July 13, 2013
Getting Ready: Marcus Filly
By Leah Lutz

“There will be an opportunity for a break and healing in a couple of weeks, but right now, I have work to do.”

“I’m a good team member, but can I compete individually? If I’m going to continue in this sport, this is the question burning inside of me now,” Marcus Filly says.

For the past three years, Filly has competed at the CrossFit Games with CrossFit Mill Valley. This spring at the NorCal Regional, he edged out 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games eighth-place finisher, Pat Barber, for the final qualifying spot.

Filly admits he’s had some rough times this year, particularly when a longstanding back injury flared up.

“I was not feeling great leading up to Regionals. Having an injury and not being able to do the things you love shakes you and rattles your confidence,” he says. “I lost the joy and decided I was done, but in that pivotal moment, my coach talked me down, and I committed to just taking one day at a time.”

One day after another led to the Regionals and now, the Games. 

While his name might not be familiar, he’s no stranger to CrossFit. Filly did his first CrossFit workout with Kelly Starrett in 2007, just after graduating from University of California, Berkeley. He went on to the Ohio State University for medical school and worked out with Bill and Caity (Matter) Henniger, shortly after Caity won the 2008 CrossFit Games.

His time in Ohio was a defining year. In CrossFit, he was inspired seeing people who were determined to better their lives. So he took a leave of absence from medical school to figure out what he really wanted. While at home, he found CrossFit Mill Valley (part of the TJ’s Gym family) and never looked back.

“Now I’m working on the ground floor in day-to-day practices of healthy living, and I don’t regret my decision to leave school and help people in this way at all. My first year of medical school was tough, it’s tough for everyone. It was a time of intense soul searching,” Filly says. “I had to ask myself, ‘Is this what I want for my life? Is being a physician what I want?’ Now I’m working with people to get them healthy before they’re sick.”

As an affiliate owner, he loves the impact his work has on his clients and their families.

“Now, five years into coaching, I see plenty of families torn apart by illnesses and disease. That level of stress is affecting every generation. In contrast, a mom or dad joins the gym and things are strengthened — their health, family and relationships … There’s the long-term health benefit of all this but on a day-to-day basis, there is more joy and happiness. It’s so worth it,” he says.

His commitment to training, and the struggles that often come with it, help him connect to his clients on another level.

“Clients feel connected to me in a new way — nervous for me, excited for the Games,” Filly says. “The commitment to training for a year is hard. It’s not every day that you want to work out, but you are committed. This helps connect me to my clients on a human level. Most of them are struggling with something, too, and they need to make their own commitments. I’m honest with them about my own struggles.”

He put in the time, got a taste of playing with the big guys at Regionals and now, he’s ready to test his training on the big stage.

“Hey, it’s still just one day at a time,” he says. “There will be an opportunity for a break and healing in a couple of weeks, but right now, I have work to do.”