erik and matthew

My athletic background is that I don’t have an athletic background. Sure, I played soccer in elementary school and did Tae Kwon Do in middle school, but that was it until college. Then I started going to the fitness center where I was intimidated by the free weights so I stuck to the machines. For the next five years, I had basically the same workout routine. Weight machines three days a week alternating with three days of an hour of cardio. Was it better than sitting on the couch? Absolutely. But boy was I in for a rude awakening once I found my way into a CrossFit box.

For the first few months, I found myself getting repeatedly stomped in workouts by people twice my age. I could muscle my way through the first few reps of any workout, but inefficient movement will wear down even the strongest person (which I was not) every time. When I was regularly doing women’s weights in workouts, I was proud of myself. Then I was doing men’s weight and catching up to some of the athlete’s who had dominated me when I started. But getting better was so intoxicating I wanted more.

When I made the leap to signing up for my L1 CrossFit Trainer course, it was like the stars aligned. I had already requested the time off for that weekend with the vague idea of doing a stay-cation. It was in St. Louis Park, MN, the closest location for months. A friend of mine lived two blocks away from the box hosting the seminar. I was pumped to be getting some pointers on squatting better (which I got), but little did I realize how much that one weekend would change the course of my life.

At one point the lead trainer got up and told us about a Thanksgiving not so long ago. He was from Detroit, and the family was gathered around the TV watching the Lions get crushed. Rather than suffer through any more, they decided to get started on the family dinner. But sitting around the table, they collectively asked, “Where’s Grandma?”

She was back in the living room because she couldn’t get out of her chair. Then came the difficult discussion about assisted living and nursing homes.

The point of that story was that Grandma couldn’t perform a bodyweight squat. Too often these days the focus is on increasing the amount of life with pills and machines without worrying about the quality of that life. To me, CrossFit is a drastically different approach to health. It’s all about increasing the quality of life well into the twilight years. As the trainer at my CrossFit Mobility seminar so elegantly put it, in the minutes before you die, you should be able to pull a heavy deadlift and then make love to your wife.

When I said that that weekend changed my life, I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating. Hearing that story opened my eyes to a huge problem that is far too common. People get one body for their entire life, and they don’t know how to take care of it.

As soon as I got back, I started diving into any scholarly literature I could get my hands on regarding the subject of human movement. I watched hours of videos. I bought and borrowed books. I started putting the information into practice in my life, and before I knew it I was feeling better and getting stronger. I had more energy inside the gym and out. I got happier and less stressed. And I knew that I had to share this feeling with everyone who would listen.

In my growth as a coach, my lack of athletic prowess has been a huge boon. I’ve had to work my ass off to figure out how to do more complex movements because I usually just don’t get it the way more athletic people do. And because I’ve had to read three articles and watch nine videos to figure out why my squat feels weird, I have that many perspectives to offer others I see with similar issues.

I’ve logged hundreds of hours coaching at this point. When I go home, I’ll pull up YouTube videos specific to a client I was working with that day to try to figure out a better cue to help them get that double under or rope climb. I don’t do it as a workaholic, but as someone who gets genuine joy from learning and from helping others. Watching someone get her first muscle-up after months of hard work and preparation is a rush. Seeing that spreading smile when a guy nails a PR he’s been chasing for months gets me just as excited as he is. And nothing gets me off quite like seeing a newbie squat below parallel with a flat back and without collapsing knees.

If you’ve got a gymnastic skill that you just can’t seem to figure out, a weight that you want to clean soooo badly, or if you just want to mix things up and try some workouts that are difficult to do in a class setting, hit me up. We can talk exercise or we can talk sleep and nutrition. Together we can come up with an individualized plan to help you achieve your goals that’s fun and effective!

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