Category Archives: Getting Started

Allow me to re-introduce myself

My name is John. You might have read my first post. I also help Charlie out with the Top Notch Podcast. I’m (relatively) new to this whole CrossFit thing. When I walked into CrossFit Regeneration at our old location in October 2014 it was the first time I had ever set foot in a CrossFit box. I met coaches Charlie and Moira. My wife and I went through the foundations class and two months later I was a full time CrossFitter. Before I tell you about how I fell in love with constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity I think it’s important you understand my fitness background (or lack thereof).

My weight peaked at 285 pounds multiple times in my life. First as an 18 year old high school football player and as recent as 2013, the summer of my 35th birthday. During that same span of time my weight has varied 80 pounds. I’ve been as low as 205 but mostly staying around 250-260. These peaks and valleys paralleled diets and workout plans I tried (and eventually quit). At 6’3″ I can hide a lot of weight on my frame. I can say I’m a former football player and most people won’t think twice about it. Bottom line, I wasn’t healthy and none of the dieting or traditional exercising worked for me.

John, before and after

Oh what a difference 6 years (and 9 months of CrossFit) can make!

So close but yet so far away

So many things came close. P90X is varied and had high intensity but doing it alone in my living room wasn’t sustainable. Couch to 5K seemed like a great idea but after a couple weeks my feet and knees started to hurt. Planet Fitness, LA Fitness and Louisville Athletic Club are all nice places. They have clean equipment, lots of machines and free weights for weightlifting. Some of them even have group classes and personal training. But I never felt like anyone there really cared about how often I showed up or took the time to fix things I may be doing incorrectly. I’m sure those places are great for some people. They just didn’t work for me.

The one place that has come close to my CrossFit experience was a TRX / cross-training class I took at the Louisville YMCA. I had a coach. It was a small group setting. It was a lot of body-weight based movements. I started to feel better, but it wasn’t enough. I needed more than 3 days a week. I needed to be pushed. I needed to build strength and endurance. I needed a plan to increase my work capacity across a broad range of time and modal domains. I needed a bigger community of athletes to support my efforts and help hold me accountable. What I really needed was CrossFit. I just didn’t know it.

Before and after

Me, before and after starting CrossFit. Still have a long way to go.

Finding a home at CrossFit Regeneration

So 10 months into my training at CrossFit Regeneration and here I am writing blog posts about how much I love it. If you’re reading this maybe you’re looking for what I was looking for. Maybe you need to be trained not just exercise a couple days a week. Maybe your tired of running on a treadmill for 45 minutes and seeing little results from your efforts. Maybe you need a workout buddy (we all need workout buddies). I needed all of that and I got so much more at CrossFit Regeneration. I’m down to my leanest weight since college, 220 pounds, but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. And my endurance is as good as it’s been in 15 years. I’ve stopped obsessing over my physical appearance and started obsessing over the number of rounds I complete in “Cindy” and how many minutes it takes me to complete “Murph”.

I’m having a blast. I’m hanging out with my new friends from the gym. My family is all doing CrossFit. I’ve been told I’m still in the honeymoon phase and maybe that’s true. But this is longest I’ve ever sustained a fitness and health program. The more I do it the more I want to do more of it. I believe in the approach we take at CrossFit Regeneration. Maybe, just maybe, you might too.

Our coaches introduced a new process for getting started called a “No Sweat Intro“. You sit down with a coach for a few minutes and chat about who you are and what you want to do with your fitness. This is exactly what I did that first day I walked into the gym before it became an official process. I quickly figured out the coaches here are truly vested in the success of their athletes. They’ve helped my family define an achievable path to get stronger and healthier. They can do the same for you.

“But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

First Time Caller, Long Time Listener

So I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. Mainly it’s local talk about my alma mater, the University of Louisville. It passes my morning drives to downtown quickly. While sitting in traffic if you listen long enough you’ll hear folks who call into these shows say a common phrase: first time caller, long time listener.

So they’re saying “hey, I’m a huge fan of the sports in this town, your radio show in particular, and today the topic is so compelling I’ve overcome my fear for public broadcast systems and have an important contribution to this conversation.” It takes guts to call into these shows and risk sounding like an idiot. Most folks, myself included, would rather sit back, observe and keep our opinions to our buddies in the break room at work.

Well, that was my fitness life in a nutshell until November 2014. A couple weeks ago, as I watched the events of the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, I thought of that phrase, “first time caller, long time listener,” because for the first time in my life as an adult I’m actively participating in a real competition that tests my fitness level. I’m watching Ben Smith, Matt Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir go through workouts that test their fitness limits. And when I go into the gym tomorrow I’m going to be doing the same thing they’re doing on ESPN.

2015 Fittest Man in the World, Ben Smith

This is Ben Smith, not me.

Okay, not exactly the same thing. I mean, the amount of weight I push around is much less than theirs and the total number of reps I complete is way lower than theirs. But I’m training the same 10 physical fitness skills (cardiovascular/respiratory, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance & accuracy) that they’re working on using the same movements. I have coaches just like them. I have friends and teammates in the gym cheering me on just like them. I even have the same shoes.

It’s like watching Michael Jordan compete in the NBA finals and running a full court game of basketball with your buddies immediately after its over. Except instead of a basketball I’ve got a 20-pound medicine ball. Instead of a basketball goal I’ve got a Rogue rack with pull-up bars, barbells and hundreds of pounds of bumper plates.

So I’m now that first-time sports radio caller. I’m not going to sit back and listen to the show anymore. My health is on the line. I’ve tried and failed too many times before with other work out plans and fad diets. They’re not sustainable. Turns out that the thing that works best is a willingness to work hard and be coachable. Best part is I’m doing it with folks just like me to struggle the same way I do. They too were once “first time callers, long time listeners” and one of the coolest things is they really enjoy living vicariously through people like me trying all this CrossFit stuff for the first time.

I’m no threat to Ben Smith’s title of 2015’s Fittest Man in the World. But I’m overcoming my fears and participating in this whole CrossFit thing. Even in 8 months, my emotional and physical transformation feels great. Can’t wait to watch the 2016 CrossFit Games so I can look back at my 20-month journey.