What Makes Conor Murphy Tick

In ‘What Makes You Tick’ I get the chance to pick the brains of some inspirational people from all walks of life, in the hope that by sharing ideas we can continue to progress, push our limits, and inspire each other.

Conor Murphy was born and raised in Washington State, where he spent 10 years in Spokane, before moving to Gig Harbor. After graduating from Gig Harbor High School he enlisted in the Navy to follow his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. The recurrence of an injury suffered in training however, would lead to his medical disqualification.

“I was devastated. I harbored a poor attitude, and felt that the world owed me something for the sacrifices I had made.”

After using CrossFit as a means to stay fit, Conor took the plunge and signed up for his Level 1 certificate course. He later moved to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and opened Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas, with owners Chris and Jenn Irwin.

“They became family. Chris had lead the life that I only wish I could have had in the SEAL Teams, and he taught me valuable lessons I could never repay him for. He was able to help me inside and out of our CrossFit Affiliate.”

After two consecutive podium finishes at the CrossFit Regionals, he signed a contract to become a sponsored athlete for Reebok. This in turn allowed him the opportunity to coach at Reebok CrossFit One at the Reebok World HQ. Not only is he employed by Reebok as a coach, but also works for CrossFit as a Head Trainer on the CrossFit L1 Seminar Staff. (The same seminar that, he says, was the impetus in getting his life back on track).

Conor was kind enough to take the time out of his immensely busy schedule to answer some questions, and share his insights. 

Would you say you are more introverted, or extroverted?

Extroverted. I am very outgoing and very social. Although I do enjoy time by myself, I find myself wanting to be the life of the party more often than not.

What is your passion?

Improving the quality of life for other people. When first reading this question, I immediately thought, “CrossFit”. I believe that I have a great passion for CrossFit because of the effect it has had on my life and the opportunity it provides me to effect the lives of other people.

What are you driven by?

Success. I am driven by the desire to be successful for my friends and family.

How do you measure success?

Success is your ability to make a positive impact on this world. I always hear people say, “Leave things better than you found them”. I find this very true, but especially with other people. Leave people better than how you found them. This can be done in many different ways.

What is your approach to daily life?

A recent quote from Jocko Willink, in a video labeled “Good”.

Who had the most influence on you at a young age, and why?

My Father. He is an Irish Catholic, hard-working family man. He didn’t ever preach to me about anything. He led by example. Anything that he wanted me to do, he would do himself. He believes that actions speak louder than words. He is the most selfless, humble man I’ve yet to meet and I am honored to have him as a mentor.

What’s the best book you’ve read, and why?

Boys in the Boat. It is about a group of young men that crew for the University of Washington and their journey for gold at the 1936 Olympics.

Describe your typical morning routine.

Depending on my work schedule, I will wake up at either 05:00 if I am opening the gym, or 06:30 for a later day. I train in the morning with our team at Reebok CrossFit One. We will work on our respective tasks and coach CrossFit classes throughout the day to the employees at the Reebok World HQ. We will have another training session in the afternoon and one more around 17:00. I will eat a big dinner around 19:00. Most of my day preparation is done at night. I will plan out my day, study, and make a list of things to do the next day before bed. I am asleep before 22:00 on most nights.

Describe your perfect Sunday.

I work for CrossFit HQ on the weekends. My perfect Sunday is waking up early to run the second day of a CrossFit Level 1 seminar. When the seminar ends at around 17:00, an easy cruise back to my house and girlfriend would be ideal. Maybe a cool beer and some reflecting before bed.

I am happiest when…

I am around my friends and family.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Every once in a while I like to go out with my friends and drink one too many shots of Jameson. We make sure no one drives, and everyone has a plan. It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely happens.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of CrossFit?

Hands down, changing the lives of other people. My own personal accomplishments stand nowhere near when you get rewarded with a thank you card or message from someone you’ve invested in, telling you that you have changed, or even saved their lives.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of CrossFit?

I really enjoy traveling. I don’t mind a long drive. In fact, I really enjoy time on the road by myself or with others. I feel that some of the best conversations I have ever had were either when traveling, or on watch (in the military).

How does your approach to training differ as an athlete, and a coach?

The approach is the same. The application might look different for myself compared to a new client, but it’s all the same. Constantly varied, functional movement executed at high intensity. Intensity is relative. For example, I send my father workouts to complete that I have done. He feels the same way after his workout as I did after mine, but the weights might be a bit lighter for him, or maybe less work was completed in the same time frame. He is looking for functional competence, to build a hedge against sickness, where as I am looking for functional dominance, to be the best in my sport.

Do you have a coaching philosophy?

Care. Knowledge doesn’t make you a good coach. Personality doesn’t make you a good coach. It’s care. Caring about your clients will bring everything else. If you care, you will educate yourself so you can educate others. If you care, you will constantly find new ways to entertain. If you care, you will find ways to inspire. None of those happen at the top level without some level of “giving a shit”. You’ve got to give a shit about what you are doing and the people you are doing it for. Care.

What was the most significant learning experience you can recall having?

I learned a tough lesson recently that I will dub “Fail Fast”. If you make a mistake, no matter how big or how small, fail fast. Own up to your failure. Figure out why it happened and create preventative measures so it won’t happen again. Then, start charging in the right direction as soon as possible. We are all human and mistakes are inevitable, but how you deal with them can make or break the situation.

How do you deal with adversity?

Referring back to my previous quote from Jocko, I believe that it is in times of adversity that we grow the most. Every situation has something positive to be taken from it. If you can’t find anything, look harder. If I fail to qualify for the CrossFit Games year after year… Good. There is that much more room for me to grow. There is that much more fitness that I can garner that I never thought possible.

What advice would you give to the younger generation, who may have aspirations to compete at an elite level?

Be ready to make sacrifices. Be ready to miss parties, and gatherings and family time. Be ready to push yourself past your limits day in and day out. It is not impossible. It never is. What is inevitable, are the sacrifices made on a daily basis. Envision yourself reaching your goals and looking back on all the sacrifices made and ask yourself, “Will it be worth it”.

You can follow Conor on Instagram and you can also check him out at Reebok CrossFit One and CrossFit.