Robert tried to convince us that there were other 718 members more deserving of May’s Athlete of the Month status. A member since February 2016, he felt that he was too new to the box… But we stand by our decision. Although we’ve only known him for just over one year, he’s made a big impression. His attendance is impeccable, and he’s always on time. He’s kind and generous (he regularly donates markers and soap to the box). His Open performance was on point, and he always tracks his score! He is, without a doubt, Athlete of the Month material! Enjoy our Q&A with Robert!
When did you join CrossFit 718?
I joined CrossFit 718 in February 2016. I have to say that Tammy and Iz made me feel comfortable right away. I started at another box in July 2014 at the age of 48. I had played Division III football in college and I spent 12 years as a high school football coach. But when I left the Coast Guard Reserves in 1996 I had become truly sedentary.
How did you discover CrossFit?
I had been going to a boot camp-type workout in the park for about six months or so when a friend said I should try CrossFit. I did that July and I never looked back.
What kinds of changes have you noticed since starting CrossFit?
When I started doing CrossFit I had a 46-inch waist and I weighed 305 lbs. My cholesterol was through the roof, and my sugar levels put me near diabetes. By working with my CrossFit coach at the time, I lost weight, changed my eating habits and, by the summer of 2015, I had gone down to 245 lbs. and a size 40 waist, and I was running Spartan races.
How do you make time for working out?
I come to the 6 a.m. class every morning. I find that working out before I go to work gives me more energy during the day, and I feel like I have accomplished something. I often say to myself that I have done more before 7 a.m. than most people do all day. (I have to give a shout-out to the 6 a.m. crew: Ernie, Ben, Stephanie, Lea, Brad, Karen, Sky, Rudy… I don’t want to leave anyone out.) I enjoy the camaraderie of the class and of the box in general. I usually come to the 9 a.m. classes on Saturday and Sunday, and it gives me a chance to work with Coaches Marcos and Chris, as well as other great 718 members.
What’s your favorite lift?
I like when we do push presses and push jerks—stuff that goes overhead. I feel like I am weak in this area. The best I have ever done is a 200-pound push jerk, so when we do these lifts I try to push myself because I want to get stronger. Maybe it will help me to one day do handstand push-ups? Maybe!
What recent achievement are you proud of?
There really are two things I am proud of. First, in December when we finished the squat cycle I hit a 315-pound PR. I was proud because I worked really hard after my back injury, and to PR by 30 lbs. was great for me. The other was during the Open workouts. I had never gotten toes-to-bar. I always did knees-to-elbows or leg raisers. When I hurt my back, I just didn’t try toes-to-bar at all. Then during 17.2 it just clicked. I finally got seven toes-to-bar out of 16. I was proud of myself, but all day at work I thought I could have done better. So I came back that same night and I completed the round of 16 toes-to-bar.
What goals are you working on?
I presently struggle with double-unders and pull ups, so both are a work in progress.
What’s your Fran time?
I have never done Fran as prescribed, so I technically don’t have a time. But I am proud of my Grace time. It is 4:29, and it puts me in the top 10 in our box!
How do you feel about this year’s Open and your performance?
In 2015, when I did the Open for the first time I scaled all five workouts. In 2016, I had to drop out because I hurt myself. But this year I did three of the five workouts as prescribed and I feel good about that.
What do you do when you’re not at the box?
I am a Principal in a NYC public high school, so you can imagine running a school of 1800 students and 140 staff keeps me pretty busy. CrossFit helps me deal with my stress in a productive way. When I am not at work or in the gym I like to read. There are many genres that I like, so I will read almost anything, especially historical novels.