The Meaning Of Masá

Welcome to our blog!

Every few days, I’m going to post a quick little read about something related to health, fitness, and my gym: Masá CrossFit. The goal is keep things short and simple while, hopefully, sharing some new and valuable information with you!

This particular post will be longer than the rest. I want to introduce myself and share a bit about the foundation of the gym. My name is Itamar Cohen; I’m a Level 3 Certified CrossFit Trainer and the head coach/owner of Masá CrossFit.

Masá (מסע) is the Hebrew word for journey or voyage.

This journey (little did I know it) began when I started teaching swim lessons as a supplement to lifeguarding back in high school. It was my first experience coaching and it would be years before I’d realize that it was my calling.

College then started for me as a pursuit in the medical field. It was there that I learned about Athletic Training, a medical field that works directly with sports athletes on the field and in the treatment room. It was a seemingly perfect choice for someone who loved athletics and medicine, and I was all-in. The education was engaging, the work was hands-on, and I was good at it. 

I was working with the football team my junior year at Stony Brook University. It was my first assignment in athletic training and it was regarded as the toughest; the team was large and athletically diverse, there were often double days, and the hours were unforgiving for a young college student. Despite that, it had been a great season for the team. The games were exciting and we were winning. The team had put itself in a position to move up a division, which was great for the program and the school. But over the course of that semester, the joy and excitement of the work were slowly overshadowed by a growing concern of what life would look like pursuing this career. It reached its tipping point at the end of that season.

The athletic training room was quiet that day. We were wrapping up the season and preparing for winter break; most of the team stopped coming in for treatments, all except two athletes. They were the most veteran of the bunch, older than the rest and had the longest collegiate careers. One was getting his knee treated, it was an old and reoccurring injury. Knowing that his football days were now behind him, he asks the head athletic trainer: “how long after I stop football will my knee be better?” The trainer doesn’t say a word. With a solemn look, he simply shakes his head.

It was that moment that made me realize something was wrong with our training system. There was too much of a disconnect between strength & conditioning and medicine/rehab. I had started CrossFit a few months prior to working with the football team and I believed it was the answer.

That winter, I left the Athletic Training Program, took the Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Certificate Course, and began a course to piecemeal together a degree and graduate. I met a girl (Taylor – who’s now my fiancé), started working full-time at a CrossFit gym, and educated myself as much as possible on all different forms of training.

That job led me to a partnership in opening a gym of my own… and two years later that partnership failed. I put my heart and soul into that gym, but my business partner thought it best to cut me out when things got difficult.

That was a hard time for us, but it pushed us to make some scary decisions. We decided to bet on ourselves and open up a gym of our own, to finally do things our way.

Taylor pushed me to tie the spirit of this gym to my roots (I’m Israeli) and we choose to name it Masá. It perfectly embodied where we came from AND where we were going. It was a journey and there’s another one on it’s way. Just like our own health and fitness, it grows, it changes, it continues onward. Our journeys are distinctly different and unique, but most importantly: we don’t have to do them on our own. We can learn and struggle and grow, side by side, with the guidance and support of others. We can journey together.

This is the meaning of Masá.

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