My First Superhuman- War Machine’s Story

It's been almost four years now since I started my first gig working as a group fitness instructor at a local karate studio. I answered a Craigslist ad looking for a kickboxing instructor. The studio owner offered me 3 classes a week as well as the freedom to lead class however I wanted. This was a tremendous bonus in that it allowed me to design my own style of workouts. It also led me to shit bricks because now I have to put my education into action. Design workouts, lead class, market the class. Uh oh. Fear was screaming in my ear. “You're gonna fail!” I was terrified.



My first class I had three clients show up. (These same three individuals still train with me to this very day) I don't remember much detail from those early years. Plenty of trial and error, soul crushing failures, terrible workouts, missed opportunities are some of the things that stand out. However, it was also an amazing experience. I met some incredible people and forged some lifelong friendships.

It is said you can't get anywhere in life without help from others. This is certainly true for me, because many people helped me build my confidence as a trainer, in business, and life the past few years. As I perfected my craft as a group fitness trainer, I was fortunate to have an individual in my classes who was always willing (maybe willing is pushing it) to help me.

Melissa K was always in class, on time and grasped the form on all exercises almost immediately. I was blown away by her commitment to the class which became a powerful motivator to help others in class become better. As classes grew I began to have Melissa demo the exercises as I explained the form to the class. This was a tremendous help to my success. It allowed me to show proper form on exercises, without having to be the person doing it. Teamwork.

Early days me torturing Melissa in class


Melissa quickly became the girl who paced the class, she never quit, her form was always spot on, her strength was growing by leaps and bounds, she was becoming a leader wether she knew it or not.

Over the past few years I asked her to help me develop classes, experiment with different routines (some which were utter failures, and I'd like to forget) and various other fitness related business. She was always willing to help me become better. She became a War Machine, always ready to take on a new challenge. How do we increase intensity on these exercises? Experiment on Melissa and find out. I put her through a lot of torture in those early classes, but she rarely complained, and came back for more. She is the backbone of Team Superhuman.

The past few years I have come to value her opinion and advice in my classes and business. Without a doubt, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this today if it wasn't for her loyalty.

So I asked War Machine to give me a reflection of her side of this story that started with me so long ago. And of course, she said yes.


Tractor pull at Spartan Sprint


Melissa's side….

I can barely remember a time before Kirk and Team Superhuman. It is almost hard to imagine those first few classes, when my body weight alone felt impossible to lift, when 3 lb weights felt like boulders, when my cardio skills were just beginning to improve. I almost don't recognize that person I was in the beginning, physically and otherwise. That girl was afraid. Afraid of running any race, DEFINITELY afraid of running an obstacle race, and if I am being honest, that girl was afraid of a lot of things in life. But that girl only existed before Kirk and Team Superhuman. I have evolved, and it is just the beginning.


I could go on for ages about how much I love the workouts, how they are never boring, never routine, addicting despite being absolutely brutal, but that's only a small part of what makes Team Superhuman so wonderful. It's the support from the team, the faith that everyone has in you, the confidence that you can't help but gain by being a part of the team that really makes the difference. During the toughest of workouts, when you're feeling beat down, telling yourself you want to stop, that you can't go on, that's when the team steps in and keeps you going. Someone is there to say “one more!” Someone is there to cheer you on, remind you that “you got this!” And you carry on. You get through it. You try. After a while, you begin to see in yourself the strength that others see. You begin to tell yourself “one more!” You begin yelling at yourself that “you got this!” And you believe it. You know that it is true. That even if you fail that last rep, even if you don't beat your last time, you have it in you to try anything. You are not afraid.


That is the best thing Team Superhuman has given me.
I am not afraid to try my hardest and I am not afraid to fail.

I had never run a race before. To those seasoned runners out there, it may seem silly, but despite several team runs with the superhuman crew, I was still afraid of attempting an actual race with an actual time. After being persuaded to run a local 5k, the Towamencin Turkey Trot, and successfully finishing it, I was pumped. Next thing I knew, I was signed up for the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, a ten miler. At the time, I was secretly hoping I wouldn't get picked- due to the popularity of the race there was a lottery system in order to select the runners. But when I found out I would actually be racing, Kirk and Team Superhuman had my back. On race day, they were there to cheer me on. They knew I could do it, and though I had never made it through the whole ten miles in my training runs, I ended up conquering each mile and beating my cheerleaders to the finish line! With the support of Team Superhuman, I made it through.


Philadelphia 10 miler

Then there was the Spartan Race. Kirk had tried to convince me to sign up the year before, but I had not yet conquered my fear. This time, I was ready. Still slightly apprehensive, I committed to give the Spartan Sprint a try, and began mentally preparing myself for the worst. Not just running, but running + mountains + obstacles + burpees if you fail an obstacle? Ughhh. Thankfully, I would not be running this race alone. More and more members of Team Superhuman signed up, and by the time race day came, I was nothing but excited. I knew I could depend on the team to get me through any obstacle. We were going to crush this race.


Team Superhuman Spartan Sprint 2013


That first Spartan Race was inspiring in so many ways. I watched my teammates push through the pain, never quit, keep going despite the seemingly never-ending onslaught of spartan torture. Kirk had prepared us well- each and every one of us made it across the fiery finish line. It was an amazing experience, and I knew that was the first of many Spartan Races to come.

Spartan Beast South Carolina 2013


Somehow, by the end of the year, I managed to earn my Trifecta by completing the Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast. I failed obstacles. I did plenty of penalty burpees. I fell from near the top of the rope climb in front of spectators. But through it all, I wasn't afraid. I gave it my all. I knew that Team Superhuman had faith in me, and I had learned to have faith in myself.
In one racing season, the girl who had never ran a single race ever had defeated the Broad Street Run AND the Spartan Trifecta- all thanks to Team Superhuman. With my new-found confidence, this year I will attempt a double Trifecta. I know that Team Superhuman believes in me, and thanks to them, I believe in myself.

General bad-assery


I still workout with Kirk and Team Superhuman, and rarely miss a workout. It's what I love to do, and where I love to be. Some days are tough, and I might get down on myself a bit for not being fast enough or not being strong enough, but the team is always there to help me forget the negative thoughts, and to inspire me with their own greatness. I love watching others set personal records, master new skills, build their strength. And of course I can't complain about my own gains.
So here is my big shout out to Team Superhuman- thank you for all you have done for me, and I look forward to whatever challenges are in store! (*cough* Team Superhuman Hunger Games part 2 *cough*)


3 thoughts on “My First Superhuman- War Machine’s Story

  1. You rock Melissa!! You inspire me to do better that’s for sure!! I many not be young like you, but I sure have the mentality of a youngin…fear is not an option, failure is just another excuse to get yourself pumped more to do better the next go around…. Thank you for making it look so easy that anyone can do it!! Kudos to you, Kirk, our great instructor, and the Team of Great, Fantastic people that I call my friends!! 🙂

  2. What a Fantastic read this was for me. Hard to believe it’s been “four” years already. Being on the outside looking in, I can attest to the shyness, and fear based apprehension, that existed in the beginning. Being the teams photographer, allows me to share in the honor and success you all experience in the present day. Watching the team support and push each other to succeed and do that “One More” is awesome stuff. The confidence and self-worth you all enjoy now, must be the greatest reward of all. It shows in all of you, especially you Melissa! Being your mom I know how shy and apprehensive you were. Double Tri-fecta in your future? Of Course it is!!!! Your Team Superhuman!!

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