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April Upper East Side Athlete of the Month

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James is one of our oldest and dearest members and one of my favorite people to have in class. He’s exceptionally coachable and has great energy and awesome work ethic — a dream combination for a coach — not to mention the world’s lowest squat.

— Coach Jenna

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How/when did you get involved in CrossFit? What has motivated you to stick with it?
I got involved in CrossFit a few years ago when I was living in Philadelphia. I was skinny. Actually, I was scrawny. I had tried various globo-gyms and self-motivating workout programs, but I never found the drive to continue with it. And let’s be honest, when I say I went to the gym, I basically just did bicep curls and went home. I needed direction and CrossFit seemed like a good idea. Four and a half years later, I am 35 pounds heavier (that’s a good thing) and still drinking the Kool-Aid. The results I have seen, especially at EVF, have kept me motivated.

What do you enjoy most about being a member at EVF?
The people and the camaraderie. Some of the best moments of my day usually involve lifting weights and pushing myself through a workout with my friends at EVF. It is cliché, but 100% true: I am more motivated to push myself if other people hold me accountable. If I don’t go for it, not only am I letting myself down, I’m letting everyone else down.

Do you remember your first workout? Looking back how did it go?
My first CrossFit workout ever was Fran. I think I finished around 10 minutes or so, but I did the thrusters with an empty barbell and also subbed in jumping pull-ups. It was awful. I remember going home and watching Games athletes on YouTube conquer Fran in 2:00 minutes or less and I knew I had a long way to go.

What were your goals when you first started? How have they changed?
When I first started CrossFit, I wanted to add muscle and get bigger. I was sick of getting pushed around by a strong gust of wind. As I got more involved in CrossFit, my goals became more defined. I wanted to squat over 300 pounds. I wanted to do 100 unbroken double unders. Now it’s just about getting stronger every day, while continuing to push myself and stay healthy. Although squatting double my bodyweight would be pretty sweet.

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How have you grown in that time — health, body, mind, etc.?
When I first started CrossFit, I was a 160-pound vegetarian with a flabby stomach. Now I’m 195 pounds and in the best shape of my life, with lots of small ill-fitting T-shirts buried in my closet and a graveyard of ripped jeans. I know a good workout can fix a bad day. If I don’t squat on Monday or do the Tuesday night competition class, my entire week is awry.

Favorite lift and WOD?
I love double unders and Annie. I used to get immensely frustrated jumping rope, but I took a weakness and made it a strength by practicing DUs daily. I also really enjoy squatting because it’s easy to gauge progress. I remember when my current warm up weight was my one-rep max, and that feels great! If you squat every week, you will see results.

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Least favorite movement and workout?
Burpees and thrusters. Seriously, does anyone like burpees or thrusters? The best advice I ever received about burpees: no one likes doing them, so just go faster and get them over with sooner. The burning in your lunges after high volume thrusters is awful.

What drives you through the door each day?
Gains and the people. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing hard work pay off. I also enjoy watching other people improve and lift big weights.

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Do you have any advice for new members?
Keep it up! Early on, so much of the CrossFit experience is just about putting effort into it. The coaches and the programming at EVF are great and if you put in the time and try to eat well, you will see results. Don’t be upset if you have to scale every workout because it will be so much more gratifying when you can do the workouts as prescribed. Consistency is key. Set goals and achieve them.

What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
Consistent muscle ups, a 275-pound clean, a 400-pound deadlift and increased mobility.

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