Kokua and Beers


“No, it doesn’t ever get any easier. You wouldn’t want it to either.” – Greg Glassman, Founder of Crossfit, Inc.

We begin our event at Crossfit Kokua, in Geneva, IL. Immediately you are greeted with a floor mat which reads “Leave your ego at the door” and a large open space. A rig lays in the distance and racks filled with plates wait to be lifted. The atmosphere is one of lifting heavy, running fast and pushing the limits. A chalkboard wall is filled with the incomplete goals of gym members—all waiting to be achieved. Your natural instinct is to pick up a heavy item and get cooking. Slow down butter cup, there is a theory to this madness. So, give an ear and learn something with that caveman brain of yours.

Coach Joe starts with a knowledge dump, covering the goal of his training. To move beyond wellness and into fitness. Push the standard of existence to a new level. To live a stronger, better life. With that he had my full attention. This is an opinion driven deep into the way I feel about training and life. We accept so much in our lethargic pursuit of health, we often blame our many faults on “getting old” or “being busy”; well, it’s time to break that mold. How do you ask? By training smarter and harder.

The session begins with a little friendly competition. Two teams of dads flipping a large tractor tire and doing 15 burpees every minute. The losing team completed a 200 meter run carrying an “Atlas” stone. The winning team joined, hauling a lighter Rock. 

Panting and feeling rather accomplished, Joe says “that’s the warm up”. Well, then. What follows is a WOD named Cindy, a sweet name for a hellish workout. 20 minutes of  (5) pull-ups (10) push ups and (15) sit squats, as many rounds as you can finish in the 20 minutes. How many did I finish you ask? I lost count after 9, once my pull-ups and push ups began fading into shallow attempts at keeping up.

We closed out our workout session and prepared for our reward: beer and BBQ. But before I dive into the afterparty, I think it’s important to cover the atmosphere Kokua emits. Kokua means “extended loving, sacrificial help for others for their benefit” and when you train here you definitely feel that. Gym goers share high fives and words of encouragement, pushing their fellow man or woman into new levels of growth. Some may speak poorly about Crossfit, but you will never find a more inspiring atmosphere. Crossfit has literally changed the fitness scene and gyms like Crossfit Kokua are examples of how and why it did.

We limp over to Penrose Brewery in Geneva, IL, for some fine craft beer and a tour of their brewery. Tour guide and beer yeast specialist Anna shows us around the facility. Barrels of beer line the walls and empty bottles wait to be filled. The staff at Penrose tells us of their history, what and how they brew. I am lucky enough to try their last Black Ale, and I gotta say it was amazing. Heavy, smooth and dark.


After, we enjoyed more beers and had a taste of the local digs. Smoking Knife BBQ plated us up with some pulled pork BBQ on a toasted bun. A side of “elote” and potatoes completed the ensemble. You can’t get more “man” than smoked meats and good beer. Penrose and Smoking Knife delivered. No wonder Byron at Smoking Knife was sold out in just a few hours.

The food and beer were amazing, but the real purpose of Barbells and Beers is to get like-minded Dads together. The conversations between Dads from all walks of life are truly awesome. We did not cover sports (sorry) or politics (you’re welcome). The topics discussed were of self-improvement, progress, family and strength.

The group finished the last of their beer and slowly trickled out in order to return home. Another successful event at some great venues. More to come, stay tuned!


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