else in the world.

Let's focus on those good things, how about that? What are the best things about working together?

Laura Revels: Well, Kurt is a really good CrossFitter, so I'd have to say that ... I strive to try and be like him, but that doesn't always happen.

Well, there you go. Cool, well, we are getting close to our time. I've really enjoyed talking about your best things about running the box. Kurt, it was really interesting for me personally to talk about incorporating CrossFit training in with traditional Ironman style training. Is there anything else you'd like to tell our audience?

Kurt Revels: Well, we do like Spartan races, too. So we like the Tough Mudders and the Mud Runs and things, and I went and got the Spartan SGX qualification, so on our Saturdays we do a lot of Spartan-esque type training, and it's probably one of our favorite classes. People love that class. It's a nontypical ... We don't touch a barbell. Break out the sandbags, break out the tires, we start dragging stuff, pulling stuff, climbing stuff, so everybody loves that stuff.

Laura Revels: Which of course they're incorporating their CrossFit training in that anyways.

I love it, and one of the things that I saw ... I am in love with the barbell, but one of the things that I often talk to people about is how underappreciated the sandbag is as a training tool, but if you've gone through the SGX, I'm thinking that they do utilize that a bit more than some other training methodologies or protocols.

Kurt Revels: Yeah, our sandbags have been abused. I've got to repair a lot of them. We use them a lot.

Awesome. I love to hear that. Well, I found you guys online at If somebody wants to find out more, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Kurt Revels: They can go through just using our webpage. They can call us. We have a Facebook page as well.

Laura Revels: Yeah I think there's a button where it just says that they want information, or they should just come in and get their free trial.

Oh, sweet. I love it. And what part of Houston are you in?

Kurt Revels:  I call it South Houston, but everyone says we're more towards Webster, but we're South Houston right by the Air Force base. Can't miss it.

Sounds awesome. Well, thanks for spending a little bit of your day with me, and everybody else out there who's listening, remember to lift heavy, look cool. Kurt, Laura, thanks a lot.

Kurt Revels:  Thank you.

Laura Revels: Thank you. Appreciate it.


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