Athlete Spotlight: Paul M.
How and why?
I started in May 2013. I was feeling stuck from a fitness perspective. I like doing things like triathlons and running, and sports like tennis. But I realized that getting better at those sports really just meant putting in more time, which I didn’t want to do. It took way too much time away from my family (we have a young daughter) and work. So, I wanted something challenging and fun but that didn’t require a large time commitment. On Facebook, I saw how fit a coworker got doing CrossFit. He was a computer guy like me, so I was impressed and looked into it. I saw results immediately and got hooked – it was challenging, fun, social and didn’t require hours and hours to be effective.
What’s your mental strategy approaching your workouts?
I started going 3x a week and then recently increased to 4x. The rule I set for myself was, go consistently. Don’t cherry pick. Honestly, I think that’s the biggest reason I’ve made progress. But I go because it’s fun, and challenging and a great environment. I could never get into that same routine going to the gym or running long distances, and so I never really got better.
I alternate between going for strength (pushing past my limits) and improving technique. I feel that I don’t know my limits until I push past them, so I try to go heavier. But then I realize that getting past that limit requires an improved technique, and then I go lighter but focus more on the skill of it. So I ask a lot of questions, ask for feedback and then get mentally focused on it. So much of this is actually mental. I really like it when a coach or peer says “you can go heavier, it’s just mental or confidence.”
The other thing I think about is how the exercises complement and improve each other – the exercises aren’t effective just in isolation, they actually make you better at other exercises. I guess that’s the functional aspect of it. This was the biggest “aha” moment for me of CrossFit. At the gym, getting better at a gym machine only meant you were better doing that machine, not at life. CrossFit actually makes you more fit for life. I’ve actually gotten faster at running, even long distances, even though we don’t put in long distances. I feel like I’m overall a much fitter person, probably in the best overall shape of my life. When I was doing triathlons, I had great endurance but I couldn’t go very fast and I wasn’t very strong in general either, for example. I thought I would have to choose one or another – strength or conditioning, but this made me realize I can have both.
What 3 significant changes have you benefited from this lifestyle?
Overall I do feel better about myself. Like I said earlier, I was in a bit of a fitness funk. I like to be active, and mentally and emotionally I feel really great!
I’ve lost close to 15 pounds and I also eat better. While I don’t follow a paleo or specialized diet, I am much more aware of what I eat and try to eat much cleaner than before.
It’s weird but small things like carrying my kid around, doing house chores, even simple things like helping a friend move furniture, are so much easier to do. I really like knowing I can carry my kid up a hill or throw her up in the air and not worry about it.
I also started doing races again, after a long break. I don’t race to compete or win, only for the fun of it. I’ve been doing some Spartans and hope to do more.
Any advice for existing and potential new members?
Consistency is key. Don’t cherry pick. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Don’t over-do it. I think I saw some people from foundation go straight to 5x a week and burn themselves out.
Find a buddy. Maybe someone else from foundation or someone else that is fairly new. Try to go to the social events. This helps a lot. A lot of the early days are full of thoughts like “I can’t believe how hard this is, I don’t know what I’m doing, these people are crazy.” Having a buddy that you can see every day is really helpful to get to past that.
Push yourself. You don’t know your limits until you get past them.
Have fun! There are so many different kinds of exercises that you’re bound to find something you’re good at and can have fun with. There’s plenty of exercises I really don’t like, but there’s also plenty that I have a lot of fun with.
Any other areas of your life that the box has impacted?
I do think this has had a really positive impact on my life, and my wife feels the same. She was afraid I was going to become a “gym meathead” but she now sees how well it works. She still thinks it’s a little “cultish” but she’s fine with it. 🙂 I guess my point is that this kind of program improves not only your life but also your family, they benefit from the improvements as well.
WOD: SP ; PP / TTB