Life after service

Meet The RAF Veteran Who Launched ‘CrossFit Spitfire’

The former RAF Officer used skills from his armed forces service to create a booming fitness business in Norwich

David Smith served in the Royal Air Force for six years all over the UK and in Afghanistan. Although David loved his time in the military working as an engineer, he has since gone on to use his wealth of RAF skills to create a successful fitness business in Norwich, 'CrossFit Spitfire'.

Outstanding Standards Of Training

In 2002, David joined the RAF as a commissioned officer (engineer) and served a short service commission of six years in both the UK and as part of Operation Herrick in Afghanistan.

David recalls his deployment as being a “wonderful time”, a period of learning and developing his expertise.

With a background as a competitive sprinter, hurdler, and coach, David enjoyed taking part in various strength and conditioning programmes before being introduced to extreme fitness regimen CrossFit in 2011.

David calls the RAF training “second to none” yet had no idea at the time it would also pave the way for such an exciting and varied future career.

Making A Career Of His Passion

While on deployment, David had access to an American gym and, jumping at the rare chance of having such high-quality equipment overseas, started to train with colleagues. David said:

“I've been involved in fitness throughout my life. And it's been an absolute passion to not only keep myself in shape, but also to encourage others to do so.

"So, my friends and family … they're probably sick of it now. I've been pushing them towards just keeping generally fit and healthy throughout their whole lives.”

When David left the Armed Forces he initially worked as an engineer in the East of England.

Then, CrossFit popped up in his life again, this time through a friend working in a CrossFit gym.

Inspired by something he adored, and encouraged by his friend, David started his own venture in the fitness industry, with the help of X-Forces, an organisation that supports veterans in launching new businesses.

He opened CrossFit Spitfire in 2016, and affectionately refers to his business as “a wonderful thing” and his “baby”.

Just two years later, David won a Director’s Special Award at the Soldiering On Awards, recognising his contribution to his local and veteran communities.

His achievements have been further recognised by X Forces, which has made David an Ambassador for East Anglia.

David prides himself on using his coaching skills to bring out helpful qualities in clients, which are similar to those used in the Armed Forces; skills that empower you and push you onward.

Use Military Grit

To other veterans starting their own enterprises, David said:

“You may come across hurdles and be knocked down.

"But this is where being ex-military helps you to excel. Failure is not an option.

"You're going to get back up, you're going to rise, you're going to go above it, and you're going to learn and move on.”

Finally, David urges veteran entrepreneurs to find a mentor, to help them navigate the unfamiliar waters of the business world.

This story is part of Life After Service, a week-long campaign where BFBS will be running positive stories about ex-service people across all its media channels.