1. What was your life like prior to your CrossFit training and why did you start wanting to work with a coach?
Growing up I participated in most group sports, especially football and baseball. I quit football in 9th grade after realizing the hard way I was too small to be out there without getting hurt. As a kid, all I wanted to o was play baseball, but I gave that up in high school when my older sister turned me onto a canoe-racing team. Two people in a boat, working in teams of 6 or 8, for hours and miles. That really got me into shape and I loved it. Didn’t hurt that we also won most of our races. That went away mid-college, and the remaining years up until 2.5 years ago consisted of 3-4 days a week of weight-lifting routines at the rec center sprinkled w/ 2-3 days a week of mountain-bike riding or hiking. The rec center was boring and repetitive. Just me and my Ipod minding my own business. I read an online article about Crossfit and it piqued my interest. I found CFJ’s website, that night I saw a firefighter buddy wearing a CFJ shirt and I thought, ‘that’s weird, I never knew this was a thing and here I see it twice in a day”. He described it to me, and the next day I emailed Shawn. Shawn’s “come in for a workout and I promise you’ll love it and get into shape the best shape of your life”. I was hooked since the first Foundations (pre-Evolutions) WOD. Shawn admitted about a year later that I was a little doughy the first time I came in.
2. What have been your greatest challenges (physically, mentally, emotionally) since you began your CrossFit Training?
Physically, dealing with bad shoulders that I’ve had for close to 15 years. That and knowing that as an older athlete, I’m limited a little more than someone younger. Mentally, it took me a few months to accept that I cannot keep pace with the younger athletes. I mean, I’m not in my 20’s nor 30’s any longer. I’ve got to mentally talk myself out of going all out at the gate, but that’s hard to do once the clock starts.
3. What have been your greatest successes (physically, mentally or emotionally) since you began? How does your body feel now compared to when you started and WHY?
I’m in better shape than when I was in my early 20s. I love being in shape, how I look, how I feel, and what that allows me to do, mountain biking, hiking, pick-up ultimate Frisbee games, pick-up football games with my kids and their friends, it’s so much fun beating them. Three big compliments: 1) my youngest son Harrison telling me his friends ask if I’m a former Navy SEAL; 2) going to my 25th HS reunion a couple years ago where I had a steady stream of former classmates asking what I do to stay in shape, and, 3) just a few weeks ago, Andy watching me during a Oly Lifting class, telling me I was “so perfectly compact”, and had the body to go long on increasing my cleans and snatches. Thanks Andy.
4. How has your life changed since starting CrossFit training? Has CrossFit transferred over into any other areas of your life?
Probably the biggest crossover has been to my volunteer job on the Louisville Fire Department. I’ve been a firefighter for a little over 4 years now, and doing Crossfit for 2 ½. Fire training and real fire response work is incredibly, incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally. I really can’t find words to describe how physically hard it is at times. That work can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours or more…work that requires you to get to work now, and I mean immediately, and there’s no hesitation, no rest, no stopping, no water breaks, no chalk breaks, no stopping to figure out strategy because that’s supposed to be ingrained from years of training…do the work and do it until it’s done and everyone’s safe. The only word to describe it is exhausting. It is similar to an intense WOD in a sense – drop everything you’re doing and get to work. Vice-versa, being a FF has made me stay in the best shape that I can be. I mean, I’ve got to be…I’m sworn and committed to protecting and helping the citizens we serve, and they count on me/us to fix or help with their problems, and I take that responsibility seriously.
5. What are the advantages of CrossFit style training compared to your previous workout styles?
Whole body, constantly varied workouts that bring you to complete exhaustion. Complete exhaustion…that’s something that’s not found in any other workout you do. Think about that. There’s no other workout that brings you to the point where you can go no longer. How else are you to respond to real-life events that make you go all out unless you know your limits. Crossfit is the only workout that pushes you to your absolute limits. The happiness you feel to finally finish a WOD, after pushing through what seems like hours, and finally getting a chance to sit/lay/drop on the ground can’t be beat. That, and the community and friends you make. I absolutely love my CFJ friends and guys/ladies I work out with. Y’all know who you are.
6. What advice can you give to others?
- Listen to your coaches – if they tell you your form is lacking and to go down in weight, do it; they can see your movements better than you can.
- Listen to your body – most discomfort you can push through, some pains are a clear sign to stop.
- Take a rest day when you think you should – one day off won’t make you weaker.
- Encourage and cheer on your classmates and others you see WOD’ing – no matter the age, strength, skill level…mid-WOD, everyone around you is in the pain cave; there’s nothing better to keep you going during a WOD than hearing someone shout your name across the gym.
- Don’t worry what the guy’s/lady’s score is that’s working out next door to you – every workout is a personal thing; you should be concentrating on your own improvement, not necessarily beating others.
- Visit other boxes when you’re out of town for fun or work – there’s a very welcoming whole wide world of Crossfit out there, and every box has its own unique flavor; you’ll meet some great people, make some good friends, and walk away happy you did with a big smile on your face.
- And, above all, have fun!