Venom on the stand!   I (Shades) remember when Venom came to the gym for the first time.  It was an Open Event and he had come to cheer on his wife CPA.  We talked and he told me he wasn’t a gym a person and had never liked being in a gym.  I believe the word hate may have been used to explain, with conviction, his view of gyms.  But, beliefs my friends, can change and this year, it was I, who judged him, as he tore through each Open event in the RX’d division.  Read on to learn how this turn-about took place!

What brought you to CrossFit?

I joined CrossFit Empower after seeing how awesome & fit my wife, Peggy (CPA – Clearly Pretty Awesome), looked after being a dedicated member!  I regret that I had not joined earlier.   I didn’t feel comfortable in gyms because I had no clue what to do or how to use the weights & machines. I should have realized the CrossFit program is much different.  I swam semi-competitively when I was a kid, sailed since 16, swam 2 km every day in my 20’s, played soccer since I can remember and started playing hockey at 35.  For me exercise involved being outside or in a team sport.

What was your first impression?  How has it changed?

A playground for adults!  CrossFit involves doing stuff I hadn’t done in 35 years and sometimes never!  Handstands, rope climbs, pull-ups, skipping, and the goofy bear crawls, inchworms and more.  A whole new world. I was most worried about doing handstands and Olympic lifts.  I had never kicked up to a wall or done any weightlifting.  I didn’t know the differences between the lifts and had lots to learn.  I had back issues in my mid-30’s and was worried about injury. However, I didn’t need to be concerned.  Thanks to the great coaching, at each session, I was patiently taught the technical aspects of weightlifting and these experiences helped me gain confidence.  I still approach weightlifting with respect and try not to get too ahead of myself (crushingly being humbled daily!).  CrossFit Empower has a friendly atmosphere which I really appreciate.  Coaches and experienced members offer great advice and tips and learning together has been great. What started as something new to try has changed into a daily, not to be missed routine.

What was your first bright spot (win/positive experience)?

There are so many.  Every time I finish a weightlifting session is a bright spot.  I improved my deadlifts, front and back squats, and snatches but still struggle with cleans and overhead squats.  I figured out how to do double-unders the day before doing the Open 21.1 and managed to get 49 of them during the workout!  One big surprise for me was that I can actually run at a reasonable pace . I had not run since I severed one of my Achilles tendons in 2016 while playing indoor soccer with people half my age. Being able to do 30” box jumps was another bright spot for my Achilles.  My swimming background helps with rowing and other cardio. Finishing a WOD and realizing I just did 100 pull-ups or push-ups or burpees among other things continues to amaze me!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on improving my mobility, strength, and technique on all movements.  I really enjoy learning gymnastics skills.  Did I mention I like playgrounds?  I am also working on the mental side of fitness and appreciate how the gym focuses on the connection between body and mind.

I race high performance catamarans; which requires a combination of fitness, strategy, and managing the boat and elements.  After sailing for 30 years, I started racing and found out that I had lots to learn.  Since I started CrossFit, I noticed that my racing has improved.  Racing and CrossFit are similar in many ways.   Both teach me patience, the importance of paying attention to detail, and appreciation of the process.

What’s your favourite Empower memory so far?

Daily banter and making friends stands out in my mind.  The Touch (Coach) saying, “Keep pulling, why did you stop?” and me thinking, “I would, if I only could” or Shades asking about the week’s bright spot in the Friday 5 pm sessions and me saying “Finishing this workout!” That never gets old!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience Venom.   Your consistent workouts throughout the restrictions on Zoom and in Open Gyms have paided fantastic dividends. Way to go! It should be a good summer on the water for you! Keep up the great work!