1. Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.
I’m 38 years old, I have a beautiful wife of 18 years (who turns out, is pretty good at this CrossFit thing), and have 7 kids with the girls out numbering the boys at a 5-2 ratio. I was born in Illinois, lived in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Wisconsin, and finally Kansas again. I think I’m finally “home” and settled in ☺ I’ve been a physical therapist for 12 years and enjoy being active whether it’s hiking with the family, throwing down with the fellow athletes at CFB, golfing, and most sports with a ball involved. I also enjoy reading Dickens (even if it takes me 2-3 times through to understand the plot), Tolkien, autobiographies, and historical subjects (sports, science, world affairs).
2. When did you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?
I joined the “cult” in August of 2016. Prior to this I had been doing the DVD P90x thing at home for about 6 years. This program was a good home program, but the day off between workouts began to stretch to two days off, then three, etc. I needed something new, challenging, and yet held me accountable. CrossFit was definitely the answer. I continue to CF today because of the challenge it provides me physically and mentally. It has given me new physical and mental goals to keep reaching for, and in reaching for these goals, the process has helped me discipline my life outside of CF. It’s truly been a game changer in all aspects of my life. I have a lot to work on regarding mental toughness and how I apply that toughness to life, to suffering, to daily duties. CF has provided a channel to sharpen my mental tools and push beyond those “comfort” zones in whatever life throws at me.
3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?
The name was War Eagle, or War Hawk, something like that. The equipment was bumpers, a sled, Doc’s uncut grass, and that nasty, nasty pine tree beyond his wood fence. We had to pull that sled around the tree like 20 times (or so it felt) and do something up on his cement patio…I don’t remember that part. I do remember feeling wasted, out of breath, looking for a hand to comfort me, and all I got was “BET YOU CAN’T GET THAT WORKOUT FROM A DVD!!!!” I’m sure you all can guess who that kind Samaritan was ☺.
My thoughts after the WoD? Cut down that damn tree!!
4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
The whole package…I love the camaraderie, the challenge, learning new techniques, the Olympic lifts, how CF sharpens my PT skills, reaching goals, the prayer before the workout, the stretching and BS after, cheering on my fellow athlete (as long as it’s not JP or LJ who’s going to beat me, ha ha), seeing an athlete reach a goal, seeing an athlete take in my coaching advice and then execute it. So many to choose --- seeing people overcome their fear of movement, or exercise, or pain, and bettering their lives as a result. Finishing a workout you didn’t think you could do…that’s pretty awesome. Coaching an athlete, telling them they can go heavier, or finish the workout when they don’t believe it, then seeing them crush it…the look on their face is worth all the sweat, early mornings, and frustrations that can come with coaching.
5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
The day my wife got her first strict pull-up. She’d been taking my coaching advice and then accomplished her goal.
Seeing your spouse achieve a goal and being able to share that with her is pretty special!!
6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying in CF than hitting a squat snatch, then standing it up. If you’ve played baseball, it’s like hitting a home run and you not feeling the bat hit the ball. Power and grace at the same time.
Least favorite is probably KB swings…I just stink at those. Not only are they miserable, but they make all the following movements miserable as well…they’re like a disease!!
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?
Definitely doing ring muscle-ups in the Open 20.5 workout…that was so much fun! I hadn’t done more than 3 MU’s in any WoD of any kind up ‘till that point. 14 of them was awesome! Improving DU’s was another goal I had in mind with this last open. I had hurt my foot training for the Open earlier this year (working on DU’s) and it took a few months of rehab and practice to get them back. I was able to string together more unbroken rounds and more reps than I’ve ever done in a work out. Definitely some open magic this year.
My next goals are to increase my Oly lifting weights…more specifically break the 200# barrier on the C&J and snatch my body weight. I look forward to the challenge.
8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?
I’ve always done my own thing for fitness training…meaning I’ve never done anything in a class setting or with this kind of structure. I did a pretty decent job keeping myself accountable, until I didn’t. CrossFit creates an atmosphere of accountability, camaraderie, and an environment that bleeds motivation. You have goals and progress you can objectively measure (I’m a stats nerd, so I love that part), but in order to reach your goals you have to focus on what’s important…sleep, nutrition, technique, consistency. When you work out on your own, just showing up may be the goal. In CF, your goal becomes “goals”, and it effects all parts of your life in doing so. It creates a discipline in your life that carries over to your family and your faith.
9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
In the gym it’s taught me how much further I can push myself physically and mentally when the workout gets hard. Pushing through that pain barrier and telling your body not to stop. Outside the gym this same mentality has had great benefits. I’m kind of a softy when it comes to feeling uncomfortable…you know…that whole suffering thing that us Catholics are known for (and supposed to be good at!). Training my mind to focus on the benefits of suffering, rather than the suffering itself, has been a great benefit to my spiritual life outside the gym. Simple as that.
10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if any, since starting CrossFit?
My wife has been great about our nutrition over the last few years and I think it started before I was in CF. She’s done her research on THM (Trim Healthy Mama) and brought that to our family. We have a pretty healthy balance of carbs, fats, proteins trying to control our blood glucose levels (slack my wife, this program works!). So I don’t know that my nutrition has changed a lot. However, I’ve learned how bad nutrition effects my body. If you didn’t notice, I’m a skinny guy, and skinny guys have a stereotype that they eat well all the time and aren’t tempted by bad food choices…well guess again. Just because we can eat a whole bag of potato chips and lose weight (yes it’s actually happened), it doesn’t correlate to healthy innards. With CF, my body has new ways to tell me how poor nutrition effects my health. “Sleep? Who needs that?? Oh man…1RM on the C&J today, probably shouldn’t have slept for only 4 hours, yikes, that 90# PR doesn’t look good!” Beer and popcorn for the big game? “Ugggghhh!!! I didn’t know there were 7 minutes of burpees this morning!!” If you’ve done workouts after nutrition/sleep days like these, you know how nutrition and sleep effect performance. This is how CF has taught me my health markers (outside of body weight) can go south with poor nutrition.
11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
Oh boy…I love programming…I’ll do a class program since the WoD’s can feed off each other. Strength session + MetCon is my favorite combo. I’ll borrow some ideas for my ideal stimulus:
There’s something called “squat stamina” through Ben Bergeron's CFNE.
Alternate minutes of: 2 front squats and 4 back squats…about 75% of your front squat 1RM.
Brutal! You won’t walk (never mind using stairs) for days.
Then to finish us off:
“Nicole’s Ugly Sister”
20 minute running clock:
Max Pull ups, every time you drop off the bar 5 C&J (155/115)
Score is total pull-ups
Plan on having someone dress you the next 7 days after this class ☺
12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
We are put here to perform our duty of state. We have a directive from God to perform this to the best of our ability. How do we perform our best when we have self-inflicted sicknesses, poor habits, undisciplined lives? God gave us a home, we take care of it. God gave us a soul, we take care of it. God gave us family/friends, we take care of them. God gave us a body, we ignore it?? No! Investing in ourselves allows us to be the best instrument possible for God’s use.
13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
I liken it to our Catholic Faith (I grew up around protestants and fallen away Catholics, mind you). You can tell people you believe in God, you go to church every Sunday, you try to say morning and evening prayers every day and they don’t bat an eyelash. You tell them you’re Catholic…OH MAN YOU CRAZY!! You tell people you exercise, you do functional movements, you change up your movements every session, you even do high intensity workouts, they don’t bat an eyelash…tell them you CrossFit…OH MAN YOU CRAZY!!
If you’re new to CrossFit, talk to those who are doing it, watch a class before you turn it down. Don’t buy into all the negative press (that isn’t true anyway), ‘cause when something’s hard, it’s easy to buy into the negative press (vis à vis Catholic Faith). If you have any functional/fitness goals, CrossFit will get you there directly or indirectly…guaranteed!!
14. Open Forum:
I want to thank first and foremost my beautiful and talented wife for putting up with all the hours I was gone at the gym, whether is was coaching or working out. Having that support at home was a must to keep coming back. I’d like to thank Doc for inviting me to a couple workouts about 5 years ago so I could get a taste of the method. He also encouraged me to pursue the coaching aspect as well. Thanks to Andy and Joe for continuing the CFB business. Thanks to all the coaches for their tips, constructive criticism, and encouragement to get back up when the body starts to turn off. Thanks to all the members who push me and motivate me to better myself.
Fellow athletes, don’t take for granted what we have in CFB. It is truly the only box of its kind in the world. We have a Catholic environment in which we can better ourselves physically and mentally. We have classes for men and women. We pray and offer up sufferings for others. It’s a space where members average household size is probably close to double digits...yet still find the time to throw down with each other!! Everyone keep coming back and thanks for making this the special place that it is!! God bless!!