GREG’S CROSSFIT JOURNEY: Adapting Fitness For Life

Congratulations to Greg Messer, our Blackbird CrossFit Athlete of the Month for May!

At Blackbird CrossFit, we are constantly inspired by the remarkable journeys of our clients. Today, we want to shine the spotlight on Greg.

Greg’s story is a common thread we see woven through the experiences of many of our longtime members. It’s a story of overcoming challenges and finding a new path to well-being.

From the minute Greg joined our gym in January 2018, his infectious energy was impossible to miss. He brought not only dedication and passion for fitness but also a talent for lighthearted fun. He became the heart and soul of the 5:30am crew, the group you might expect to be filled with sleepy zombies. But with Greg leading the charge, they were a boisterous pack of goofballs, keeping their coach on their toes and the entire class laughing.

For years, he poured his heart into pushing his limits, achieving incredible things. But as his body began to speak up with some nagging injuries, it became an opportunity for a shift. This is where his biggest transformation began – a chance to focus on training for longevity, not just competition with his buddies. With the guidance of our coaches, he learned to modify and adapt his workouts, allowing him to stay active while he healed. Now, with a renewed perspective, he listens to his body and embraces all types of movement, appreciating both the physical and mental benefits it brings.

Greg’s story is a reminder that fitness is a journey, not a destination. It’s about finding what works for you, embracing challenges, and most importantly, having fun along the way. If you see him at the gym, be sure to say hi – with him in your class even the toughest workout can be a blast!

Meet Greg…

Tell us about yourself

Greg Messer (aka Mikey Kirkwood…IYKYK), 41, 2005 graduate of York College of PA where I met my wife Meghan (If you have time, I can tell you how we met. She loves it when I recount that story! Lol). I have been at BBCF since 2018. I am in technology sales and have lived in Sykesville since 2016 with Meg (who joined Blackbird in 2020) and our two boys – Bryce (8) and Coltyn (5).

What made you start CrossFit? Has your motivation changed over the years? 

I started CrossFit as a way to get back into shape and help clear my mind. I have always been a competitive person dating back to high school on both the soccer and baseball fields. Back in 2011, Meg and I started working out together with a personal trainer to help us shed a few pounds for our wedding. That started to give me the itch to compete in something again (even if it was with myself) and we decided to start running in half marathons. That led us to run our first marathon in 2013. It was a great experience that I will never do again – lol. We continued running half marathons and working out in various boot camps and spin classes and really enjoyed the camaraderie of group workouts. When we moved back out to Carroll County in 2016 there were not as many class options. I mostly just ran around the neighborhood a few times a week.

I randomly started having some neck pain and went to see Dr. Chip at Freedom Chiropractic & Rehab. We talked about athletics and competing and he mentioned he worked out at Blackbird. I initially scoffed at the idea of CrossFit, as I saw it as intimidating, since all I knew was what I had seen on tv from the CrossFit Games. Little did I know that it was exactly what I needed from both a physical and mental health perspective.

CrossFit is definitely my stress reliever. Over the past 5 years my motivation with CrossFit has certainly changed. During covid it was my only outlet. During that time, some of the other members at the 5:30 class and I would push each other to the max and I would chase the whiteboard – for better or worse. We were constantly competing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It allowed me to hit PR’s I never thought I would. I joined competitions and loved competing in the Open.

After turning 40, I could feel my body telling me to slow down. Now, my motivation is not so much competition as it is really just moving and socializing to get my day started on the right track. I am also now motivated to lead by example for my kids, from both a nutrition and exercise standpoint.  As they start out on their own athletic journeys I want them to see that they need to push themselves out of their comfort zones and do hard things in order to achieve their goals.

What have you learned about movement, fitness, and yourself since joining Blackbird?

I remember back in my 20s, out of shape, and and having some beers with my roommates one afternoon, we had the CrossFit games on.  Dudes were doing muscle ups and GHD medicine ball throws. I thought to myself, that is ridiculous and I would never be able to do something like that. So as cliche as it sounds, you really are able to do anything you put your mind to. I’ve also learned that it’s ok to take rest days and to take days where you “just move”. Recovery is just as important as working out itself.

What is your proudest CrossFit moment?

2019 CrossFit Open- I was able to do my first BMU

What is your favorite CrossFit movement, lift, or WOD? Least favorite?

Favorite movement would really be anything on the rig. Least favorite – Deadlifts. I hate deadlifts.

What impact has CrossFit had on you inside and outside of the gym?

CrossFit has allowed me to keep up with my kids. It has also allowed for me to be in better shape at 41 than I was in my 20s. It has also helped cope with my anxiety. On mornings I do not work out, I have noticed how my stress level is elevated. Even on the days that I do not want to get out of bed and go to the gym, I force myself to at least go and move, and it always brings my stress level back down.

What do you enjoy most about Blackbird or CrossFit in general?

Community. I have made some very good friends since joining. Also, the variety and structure of the workouts keeps me constantly challenged.

Photo: Those aforementioned 5:30am goofballs

What are your CrossFit goals? How close are you to reaching them?

I spent a few years chasing PRs, achieving new movements, and am proud of those accomplishments. Now, I am looking to continue my fitness journey that will allow me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When you are not CrossFitting what is your favorite thing to do?

I am pretty much at a baseball field 7 days a week. Bryce is in his first year of travel baseball for the Cyclones and Coltyn is in his first year of coach pitch. I help to coach both teams. Annnnd then when we are not at baseball one of them usually has soccer.  But if I do have a chance, I enjoy camping, fishing, and golf in my spare time.

What is one fun thing about you that we may not know yet?

This might be the hardest question for me to answer here. I am pretty much an open book- lol. But one guilty pleasure of mine is watching Pitch Perfect (yes 1, 2, or 3) whenever they are on TV.

What is the one tip you would give someone considering CrossFit or new to CrossFit?

 Try it. You can modify everything to your level, it is not as intimidating as it seems, and not what you see on TV. It is mostly moms and dads just trying to stay in shape.

What takeaways or insight into training for longevity have you gleaned from rehabbing from an injury? Has your long term approach to your training changed, if so, how?

My mindset has changed drastically over the past year. Constantly dealing with back and shoulder issues, I realize I cannot lift the same weights I could 2 years ago. I am really focusing on moving correctly in all of my lifts. I am also dialing back the intensity in WODs and taking necessary breaks between movements to ensure I am lifting properly.

Photo: 2019

What is your diet like? Has it changed since starting CrossFit?

I always try to stay relatively consistent with my nutrition. Especially since doing the nutrition challenge in 2021. During the week I will generally wake up around 4:45, chug a glass of water and have an RX bar prior to going to the 5:30 class. I am definitely one of those people who need something in my stomach prior to an early workout. After every workout, I have an apple sauce pouch and a protein shake. Breakfast will usually consist of either overnight oats or a Kodiak Cake waffle and peanut butter with a banana. I usually use a portioned meal tray for lunch with a protein (usually chicken), rice, and vegetables. Dinners will be much the same.

What is your favorite workout fuel? What about your favorite indulgence?

Rx Bars and Ascent Pre-workout. The Ascent is a fairly clean pre-workout that gives me the kick I need in the morning. On the weekends I tend to splurge a little more. Can’t give up pizza and ice cream one day a week.


More than anything Blackbird has given me the community I was looking for. Meg and I have made many friendships here with like minded individuals who we now vacation with and spend time with outside the gym. Big thank you and shout out to all of the coaches who have always been helpful and patient – especially when dealing with my antics early in the morning. 🙂