Emeric Harney, originally from Salisbury, CT, is currently living in both Salisbury and Raleigh, NC. He has worked for his family’s business Harney & Sons Fine Teas in varying capacities and currently serves as the Marketing Director. In addition to his work at Harney, he’s also a certified personal trainer, Spartan racer, and CrossFitter – among others.
Emeric started participating in Spartan races in 2018, and in 2019, completed a total of 21 Spartan races all across the country.
“I met a great group of people through Spartan racing that later introduced me to CrossFit,” he said.
While he did a couple of Spartan races in 2021 after he and his husband moved to Raleigh, he hasn’t done them since.
“When I did them in 2021, they were in local venues within driving distance from Raleigh. I realized that the venue is a big part of the draw for Spartan races,” he explained. “I had traveled all over the country to participate in them and being in venues where you’re seeing amazing terrain and really being challenged is a big part of that.”
The most memorable Spartan race he participated in took place at Big Bear Mountain at Big Bear Lake in California. The race started at approximately 7,000 feet and gained over 2,000 feet in elevation throughout the race.
“That was so challenging, but looking at the snow capped mountains and the vista the whole way up was just completely exhilarating.”
Additionally, he said that he still keeps in touch with many of the people that he participated in Spartan races with. “I’ve formed great relationships with the guys I raced with in Spartans. A couple of us actually pivoted to CrossFit at a similar time, too.”
While Emeric is fairly new to CrossFit, he has enjoyed learning the ropes. After doing Spartan races for so long, he wanted to find a new style of working out that championed more functional fitness.
“I’ve joined a gym down here in Raleigh and I just dove in head first,” Emeric said.
One of the things that he didn’t know about CrossFit before he started was how tightly knit the community is.
“The people at the gym here were so great about taking me through the ropes of what CrossFit is. It’s not about competition, but it’s more about training for the things that you want to do in life,” he said. “There’s a lot that I’ve learned about CrossFit that is so much more than competition.”
Speaking of competition, Emeric participated in his first CrossFit competition in 2023. It was a partner competition, and while they had a great time, he also said that he was “very humbled.”
Emeric said that Spartan races require a lot of endurance training, whilst there is less training for CrossFit competitions, since “you’re just doing CrossFit.”
“You don’t have to do any particular training unless you have weaknesses in movements,” he said. “Usually, coaches and programmers in the gyms are doing a great job of blending conditioning and metabolic training.”
Emeric said that a lot of the time, he felt like a “lone wolf” when he was training for Spartan races. “There’s only so many people that I want to come on a eight to ten mile run with you,” he mused. “In CrossFit, I’m in class five or six days a week. In some ways, we get to be competitive with one another and we’re working together every day. But I care less and less about competitiveness against others and more about how I’m improving over time as an athlete.”
When he comes back to Salisbury from North Carolina, he’s been going to Lumberjack Athletics East, based in Sheffield, MA. They also have a location in Hudson, which makes it easy for him to get a workout in without having to travel too far. For when he’s in Manhattan, he’s found a CrossFit gym in Union Square.
“It depends on where I am,” he said. “I used to not be able to do CrossFit when I came home, so it’s nice to have found a couple of different gyms in the areas that I travel to frequently.”
Emeric said that one of the biggest challenges he encountered when transitioning from Spartan training to CrossFit training was adjusting his diet. “As an endurance athlete, you consume a lot of fats and that has a lot less impact on your diet,” he said. “When you’re going on longer endurance runs that are two or four hours long, having fats for sustenance is important.”
Another challenge Emeric encountered was the specificity of the movements in CrossFit. There are a lot of gymnastic skills and olympic weightlifting movements, both of which can be very complicated.
“There are an insane number of skills needed and they require a lot of body awareness, accuracy, and agility,” he said. “There are ways to scale those movements down as a beginner so you’re approaching the basics and the foundations. They take a lot of work to accomplish at first, and then they become even more complicated when you’re doing them mid-workout.”
For Emeric, the biggest reward is the connections that he makes with his CrossFit family. “When we moved to Raleigh, my husband had a group of friends, but they weren’t people that I necessarily connected with. So finding out that there was this community of people that I could connect with through CrossFit was a blessing. I’ve been able to create a second family down here.”
Emeric describes himself as an introverted extrovert, so to have a gym culture where he is able to either “engage with people in a familiar way in the gym” or to keep his head down and get his training done is very beneficial for him.
Emeric got his certificate in personal training in 2019 and had a successful business in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut prior to his move to North Carolina. But since his move, he’s taken a bit of a break from personal training.
“It’s been harder to find a place because of how many more trainers are available down here, so the structure is a little different,” he explained. “I’ve ended up taking extra hours and putting them back into my own training, so it’s been rewarding in that way.”
He considered trying to maintain his client base in Connecticut when they first moved to North Carolina, but he recognizes the importance of being able to see and interact with clients face to face multiple times per week.
“When you’re working with a trainer, having the consistency of seeing each other regularly is important,” he said.
Because he is only in Connecticut one week per month, he felt it would be unfair to his clients to only be seeing them for a few in-person sessions each month. “Building meaningful relationships and creating programs is one of the most rewarding and important parts of personal training, and without being there full-time, I’m not able to do that.”
In addition to participating in CrossFit competitions, Emeric also photographs them. He photographs for the brand Lifting Culture Apparel and was recently at a CrossFit competition in Miami.
“I’ve been able to photograph and meet really awesome people,” he said. “The competitions range from people who are fairly new to the people who are at the top 0.1% tier. It was really eye opening when I went for the first time because in my head, competitions were just the top athletes. Seeing the different divisions with different people competing was cool.”
Additionally, he also got to see and photograph the adaptive divisions, which are divisions in which athletes who have a permanent handicap compete.
This year, he’s looking forward to photographing more CrossFit competitions. “Each year, I’ve gotten a little better at getting prepared for it, so this year will be even better.”
If you’re interested in seeing Emeric Harney’s photography and keeping up with his CrossFit experiences, you can follow him on Instagram at @emericharney.