SOM Footwear has recently teamed up with Mary Beth Prodromides, a four-time World CrossFit Masters Champion, to promote our ‘made in Colorado’ footwear company that serves athletes of all levels. With her phenomenal personality, Mary Beth is a source of inspiration to many of us. It is fun to see a match between the only Colorado-made sneakers company and an incredible and accomplished masters champion of the CrossFit Games*.
This relationship began after we met with Mary Beth at a CrossFit competition organized by CrossFit VEX in Grand Junction, Colorado. When she put SOM Footwear on, she recognized a quality shoe both for her training and for her everyday gigs. She loved the feel of them instantly. We suggested that she put them to the test for a while and see what she thought of them. We spoke with her some weeks later and her excitement about the shoes was palpable, even over the phone.
Business integrity: How does SOM perform for a champion?
In order to start working with Mary Beth Prodromides, four-time World CrossFit Masters Champion, we naturally wanted to make sure she loved the shoes, because this is the most important aspect to us: can we truthfully serve a world class champion? When she described her training and how the shoes had performed for her, we knew we had found a match. Without realizing it, she started to be “addicted," in a good way, to her SOMs.
She says that they've done great on every level at the gym. She is impressed by their performance in agility movements. The shoes don’t weigh her down in gymnastic movements. The fact that they are so lightweight changes the dynamic on handstand walks, toes to bar, muscle-ups, and jump rope. In addition to their flexibility, they give her stability and ease when lifting hundreds of pounds. Her feet are now the happiest they’ve been in years!
A new convert to SOM
She started to wear her SOMs all the time, in and out of her gym: doing errands, hiking, etc. They got beat up and dirty, but she didn’t want to machine wash them and have to go a second without them as they dried. This changed one day, when she took a different route on a hike, and her SOMs returned all muddy. While they were drying from the machine wash, she had to wear her previous shoes and it made her realize how uncomfortable those other shoes were for her feet. We laugh at that anecdote because it is very typical among our customers. Once your feet know better, they give you a hard time when you return to other shoes they never really liked.
You will hear more about Mary Beth and her SOM shoes in the future, but what we came to discover is that this little woman (5’ 2” and her pounds of muscle) exudes determination. She is the perfect incarnation of the word – it is almost tangible! Her powerful intensity is omnipresent in every thing she does and says. The more you work with her, the more you discover what made her a champion.
Champion Tough Mindset
She is not shy to say that during her first years as an athlete, she was hard on herself. She was laser-focused on her goal to participate at the CrossFit Games and did everything necessary to achieve it. The fact that she was a full-time middle school physical education teacher, and a mom with her fourth child getting ready to go to college, didn’t stop her from training morning and night, nailing down her nutrition, seeing specialists (like a chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc.) to help with her muscle recoveries, learning how to swim (for real, because she knew how to swim but not competition swimming), and practicing the same movements over and over to improve her performance - not to mention meditation and good sleep. Her efforts paid off, as she won her first Masters' CrossFit Games in 2011.
The Mental Game in Business
Her first gold medal is such an amazing achievement, and it makes the launch of SOM Footwear seem easy in comparison but, in reality, the first years in business were extremely challenging. We've learned hard lessons as we've progressed in manufacturing. When a machine broke and vendors were out of reach, we had to look for something else to use. Our shoes didn’t have the look of our dreams due to the limitations of materials available - or the limitations of our finances! We had to be very creative to succeed at making shoes. The concept of having employees was also new to us. Some of them were from reinsertion programs, and a few others suddenly stopped showing up. With so many things going wrong, we had an excuse to quit every day! But we didn’t. The goal of making a shoe that would serve people well, without hurting their feet and that would contribute to their health was stronger than the reasons to quit. When the first testimonials came our way, we knew we were onto something.
Learning Curves, Game After Game
Mary Beth made it to the podium 6 times out of 8 appearances at the CrossFit Games between 2011 to 2019, even with some breaks due to injuries. She said that she learned something every year and game after game. She came late into the sport with a solid background in competitive activities such as basketball, track, and gymnastics. Being active as a physical educator, aerobic instructor, and competing as a bodybuilder while raising four children made her a strong woman. It didn’t spare her body from serious injuries, surgeries and setbacks.
Her competitive mindset drove her to be the best she could be. Focusing her effort on each new day with the goal to perform her absolute best and repeat this the next day and the next, day after day. Her years of experience brought her to know herself in a much deeper way and gave her the ability to reach a higher state of mind that was changing her life forces; a process she is still mastering up to this day. She surrounded herself with professionals who have been instrumental to her evolution and progress.
Doing Your Best, Year After Year in Business
As business owners, we can relate to her journey. Without learning curves and people to guide you through the most difficult obstacles, you can’t keep growing, and your business starts to plateau. The motivation alone can’t keep you moving forward forever. You have to reassess as you progress and major changes are necessary during certain periods. The goal is bigger than the obstacles, and it has to be, otherwise you lose sight of it. Like her, we start every day with a new focus to do better than the day before.
Becoming a Champion Requires Work
Being a champion or running a business both require work; there are no shortcuts. Is one harder than the other? Even though they are very different, they both require dedication, commitment, discipline and, again, work.
There is one thing that being a champion and running a business have in common: improvement!
A champion works every day on improving his or her skills, technique, strength and speed. In business, you have to constantly improve your product to better serve your customers. It's the fun and motivating part in both cases because you can see an evolution from the start.
If there is no improvement there is no result.
Becoming a champion is an internal decision that you have to assess constantly. In that situation, one can be one’s own worst enemy. The greatest, but most crucial, challenge is to face your own uncertainties and find within yourself the effort and determination to overcome them.
What would Mary Beth tell her younger self?
This is a powerful question she quickly answered with a big laugh, questioning how young she really was at age 50 when she started CrossFit. “What would you tell your younger self at the start of your CrossFit experience?” Simply to look for a mindset coach much earlier than she did and to go for her dreams, it is so worth it. She said: “The CrossFit Games are the ultimate fun despite all the stress of the competition. They will be worth all the sacrifices you’ll have to make.” She knew her “why.” It was very strong in her mind; it had driven her every time, especially when she felt least able to pursue it.
In business or as an athlete: MINDSET, MINDSET, MINDSET
The mindset in business follows the same rules, and we have learned to surround ourselves with good business owners and advisers. The best advice we received was: Have you tried everything yet? Of course the answer is always No but, whenever we gave that answer, we knew that there was more we could try. We return to work with ideas based on that question. Knowing and believing what we are able to achieve is one big factor in the process of keeping the business going. Being creative becomes second nature. The other advice we remind ourselves of all the time is to Enjoy the journey. We are so lucky to have wonderful customers who remind us that our work is so worth the effort - and they do tell us on a daily basis. It brightens our day. When you lose motivation, that is the kick that keeps you on track. Like for a super athlete, fun has to be present because the journey is long and full of obstacles.
How important are the shoes in your sport?
Mary Beth said that she had never had a pair of shoes that could perform well during every movement. She had never had shoes that were truly comfortable but, when you don’t know better, you just do what you can with what you have. She would switch from one pair to another depending on the workout, hoping they would perform as intended. She believes that shoes are everything in life and sports. She has recently learned that her feet will get stronger in a pair of minimalist shoes like SOM. It just makes sense to her now, and she sincerely loves to live in her SOMs.
Why make shoes?
Olie, our champion shoemaker and co-founder, has always pursued the goal of having a pair that would allow him to do everything in his favorite sport: CrossFit. It took him years to achieve the results he has today with his latest sport models. The satisfaction of hearing a champion saying exactly what he has aspired to do is worth a gold medal to him.
As an athlete or as a shoe manufacturer...
SOM Footwear stays humble in front of a masters champion. We appreciate how inspiring Mary Beth Prodromides is to us, and to everyone who meets her. Businesses, athletes, or any one of us can refuel at the same fountain of perseverance and persistence to pursue excellence in their respective fields to achieve ultimate goals.
Mary Beth trains her body and mind to be the best in every movement, to perform to her highest self in her sport and, ultimately, to earn the champion title four times!
We persistently work to improve our product so it can best serve the champion in you and help you meet your personal goals.
What is the champion in you ready for?
Mary Beth invites you to get yourself a pair of the best shoes she has trained in so far.
* CrossFit Games Definition: The CrossFit Games are an annual athletic competition owned and operated by CrossFit, LLC. Athletes compete in a series of events at the Games, which may be various standard CrossFit workouts consisting of metabolic conditioning exercises, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as a range of activities from other sports such as swimming and cycling.The CrossFit Games rank the world's fittest and determine who is the Fittest on Earth.