Q. What was your life like prior to your CrossFit training and why did you want to start working with a coach?
For a long time, I ran. I’m not really the traditional runner frame, but running seemed like the thing to do to stay in shape. So I ran, and ran, and ran. Eventually, this got boring, and the winter treadmill routine didn’t help. I’d also spend some time doing regular gym weight/resistance machines, but was never really satisfied with the results. Then, I switched to doing some home workout programs, for about a year. The initial workout variety was great, but it’s pretty lonely in your basement. And eventually, those same repeating programs get old. I’m a fan of going all in and trying new things, and my wife and I decided pretty much on a whim while in Florida that when we got back to Colorado we were going to start CrossFit. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to start working with a coach, really we were looking for a challenge, but the value in working with a coach was evident from day one.Q. What have been your greatest challenges since you began your CrossFit Training?I’m a pretty calm person most of the time and love challenges. For me, the biggest challenges for me have been physical, and usually related to the gymnastic WODs and movements. I’m 100% certain I’d never done a handstand before starting CrossFit, not to mention a handstand pushup. While I’m not anywhere near perfecting them yet, they don’t have the intimidation factor they had starting a little over a year ago. I’m a bigger guy in general, 6’1, about 200lbs, and some of the movements I’ve faced had me thinking “this is going to take some work”. And it does! But, this is one of the many areas where coaching really helps. It’s amazing how someone telling you to move your hands six inches (something you have no hope of seeing when upside down), or to widen your grip can make all the difference.
Q. What have been your greatest successes since you began? How does your body feel now compared to when you started and WHY?
A tougher area for me to start with was (and still is) stamina. Those longer cardio WODs were much harder in the past than they are now. You just keep doing it and you get better. Nothing’s free – there’s going to be hard work. It’s also been awesome to see progress with heavier weights. Early on I wanted to go heavier sooner, and that probably cost me months. Scale, go lighter, improve your form, then add weight. But still go for it on those days when you’re feeling good, and KNOW you can crush your PR. It’s been a little over a year since I stared, and one of my first classes was on Halloween. It’s hard to describe how strange and humbling it is at 6am to be down to an empty bar on squat snatches, while Kristen’s in front of you dressed up as Thing 2 knocking them out with more weight and better form. I remember thinking “how is this so hard?!” Then a year later, and throwing up 135lbs isn’t a problem.
Q. How has your life changed since starting CrossFit training? Has CrossFit transferred over into any other areas of your life?
CrossFit is filled with functional movements, which is one of the other things that was appealing. You’ll also see improvements in other physical things you do. After doing only CrossFit from Oct-May, I did the BolderBoulder as a “fun run”, in 54 minutes without any dedicated running training – just CrossFit classes. I’ve also found that I’m calmer and feel more productive on the days I start with the 5.30am class. I’m definitely a morning person, and the morning group are awesome! It’s a great sense of accomplishment to have knocked out a tough WOD before most people have gotten out of bed. I’m less reluctant to try harder physical things now as well – Spartan Beast, here I come (in Breck this June!)
Q. What are the advantages of CrossFit style training compared to your previous workout styles?
It’s been fun to do this with my wife, other types of workout don’t always lend themselves to that very well. It’s awesome to see her crushing it and to encourage her (she’s looking forward to getting back to it after our first baby in the new year!) The coaching/feedback is awesome, and helps you overcome mistakes you’re making (and might not know your making). There’s way more variety with CrossFit that other types of workout, and structured programming that’s well thought out – you’re not going to get this at your local gym, and for sure not in your basement. The group classes also have the effect of keeping you motivated. It’s easy to skip the last set when you’re by yourself and are having a bad day, but there’s something about the group classes that helps keep you accountable.
Q. What advice can you give to others?Be consistent, and try to make it at least three to four times a week. Don’t overdo it; I think some of the best progress I made was to scale back slightly in terms of days – recovery is important, so don’t feel bad taking the occasional week off!
Q. What else would like to share about your experience at CrossFit Julia?
The community at CFJ is awesome, I’ve made some amazing friends, and while life means people sometimes move on, the friendships tend to stick around. Keep an eye on other people and their form – there are some truly amazing athletes (and awesome people) at CFJ, and you can learn a lot by watching others. It’s also inspiring to see how if you keep at it, where you’ll be. Lastly, go into it expecting to work hard.