1.Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.
Catholic. Father of 11. Husband of 1. (I wanted to insert some comment here about my smoking hot CrossFitting wife, but I don’t want people to think that Andy and I are married to the same woman.) (Confused? Click the Andy link on the Coaches' page and read the last paragraph.) I work mostly at home for Lexmark, implementing software for retail customers. (All those labels on the shelf edge at Walmart? Our software helped create those.) I also help at the church and Academy as Personal Finance teacher, Fundraising guy, programming guy, website guy, and whatever else Fr. Rutledge needs. I’m also the once and future Trivia Night guy. In my spare time… Just kidding; I have no spare time.
2. When did you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?
I started coming to CrossFit in August 2015, but I’m sure some at the Box would ask when I’m going to start CrossFitting! (“Somehow it doesn’t look like CrossFit when he does it.”) I honestly don’t remember why I started, but I think it was some combination of browbeating from my physician, cajoling from my wife (my life insurance is fairly good, and I think she was hoping for some kind of barbell accident), and the opportunity to join what at the time was a pretty exclusive cult. (I don’t usually get invited to things like cults, so it was a very exciting prospect!) I keep coming back because telling people that you used to do CrossFit is kind of lame in comparison to telling people that you do CrossFit.
3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?
I don’t remember my first WOD. (I seem to have taken the concept of “it’s all small stuff” to an extreme; I remember almost nothing these days.) I’m fairly certain that my thoughts after the first one were similar to my thoughts after nearly all subsequent WODs: some mixture of “I’m proud of myself for doing that” and “What am I doing here? I’m really not very good at this kind of thing.”
4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
Mostly it’s the “I’m proud of myself for doing that” feeling that I enjoy. That, and the fact that I’m part of a not-quite-as-much-as-before-but-still-pretty-exclusive cult. Also the camaraderie, which seems like it would be artificial when you’re jumbled in for an hour with a bunch of people you don’t have much opportunity to interact with during the rest of life but is in fact very real.
5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
Showing up. And then showing up again. And again. Did I mention that I’m not very good at this kind of thing? (“Yet he keeps showing up…”) It’s difficult for me to be proud of a CrossFit accomplishment of my own when I watch people actually accomplish things, whether it’s someone lifting an unnatural amount of weight or someone overcoming actual limitations brought on by age and/or injury.
6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
I think “favorite” would be overstating it, regardless of what it would be, but I don’t really have a favorite in any case. Any time there’s a WOD where I can actually do all the movements I’m relatively pleased. And any time there’s a WOD where I can’t do the movements (I’m looking at you, pull-ups [and your more daunting successors]! And you, handstand pushups. And you, double-unders.), then I’m relatively displeased.
7. Have you had one or two challenging CrossFit goals that you've achieved recently? What are your current goals and how close are you to reaching them?
Again, I think “goals” would be overstating it (which, when I think about it, may be why I’m having trouble accomplishing all these aforementioned displeasing movements). My main goal is to show up. There are so many other pulls on my time (see question one) that just getting to the Box is an accomplishment that can’t be ignored. Because if I don’t get to the Box I don’t do any exercise, because life. And if I don’t do any exercise… Well if you think I’m out-of-shape now, imagine how much worse it could be! That said, it would be great if I could figure out how to do a pull-up. I keep thinking I’m close and that there’s just some mechanical “tweak” I need to get me there. But then again, that could be wishful thinking. It seems eminently doable; I just need to figure out how to focus enough to get there.
8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?
It costs more. And I keep coming back. Those two concepts aren’t unrelated. You invest time and/or money on things that are important and you tend to take better care of things that you’ve invested a lot of time and/or money in. If you spend a few dollars on tickets to a ballgame, but something comes up, eh – no big deal. If you spend hundreds of dollars on World Series tickets, but something comes up, you’re going figure out a way to get to the game.
Also: Accountability, Camaraderie, Trackability. All the things you would want that would actually make you want to come back.
9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
I have a much easier time carrying the bags of softener salt down to the basement. I can put my socks on without a feat of acrobatics. I have a topic to drone on endlessly about to near strangers. I find myself talking to people at parties that I otherwise would not have had occasion to talk to.
Out of the gym, I’m sore more often than I used to be. But in the gym I’m doing things that would make me sore! Though I’m still not a paragon of fitness, I am fairly certain that I’m better off than I would be without CrossFit.
10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if at all, since starting CrossFit?
11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
My brain has an aversion to “man’s inhumanity to man” so I’m not sure I could compile an actual WOD that would be acceptable to the CrossFit crowd. But if I did I’m pretty sure it would look like a chipper, because even things I’m fairly competent at go all sideways the third and fourth time around, and that’s just cruel.
12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
Even if you aren’t inclined or don’t have time to focus on yourself, if you’ve got others relying on you, you need to take care of yourself (or else make sure your life insurance is substantial. Actually, you should do that anyway).
13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
You might never deadlift 475. You might never run a sub-5-minute mile. You might never accomplish a pull-up. (But then again you might.) In any case you’ll be doing something that’s good for you in a group that is inexplicably but genuinely interested in your progress and well-being. Bonus: you get to tell people you do CrossFit, which in St. Marys might elicit an eye roll but elsewhere seems to impress people. If you can afford it, you should. If you can make time for it, you should. But don’t sign up and then not go. That’s just dumb.
14. Open Forum:
So if it wasn’t clear before, I assume this month’s choice for Athlete of the Month makes it obvious that the selection is less an accolade and more a spotlight. (My apologies to the previous honorees; hopefully this isn’t a revelation.) When you say CrossFit, most people think of super-fit guys and gals wearing not enough clothing, pulling sleds and flipping tires. But step inside CrossFit Benedictus on any given day and you’ll find… me. I’m not super-fit. I wear lots of clothing. I can barely pull the sled, and I’ve never flipped a tire. I’m not “CrossFit material.” And I guess that’s what makes me CrossFit material. In a certain sense it wrecks the cachet of CrossFit to have folks like me taking part (and publicizing the fact), but it really does speak volumes about the community at CrossFit Benedictus that, in spite of my intense manifestation of the“weak and feeble” gene, I can participate in the workouts and have people there who actually seem to care how it turns out for me. I would be lying if I said I love CrossFit. Alex asked me the other day after a lift, “How’d that feel?” I think my honest answer startled him: “Terrible. I hate this stuff. I just do it because it’s good for me.” But rather than a discouragement to others, I like to think of myself as a beacon of hope: “If that guy can keep coming back in spite of his lackluster performance day after day and not get laughed out of the Box or frustrated to the point of quitting, I should try it, too!” It’s been one of the most “outside of my comfort zone” things I’ve ever done (right up there with standing on stage in a tuxedo on purpose). I am grateful for the opportunity to participate.