How old are you? What is your occupation?
40 years old. Financial Analyst currently completing his second Bachelors in Math.
What month and year did you start CrossFit?
March 2018, though I had a membership here and in Boston some time before that – you even paused my dues at one point I was coming so infrequently.
What made you Join CrossFit?
My older brother Basil had really gotten after it with CrossFit. His example, and the perspective on personal discipline and accountability I read about from a book he recommended called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I realized it was time to get my health in order, and CrossFit seemed the best way to get the most out of my work outs.
What were your original goals?
To wear normal pants, lift heavy weights, run fast – and most importantly, be a better husband and father. I just had no energy before.
What is it about CrossFit (vs. other fitness alternatives) that has made you successful?
The simplicity of CrossFit – I just have to show up. Mike, you even painted that phrase – “just show up” - on the wall. That really made sense to me. I don’t have to like it, I don’t have to be good at it, I just have to show up. That’s simple. The movements are complex, but the coaches take care of that through instruction, supervision, and scaling the exercise to ability level. Just show up.
The community at the Swamp has been just as critical for my progress, which is even better for me because I came in with a lot of apprehension about the CrossFit vibe. I think we can agree that people who do CrossFit are really, really into CrossFit. You kind of have to be. I worried the intensity would result in sort of a chest thumping-scream-as-you-lift-and-scowl-a-lot-type atmosphere. I was so wrong.
The group at 5am was incredibly welcoming, kind, and supportive from the moment I walked in. The athletes come from a wide range of ages, abilities, backgrounds, and we’re all meeting to better ourselves - and that creates an exciting positive energy. The community has been the best part for me, and the athletes and coaches have kept me in the game.
What is the biggest factor in your success, and how do you maintain it?
Most important for me – keep it simple.
How many classes do you attend each month?
I think my average is about 14; I try for 4 a week.
Has nutrition played a role in your success? If so, how? Be specific.
Absolutely. The workouts are a litmus test; I can go in with less sleep and power through, but if I ate terribly the day before I will definitely feel it. I try to keep it simple - cook a bunch of chicken, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, kale – pop that in containers and have meals for the week. Making food an automatic routine eliminated processed foods by and large from my diet. Though, I recently added a UCAN pre-workout drink mix, which I found helped me to increase intensity during work outs.
How much weight have you lost since you joined The Swamp? Any other significant physical transformations?
45 pounds in about 4 months, pant size going from 48 to 36. I went from running a max of 1 mile in 18 minutes to around 9-10 min per mile for 4-5 miles. I can open jars easier, carry most things around the house as needed, pick up my son from any position, and fit behind the dryer to re-attach the vent. Most importantly, my energy level improved.
What has been your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
The biggest hurdle was the sum of all of the small hurdles – the small choices which seem so trivial in isolation. Eat that donut at work? Bother packing for the gym the night before? Sleep now, gym after work? Another donut? These things seem small, but they add up and keeping consistent on them has been important for me.
What is your most memorable CrossFit moment?
I was about a week in to the 5am class, and the workout had a series of 400M runs with squats in between. Everyone had finished by the time I started out the door for my last lap. It was a rough feeling – my legs hurt, I was gasping, and feeling quite lonely and sorry for myself. Two of the top level athletes, Anne and Raquel, fell in on either side of me right out of the door. They had both just crushed the workout, and here they were, back out to help me get through. Neither said a word; they just ran. And I ran, and with them there I found an extra gear, and with their help, that was my fastest laps. Their kindness proved a turning point for me – I realized how much of this stuff is mental – and I don’t think I’ve missed a week since then.
How has this experience enriched other areas of your life?
It’s helped me to develop more discipline. My friend Mike Reyes shared an idea with me that life is a wheel, and all the roles in our life – for me that’s father, husband, son, friend, professional, student – are spokes on that wheel that we need to keep balanced. That helped me a lot. Now I think discipline is the hub of that wheel, the key to keeping it all balanced. It fits with something my dear friend and mentor Alex Rosin says – “only discipline creates miracles.” With CrossFit, that starts right with the alarm clock on through the burpees. CrossFit has helped me to cultivate that aspect of character.
If you could send yourself advice 10 years ago what would you say?
Now. Not later today, not tomorrow, now. We only get one shot at this.
Accomplishment(s) you are most proud of since joining?
A big moment for me was when my brother Basil came to visit, and he joined the 5am class (twice). Bas is a talented athlete and a strong leader - captain of the soccer team, the kind of guy to ride a bike across the country to raise money for kids with disabilities. For the first time I can remember, I ran way faster than he did. Granted, it was only 20 yards before he passed me, but what a thrill. Even though he lapped me by the end, I still had gone from barely being able to walk a mile to working out with my brother.
What are your current goals?
I’m still at the just show up stage of development.
What advice would you give someone thinking of starting CrossFit?
Everyone starts from somewhere, and it’s important to allow yourself to be really bad at something to be really good. Trust the coaches – they know this, and they’ll guide you on the path.
I hesitated for a while about CrossFit because I knew I’d be the last one to finish a work out, and I heard everyone gets together to clap for the last person - that seemed like a nightmare. And it was a nightmare for me, as long as I was trying to avoid the consequences of all the decisions which had lead me to that state of health. At that stage, I wanted to avoid the truth.
And here’s where the community came into play for me – they get that – they know how hard it is to change and improve, and they have experienced the power of that in their own lives, and they want you to feel that as well. Maybe that’s why Anne and Raquel didn’t say anything when they ran with me that day I was struggling. They didn’t have to – just being there, caring - that’s where the community comes from, and the support comes from.
What would you hope your CrossFit Future holds?
For now, I’m just focused on getting to class tomorrow. Ultimately, I’d really like to help someone the way the 5am coaches and class helped me.