Corporate to Crossfit

Story By Kylee Boone

Emily Griffith performs bar muscle-ups in her gym at CrossFit Brigade. April 9, 2022. (Photo by Kylee Boone.)

Chasing a check instead of chasing a dream is a dilemma that many people in corporate America face each and every day. Married couple and owners of CrossFit Brigade in Chattanooga, Eric and Emily Griffith, made a decision many would never dare to do. They quit their corporate jobs to follow their shared passion for fitness.

“My husband and I both went with a very conventional path. We both graduated high school, we both went off to college,” said Emily. “I got a business degree and landed a really great job in the investments area where I worked for twelve years.”

Emily and Eric realized this career path was not made for them. It tied them down from chasing their passions and feeling fulfilled as individuals.

Eric Griffith carries his wife Emily Griffith during a CrossFit relay class. April 9, 2022. (Photo by Kylee Boone.)

Their relationship started when they met at a local pub while Eric was working as a doorman. They would go out to bars and happy hours, which was a catalyst to heavy substance use within their relationship and their social life. According to Emily, her experience started in childhood.

“I started using drugs and alcohol at a very young age, dating back to as young as 12 years old with heavy drinking and binging, very scary stuff,” said Emily. “It became a part of the culture that I put myself into for probably a couple of decades.”

After picking up a month’s membership at a silent auction, Emily found her love for CrossFit and loved how it made her feel in comparison to other workouts. The social environment and the workouts themselves changed Emily’s outlook on what she wanted out of life, causing the substance use to take a back seat. 

“Partially, it’s the social connection and also the endorphin release and the thrill of achieving things is a trade for other thrills we may get from getting high,” said Emily.

Engaged couple Christine Hostelter and Kincaid Wurl work together performing barbell lunges while wearing wedding themed arm bands. Their upcoming wedding had become a point of excitement among their fellow crossfit members. April 9, 2022. (Photo by Kylee Boone.)

Not only was Emily helping her clients better themselves, but surrounding herself with the CrossFit community was helping her in her own transition to a healthier social life.

“The biggest catalyst for me getting away from that lifestyle had a lot to do with the community I surrounded myself with,” said Emily. “They say show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

Now with 11 years under their belt since quitting their corporate jobs and opening CrossFit Brigade, Emily and Eric have dedicated their lives to helping others achieve their physical health and strength goals. Along with this, they also tested their limits in CrossFit competitions early in their career. Emily even qualified to go to regionals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as an individual and also competed on a team at regionals for Crossfit Brigade in 2014 and 2016.

With their competition days behind them, the Griffiths go on to strive for the betterment of themselves and their community. They host classes every day and have continued to improve themselves at their craft as the years go on. 

To this day, Emily and Eric have never looked back to traditional corporate work. They have created a community within their passion for CrossFit and have sparked a fire not only within their marriage, but in countless members of the Chattanooga area.

Kylee Boone spoke with Zach Parker about the unique challenges of staying committed to Crossfit during the pandemic and the positive impact it had on his life.

Kylee Boone is a visual storyteller studying Communications at UT Chattanooga. She utilizes her leadership qualities as the Social Media and Advertising Director for The University Echo and as the co-founder of her nonprofit organization with Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. She hopes to one day work in social media management and inspire others through her work in storytelling. For questions or collaboration, please contact llb813@mocs.utc.edu.

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