Athlete of the Month: September 2019
Seven years ago, Alex Gitlin was playing hockey and dutifully cycling through the same two-hour workouts over and over again. He was in good shape, but his mind and body were restless. Per the recommendation of a friend, he dropped in on the free trial class at 718, an experience that he says “demolished” him… but “in the best way possible.” He started taking class five times a week.
Since then, Alex’s life has gotten a bit more complicated… but in the best way possible. He and his wife now have a two year-old daughter—and another child on the way! Thanks to a supportive partner, lots of planning, and a strong drive, Alex still finds time to work out at least three times a week.
We’re continuously impressed with Alex’s dedication and intensity at the box. And we’re so happy for him and his growing family!
Read our Q&A with Alex and get to know September’s Athlete of the Month!
How did you discover CrossFit?
My friend Mia, who was a member back in 2012, recommended CrossFit to me to help keep me occupied at that transitional point in my life. I was already really active for a number of years, playing a lot of hockey and going to various gyms, so CrossFit was a logical next step.
Why did you end up sticking with CrossFit?
My free trial class was immensely cathartic. It totally demolished me in the best way possible. I felt like I had just done four hours of work in less than one hour and that feeling really resonated with me. The pace of the class was challenging and the variety of movements kept it interesting. As someone who loved to play hockey and is totally ADHD, I was desperate for an intense physical routine that would keep me engaged and continuously moving. Before officially starting CrossFit, I started losing a lot of my drive and enthusiasm doing the same two-hour workout routines at the globo gym. Thus, the Tabatas, AMRAPs and RFTs definitely matched my desire for intensity and effectiveness.
Iz, Tammy and the entire 718 community are obviously also a big (the biggest) reason that I continue to consistently show up at the box after all these years. 718 has a really familial vibe and the community is definitely an extension of Iz and Tammy’s warmth, humor and hospitality. It’s clear from the start that the coaches really care about each individual and really help everyone scale the programming to work for them. Personally, the coaches definitely know how to push my buttons the right way and make sure that I get the most out of my time, even when I’m not in my best form. The addition of conditioning classes has also helped me maintain consistency by allowing me to work within my shifting means over the last few years.
What kinds of changes have you noticed since starting CrossFit?
I feel that my overall stamina, strength and endurance are at a pretty high level relative to my age, body type and busy lifestyle. I may not be the first to finish a WOD, but I often get more comfortable the longer I go.
When I used to do five days a week back in 2014/2015, I gained about 15 lbs. of muscle. But since then, I’ve been more focused on conditioning and I’m back to the weight I started at, but I’m definitely stronger and better coordinated.
How do you make time for working out?
As a working parent, it’s certainly not easy to carve out time for anything. And I’m sure it will be much more difficult when my next kid arrives (if she hasn’t already). But, my wife and I stick to a tight coverage schedule during the week and we try to give each other a reasonable amount of time to do necessary self-care activities that keep us sane. Over the past year, I’ve been doing three WODs per week, mixing nights, mornings and weekends. For instance, I do 8pm Monday classes after putting my daughter to bed, 7am conditioning classes on Wednesday or Thursday (depending on my alternate side parking spot), and 10am Saturday partner WODs because they’re awesome and it’s the weekend.
What’s your favorite type of WOD?
I love conditioning classes and any workouts that involve tons of movements and volume, minus the heavy weights. Body weight workouts like Cindy and Murph are ideal for me because I can do them anywhere and they are true benchmarks. I also love The Cory (200 double unders for time) because it gets my heart rate up quickly and I’m really good at it (unlike a lot of other things). Given that I couldn’t even do a single under during my first year at the gym, I take a lot of pride in my double unders these days.
What recent achievement are you most proud of?
Honestly, I haven’t been tracking any PRs or particular achievements recently. I’m just happy to come to the box and complete a metcon near the top of the class if I can. That being said, I guess my 2019 highlight was just doing 19.1 and 19.2. It was a long time since I even attempted to do any RX lifts, thus hitting those numbers and getting a decent (middle of the pack) amount of reps was a boost to the ego.
What goal are you currently working on?
I’d like to improve my Murph time next year and keep a one-round-per-minute pace on a full Cindy.
What do you do when you’re not at the box?
My 9-5 is as a product designer for Chase digital. Otherwise, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family. My daughter is almost two years old now and it’s been amazing watching her grow and become a little person. She is my entire morning, evening and weekend. The only way it could be better is if she could be my 9-5 too. Otherwise, I spend most of my time making ridiculous, weird art. Like CrossFit, art allows me to decompress and be intense at the same time. I have a notorious lowbrow art Instagram account for my illustration work that has allowed me to connect to an amazing community of artists who share my sick humor and cultural tastes. My stickers can be seen around the box and on random walls, poles, mailboxes and bar bathrooms around the city.