What got you started in CrossFit? How did you hear about it?
I’ve been serious about my fitness since 2009, when shovelling the driveway put my back out so badly I ended up in the ER, on Tylenol 3s, muscle relaxers, and prescription anti-inflammatories. I’d had a bad back for years, but this was a new low. After seeing the infomercial a million times, I ordered P90X. I started it in February 2009, and was hooked. I did multiple rounds, then moved on to P90X+, X2, Insanity, Asylum, and Body Beast. Along the way, I flew to Arizona to meet Tony Horton and work out with him. It was very cool, and I was in the best shape of my life.
As the years went on, working out alone in my basement started to lose its appeal. For years, I had been vehemently anti-CrossFit. You’ll get injured. Everyone’s technique is bad. Sometimes it kills people. Glassman comes across as a jerk. And what is the deal with those pullups? So, bored as I was getting, I kept doing the same thing because I had no other options. My workouts got shorter and less intense. I started to give myself more rest days. Then one night I went out for drinks with some old friends. One of those friends was Jay Henderson. Unsurprisingly, CrossFit came up. “Injured yet?” I asked. And he proceeded to dispel a lot of myths. Over the course of the evening, I went from a CrossFit hater to agreeing to try a free class. That was in October. I still remember my first class, with John Mack. The WOD was deadlifts, pullups, and double unders. Not as fun as it sounds. But I signed up for Foundations soon after. I met Jon, Danielle, and Brett. Then came the December competition, then the madness of the Open. I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere. Thanks, Hendo!
What is your favourite part about coming to the gym?
The workouts are always challenging. I’ve tried to take the Open mindset and apply it to the daily workouts. To my surprise, I’ve been able to RX more than I would have thought I could. I love discovering what I’m capable of. My mind gets in the way so often. I love that I have the confidence to push myself. I would not have done half the things I’ve done here if I was still in my basement with a DVD playing.
But what I love the most is the people. These are folks who didn’t even know me six months ago, but who I now count among my friends. The support is amazing. I recently went through a very difficult time, and my CrossFit family was totally behind me and there for me. That made such a difference. And everyone should know that I believe in paying it forward; I’m here for everyone else just as much.
The culture is the complete opposite of most gyms, where anonymity seems to be cherished. I celebrate our rejection of that mindset.
What is your favourite CrossFit movement? Least favourite?
I’ve always loved deadlifting. And while the rower may yet kill me, I actually enjoy it. Conversely, nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than double unders. Friggin’ double unders.
But my favourite CrossFit activity is definitely the Saturday group WODs. I love having a team that is counting on me. I’ve carried people, and I’ve been carried, as we’ve accomplished our goal together. When was that last time that happened at a Good Life?
What are some of your goals in CrossFit?
On New Year’s Eve, I set myself the goal of RX’ing Grace by year end. Definitely have some work to do on that. I started ring muscle up progressions. I want to work on those with a view to RX’ing at least some of next year’s Open workouts.
When I first started, I gave myself six months to be consistently hitting the Athletic level, and a year to consistently hit the RX level, of WODs. If anything, I’m a little ahead of that schedule. My plan is just to keep moving forward. And dethrone Mat Fraser, obviously.
How do you explain your newfound obsession with coming to the gym to your friends?
As we all know, the first rule of CrossFit is to never shut up about CrossFit. So I’m mindful of that. I spent two years as a vegan, and telling anyone who couldn’t get away from me how great it was. So I try to soft-sell CrossFit. I happily talk about it with people who want to know more but I try not to evangelize too much. When I do, it’s more than just making jokes about the movements (seriously, snatches and jerks?). It’s about the whole culture. I’ve actually had a co-worker come to the box to try a class. That’s pretty gratifying.
My wife has maybe been the toughest sell. When I go home and tell her what I did that day, she worries that I’m going to hurt myself. She definitely didn’t care for the rope burns on my leg, and is just waiting for me to break something doing handstand pushups. But she sees how much I’m enjoying it, so it’s good.
What is your advice for someone thinking about getting into CrossFit?
For years, I prided myself on trying anything and everything the fitness world had to offer: weights, HIIT, yoga, gymnastics…but that acceptance stopped at CrossFit’s doorstep. If you’re thinking of giving it a shot but are reluctant given the negative press it has received from some quarters (usually someone with an axe to grind or a competing financial interest), I would say try one class. My only regret is that I didn’t put my prejudices aside years earlier. Learning this stuff at 45 years of age is a lot tougher than it would have been at 35. Don’t wait. Just try it. You’ll be surprised.
What does CrossFit mean to you?
Fitness, teamwork, dedication, support, determination…all of these words apply completely. To me, CrossFit is so much more than a WOD I do five days a week. It’s a culture and a lifestyle. I think half my wardrobe is now from Reebok. I’ve seen all the movies. It has changed how I view fitness, and honestly, how I view myself.
How has CrossFit helped improve your life both inside and outside of the gym?
I’m stronger and more capable than I was before I started. I can do things now that I simply couldn’t do six months ago. The Open showed me that fear is a fiction we create to keep ourselves in our own comfort zones. Negative self-commentary can not only limit you on the workout floor, but in all areas of life. Getting past that has been my biggest challenge, but also my biggest achievement. I view other aspects of my life differently. If a job needs to be done, I now know I will simply put in the effort until it’s complete. It’s cliché, but CrossFit has shown me that if it’s something I truly care about, failure is not an option. You do what you need to do, period. I just didn’t think that way before I came to CrossFit.