Being active is nothing new for Erik Fezzuoglio. Practicing Tae Kwon Do for over 30 years and training for 17 New York City Marathons has kept him in above-average shape. But the benefits he gets from CrossFit are a little different. Since joining the box, he’s noticed a better sense of body awareness and pays more attention to his form in everyday movements (like picking up his two kids!). Basically, he’s a testament to “functional fitness.”
We caught up with Erik to find out more about the impact CrossFit has had on his life (and how he finds time to get to the box!). Read our Q&A with June’s athlete of the month.
How did you get into CrossFit?
My CrossFit journey began the summer of 2013. I run the NYC Marathon almost every year and was looking for a way to cut down on the amount of running I was doing and still be prepared for the marathon. I was talking to my friend Francesco, a coach at CrossFit Dumbo at the time, about what I could do to train differently. He put together a gym in his garage and invited me to join him for his workouts. Eventually, Francesco got me to do a class in Dumbo. I enjoyed it immensely but still preferred the individual attention I was getting at his garage. When the summer ended our schedules changed and we weren’t able to find times that worked for us.
In November 2013, I met my goals for the marathon with fewer training runs than in previous years. I knew I had to find a box where I could continue the training that began in my friend’s garage.
In the spring of 2014, I looked up CrossFit in Park Slope because I was teaching Tae Kwon Do in the area and figured I could use my time more efficiently if I got a workout in before I taught my classes. I found CrossFit 718 and drove by the Fifth Avenue location a few times before I actually stopped to look in. When I made the decision to look in, I was greeted warmly by Tammy. The next time I came in, I met Iz and reconnected with my friend Marissa. While I was talking to everyone and witnessing the supportive and diverse community, I realized, “This is where I should be.”
What changes have you noticed since starting CrossFit?
When I started, I was in above-average shape since I love being active. The biggest difference for me is that everyday movements are done more effectively and efficiently. I feel stronger. I have better body awareness and lift items or my children with proper form in mind. CrossFit has also helped slow down some of the effects of aging. Additionally, I notice my clothes fit better.
How do you make time for working out?
I have set days and times for working out. Initially, those times corresponded to my Tae Kwon Do teaching schedule, which made it easy to stick to. Now that I’m not teaching that class, I am generally sticking to the same schedule. In the end of fall and into early winter, finding time becomes more challenging because I coach the middle school basketball team at Bay Ridge Prep. In those times I look for a window of opportunity each day to work out, and when I see that window I take it. During the summer, it’s easier for me to get to the box because I’m off from work. At this point I like to get in my workout at the 6 am class before it gets too hot and my kids wake up.
What’s your favorite lift?
I honestly enjoy all that we do at 718, especially burpees. I don’t have time nor do I choose to do things I don’t love. I appreciate the nuances and techniques required to do each lift or movement well. As Coach Adam says, “Just make it look pretty.”
What recent achievement are you most proud of?
It’s always exciting when you develop a new ability. I recently started to do handstand pushups. I can string about three of them together right now. I’ll keep working at them; you need to get to three before you can get to 10.
What’s your current goal?
I want my kids to outgrow me carrying them before I am tired of carrying them.
What’s your Fran time?
8:51 with many modifications.
Your wife is also a member of 718. What’s it like to work out together?
Natasha is my best friend. Whenever she is around I feel better. Exercising together isn’t new to us. We both do Tae Kwon Do and run the NYC Marathon almost each year. It’s been really nice having her do CrossFit because now she doesn’t look at me like I’m speaking another language when I describe a workout. Since I started CrossFit, I haven’t had the urge to impress anyone. When she and I are in a class together I feel like I have to push myself more but I have to be careful not to hurt myself… It’s interesting that whenever we do something together we experience it differently.
What do you do when you’re not at the box?
I am a father of a nine-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, and I love every millisecond I have with them. I teach middle school mathematics at Bay Ridge Preparatory School and have taught there for almost 20 years. I am a martial artist and have practiced Tae Kwon Do for over 30 years. I train for the NYC Marathon, which I completed 17 times. I love to read and eat pizza.