Inspiration can come from many different things. Maybe it’s an act of kindness between strangers or a YouTube video of 161 burpees in 7 minutes. Whatever it is, it has the power to change the way you approach your goals or even make new ones. Today’s inspiration is brought to you by one of our own here at Crossfit Fenway. Mary Fergus walked into Fenway a partial newbie from San Francisco Crossfit. Fast forward through one knee injury and a lot of hard work to regain strength, and Mary had a goal that if accomplished would surely inspire many. The task at hand was simple; complete the SEALFIT Kokoro Camp. Easy, right? Sure, except only 3 women have successfully completed the camp, and one of them was the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth. The best part is that never phased Mary. She willingly signed up mentally and physically ready to take on any challenges thrown at her. To be clear, this camp is set up to break you. Right off the website, it is clear what KOKORO’s mission is:
SEALFIT Kokoro Camp is such a test. As the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness and the warrior spirit, the camp is an intense crucible experience based off of the famous Navy SEAL Hell Week concept. The difference is that Kokoro is built to teach through experience, rather than try to make you into a quitter.
Our mission is to develop mental toughness and promote your warrior spirit growth in this one of a kind training. Leadership, Building Elite Teams, Self Mastery, Character and Kokoro (unconquerable spirit) are trained and tested through 50 hours of intense physical and internal work.
Enrolling in this camp as a willing participant is impressive enough, but Mary Fergus can now say she is the 4th woman to have ever successfully completed KOKORO. If that wasn’t enough, two awards are presented at the end of the camp to the graduating class. Mary received the Fire in the Gut Award. Here is the award description:
It is often the quiet and unassuming person who rises to the occasion when adversity calls. The fortitude and determination they display in the face of great physical challenge is an inspiration to their teammates and brings a sense of dread to their enemies. It is said that a “Fire in the Gut” stokes their courage and tenacity.
It’s hard to put these experiences into words. But we gave Mary some questions so she could share the experience a bit with all of us at CFF. As her coach, fan, and friend, I am personally inspired by her attitude, growth, and determination. Seeing her get to accomplish this goal makes me feel lucky to know her and have her as a part of our community.
What made you want to do the Sealfit camp?
The moment I stumbled upon Sealfit and saw the KOKORO camp, I knew I wanted to do it. I recognized it to be one of those unique opportunities that comes along in life that have the potential to shape you. I went to demand more of myself; to forge a better me.
Were you told anything beforehand for preparation?
We were told that in order to register for the camp you had to have a 60 push-up minimum in two minutes, 60 air squat minimum in two minutes, 10 pull-up minimum in two minutes, and a 3 mile timed run in 26 minutes or less. Other than that, we were told that no news was good news once we sent our applications in.
What were your expectations going into it?
I expected to be pushed to my limits and quite possibly past. I know by reputation that Navy Seals and the program that Commander Divine has put together is a true test of grit. I expected to be tested in the purest and most effective way, and I had faith that KOKORO would give that to me in more ways than I could anticipate.
Give us a general idea of what your couple days looked like.
From Friday about an hour after we arrived, until Sunday evening we were wet, cold, and sandy the entire time. I still have sand coming out of my clothes, hair, and skin today that I have no idea how it is still there. The coaching staff did everything in their power to get to us immediately, get into our heads and stay there for the full 50 hours. If you had a fear or weakness, they would find it, yank it out of you, and force you to face it until you succumbed to it or conquered it. They had a couple of techniques to more or less simulate the panic induced by drowning. Those were particularly difficult for me, but through adversity I was able to triumph and gain control of my fears.
We went on long runs with rucksacks, went on reconnaissance missions, spent more time in the water than I ever have in my life, and had a few brief classroom sessions. We also completed Murph, or Body Amour, as well as Chelsea. We gained ocean competency, faced PT on the Grinder, log PT, and a myriad of other tasks the instructors came up with for us.
What was it like being the only girl in a group of guys going through this?
The normal group of guys that go through this camp are Special Forces candidates; they are men that are considering entering some of the most elite groups in the military and this camp is designed to give them a very real taste of what they will face in the Selection program for the particular groups. The men that graduate into these elite groups are among very few, and deserve the utmost respect and to be fairly confident in themselves. Women are not yet allowed to serve with these elite forces, and as such the issue of going through selection with a woman never happens. I feared that going through this camp with these potential elite specials forces guys, would not go over very well. I knew that just like everybody else, I would have to earn respect, but I was afraid that there may not be any available for me to earn.
When I actually got to the camp, I was told constantly by the instructors that I had big shoes to fill as the women who have come through before me had really excelled. Games athlete Kristan Clever, had gone through this camp before me. I knew I had to put out and not ask or take any special treatment. We were assigned swim buddies (in pairs) so that we would always have someone with us at all times. My swim buddy was about 200 hundred pounds, and when we were asked to do buddy carries on the soft sand everyone seemed a bit skeptical. I not only managed to buddy carry my swim buddy the required distance, but I did so with out putting him down unlike some of my teammates. From then on I was treated just like everyone else by my teammates and my coaches and there was no difference whatsoever.
What was your best moment?
My best moment was when we were asked to divide up into two teams for an assault mission. One team would be the support and one team would perform the assault. The assault team had to be fast and had to all keep up. At the time my IT bands and my legs were locking up from the cold and the abuse, and I could barely walk. I knew that I wanted to be on the assault team, but I didn’t know if that was what would be best for the team as I didn’t want to hold them back. I allowed myself to be put on the support team. When we got to the beach, Coach Divine locked eye contact with me and said in a loud voice “If anyone wants to join the assault team… Now is the time to do it.” It was a challenge and I didn’t need to be told twice, I fell in line with the assault team. We were warned if we couldn’t keep up, we would be dropped. I initially had a hard time staying with the group, my legs were no longer listening to the commands I gave them. Coach Divine called back to me, “You are endangering the mission, and are too slow. Turn around and join the support team. You are being dropped.” I completely ignored his directions and kept following. At every juncture where we had to perform a task, he continued to tell me that I was endangering the group that now I was a casualty. As we all stood at the top of a pillar, precariously balanced, Coach Divine glared up at me and said “I told you to go back to the support group and you ignored me.” I replied “Hooyah Coach.” Then he smiled and said “Good for you.”
What was your worst moment?
When I tried to take a step and both my legs completely locked up and I fell on my face. I feared that my body would not be able to take the coming abuse and it would give in even though I had sworn to myself that I would never choose to give in.
Did you ever want to quit? If so, how did you overcome it?
I never wanted to quit. You just take it one step at a time, put one foot in front of the other and remember that everybody else is suffering just like you. It helps to have a mantra. I told myself three things over and over again. First: embrace the suck. It sucks for everyone, you’re not special. Second: Get it done. It’s as simple as that, get it done don’t quit don’t whine. The third: pink fluffy bunnies. It’s easy to get a little angry at the world, yourself, your teammates, or your situation. Whenever I got frustrated and wanted to kick something, I just thought about a couple of cute pink fluffy bunnies. You can’t kick pink fluffy bunnies and it always brought a smile to my face.
What was the last thing they made you do before they let you know you completed the camp?
Hmmm not sure I’m supposed to answer that one…
Did you surprise yourself?
Absolutely. Pain is weakness leaving the body. You can actually do anything you want, you just have to do it and ignore the rest. My legs eventually became a non-issue. I was going to perform no matter what and the pain was just something I had to push through.
What was the biggest lesson you took away from the weekend?
The only person that can make you quit, ever, is you. Take responsibility for your actions, rejoice in adversity, the pain of regret is permanent, and always remember the only easy day was yesterday.
Was this a life changing experience?
KOKORO gave me an opportunity to forge a better version of myself through adversity. It has forever changed me, and will forever be with me.
March 1, 2012
20 Minutes of Goat/Volume Training
24 Lateral Bar Hops
12 Wall Ball (20#/14#)
6 Deadlifts (125kg/85kg)
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