Hometown: Southern Pines, NC
Occupation: Project Manager at Cisco
When did you first start CrossFitting?:
4 years ago
What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
Back squats, pullups, and double-unders. Favorite workout is anything including those movements.
What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
Overhead squats. “Nancy”
Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I played soccer and baseball in high school, partied my butt off in college, began mountain biking in grad school, and took up martial arts in my 30’s. I had spent about 10 years doing martial arts–krav maga, haganah, JKD, Muay Thai, and grappling before trying CrossFit to improve my strength and conditioning. Once I discovered CrossFit I quit doing martial arts and focused on improving my CF skills. After 2 1/2 years of regular WODs I switched to Barbell Club and made strength gains I never thought possible–350 lb back squat, 425 deadlift, 155 press, and a 250 bench press. I’ve had some injuries that have set me back a bit but I’m slowly getting back to those numbers, esp. my lower-body strength, but I have a lot of work (and rest) to do before my upper body strength recovers.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go?
I don’t remember how I first heard about CF but it might have been reading that UFC fighter BJ Penn used CrossFit as part of his conditioning regimen. I signed-up for the fundamentals classes at CF York in York, PA where we lived at the time and I remember thinking I was in good shape until the trainer ran me through a 10-minute bodyweight WOD. I gutted out all the air squats, situps, and pushups but it was not pretty.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit? (before / after)
I’ve made strength gains that I never thought possible but my increased mobility is what I’m most proud of. For the first 2 years of CF I could NOT do an OHS because I didn’t have the shoulder flexibility to keep the bar in an overhead position–it was too far out in front of me and consequently I always fell forward and dropped the bar. I struggled to do reps with just the 45-lb bar. Then I joined CF Durham’s Barbell Club and Coach Ryan showed me some mobility exercises that resulted in major mobility improvements. The ‘crucifix’ stretch using an empty bar and a foam roller was the key (but it was PAINFUL the first dozen times I did it). Now I’m able to do reps at 95 lbs (at least, when my shoulder is healthy) and my snatch lifts are improving too.
What impact has CrossFit had on your life?
CrossFit is group therapy, no two ways about it. The support and inspiration you get from the CF community is amazing. There really are no egomaniacs at CF Durham and the best athletes are always the ones cheering the loudest and offering helpful advice for tweaking your technique or approaching a difficult WOD. My favorite people on the planet are those who are extraordinarily gifted, yet humble, and CF Durham has more than its share of those folks. I’m always grateful when someone I admire takes the time to offer their advice or encouragement and I think it’s important for them to know how much they contribute to the positive effect of CF. There is nothing better than being a newbie who is DYING during a WOD and having one or more of the ‘firebreathers’ in the box cheer you on and make sure you get through the workout. It’s a great feeling.
What is your favorite CrossFit/CFD moment?
Hands down it was watching Chad Sanders do overhead squats on a unicycle! Un-freaking-believable! I gotta give a special shout-out to Chad who is exactly the kind of person I described above. One of the best athletes in the gym and also one of the best cheerleaders. Someone said about Chad that “he lives with more joy than anyone I know” and I think that’s a perfect description and something we should all aspire to and he’s the kind of person who makes CF Durham a special place.
What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting CrossFit?
Well, I want to say that unless you’re already strong as hell you should do a strength training program before starting regular WODs, but I think it’s more important that you just jump right in and see if you catch the CrossFit bug. Once you’ve caught the bug, you’ll do whatever you can to improve and most people will discover that raw strength is the major limiting factor for improving their CrossFit.
What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I play drums in a couple of bands and try to practice 3-4 times a week and go see live music as often as I can. My wife Colbey and I also like to travel and we took a recent trip to Portugal, which was one of my favorite places ever. And since we brought Krav Maga to CF Durham I might have jump back into that.