Ryan of CrossFit 315 talks about why he got involved in his gym, "I wanted to help before people were too far gone"

Peter Keller: Good morning. Peter here from Fringe Sport again, and I am honored today to be talking with Ryan Stoffle of CrossFit  315 in Cicero, New York. Ryan, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ryan Stoffle: I'm a gym owner, chiropractor, and athlete myself. I spend most everyday of the week here at the gym, either working with patients, coaching classes, or working out myself. I started out with a background in exercise science, went on to pursue an education in chiropractor college, and I've been practicing working with crossfit athletes specifically since 2012. I opened my office here at CrossFit 315 January of 2012 when they opened the gym, and then ultimately, wore many different hats here at the gym until purchasing the gym from the original owners in the beginning of 2014. I've been working in the Crossfit gym in every capacity imaginable, from coach to head coach to manager and now owner. I've seen pretty much every angle possible.

Peter Keller: I love it. Tell me a little more about your chiropractic background and how that led into CrossFit.

Ryan Stoffle: It goes back a little further than that, I guess. I was in high school and did an internship where I spent half a day at the hospital. I got to stand next to surgeons. I thought I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, and then got to see some knee replacements and some hip replacements and decided that wasn't really the thing for me. I didn't want to help people when they were too far gone. I wanted to help people before they got too far gone. That led me to exercise science in school at the University of Buffalo. Through that, I found that I really was drawn to athletic training. I joined the athletic training program and finished all but the last year of that program when I decided to continue on to chiropractic school. I didn't actually get my Masters in athletic training, but I have over 500 hours of experience working with division one athletes, mostly in football, soccer, and wrestling.

When I got done with my athletic training stuff, I still wanted to work with athletes, even though I was in chiropractic school. I joined the School of Health and Human Performance at New York Chiropractic College, where we were able to work with mostly runners, some rowers at 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon events throughout upstate New York. When I finished school, I still wanted to work with athletes and really wanted to be a chiropractor for either the Yankees or the Indianapolis Colts.

Unfortunately, had the realization that that's a bit of a pie in the sky dream and it required a little more than a degree and no experience to get to that point. I looked around and I saw this group of people that I went to school with who were really serious about working out and they happened to be doing CrossFit. Just like a lot of people, I was like that's ridiculous. That's not what you do. That just seems foolish. Then, in my last month or two of chiropractic school, I did my first CrossFit workout and was kind of taken back by how challenging it was and how much I enjoyed it.

Then, I started by joining a CrossFit gym when I moved back home from school, opened an office in my hometown, and drove a half hour to go to classes everyday, and realized that these people I was going to class with everyday were as close as I was going to get to a professional athlete in my area, because they pay attention to what they eat, they're prioritizing working out maybe once or twice a day. They're worried about how do I get into a better position in this movement. A lot of the things that I saw when I was working with Division One athletes. I kind of had a light bulb moment and luckily approached the people who owned the gym I was at, at that time and said "Hey, I want to offer to do some office hours here. Are you guys all right with that?" They had some issues and it didn't end up working out. Through that, I was introduced to the two guys that opened the gym that I ultimately had my office at at CrossFit 315.

In a ten minute round about explanation, I think what brought me to work with CrossFitters was my desire to work with people who wanted to be well, who wanted to be healthy, who don't have a reactive approach to their health and wellness, but have the knowledge that it's an active pursuit. It's not just something that you have, a right just because you're alive. You have to pursue that fitness and you have to take care of your body, because you only get one. I think that CrossFit has been a huge blessing for me, because it's allowed me to pursue my passion as a chiropractor.

Peter Keller: I love it. Can I ask what was your athletic background before you started studying in college?

Ryan Stoffle: You can laugh, but kind of hold them back a little bit for me. I was a very competitive bowler when I was young.

Peter Keller: Wow.

Ryan Stoffle: Yeah. We'll get in the bowling story in a sec here, but I played baseball from the age of nine or ten. I was the catcher. I lived about 15, 20 minutes away from school, so all of the sport things were kind of hard to swing. I did baseball in the Spring and then, as I got to high school, when I was able to have friends that could drive me to practice, I started playing football. Bowling, my grandparents owned a bowling center in the town that I grew up in, so I spent all the time you can imagine at that bowling center. I was bowling 100 games a week. I was hanging out with the firemen on Friday nights and waiting until they were done with their league, and bowling extra games with them afterwards just for fun. I was really involved in the small business of the bowling center. I saw the hard work my grandparents put in and I enjoyed being around all the people I was around, because they were kind of like unofficial uncles and family members. When you spend that much time around something, pretty naturally you're going to be good at it.

I decided at the last minute not to pursue bowling in college, and ended up at the University of Buffalo, where I fell in love with the sport of rugby after my first semester. My second semester, I started playing rugby at the University of Buffalo. That was cut short by the athletic training stuff. I only played rugby for about two years before I had to commit more to the athletic training and then working with the athletes. Aside from organized sports, up until maybe a year in chiropractic college, I started doing some running, 5k's. Maybe the long runs would be five miles, and at no amazing pace, just doing something to move around a little bit. Then, I found CrossFit and I think that I can't imagine my life now without working out everyday. I don't do as much CrossFit now. I focus more on Olympic weightlifting myself, just because I found that coaching five classes a day, programming, working with CrossFit athletes, it just was becoming a little too much for me.

I've shifted my focus a little bit on my personal training, because I have some weaknesses to coach and still do with Olympic lifting. I'm working on developing my skill in that in order to be a better coach for our members, and I just have to kind of prioritize that I only have so much. I'm sure other box owners can relate to this. You only have so many hours in a day. For me, CrossFit's been a great thing and it's really kind of opened my eyes up to the fact that being active is an important part of life. That wasn't something that I had as a kid. My family, my dad's not a very active person. My mom is the definition of skinny fat. She's five foot tall and weighs 102 pounds and can last about 73 seconds on an elliptical before she sounds like she's going to fall over. My parents never really prioritized it, and sports is just a fun thing for me now. Now that I've been doing CrossFit and weightlifting style workouts, I can't imagine my life without it. Again, another long winded answer.

Peter Keller: No, I love it. Something interesting, so you've got the chiropractic background. How does that effect you as a coach and possibly as an owner of a box?

Ryan Stoffle: I think it's interesting. It's very beneficial in the sense that I have a different way of looking at movement than most people. That's not to say that people who are not chiropractors, who don't have that background, aren't able to look at it but through my training in exercise science and at chiropractic school, I have more of an eye for the body biomechanics. It's easier for me, because of my experience I think, to break movement down and to try to meet people where they're at. That's what I see with our coaches we have here at the gym. It's a skill that's learned, and I think the more you're exposed to it as an athlete, the better you become as an athlete. The more we tell people you shouldn't be squatting for that depth, because when you squat to that depth, you give up this position. We can explain to them how that's bad. I think one thing isn't necessarily missing, but could be improved for some CrossFit coaches would be knowledge of the body and anatomy and how things are supposed to work.

I think it's definitely something that's given me more appreciation for the fact that proper technique and proper form is the more important thing. The intensity comes later on. We've had some really good success with some members that have had "a career ending type injury". We have my co-owner actually had a major back surgery about two years ago, and he was out of CrossFit for about six months. When he came back, a lot of what we had to do was really basic rehabilitation type exercises. As a trainer, you can't obviously say hey, I'm doing rehab with this person. As a chiropractor, you can. But, I don't turn off that switch as a coach. I don't avoid telling people about rehabilitative exercise or proper movement because I'm coaching and not working as a chiropractor. I think that's a really great benefit to my background is that I can't turn that off. I still see things in that capacity.

I still see a squat that needs to have more external rotation at the hip, or a front rack position that needs to see a little more mobility in the external rotators. I don't see how that front rack stinks. I see all right, we need to get some more. We need to loosen up. We need to look at the tricep. We need to look at the rotator cuff. How can we get you into a better position? Why are you not in that position, and how do we move forward? I think that my experience with things like the functional movement screening, with some of the work I've done with RockTape for their potential movement taping and their rock blade system. There's a lot of things that kind of carry over into the CrossFit coaching realm that I think allow me to help our athletes in ways that they're not getting at every CrossFit gym.

There's a lot of great CrossFit gyms out there. There's a lot of gyms that are run by medical professionals, and in no way am I saying that our product's better than anyone else's because of the fact that I'm a chiropractor. But, I think any gym that has a medical professional, especially someone who focuses in muscular skeletal complaints, you're talking your osteopaths, your chiropractors, your physical therapists. They're going to have a leg up on any other coach, because they've got a whole background of basic anatomical knowledge and biomechanics that as a coach it's hard to come across that information, because you've got to pay for it to go to school. You don't find a lot of it on the internet. You have to find it from somebody who has the experience or the knowledge.

I think that for me, I've been able to help not just our athletes, but our coaches to become better coaches because we're looking at movement a little differently than the whole macro picture of that air squat's bad. We're looking at what do we need to improve? Ankle mobility, hip mobility. Are we using junky cues like knees out, when that's not the right cue? Coaching to actually coach the athlete, not just coaching to say things because we see them on the internet and repeat phrases all the time. I think that's kind of what gives me an advantage I guess you'd say with my background.

Peter Keller: I love it. Believe it or not, we're kind of at the end of our time. What else do you want to share with our audience?

Ryan Stoffle: I think if this is directed to CrossFit gym owners, I think in my five years, if I could give anybody some reflection, it would be to diversify. Don't just keep focusing on the same thing. We've added an Olympic weightlifting program. We've added a CrossFit kid's program. We're looking to add some other programs to help develop. Don't just be CrossFit. Be CrossFit, but have other assets to your gym. Have a program that appeals to people who don't want to touch a barbell. Have a program that appeals to people who don't want to do the rowing and running and all that stuff. Try to make yourself attractive to everyone, not just the people who want to do CrossFit. I think that as we move forward and more and more affiliates open, it's going to be more and more important to differentiate yourself as a place that's all encompassing. I think that it's definitely a great time to be a CrossFit gym, because I think there's a definite pulse in our country. In our nation, people are getting sick of being sick. I think as long as we continue to do the good work we've been doing, we'll make a huge impact at the community.

Peter Keller: I love it. People are getting sick of being sick. Amazing. I found you online at CrossFit315.com. Did I get that right?

Ryan Stoffle: Yeah. Our website's up to date. We're more active on social media than we are on our website - Facebook, Instagram, etc. We're working on that. That's something that I've been personally trying to take hold of, and work more with in the last couple months because of the cost, the benefit ratio is so high that it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. We're working on developing a website and rolling out a blog and all that stuff, but yeah. That website's fine for us.

Peter Keller: Sweet. Thank you so much, Ryan and have a wonderful day.

Ryan Stoffle: Yeah, I appreciate your time, man. Thank you.

CrossFit 315

5962 State Route 31
Cicero, New York
(315) 288-4312

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