Congrats to our CC athlete of the month, Mark Carpenter.
How/when did you get involved in CrossFit?
2012 Luxembourg, starved of a good gym. Our local place consisted of a small amount of machinery situated next to a nightclub. You could never tell if the receptionists worked at one or the other as they smoked in the doorway between the two. A fantastic new box opened up called CrossFit Valens, the first in the country, owned and run Icelanders. These folks had a fantastic attitude about training to become an all-around athlete. I saw what others were doing there and thought, “I want to do that.” After that I never looked back.
Do you remember your first workout? How was it?
Fran: DESPERATE. Yes, I am still scarred. Foolishly, I didn’t take an intro course because previously some friends and I had dabbled at making our own WODs. No doubt the coach let me in to teach me a lesson because I claimed I’d be fine. It was devastatingly exhausting. For the pull-ups, I didn’t know how to kip so my arms soon packed out. Crippled on the floor, I could not believe that an empty barbell could do so much damage. According to the Icelanders, I was lucky to have met Fran on day 1. Totally shagged out — I wasn’t convinced but I went back …
What were your goals when you first started? How have they changed?
Goal 1: pure survival. I was playing a lot of tennis tournaments and though I felt fit enough in my training, blending the two was tough. CrossFit was revealing to say the least. I was repeatedly destroyed by the intensity (and still am) and back to back days were difficult, so I tried 3 times a week maximum. I liked barbell work early on so I took Olympic lifting lessons. Since arriving in NYC, I’m not playing competitively. Now I do WODs as often as 5 times per week. Another big change this year is I am trying not to hide from the exercises I struggle with. Historically, I was a bit of cherry picker and would ditch WODs I didn’t like to train in other ways.
How have you grown in that time — health, body, mind, etc.?
My fitness has improved immeasurably. Specific training for other sports can be is highly revealing when you begin CrossFit. About a year in, I changed my diet to something a bit more paleo. While I don’t have any CrossFit fantasies, nor do I daydream of the perfect lift or wod etc., it has become a central part of my well being. And, yes, if I visit a foreign city for holiday, I would probably seek out the local box, just for the T-shirt.
What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
Other than fitness gains, I would say that the massively positive group mojo is the golden factor that makes it all worthwhile, whether in a small group for squatting, a partner chipper, or the sense of individual survival after a class when everyone has given it their all. Would WODs be as fun solo? I doubt it?
Favorite lift and WOD?
I like the snatch because of the great feeling from rising out of the squat. It’s also so olympicky – if that’s a word. Favourite WOD: If I had to pick then Chelsea, 30-minute EMOM of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats. I like this one because you fall into a happy coma round after round with the buzzer, and for a while you get a little rest until time catches up with you.
What about your least favorite?
Least favourite lift: Probably heavy jerks when the bar sits like a house on your collar bones and it makes you forget all your technique. WOD: I don’t have one specifically. Generally, any WOD where I don’t scale appropriately and spend an eternity staring at bar or a wall ball is far from pleasing.
What motivates you?
Being in my 40s, I find the prospect of getting fitter now rather than later more motivating than ever. I am also still quite active in other sports so I find CrossFit remains complementary to them. Undoubtedly, the coaching in CrossFit is massively motivating whether through helping to unravel the kinks in a complex movement or simply encouraging you to push a little further than you believed you could go. The coaches play a key role.
Do you have any advice for new members?
Stick with it. I would advise exercising patience on this long journey. The fitness and mojo rewards are immense if you put in the effort. Just check your ego at the door, listen to the coaches, and keep scaling until you no longer need to. Remember that if you feel like your lunges are on fire or you are going to throw up, someone else feels the same.
What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
I would like to pass 300 pounds on the back squat and keep making progress on handstand push-ups and double unders.