Today we celebrate Keith H., an overall great guy and amazing athlete. Keith came to us just over a year ago and with a simple formula of consistency and hard work, he’s done amazing things.

Keith walked in the doors as what most would describe as a ‘fit guy’. He plays on a basketball league, chases after four kids and is up for pretty much any physical challenge. But he’s living proof that there’s always room for growth. Room to get stronger. Faster. Better. And he’s done just that.

His drive to do better started at a very early age. “I’m one of 7 kids. I had six brothers and one sister. It was always a competition at the house. Luckily, each of us had our own strengths and each of us found we were better at one thing. We each found our own path.  My younger brother could run for days. Another could wrestle. I was the agility guy and was pretty quick. Basketball became my thing.”

“Even when we get together now, it’s about who can best whom. We can be sitting around the table and someone will say ‘I bet I can stand over there and catch a grape in my mouth if you throw it to me.’ We totally egg each other on. We don’t know how to stop and we keep going until we find ourselves in the pool trying to catch a grape from across the pool while jumping in the water.”

Being competitive can be a slippery slope, but Keith always finds a way to look at the motivating and lighter sides of it. He enjoys one-upping people (mostly himself) by doing the kinds of things that keep a forty year-old young. “When I was a kid I saw a guy spinning a basketball on his finger for an hour. I was like ‘I can do that’, so I tried it. And I did it. Plus six minutes. Just for fun.”  He also does other things most of us wouldn’t think of.  Like dropping a phone on a ball… yep, for “fun”.

“I love stupid human tricks. I can balance anything on my chin”, he said. For journalistic integrity, we demanded he prove it. Here’s a shot of him balancing a barbell on his chin. Oh, and PLEASE do not try this at home. Or at the gym!

His competitive spirit is what also helps him find success at the gym.  “I love the WhiteBoard because it helps me to see where people are so I know what I can expect. I look at Dan P. a lot.   He’s a beast. And I see people like Jubar who just kill it. Sometimes I’m like ‘dang… how’s he doing that?! I haven’t even met the guy and I’m motivated. They might not know it, but I’m looking where they are and it helps me.”

But he doesn’t get caught up in what others are doing – it’s purely for motivation. He knows he’s on his own path and embraces it. “I want to do bar muscle ups, but I don’t make comparisons like that to other people. Things like getting more mobile or opening my hips might come easy for other people but are big wins for me.”

“I look back and see where I started. A few months after I joined I did the Labor Day Abbate Hero WOD. It’s a year later and I did about the same time – but I upped the bar from 115 to 135.” The numbers tell a story but it’s more than that. “Yes, I see improvements. And I feel stronger.”

And his gains play out beautifully in life. “ I have four kids. Four VERY active kids. We have a trampoline and we’re always in the backyard playing.   I see some friends and other dads who don’t have the energy or are drained after work.  I don’t want to be the dad who can’t keep up with their kids. CrossFit doesn’t take energy away. It gives me the energy. Plus it’s a lot of fun.”

With four kids and a job in residential solar power that finds him managing a team of 30 sales reps, training, selling, meeting clients and doing installs, pretty much everything else takes the back burner. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, he joked. But still, he’s the guy who reads the blog every night and gets excited by what he sees. He as ZERO planned free time, but carries a gym bag in his car in case a meeting cancels or he wraps early. “If there’s a jump rope, wall balls, running or sit ups, I’m there!”

“This place is my escape. The people I work with I work with all the time and I love them all. They are family to me. But here it’s different. No one’s asking me any questions. I don’t have to think about anything.”

“I used to go to regular gyms and there was always a basketball court. I’d get better at basketball, but never had the motivation to get better at anything else. I never did Olympic lifts. A ball would always trump working on strength or mobility. But CrossFit is actually like a team sport and I love that.”

One of Keith’s basketball teammates recently said to us, “He’s unstoppable right now. He’s relentless and filled with energy. He just doesn’t stop. It’s unreal.” Keith says, “I can definitely hang with those younger guys. The only downside is that my shot isn’t on as much as it used to be. And if I’ve done a big leg workout at the Cove, I feel it that night. So I plan my rest days around it. But losing energy on the court isn’t an issue at all.”

So what can we learn from him?  Especially on those days when you feel like there’s not a minute for yourself? “I take it day by day. I know I have work commitments I can’t miss, but I always have a change of clothes in case plans change. And I always look the day before so there’s even more motivation to come — like ‘that looks like fun’.”

The FUN he finds at the gym (and in life) is what makes Keith such an amazing and motivating force. “I love the people. I even like the loud music. All the 90’s rap. DMX. I love it all.”. Between his musical taste, his love of sport and his ability to live life fully, we should all try to grow up – or, rather, grow YOUNG – and be like Keith.