Cory Gravesmill, RTC’s November Member of the Month, is the real deal. Really strong. Really fast. Really driven. Really honest. Really friendly. Simply put…a really good guy. We all see him throw an amazing amount of weight over his head and leap up and over the box at lightning speed. But there’s more to Cory than meets the eye. Beyond the strength and the speed and the smile is someone who has experienced loss and grief, and he credits the caring people that surround him with helping him to channel that grief into a “driving force” for good.
Cory came to his first class at RTC in March of 2020 just days before Covid closed all gyms, so his official start date was a couple months later, when the gym reopened in May. As a former high school football and baseball player, Cory says he was drawn to CrossFit while in college at The University of Akron, as it helped “fill some of that competitive void that had been left after being done with high school sports.” He spent about 10 years at CrossFit Utility in Akron, then came to RTC because of its “location and the amazing equipment.”
But to Cory, CrossFit is about more than a fancy piece of gym apparatus or a grueling workout; it’s about the people in the gym, and the many friends he’s made along the way. “I still love and see many of the lifelong friends I made while going to CF Utility,” he says, “and there are so many amazing, welcoming, and inspirational people that I have met here at RTC. (Some of them have even been nice enough to include me in their Wodify pictures!) Every member needs to realize that on any given day, they could be the one providing inspiration to someone else.” It’s this support and push from other members that gives Cory the motivation to hustle harder when things get tough. “What I love about CrossFit is that it has a way of equalizing based on effort. No matter how many reps or how long it takes someone, everyone always finishes panting, sweating and knowing they put in work. Thinking of that definitely helps to push me towards my fitness goals. Being able to come to a class and have some friendly competition helps to provide some drive and motivation, especially during the long cardio workouts.”
While support from friends and loved ones is always welcome during difficult times, it’s absolutely essential when faced with loss and grief, and Cory can speak to this firsthand. Cory lost his brother, Chad, in 2017. Only 22 at the time, Chad had battled an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, and spent most of the last month of his life in the Cleveland Clinic ICU. He was on a ventilator during most of that month, and lost his sight, but his positivity and strength got him into a stepdown unit, where he was beginning to walk, talk, and eat again. Ultimately overcome by the disease, Chad’s fight forever remains “the most powerful and impactful driver” in Cory’s life, and he calls Chad his “biggest hero.” “I think that probably everyone in the gym has experienced trauma or grief in some way,” says Cory. “When those things happen to humans, the immediate response is to lay down. But eventually, through some miraculous feat of brain and willpower, those experiences turn into the most powerful driving forces in our lives. So in a way they still control us, but the focus needs to be forcing that control into something constructive.”
That “constructive control” that Cory speaks of came, for him, from the support of his CrossFit families. “When I lost my brother, I was filled with so many feelings. And as time went on, they changed from sadness to loneliness to anger. Eventually, those feelings became less intense, but they can still be triggered from time to time. At the end of the day, one of the best things anyone dealing with trauma can do is surround themselves with phenomenal and caring people. I have been able to do that at not only one CrossFit gym, but two. We hear it thrown around a lot about how amazing the CrossFit community is. Just know that if you hear about it from me, it’s not just hearsay. It’s from the real experience of having so many people around who help pick me up when I am down.”
Cory, who lives in Green, has a Mechanical Engineering degree from UA, and has spent the last 7+ years in various roles at TimkenSteel, currently working as the production manager for the Billet Conditioning and Inspection department. He has no pets (he says he “struggles to keep one small succulent alive, so it’s probably for the best…), and enjoys snowboarding in places far west such as Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake, and Breckenridge. “There’s something about flying down a mountain at breakneck speed with amazing views around me that really gets my adrenaline pumping!” he says. He also enjoys golfing, and he started playing the guitar during the Covid shutdown.
Cory’s self-described adventurous spirit means that he loves to “try new things,” “meet new people,” and “learn about new ideas.” He has a lot of close friends that he “loves like family members,” evidenced by the fact that he attended 7 weddings this past summer and was in 3 of them! His goals for the future include some very big gym numbers: a 300 bench, a 400 squat, a 500 deadlift, and a 315 clean & jerk. He can check a 225 snatch off the list, as he just hit that PR within the last couple of weeks!
Cory Gravesmill is undoubtedly the real deal, which makes the rest of us really, really lucky to call him friend and fellow RTC member. His strength, authenticity, and spirit set him a notch above the rest. Congrats, Cory, on being named RTC’s November Member of the Month!