Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Stress Neurobiologist
When did you first start CrossFitting?:
What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
Back Squats; most WODs with box jumps
What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
Any heavy overhead lifts (due to a wonky back); toes to bars!
Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
Growing up, I was (morbidly) obese, tipping the scales at over a 100 lbs. in first grade. I played soccer a bit as a kid, but mainly just ate McDonald’s (literally every day). I got into skateboarding when I was in high school and that helped me start losing weight. In college, I got into running and was a bit obsessive about it. I had an odd childhood, so I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 21. I then got way into biking, riding every day (regardless of the weather). This made for some ridiculous days in my former home of Madison, Wisconsin where winter temps can get down to the negative teens or twenties with wind-chills.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go?
I started CrossFit after my mom passed away from lung cancer in 2013. I think I was looking for some sense of control, some outlet for all the negative emotional energy I had bottled up. I started a foundations class in Madison (where I went to graduate school) and used to bike around 10 miles just to get to the gym. During the winter, this was a brutal commute (I biked to every class) but I was pretty hooked. The first WOD I really remember was just a 21-15-9 (with push-ups, sit-ups, and air squats) plus 50 single-unders (Being a chubby kid, I rarely ever jumped rope so even the single-unders were challenging).
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit? (before/after)
I have been really surprised by how much my body has morphed due to CrossFit. Throughout my adult life, I’ve gotten into better and better shape and feel, right now, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. My girlfriend (soon to be wife) constantly comments how my chest and torso have taken up a more (developed) shape. My arms have gotten more defined, and my back feels strong. Also as an avid biker, I have sizable quads and horrible hamstring flexibility; however CrossFit has really helped me gain flexibility throughout my whole body.
What impact has CrossFit had on your life?
CrossFit has definitely given me a great emotional outlet, something where I can really stop worrying about work and just be present in what I’m doing in the gym. It is amazing to blow off steam but also feel connected to a Community. I especially appreciate just seeing progress in such a tangible way… Like I said, I remember not being able to do single-unders when I started CrossFit and now I am can do dozens of double-unders in a row (on a good day).
What is your favorite CrossFit/CFD moment?
I think all the great words of encouragement from the coaches; there are likely too many to recount… From Becca really explicitly stating she could see how much I’ve improved, to Elise threatening to stick something up my butt, to Josh telling me to finally put some weight on the bar after getting a PR; everyone shows it in a different way, but it definitely feels great to have that kind of support.
What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting CrossFit?
I guess I have two slightly conflicting pieces of advice… First, I’m a big fan of just trying to know and work within my own limits. I think when I first started CrossFit I would get competitive or worry how much weight someone else was doing and I think that isn’t very useful. Everyone has their own issues, their own reasons for being in the gym, different athletic histories. Remember what you want to work on and work within your own limits. I think not following this, can lead to injuries. But shortly after starting CrossFit, someone in the gym always used to say “just add 5 lbs. more”. So combining both of the things, know what you want, work with your limits, but sometimes just push your limits the tiniest bit.
What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
Random adventures (like disco rollerskating or bike shop happy hours), Durham Food Trucks (Ko Kyu right outside the gym is the best food in town in my opinion!), music and trivia (usually at the Pinhook), weird art/music festivals (burning man; movement in Detroit)