Each month we will feature an athlete that embraces the difficult feat of changing their lives for the better. We all come with our own set of challenges — whether it is work, family, or just a seemingly endless ‘to do’ list. Getting fit, making yourself a priority and finding that balance is hard work. Justin has come so far in such a short time. He puts in the work, tirelessly develops his weakness and fully supports each and every one of his fellow athletes. For all of these reasons we are proud to present Justin F. as the MARCH ATHLETE OF THE MONTH.
MARCH ATHLETE OF THE MONTH:
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I grew up climbing anything I could (lots of trees and jungle gyms), riding my bike all over, and exploring the woods behind my house. After starting my first job at 14, most of that physical activity dropped off to near nothing and it pretty much stayed that way until last year when I was 33 years old and 254 lbs. I found the Cove back in July after realizing that months at a traditional gym hadn’t gotten me anywhere; owing to the fact that I was never really motivated to push myself enough. I had already made the choice to turn around almost two decades of bad decisions that had left me overweight and unhappy with myself, but I wasn’t seeing the changes in the mirror that I wanted despite adopting new eating habits and losing some weight. Knowing that I needed to step up my game if I was going to get anywhere, I started looking for help in how to do that without getting hurt. That’s when I came across this thing, CrossFit, where people were talking about getting amazing results (and proving it with progress pictures). I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least check out somewhere local and see what it was.
How has CrossFit affected life outside of the gym?
Just about everything has changed. I’m still me, but more like a much better version of me. A version of me that can play soccer or ultimate Frisbee for hours without getting tired. One that can run three+ miles without stopping (the old me literally couldn’t go 30 yards at a jogging pace or run on the treadmill for a whole minute). This version of me can go hiking and – far from holding up the group – lead the group and use their rest stops to jump around on rocks or explore the area. I’ve literally gone from getting winded climbing up stairs to spending a day hiking a mountain. I go camping now, which entails hauling 20+ lbs of gear on my back 10+ miles into the woods, collecting firewood, and doing other activities, sleeping through the night, then waking up the next morning to pack it up and haul all that gear right back. CrossFit has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I’m working on a trip to Mount Everest Base Camp coming up in May. Before CrossFit, regardless of time spent in the traditional gym, that wouldn’t have even crossed my mind as something I could possibly do. I also finally see those results in the mirror.
But I think equally as important as the physical benefits is the mental toughness I’ve developed. Much of CrossFit’s workouts are pure misery. We joke after we finish about having died one or more times during the workout and they never get easier (just heavier/faster/larger). You’re constantly pushing your limits and you’re constantly running up against a brain that’s screaming at you to stop because you can’t go on. But sooner or later, you realize your brain is a liar and will try to convince you to quit long before your body has hit a real limit. Once you learn to ignore what your brain is telling you and listen only to what your body is saying, you find that you can push more, do more, and be more than your brain ever allowed you to believe. That opens up even more doors, makes some of the most difficult situations you encounter outside the gym more tolerable, and gives you an edge in so much of life.
What do you enjoy most about The Cove?
The people there are family. I don’t say that lightly; there’s a connection you build with people when you’re all experiencing a common struggle and that really shines through at the Cove. The atmosphere has always been one completely centered around support, caring, helping, guiding, and doing for one another. Whether it’s cheering on someone when you feel like your lungs are on fire or having someone help you up off the floor and put your stuff away after you’ve just struggled through the toughest workout of your life, bonds are forged in sweat and pain. At the end of the day, we share our victories and our struggles. When one of us hits a new PR or nails a new skill, everyone who’s helped them get there and supported them feels a piece of that. It all adds up to an environment where you’re constantly getting new rewards through both your performance gains and those of everyone else there.
Favorite movement and why?
This is a toss-up between rope climbs and handstand push-ups. Both of these are things we never get to do as adults. As a kid, I can remember being upside-down for all kinds of reasons, but how often do you get to do that as an adult without it being the result of an embarrassing accident? Both of those activities give you a different perspective you don’t often have as an adult and I appreciate that even when it’s uncomfortable.LEAST favorite movement and why?Everyone expects this to be burpees, but I don’t actually mind them. For me, it’s overhead
squats. The whole position is uncomfortable for me (shoulders mostly). I’m sure with some more work on both technique and mobility, I’ll get to the point where something else takes over as my least favorite movement (probably wall balls).
Any advice for people who are just getting started with CrossFit?
1) It isn’t going to be easy, but if you keep doing it, it’ll be well worth it.
2) Work on your weaknesses. Use open gyms or just 15 minutes before and/or after class and work on that skill you haven’t nailed down yet (e.g. double unders, pull-ups, deadlifts, whatever). It’s going to come up in WODs anyway, so you may as well get good at it.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from a coach or just another athlete. This isn’t that traditional gym where nobody talks to each other; we’re a social group and we feed off each other. That person who helps you today might be asking you for help later.
4) If the coach is saying you’re doing something (rounding your back, pulling too early, getting on your toes), it’s happening even if every one of your senses is swearing to you that it isn’t. Sometimes it takes seeing a video of yourself to really understand or accept that it’s happening, but I can’t tell you how many times my brain told me my back was neutral and I then saw the coach’s video of my terribly rounded back struggling against a weight I was lifting incorrectly. Ask how to fix whatever the issue is and make the conscious effort to try that. Sometimes it’ll feel very strange at first, but often times you’ll find that you can suddenly lift that weight a whole lot easier.
5) Take rest seriously! That means find the time to get 8+ hours of sleep. You’d be amazed how much of a difference that makes. Take rest days where you’re not working out at the Cove, but are staying active with walking, playing tennis, or whatever it is you like to do. Rest days are days you keep the blood flowing without beating your body up.
16.2 IN THE BOOKS (ALMOST)!
We could go on and on about how much we are loving this Open. From the spirit to the camaraderie to the incredible breakthroughs, amazing things are happening at the Cove this Open season!
One last reminder that scores need to be submitted by 8p Monday evening. To that end, you MUST go onto games.crossfit.comand login and submit your own score (and tiebreaker). You should have taken that bottom piece of the score card with your total reps and put that number in to officially submit your score (as well as if you did RX or scaled). You do NOT need to put Brian or Marina as judges (although you can). You can use your actual judge and we can validate it!
Every 2 minutes for 14 minutes 6-8 Front Squats
*Build up in weight, score = heaviest set*
-The range is 6-8 because we want you to challenge yourself with what you feel most uncomfortable with. Is it lifting heavy? Then do 6. If you love heavy, but hate big sets then do 8.
6 Power Cleans
24 Double Unders
9 Min AMRAP
COACH’S TIP: Work hard and move fast. The cleans should be unbroken for the first few rounds. The number of doubles is low and should take 30 seconds or less. If the doubles take longer then work a scaling option. Taking 6 attempts for 24 double unders means you need to work this skill.
Terry S. rocking the jump rope during 16.2 this weekend. His progress is nothing short of amazing…