Firefighters help others achieve fitness

Firefighters help others achieve fitness

CrossFit Combustion co-owners Greg Boyd and Matt Boyd are two Spring Hill firefighters who help people achieve lifelong fitness.

Greg Boyd and Matt Boyd of CrossFit Combustion in Spring Hill have a lot in common, including the same last name. “But we’re not brothers,†said Greg. “Though we do get that question a lot.â€

In addition to the common name, both men are firefighters with the Spring Hill Fire Department, as well as sharing a mutual passion for fitness. According to Matt, what began as a friendly conversation about training techniques quickly led to a strong partnership.

Greg discovered CrossFit in 2008 when he became dissatisfied with conventional exercise and nutrition approaches.

“I wasn’t in shape at that time,†said Greg, who played sports throughout high school and college. “I had gotten overweight. When Williamson County opened the Longview Recreation Center, we were eligible for free memberships as city employees. So I joined there, began working out, and had the mentality that, ‘You don’t eat fat. You need to eat a lot of whole grains.’ That was my nutritional understanding.â€

But with that approach, Greg found that he was always hungry. When he began to research the CrossFit system, he knew he’d found the fitness solution he was looking for.

“This is pretty intense stuff,†said Greg. “That was my first thought as I began to learn CrossFit.  The nutrition plan is whole foods, lean meats, and vegetables. I began to follow that plan, and to use the workouts. Then I started working out at the fire station using CrossFit movements, and got a lot of crazy looks from people. But I was getting some great results, too.â€

Those unusual exercises and great results got the attention of Matt, who was looking to take his fitness to the next level.

“Until a few years ago,†said Matt, “I was a typical gym goer. I worked out religiously, three times a week. But I was never seeing any improvement. At one point I came into the fire station to work out and noticed Greg’s workouts, and particular movements that incorporated dead lifts or pull-ups that were a bit unusual. And I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I have that in my program? I need to try that.’ Eventually I just asked him, what is the deal with your workout?â€

Eventually the two friends decided to meet whenever their busy fire shifts allowed it, and work out together. Over the course of the next year Greg taught Matt all about CrossFit. Those early workouts got the friends thinking about how they might share the benefits of CrossFit training with others.

The popularity of CrossFit is sweeping Middle Tennessee. According to Greg, when he began training with CrossFit in 2008, there were only a few CrossFit gyms in the entire area. Today there are eight facilities in Nashville, four in Franklin, a Columbia gym, and of course CrossFit Combustion in Spring Hill.

In 2012, three people who had previously gotten training help from Greg came to him requesting CrossFit instruction.

“With the unusual work schedule in place at the Fire Department,†said Matt, “Greg knew he was going to need help meeting their request for training. That’s really how Combustion was born, with the two of us sharing the coaching duties.â€

Beginning with those initial three requests, Matt and Greg began training all comers in CrossFit during 5 AM workouts out of Greg’s garage in Spring Hill.

“The word had kind of gotten out,†said Greg, “that there were these two CrossFit firefighters who wanted to train some people. Then people began to come to us and we would tell them, ‘If we do this, it’s going to be out of my garage. Is that a problem?’ And it never was. Or we’d say, ‘This is gonna be early for workouts. Is that an issue?’ And it never was.â€

After about six months of training clientele in Greg’s garage, the new business partners found an opportunity to move their operation into a brick-and-mortar space at 3011 Longford Drive. The gym opened for business in December 2012 and has seen its initial membership quintuple over the last 18 months.

“Moving into the bigger space,†said Matt, “was really about having a bigger platform. It’s great to have a business, but for us this gym is more about a mission than a business. CrossFit is all about friendship, really.â€

And it’s a team approach to fitness that is inherently social, according to Matt.

“It’s very social,†he said. “If you tried to do these exercises alone, 98% of people would soon quit. But if you’re doing it with friends, which is how it’s designed to be done, no one ever quits. The people who come in here and learn this stuff become friends all the time.â€

The owners are watching for the first instance of a CrossFit marriage resulting from the gym, but they expect to see it any time now. Combustion members include several married couples and their children. Kids are welcome to train with Matt on Tuesdays with the assistance of Coach Melissa Myers.

Member Louis Newman finds CrossFit to be the hardest and most rewarding exercise available on the market.

“Eighteen months ago,†said Newman, “I was on my way to a heart attack. I had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and I was overweight. I had spent years having some success getting in shape, and then going back again. Since coming here, I’ve lost 45 pounds and had a lot of improvement in my strength and flexibility. It’s a way of life that brings total fitness. You learn to train for lifelong fitness, rather than temporary gains.â€

“The main thing I tell people about CrossFit,†said Greg, “is just get yourself in the door, and we do everything else. Some of our biggest proponents today are people who initially pulled up in the parking lot and watched from a distance, but weren’t sure if they wanted to come in. People who try it, love it and stick with it.â€

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for BrentWord Communications. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @JinkersonGreg.

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