Tag Archives: athlete

Doctor Interview – Tim Simansky

The CrossFit community is strong and connected, so I love it when one interview (Kurt Perkins) leads to another (Scott Mills), which leads to another!

Dr. Tim Simanksy – the WOD DOC – comes at CrossFit as an athlete and a chiropractor. And I think he has some things to share with us…

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a chiropractor by trade and I specialize in sports injuries. My additional training includes a Diplomate from the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (DACBSP), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and various CrossFit Certifications. Beyond that, I am a master instructor for Rocktape and instruct for FAKTR and FST as well. Over the last year I became most known for my blog WODdoc. It’s a daily vlog that discusses technique, mobility, and nutritional as it pertains to the CrossFit community.

Dr Scott Simansky - The WOD DOC

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a medical practitioner?

Honestly, my goal is just to help people do whatever they want to do. Too many people allow injury and disease to limit their lives. Before they know it they’re living in a bubble. I know people that haven’t crossed state lines or been on day trips for years because of physical limitations. My goal is to eliminate that.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit?

I was a wrestler pretty much my entire life. After college I went to grad school and dropped all competitive sports. I was actually exposed to CrossFit then. I remember doing my first WOD and was like nope, this is not for me. This is wrestling practice, just no mats.

Following grad school I moved to a new town away from everyone I knew. Somehow I wandered back into a CrossFit box. It still reminded me of wrestling, but wresting reminded me of home. I did my first competition shortly thereafter and the rest was history.

Dr Scott Simansky - The WOD DOC

Q: As someone in the medical profession, what do you think is the most misunderstood part of the CrossFit experience? And how would you correct that misunderstanding?

By far it’s the notion that all CrossFit gyms are devilish cults where people perform dangerous activities mindless until they fall to the ground in their own sweat and vomit.

Like all stereotypes they come from somewhere so I am not about to jump on my soapbox and say that every box is perfect. But I will say CrossFit is no more dangerous than any other sport I know. What is dangerous is ignorance.

Ignorant boxes tend to hurt people. Educated boxes tend to improve people’s lives. Ignorance is not isolated to the CrossFit side either. Medical professionals are also expected to educate themselves to properly treat their patients. If your doctor tells you to watch your mouth when you say you hurt yourself in the bottom of a snatch, you’re probably in the wrong place.

Q: Where do you train? And where do you practice medicine?

I train all over but concentrate my time at CrossFit GSP. I practice in Hackensack and Cliffiside Park, NJ at Bergen Chiropractic & Sport Rehabilitation.

It’s easiest to get in touch with me through the thewoddoc.com by clinking “contact”.

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would medical-you tell athlete-you?

Two words…. Graded exposure. You “only” have the rest of your life to get stronger.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box? And least favorite?

The sled. People can become so unbelievably fit by pushing and pulling that thing. It’s a real total body fitness device.

Rings are my least favorite; all boxes should have criteria for allowing athletes on rings… actually wait… with graded exposure they’re OK too.

Dr Scott Simansky - The WOD DOC

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

It’s FUN… It made fitness cool again. People use the word cult. That’s derogative; CrossFit is no more a cult then a football team. The only difference is anyone can be a part of team CrossFit.

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

That’s a really tough one. There are so many great stories and I have made so many great friends that it’s hard to name just one. Recently I just worked the CrossFit Games in Carson California. During my time there I was fortunate enough to work with Stephanie Hammerman. Steph “The Hammer” is an adaptive CrossFit Athlete who suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition characterized by abnormal muscle tone, reflexes, and/or motor development and coordination. Steph uses to crutches to walk everywhere since she has limited control over her lower extremities… but, despite all this, she completed a 1 mile run in under 60 minutes. Being personally involved with that has to be one of my favorite CrossFit stories to date.

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A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Simanksy for sharing his point of view! Learning more about Steph “The Hammer” Hammerman was fantastic and I definitely encourage you to check out www.thewoddoc.com when you get the opportunity!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Liz Harrison

Liz Harrison is one of the first stories we’ve had from folks I haven’t yet met directly, so thanks Liz for joining the fun! Let’s learn a bit more about her…

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a 35 year old military wife of 14 years. I am a mom the three smart, rambunctious kiddos, and foster mom to a baby girl. I love to be outside, riding my horse, serving my community, cooking, and of course doing CrossFit. I am stubborn, independent, driven, and strong in my faith.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been an athlete my entire life. I was a competitive swimmer for 13+ years, ran cross-country in high school, and competed with the equestrian team in college. Three years ago I was looking for a gymnastics program for my kids and had some difficulty. After talking with my husband, who has followed the main site for several years, he suggested I find a CrossFit kids program. I found a great box in Georgia (CrossFit Sacrifice) and after a few weeks of running several miles while the kids worked out one of the owners said I should give CF a try. I did and drank the Kool-aid right away.

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 1

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I enjoy helping people and I love the box. Coaching offered me another way to help my community but also keep my schedule flexible with the Army and four kids at home.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

To help people achieve their physical goals. Support them as athletes and as friends.

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

Slow progress is still progress. I have a tendency to get impatient with myself or compare myself to others. Gains are much less frustrating if you enjoy the journey. Stop being so hard on yourself and be content with how far you have come.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment or movement at the box? And least favorite?

I love HSPUs (handstand push ups) and push press. My least favorite is  probably the snatch, probably because I stink at it. 😉

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

CrossFit Pandora’s Box in Colorado Springs for both.

CrossFit Pandora's Box - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I think several factors are involved. One is it’s hard to get bored. You are doing different things every day instead of just hitting the same cardio or weight routine.

Second, the community. Several close friends of mine are fellow athletes at the box. They hold you accountable plus the social aspect of the box is so nice. It’s like coming home and everybody is happy to see you and cares about you.

Third, progress is so easy to see. When I started I couldn’t do an unassisted pull up and my back squat was about 85lbs. Now I can do weighted strict pull ups and back squat 205lbs. Hard to deny those results.

Finally, CrossFit is literally for everyone. Is is scalable to age, injury, pregnancy, whatever.

I had a degenerative spinal disorder as a kid which landed me with two spinal fusions, hardware, and two hip graphs to help my back. This also put me in a wheelchair for two years as a teenager. I remember the doctor telling my mother, “She’ll be lucky if she can walk. Don’t bother with competitive swimming anymore.” And as tears rolled down my face he looked at me and said, “There will be other things.” I was devastated. And it was terribly hard to swim when your legs don’t do what you ask them to.

So my stubborn self picked myself up and worked my way back into the pool. And just to drive my point further to the doctor, I joined the cross country team.

Unfortunately I was never the same athlete again. I never competed at the same level and just felt done.

When I joined the box it didn’t matter my starting point. My coaches just said “OK let’s do this.” And that’s what I needed: a sport where my past didn’t haunt me in my progress. And yes, there are still movements where I have to work a little harder mentally and physically, but look how far I’ve come!

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 2

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

Recently my favorite became Kevin Ogar and I think it’s pretty obvious by my history above.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

What do you do when you slip into those doubting/down times? When it just feels too hard?

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

I went to the doctor for a physical to become a foster parent and she was amazed by my flexibility and how good my xrays looked of my spine. She asked me to touch my toes. I did. And she said I shouldn’t be able to do that. She said my spinal fusion was the best she had ever seen and asked what I do. I said “I pick up heavy stuff…and often.” She smiled and said to keep it up.

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Thank you Liz for answering these questions and sharing a bit of your story! One more great reminder of how much CrossFit can affect some amazing changes for the better!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Doctor Interview – Kurt Perkins

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the honor of working out with folks from every walk of life… Teachers, plumbers, police, military, firemen, and even a few doctors! Dr. Kurt is a quiet, friendly, and dedicated crossfitter at our box. He makes running and burpees look easy and seems to fly through any workout he participates in.

Plus, he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his experience with CrossFit so far!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I think what has shaped my life the most is my childhood. I was the sick kid. I had chronic ear infections, strep throat, bronchitis, and eczema so bad that when I opened my hand it would bleed. I was also an obese kid. I grew up the son of a preacher and a nurse. My dad was pastor to a small, geriatric congregation. We did potluck meals quite often. I remember in front of most place setting was a Dixie cup filled with colorful looking things. As a child I thought these were candy and was pretty miffed that everyone got candy except me. It was quickly explained that those weren’t candies but were medications to make the people ‘get better.’

dixie-cup

The problem is that as I aged along with the congregation, no one was getting better. All I saw were the Dixie cups get more full and more prayer requests for healing. As I entered undergrad, I made it my mission to help these people with the faulty logic that they probably weren’t getting the right medicine or that the right one hadn’t been developed yet. I declared my major as pre-pharmacy and I was going to be the ‘pharmacist for the people.’

I got a semester into my college career and my advisor said I should change majors. She said, “I’ve seen kids like you before, you won’t succeed in this field.” I had no idea what that meant. I wasn’t a partier. I wasn’t disrespectful… until that moment. I took the break between semesters to find a new major. Being a quiet, competitive kid, I set out to pick a major out of spite more than any love of a future career path. I opened our course manual and saw biochemistry. It looked hard, it was in the science department, and it gave me full opportunity to rub my diploma in this adviser’s face as I walked across the stage in 3 1/2 years.

Joke was on me. That adviser retired a year later and I never had the satisfaction of rubbing it in her face. I was assigned a new adviser. Since I declared biochemistry as my college career path, I was put under our PhD biochemist with grants from the NIH to do genetic sequencing. I become a lab rat. I would spent the majority of my weeks in a lab, making batches of cells in petri dishes and then doing experiments to see if we could sequence the DNA.

The basic premise, I was told, was that the DNA of these bacteria cells would dictate the health of the cell. Therefore, if we could alter the DNA or create an intervention, we could stop these cells from replicating. But I also received a conflicting message. When I was creating petri dishes, they had to be perfect. They had to have the right medium, the right nutrient content, the right temperature, the right oxygen levels, and be sterile. In other words, they needed a pure and sufficient environment.

So was it the DNA or the environment that has the greatest influence on our health expression? I became, ‘that kid’ and started messing with petri dishes. Anytime I changed something with the petri dish the cells that I transplanted on it would not thrive and often die off early. If I changed the temperature, nutrients, or cleanliness, the cells would not thrive.

This altered my career course. Instead of being groomed to go into bio tech research or pharmaceuticals, I went in search of a profession that could give the greatest tools and platform to work with environmental factors of the individual. In other words, I wanted to change people’s lifestyle (how they eat, move, and think). I wanted to help them create a sufficient and pure personal petri dish so their DNA would receive what it required and allow them to thrive.

That led me to New York Chiropractic College after undergrad and my continual post grad studies in functional and lifestyle medicine.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a medical practitioner?

Dr Kurts Place LogoMy main goal and focus is to help people create health. We have a massive healthcare system that boasts the worst health outcomes in the history of the world. We apply emergency interventions to chronic lifestyle problems and expect people to get well. The tools and practices you use to put out a fire are different than the tools and practices you use to build a house. Our healthcare system is the fire department — great at putting out fires. The problem is that those interventions are now used for any and all problems. What I do through functional chiropractic, functional medicine, and lifestyle medicine is build the house. We figure out what is deficient and toxic and create an action plan of sufficiency and purity.

As a result, I work with people of all ages. 30% of my clinic is kids. It’s a lot of fun and much like the CrossFit community, we have a tight community within our clinic.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit?

Drea and Jimmy Tapia brought me to CrossFit, the owners of CrossFit Continuum. Before formally doing CrossFit, I was prescribing a short duration, high intensity type fitness routine to many of clients. We met through a mutual connection and realized how similar our messages were and the working relationship grew. They invited me to do a couple of events at the box like the Murph and I started falling in love with it. I went through On Ramp  and never looked back. That was September 2013.

What keeps me going is the community, but also the results. At 36 years old I’m stronger, faster, and the best shape of my life… and still see huge potential for improvement.

kurt-perkins-2

Q: As someone in the medical profession, what do you think is the most misunderstood part of the CrossFit experience? And how would you correct that misunderstanding?

I think the most misunderstood aspect of CrossFit from an outsider, especially in the healthcare industry, is that they think the risk of injury is too high. They think it’s dangerous. My friend and colleague, Dr. Scott Mills answers this best with, ‘Does your doctor even lift?’ I remember having a debate with a fellow colleague. He continually told his patients to stop doing CrossFit because it is dangerous. Mind you at the time, he had just blown out his back doing yoga and a couple weeks later broke his ankle cycling.

Any sport has a risk of injury, but to say CrossFit has a risk higher than running, soccer, basketball, and even ultimate Frisbee is mythology. How many runners do you know that get injured or have to stop running because they say their knees can’t take it anymore? Ridiculous amounts. People fear what they don’t know… especially doctors who think they know it all.

if you have a doctor that tells you to stop doing CrossFit because you might get injured, just ask him ‘when was the last time you did CrossFit?’

Q: Where do you train? And where do you practice medicine?

I train at CrossFit Continuum in Colorado Springs. My practice is also in Colorado Springs and simply called, ‘Dr. Kurt’s Place: Functional Chiropractic and Lifestyle Medicine.’ My website for the office, blog, podcast, and anything ‘More Health, Less HealthCare’ related is www.MoreHealthLessHealthCare.com.

Q:If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would medical-you tell athlete-you?

I think I would tell the athlete me to create an ‘off season.’ CrossFit is not working out. CrossFit is training. When you look at any professional sports, they all have an off season. For the every day Joe CrossFitter like me, it could be taking a week off every quarter. This is what I shoot for. In fact, right now, I’m doing that. I’m on day 6 of no CrossFit and it has refreshed both my body and my mind to get back into the box. I’m wanting to do this for the next 50 years. When I’m a grandparent, I want to do a hand stand walk down the aisle at my grandkid’s weddings.

I think another piece of advice would be to slow movements down. Neurologically, we use speed to cheat. Decrease speed and load when learning new movements until everything is firing well before increasing load and speed.

kurt-perkins-1

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box? And least favorite?

My favorite piece of equipment is ME. I love any and all body weight movements (except burpees – nobody likes burpees). My least favorite is deadlifts. Deadlifts are my nemesis. I have some mental block against them when going heavy. I would rather squat snatch and struggle any day than attempt heavy deadlifts.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

It’s the experience. This experience will depend on the specific box but the with the rise in popularity, the majority of boxes provide a great experience. And if you’ve been to one and didn’t like it, there’s one that fits you. We live in a post-modern society where experience is valued more than information. My parents’ generation was a modern society where information was valued over experience. In other words, if our parents were told not to touch a stove because they will burn their hand, they wouldn’t do it. My generation has to experience that hot stove or have someone else experience that hot stove to believe the information.

CrossFit is one of those experiences you can’t describe until you’ve done it. But once you do, you have that experience ingrained in their your system. It leaves you wanting more.

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

At our 6 am class, there’s a running joke from a dream that I had. There are 2 other female members (you know who you are if you’re reading this) that have strong personalities. I had a dream that our box was putting on an in-house team competition. Teams would be made up of the class time you traditionally attend. They were also requiring that we dress alike to differentiate our teams. When it came to creating our team uniforms, they took it literally and wouldn’t budge at all, so I ended up wearing the traditional female attire of cropped compression pants, a spaghetti strap tank top, and a head band. If I didn’t wear it, we were disqualified.

What happens at 6am, stays at 6am!

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A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Kurt for sharing his story with us. Now I know why he likes running and all those body weight movements! And I definitely encourage you to check out his website – www.MoreHealthLessHealthCare.com – when you get the opportunity!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a relatively new face at our box over the last year, but my whole family has enjoyed both working out with and being coached by him ever since. He is a big kid with a big goofy grin, and always has something positive or constructive to say to help you achieve your goals. His enthusiasm is infectious!

Plus, having him sing a duet of Journey’s “Faithfully” with your wife to encourage you to finish a workout is one heck of an incentive to get it done! 🙂

He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been competing the in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge for 11 years. I believed that I was in good shape and able to perform at a high standard of physical readiness for any incident that I may have encountered while on duty. I won numerous regional competitions while competing in the Challenge as well as held several National titles in both the individual and team events.

In 2010, my wife bought me a Groupon for CrossFit for Father’s Day. During that year I finished 7th in the World, competing against over 1,000 firefighters from around the globe, so I did not redeem it until the Challenge season was over. When that happened, I contacted the CrossFit gym and set up an appointment to meet the owner and training staff. This was a requirement before attending a class.

My first CrossFit class left me in a puddle of sweat, lying on my back realizing that I was not in the shape I thought I was.

After that, I believed that CrossFit would not only benefit me as a firefighter, but it would also benefit with training for the Challenge. I drank the proverbial Kool-aid and was instantly hooked. In the following months, I lost body fat and gained lean muscle. I found myself able to move through the Challenge course faster and with greater ease. I believed that I had unlocked a secret to maintaining a superior level of fitness.

The Challenge tapers off during the fall and picks back up in the spring, and during that time I have been able to scratch my competitive itch while competing in local Crossfit competitions. I have competed in more than 20 events to date, both as an individual and as part of a team.

bill-gates

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a military brat and have traveled across the country. During that time I learned that I have a desire to help people. This led me to a career as a firefighter with the Air Force. I spent nine years servicing in the Air Force and during that time I was stationed in Texas and Colorado. I spent four years of my service time as an instructor at the Louis F. Garland DoD Fire Training Academy. There I found a calling to teach, becoming a DoD Master Instructor, earning a teaching certificate, and teaching almost 10k hours.

As a teacher, I was able to build a rapport with almost any audience and connect with them. This really helped me when I began coaching CrossFit. I began to see and hear what motivated people to succeed. It is incredible to see an athlete make that connection or have that “ah-ha” moment in CrossFit. I believe that my time as an instructor greatly influenced the way I coach and lets me know when to push a bit more or let the athlete move at their own pace.

As far as my family, I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20. Six months after being married we announced that we were having our daughter. And a short three years later we had our second child. Both my daughter and son are truly an amazing blessing. I love nothing more than seeing them succeed –  whether that is in life, school, or in an athletic arena. My daughter has my competitive drive whereas my son enjoys being part of a team more.

I just surpassed my 15-year mark as a federal firefighter and I am enjoying the good life. My amazing wife is finishing her Nurse Practitioner degree which she has managed to do while continuing to work part-time in the emergency department at a hospital.

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I became a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer in 2011, shortly after I began CrossFit. I am a firefighter and the Fire Chief approached me about taking the course to improve physical fitness in the fire department. I was the health and fitness point of contact within the department and attempted to be well versed in fitness routines. Essentially asking “What will work for that athlete?”

CrossFit was not new to the fire service, but the department I worked for did not have a fundamental understanding of movements or standards. And the Fire Chief wanted to provide opportunities for trained personnel to assist anyone interested in CrossFit work out without getting injured.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

When I attended the Level 1 training course, I intended on ensuring I was moving well so I could decrease my own chance of injury. (CrossFit has a perception of being dangerous.) After taking the course and attending various classes, I found that for every good trainer there were several poor trainers instructing classes.

I studied coaching techniques, cues, and instruction and after about a year I believed that I would enjoy coaching more than just firefighters at the station. So I asked about coaching at the gym and began shadowing the gym owner.

Q: If you could start over as a CrossFitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

As a trainer, I would tell the athlete me to slow down. It is not a race to learn everything at once. Become well rounded and research various articles and training techniques. Reach out to other coaches, gym owners, and train at a facility willing to open their doors for you. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

My favorite piece of equipment at the box would be the barbell. It’s such a versatile piece of equipment! Athletes are able place heavy amounts of weight on a barbell to gain strength or reduce load to perform metabolic conditioning. Athletes are able to perform isolation movements as well as multi joint, full body movements. The barbell seems to become an athlete’s friend and nemesis within a matter of minutes during a workout.

Olympic weights

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

I typically train and coach at Crossfit Continuum. However, I attend an Olympic lifting class on a regular basis at CrossFit Pandora’s Box. I have found that coaches still need to be coached. It is easy to believe that you are moving well but the reality may be very different, so I have found it very beneficial to get another set of skilled eyes ripping apart my lifts and movements.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I believe and state that to be a success in CrossFit the athlete must have competitive drive. CrossFit provides release for athletes who still have that deep-rooted competitive drive. I have seen a stay-at-home mother succeed at beating a division 1 athlete during a WOD because in that particular moment the mom was able to move better.

CrossFit consists of constantly varied functional movements at high intensity, and virtuosity (doing the exceptional, exceptionally well). It provides every athlete opportunities to shine and be humbled. The continued growth of the sport stems from athletes succeeding in their boxes, at local events and competing with the world during the annual CrossFit Open.

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

My favorite CrossFit athlete would be Rich Froning. I have personally met Rich and believe he is an outstanding athlete as well as a gentleman.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

The question I would ask Rich is – “During that moment when the workout is toughest and your body wants to quit, what do you tell yourself to push through the pain and succeed?”

 

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

This is a difficult question. I have met so many amazing athletes and seen amazing feats of strength and abilities. I have competed with and against athletes that have left me filled with unbelievable pride and humility. I have met Rich Froning, competed against Kevin Ogar, and been coached by Jared Enderton as well as Chris Hoppe. I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and into a gym that prides itself on producing high-level competitive CrossFitters. I have seen the benefits of sound strength training program from coaches that have a desire to make their athletes stronger but with refined beauty.

But, I cannot overlook and enjoy community and network that I have become a part of with CrossFit. Almost everywhere I go, I can recognize a CrossFitter and engage in a conversation. Many boxes have their own set of programming goals and plans for their athletes which leads to successes in their own ways. And the truly amazing aspect of every box is to see and feel the sense of community, building of friendships, and how a diverse group of athletes grows from being a collection of individuals with a desire to better themselves to becoming a family.

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Thank you Bill for answering these questions and sharing a bit about your own journey! As always, we love seeing you at Crossfit Continuum as a coach or as an athlete!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Athlete Interview – Brian Fitzpatrick

With everyone else chiming in about their stories, I figured it was only fair that I should go through my own interview to share mine.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

In October 2012, I hit an all time high on my weight – 262 pounds – and I knew I had to do something. I just wasn’t sure what.

Me before CrossFit on a vacation to Hawaii in December 2012
Me before CrossFit on a vacation to Hawaii in December 2012 – Look at the Belly! Ugh!

My wife Evelyn had just started training a few months before that at Crossfit Continuum with one of her soccer teammates – Marilee Lake – who was coaching there at the time.

And quite frankly, I was scared to give CrossFit a shot. She would come home from some of those early WODs hardly able to walk up the stairs – and she was an athlete who played soccer (indoor and outdoor) with folks half her age. If SHE was having issues after workouts, how the hell was I going to be able to do anything?

So I started to diet a bit in January 2013 and was convinced by a long-time CrossFit athlete and friend of ours, Charlotte, that I should give it a shot. Everything scaled and I would be fine she said. And she was right.

When I hit 248 pounds on my own, I figured my knees (which were cranky) might handle some additional abuse, so I started at Continuum. Through the help of some amazing coaches – Marilee, Andrea, Eric, Rich, and Jimmy – and encouragement from a ton of other athletes and my family – I started making some progress.

Slow, steady progress.

And I got hooked. When I started I could barely hold a PVC pipe over my head. When I managed to hold a handstand on the wall, I was over the moon. Both my parents were gymnasts and when I sent pictures they were amazed. It only took me 40 years to figure out they were fun. 🙂

Now, two years later, I’m push pressing nearly 200 lbs. and deadlifting 335.

Weight-wise I am now down under 230 (I hit 200 at one point, but that was Whole30 at its finest and felt far too low for me). Diet’s still an issue, but I like food. Eventually I’ll figure out a method to that madness as well.

But I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been in my life. All thanks to CrossFit and a lot of help from friends new and old.

(If you’re curious – I’m writing about my own CrossFitz journey at another blog – The CrossFitz Blog where I write occasionally.)

Q: What has the experience been like so far?

Life changing.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Father of two amazing daughters. Husband to an amazing woman. And all three keep me hopping. We live in Colorado Springs, CO.

Strangely enough, I’m a Colorado Native. There don’t seem to be many of us any more. Lived here all but 5 years of my life when I moved to Phoenix, AZ, with my wife and family right after I got married. But I was happy when moved back to Colorado Springs with real mountains, occasional snow, and actual seasons in 2006!

Past that, I’m a computer geek, gamer, and writer who works as a software engineer for Red Hat, Inc. I have been working from home for more than 15 years working as a code monkey. And when I’m not writing code, I’m probably writing something!

I started this site – WODTales.com – just recently, but have been blogging and writing stuff for tabletop roleplaying games and reviewing books, movies, and music for years. Yes, I am a grown man who loves playing games like Dungeons & Dragons – so sue me. 🙂

If that’s not enough, I love going to see movies and live music whenever I can afford to and still dink around on my acoustic guitar and pretend to sing every now and then.

And of course I go to CrossFit workouts 3-5 times every week.

Taken by Mike Anderson during Kiana’s WOD on February 17, 2015
Taken by Mike Anderson during Kiana’s WOD at Crossfit Continuum on February 17, 2015 – Not as much of a belly!

Q: What’s surprised you about it so far?

The community. I know other folks have mentioned this already. But without it, I don’t think I’d still be doing CrossFit. I’d tried regular gyms several times over the previous 20 years but nothing ever stuck. The routine got old and there was no camaraderie to help push you to do anything different.

Let me tell you a story. Less than a year after starting at Crossfit Continuum, the box moved. It wasn’t far, but they needed help moving equipment and getting things set up at the new location.

I volunteered.

Yeah, you read that correctly. I volunteered. To help move a gym. It was a crazy thing for me to do. I’m an introvert, so doing things with strangers (I didn’t know half the people there) was tough. But apparently I knew enough folks and when they asked – I said yes.

So over the course of a couple days I helped move weight plates, barbells, and several tons of other stuff. I helped demolish a wall that was up in the place that used to hold a dance studio. I’ve never done that before. We helped paint the walls. We helped put down floor mats. My whole family got involved.

If you had told me that I would love CrossFit enough to not only last more than a month but help move the gym where we trained… I would have told you were smoking something.

That was a big surprise. And a happy one that keeps on giving.

Q: Where do you train?

Crossfit Continuum in Colorado Springs, CO

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite CrossFit movements so far and why?

Honestly any workout with running in it is still a goat and I will actively avoid them to avoid pissing off my hip and knees as much as possible. That said, I recently have been able to run 800m without stopping more frequently (we do it as a warm-up quite a bit), so I’m happy with my minor progress there.

But I think push press is my favorite. It’s all up. No squat. 🙂

And when I see a WOD includes movement I hate – like overhead squats and squat cleans – I force myself to get in for a class. If I don’t work on it, it won’t get better and I won’t – possibly – hate it less.

Yes, I’m aware my mind works in strange ways.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

Like many other people, I think the barbell is my favorite. It’s so versatile!

Olympic weights

Q: If you had one word to sum up the experience of an athlete at your box, what would it be?

Community. Or better yet – Family.

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

I get the chance to work out with so many amazing people every week, it’s impossible to pick just one. CrossFit has become a family affair. My wife did it and convinced me to start. The girls have been working out and enjoying it. And every WOD I get to work with incredible trainers and hard-working folks.

You’ve read a couple of my favorite stories already. And I LOVE hearing everybody else’s!!

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

The fact that it’s constantly changing and that the community is so strong an element. We have some fantastic people to inspire us daily, but ultimately it falls to us to do the work.  🙂

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That’s it! My story continues every time I step through the doors at my box. And I look forward to hearing more of yours, wherever you train. Thanks for reading!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Athlete Interview – Jonathan Grant

The next interview was with athlete Jonathan Grant. Though I only think I worked out with him a few times at Crossfit Continuum, I have participated with him in quite a few yoga classes (taught by Jennifer Ridler) at Continuum over the last year. He has always hit me as a great guy who enjoys exploring the world on his own terms.

So let’s learn a bit more about him!

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I wanted to try something different as I was not getting the results that I was wanting by doing what I had always been doing. For years I would go to a “globo-gym” and lift heavy to develop the “show muscles” (chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs). (Leg day? What is that?!?! Haha!) Each year I gained more and more weight, but it was not a healthy weight. I ate as many grams of protein as I could get, without any concern of the quality of protein source or any other key nutrients that my body needed.

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Q: What has the experience been like so far?

Initially I didn’t really like it that much – I was in more pain than I had ever been in and honestly thought there was something seriously wrong. I wasn’t very good at it, and was in horrible shape. Most men don’t like doing things that they are not good at, so they quit. I however stuck with it and it turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

CrossFit has done so much to change my life and I am so happy that I found it and more importantly STUCK WITH IT.

CrossFit has helped me get into the best shape of my life, changed the types of things I put into my body, but most importantly (and what I am most thankful for) – changed my entire mindset. Between living a very destructive lifestyle and being a part of dysfunctional relationships, my sense of self was horrible. CrossFit has helped me see my own worth – mainly because I learned that “YES I CAN DO IT!!”

Q: What’s surprised you about it so far?

I have been pleasantly surprised how the results gained from doing CrossFit workouts has translated over into almost every aspect of my life. Physically I am in the best shape of my life so that allows me to fully live the active lifestyle that I have grown to love.

Another thing that really surprised me is how CF gyms really are a family in themselves. The members and the owners all have a sense of unity and I think that is due to the same phenomenon as people have w/ their “war buddies”. You’re all going through the same difficult (and sometimes traumatic) workouts TOGETHER. It brings you together as a group.

I’ve made a lot of very good friends from the different CF gyms that I have gone to, which is something that I never really got from the “globo-gym” atmosphere (where it’s more like the African plains – and each gym-goer is walking around trying to be the “biggest-baddest” lion, staring down the other lions to somehow quietly determine who the alpha lion is!).

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Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Absolutely! I am the best version of Jonathan Grant to date. Every day I am better than I was the day before. Early in my CF journey I developed a mantra that I tell myself regularly – “Today I will be, better than yesterday’s me”.

A good portion of my life I lived as what most people would call a functioning alcoholic – and I thank God that I found something that helped me change that. CrossFit changed my mind, and self-image, which in turn pushed me to make a decision on how I want to live my life and that the bottom of a bottle is no place to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a drink from time to time but I have come a LONG WAY from the self-abusing, drunk lifestyle that I lived for far too many years.

I am a 30 year old single man who is lucky enough to come home to two beautiful, loving dogs (Sadie – 8yr old American Bulldog mix, and Juniper – 5yr old Pit Bull Terrier). I enjoy anything that involves exercise and the outdoors. Some of my favorite outdoor activities are snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, and running. And I love dreaming up and planning my life’s next adventure.

I was recently told by my Dad that “When you get old like me, the only question you will be able to ask yourself is “Is there anything that I DIDN’T do?”.

I love to learn – and see opportunity in each and every day to learn something new. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends – and love to entertain people at my house at my BBQs. I am lucky enough to have most all of my close family within close proximity to me in Colorado – and my favorite part about that is I get to spend A LOT more time with my amazing sister Meggan and brother in-law Josiah.

I work in the financial services industry with a uniquely successful team helping high net worth clients find effective and efficient solutions to their complex financial situations.

Q: Where do you train?

I train at CrossFit SoCo in Colorado Springs, CO after having a great introduction into Crossfit at Crossfit Continuum, also in Colorado Springs. I also work out at Accolade Fitness in Colorado Springs (non-CF gym).

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite CrossFit movements so far and why?

Favorites
  • Double Unders – I really like DU’s because it really gets the heart rate going, all while requiring perfect timing and what I like to call “hand-ear” coordination. I have also made a huge amount of progress with them in the last year – which motivates me to keep doing them to get better and better.For my first 6-8 months I would just do single unders when DU’s were in a WOD because I could only string together about 4 (at most) DU’s at a time. After getting my own Rogue SR-1 Speed Rope (HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ROPE), and some great coaching from the great Loree Smith @ CFSOCO (AND A LOT OF PRACTICE) – I now have a PR of 83 unbroken DU’s.
  • Any type of sled work – I like them because they remind me of my high school football days. It takes total body strength as well as knowledge of how to position your body to most effectively push the sled.
  • Burpees – Yeah I know – “F*** this guy” right? I like them because they are HARD, and I try to be as explosive as possible when pushing myself back up from the ground. I have gotten to where I can explode off the ground enough that I can get my feet under all in one motion. With CF not really having much chest workouts built in – this allows me to work my pectoral muscles.
Least Favorite
  • Snatch – I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, but CF sure changed that. It is such a complex movement and honestly I am not that great at them. I enjoy them due to the challenge, but not nearly as much as the other movements.

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Q: If you had one word to sum up the experience of an athlete at your box, what would it be?

I have narrowed it down to 2 answers to this question – one word each: INTENSE and EFFECTIVE.

Q: What’s your favorite story from the box so far?

My favorite story begins when I first walked into Crossfit Continuum for the On-Ramp course. This story is still being written – with chapters being added daily.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I think the main reason it is successful and has grown so much is because of the results!! Everyone knows someone who does CrossFit – and chances are they were initially extremely annoyed with this person because they wouldn’t shut the hell up about it! (The first rule of CrossFit is to talk about nothing but CrossFit!) Over time, they have watched that person get into better and better shape and noticed the change in the person’s happiness and overall attitude. Eventually they break down and try CrossFit for themselves and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends…

I think that the sense of unity that members of CF gyms feel opens up the “fitness world” to a lot of folks who have tried and given up in the “globo-gym” atmosphere. That can be a very intimidating / uncomfortable place to be, especially when just beginning.

I personally go to a “regular gym” in addition to the CF gym to isolate specific muscles that aren’t targeted as much in CF. But they are two COMPLETELY different atmospheres. One focuses on looks and status while the other focuses on functionality and fitness.

You don’t see mirrors in CrossFit gyms. You don’t see t-shirts cut into tank tops to expose pectoral muscles or nipples. You don’t see the obvious steroid abusing meat-heads. You just see people working hard, TOGETHER, to better themselves.

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Thanks Jonathan for answering my questions and best of luck in your continued quest to improve yourself! Enjoy the journey and I look forward to the next time I bump into you at yoga!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page and I’ll get in touch!

Athlete Interview – Jennifer Ridler

A huge shout out goes to Jennifer, who was one of the first few folks who answered the call for guinea pigs for this whole interview process.

Jenn Ridler (photo taken by Mike Andersen at Crossfit Continuum)
Jenn Ridler (photo taken by Mike Andersen at Crossfit Continuum)

I’ll give you a little bit of history here.  Though I have known Jennifer (or “Ridds” as many folks call her) since starting crossfit in 2013, my wife Evelyn played indoor soccer against her for several years before that and I heard her name often when games were done. So I already knew of her as a fierce competitor. And you can bet she brings that fierceness to the crossfit box!

It was only when she started teaching a beginning yoga class at our box (Crossfit Continuum) that I got to know her a bit better as the wonderful, hard working lady she is. She’s just one more of the people who make our crossfit community here in Colorado Springs so fantastic!

Ridds was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so I’ll let her give you some additional insights into her crossfit experience so far.

Q: What brought you to crossfit as an athlete?

I was 197 pounds, near obese and very much out of shape.  During high school I was an athlete so the competitive nature of crossfit is what drew me in and kept me there.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 33 and a new mom. Crossfit through my entire pregnancy and attribute my “easy” labor to the continuation of working out throughout the pregnancy.

Q: What has the experience been like so far?

Wonderful! Love the community that crossfit offers. The competitions are always fun to go to with that element of adrenaline mixed in. Crossfit is my drug of choice.

Q: What has surprised you about it so far?

How addictive it has become. Over the course of 4 years I always come back even during my pregnancy.

Q: Where do you train?

Crossfit Continuum, Colorado Springs, CO

Olympic weights

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite crossfit movements so far and why?

Thrusters and split jerks. Thrusters are 3 different movements in one so it always hurts. Split Jerks because of an achillies tendon repair (not crossfit related) and my foot position has to change now.

Q: If you had one word to sum up the experience of an athlete at your box, what would it be?

My box is my second home, my other family. These people are always there to support me in anything and everything and I am there for them.

I didn’t follow directions… my one word would have to be Family.

8. What’s your favorite story from the box so far?

Man I have so many of them…. I love how it all started. Out of a garage off Academy blvd into what it is. It is the story of perseverance, loyalty and a family that just wont quit!

9. What do you think is the secret to crossfit’s crazy success and growth?

It works. You are able to build relationships as well as strength. We have a common goal, survive the WOD and talk about it later. Comrades .

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Thanks Ridds for answering my questions! I look forward to the next time I get to WOD with you and do yoga!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page and I’ll get in touch!