Today we shine a very bright light on Don K., a regular nooner, incredible athlete and all around amazing guy. He’s used CrossFit to improve all aspects of his life, but what continually amazes us is just how marked those improvements can be. He is stronger, faster, moves better and his mobility has increased dramatically. We are generalists; by definition, CrossFit specializes in ‘not specializing’. We should be able to live fuller lives, play with our kids, join a pickup game of (insert any sport here) and be able to hold our own. Don’t think it comes easily though. Don works very hard. He eats right. He works on his weaknesses. He stretches. He listens to his coaches. So, CrossFit should help him do almost anything, right?! Well, he decided to test that theory and, without training for it, he recently ran the Marine Corp Marathon and crushed it.
He’s been a runner, hit some Tough Mudders and worked out at a ‘regular’ gym for much of his life… but didn’t see real changes until he started CrossFit. And we know so many of you can relate to his journey. If you know any runners or triathletes who swear that only training that sport will make them better, tell them about Don. And make them read this:
MY JOURNEY TO CROSSFIT
“One of my good friends moved down to FL many years ago. He was in good shape when he left Maryland and was doing lots of running. He, like me, was a regular at his “normal” gym and was staying in shape. Then, a few years ago, I noticed he started doing CrossFit and really started getting into amazing shape. As we kept in touch he raved about how much he loved CrossFit, how I should try it and how he was in the best shape of his life. I watched him from afar for years and was envious of his progress but knew I couldn’t do that crap. I was perfectly happy going to my gym on a weekly basis doing my thing. I treated exercising like something else that had to be checked off a list.
Fast forward a few years to 2014 around the holidays where I stepped on the scale and saw whopping 205 lbs. For me, that was an all time high and not something I was at all happy about. My 34″ pants were way too tight and refused to keep moving in the direction I was going. That’s when I decided I was fed up and that it was time to make major changes in my diet and exercise and to start taking fitness seriously.
So as 2015 got started I said goodbye to 2014 and my bad eating and drinking habits. I had been going to the gym for years to simply “maintain” my weight and realized that wasn’t working anymore. I made getting into shape my number one priority for 2015 and through good eating and regular working out I managed to lose over 30 pounds in a few months and was more motivated than I had ever been to keep working. I was seeing results and getting stronger and people around me noticed the positive changes too.
As 2016 came around I was starting to get bored at the gym and was looking for something more. Having only run a 10k years ago I decided a good challenge would be to run a half marathon with my co-worker. We found the flattest half near us and I signed up for my first half marathon, curious to see if I could actually do it.
I decided to supplement my gym time with training runs to prepare for the half marathon and was finally moving in the right direction again. March came around and I conquered my first half and I felt great (I actually did an 8k the day before with my kids and did the half the next day). The mental toughness I gained from that race was intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next half and decided also to signup for a tough mudder with my sister (who is 15 years younger) for that summer.
As we approached spring of 2016 I started talking to my friend down in FL to finally find out more about CrossFit. As usual he raved about it and reiterated how I should try it. At around the same time a new employee was hired at my company that also did CrossFit. She, like my friend down in FL, raved about how great CrossFit was and how much it challenged and motivated her every single time she attended.
So finally in June, a week or two after my tough mudder race, I decided to tag along for few free classes. I just did a tough mudder and was in good shape, this CrossFit stuff was going to be fun and pretty easy I’m sure. Well, you know how that goes… I had my ass handed to me and had the best workout in a gym that I’ve ever had. Needless to say I quickly realized I was in the right place and that if I truly wanted to challenge myself (which I did) that there was no doubt that The Cove was the right place for me.
First and foremost what I love about CrossFit and The Cove are the people. The support and encouragement that you get here is amazing. It really is like a family and there is nothing but positivity and fun in the air. I, like many other people that came into CrossFit “in shape”, was quickly humbled. I realized that I had SO much to learn and that I had to (and still have to) fix lots of things that I had been doing wrong over the years on my own.
Normally I would be frustrated and discouraged by my inability to do what everybody else was doing but I accepted the challenges I had in front of me and knew I had to listen to the coaches and do what worked for me. I listened and accepted that working on my form and technique was more important than trying to have heavy weight on the bar. I have fell in love with pre and post WOD stretches and realize how much of a disservice I have been doing myself over the years by not doing any stretching with my workouts. I never knew how limited my mobility in my shoulders and other areas was because I never did anything to challenge it.
I love that all I have to do is just show up and listen to what my coaches have to say. I come in, follow the plan, and can focus on the workout and none of that other crap that doesn’t matter. I would never push myself outside of my comfort zone like I am each and every day in CrossFit.
By no means have I mastered everything (or anything actually), but I am trying things that I never would have on my own and am surprising myself more and more each day. I love that when that timer ticks down to zero and the workout starts that we’re all in competition. And, I love even more that each and every person that finishes before me (and there are a lot) is right there to cheer me on and push me to finish that last rep that I didn’t think I could do.
Over the 5 or 6 months that I’ve been going to CrossFit I’ve gotten stronger and seen more change in my body than I have in 10+ years of being a regular at my other gym. At 39 I am in the best shape of my life now and look forward to each and every day I step into that gym and cross under that sign that reads “The best part of your day starts now”. Why? Because I know that I am about to have the best workout ever and will be pushed beyond where I thought the limits of my mind and body were. Just when I think that no workout can be better than that one, I come back the next day and say that again.
Last month I ran a full marathon on a whim without any training and know, without a doubt, that without CrossFit there’s no way I could have done that. The conditioning that we get and the all around fitness we achieve truly is so much more valuable outside the box in our day to day lives!
And I am proud of the positive example that I set with my kids by being active and conscientious of what I eat and put into my body. I see so many young kids these days that are overweight and unhealthy, and it really makes me sad. Ultimately I know their parents are to blame and take pride in knowing that I will have set the best possible example for my kids. My kids have been running with me and had a blast at the family classes that we did at The Cove. I am turning the garage into a mini gym as we speak so that we can have some weekend WODs at home.”
8 Good Mornings (can be weighted)
30 Second Weighted Plank1 Rope Climb3 RoundsWOD
6 Pull Ups
12 Slam Balls
Rest 1 minute
Coach’s Tip: For the skill portion, the “Good Mornings” can be weighted or unweighted. Just be sure to maintain that flat back and stop your hinge before your shoulders round or your back position is compromised. Everyone will have a different depth based on your flexibility. We will have several progressions for the rope climbs, so if you are new to them it is a great time to practice. If you are proficient, work on fewer pulls to get to the top (think of it as a ‘toes to bar’ on a rope!). For the METCON, keep in mind your core will be fatigued from the Slam Balls and Pull Ups, so respect the barbell and address it in a ‘ready’ position. Shoulders back, flat back/netural spine and tight core are a must to do the lift safely and effectively.