Upper East Side Athlete of the Month

Mario has been one of our most dedicated athletes since day one. He started out as a 360 member, mastering the basics, before transitioning into CrossFit. He always puts proper technique and form first, and his strength numbers and gymnastics ability have grown exponentially as a result. He’s a positive influence in class, supports his training buddies, and never takes himself too seriously. I can always count on Mario to make me laugh (or roll my eyes). Truly a delight to have in class.

— Coach Jenna

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How/when did you get involved in CrossFit?
At the risk of sounding cliche-ish, I first heard of CrossFit while watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN. When I noticed that a CrossFit box was opening up in my neighborhood, I was further intrigued. After much wavering back and forth, I finally decided to check out EVF and some of their 360 classes. I decided to take the plunge at the beginning of last year and I haven’t looked back since.

Do you remember your first workout? How was it?
I don’t remember my first workout, but I do remember there were lots of push-ups and lots of sit-ups and being sore for days. I also remember thinking “What did I get myself into?” But whether it was a 360, Row, or CrossFit class I loved the feeling of accomplishment I felt at the end and I knew then I was hooked.

What were your goals when you first started? How have they changed?
When I first started my goals were pretty simple and that was to try and get into better shape. As time has progressed my goals have definitely changed, but the biggest change is that they are a lot more targeted. For example, while I always want to improve my conditioning and strength, lately I’ve really been focusing on my technique for the Olympic lifts and my gymnastic skills. As for strength, I want to improve upon my overhead strength.

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How have you grown in that time — health, body, mind, etc.?
Nowadays I tell everyone that I am in the best shape of my life (I could totally kick 16- and 21-year-old Mario’s asses). I would also have to say I am way more in tune with how I am feeling. Whatever it may be that feels “off,” I can sense it and try to address it sooner than later. Sometimes the answer is a simple as needing a day off, as much as it pains me not to go.

What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
The best part has to be the community and support you get from everyone. It can range from the encouragement you get as you struggle with a certain technique or getting through a WOD to everyone being just as excited, if not more, when you hit a new PR. I can say that I may not always hear the music playing, but I do hear the encouragement. And when I am able to catch my breath, I try and pay it forward.

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Favorite lift and WOD?
My favorite lift would definitely have to be the clean and jerk. When it comes to WODs, I like any chippers. I like just putting my head down and getting to work.

What about your least favorite?
Least favorite lift would have to be thrusters and that ties right into my least favorite workout: 14.5/16.5.

What motivates you?
Honestly what motivates me the most is improvement. I come in every day trying to get better than I was the day before.

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Do you have any advice for new members?
I always try to tell new members to stay within themselves and not try too much too soon and risk injury, but also to be sure to challenge yourself. I would also stress to focus on mobility early and often. I may not be the most mobile person around, but I definitely feel the difference when I’ve slacked on mobility for a few days.

What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
There are a few tangible goals I have in mind for the coming year. Breaking 300 pounds on my back squat is my strength goal. I also want to improve my gymnastics, specifically getting a muscle-up and being able to string together handstand push-ups.

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