This is a big month for Ben Schaffzin. Not only is he March’s featured athlete of the month, but he’s also turning 18! We’ve known Ben since he was an athlete in our CrossFit Kids class, and it’s been a pleasure to watch him transition to the weightlifting team where he’s continued to grow and develop his skills over the past three years. But don’t think he spends all his time at the box – Ben is also an impressive jazz musician and politics buff.
Check out our Q&A with Ben and get to know March’s athlete of the month!
How did you discover CrossFit 718?
When I still did martial arts, my Sensei was looking for a location that he could teach in. Since my teacher and Israel were good buddies, Iz let him use the old space on 5th Ave and 22nd St for classes. Once my teacher moved, Iz invited me to do the Crossfit Kids class, and that’s where it all started!
What made you stick with weightlifting?
As I got older, both Iz and I were realizing that I wasn’t getting a lot out of the kids’ class. One day he approached me about trying out the weightlifting class he was starting that would serve as a transitional class between the kids’ and adult classes. I thought this sounded like a great idea and gave it a shot. I found that there was something really satisfying and almost therapeutic in weightlifting that also allowed me to compete against myself and not others.
What are your favorite things about the sport?
There’s a lot of respect between athletes. Never have I felt like I was being intimidated or sized up by other weightlifters. The focus on form and proper technique is also very important to me, because there’s no way to half-ass a lift without hurting yourself. You have to do it right.
What’s your favorite lift?
Anything with power in it, but most of all the power clean.
What PR are you most proud of?
I’m currently working off 130kgs for the back squat.
What goals are you currently working on?
It’s important for me to balance my weightlifting with cardio and other types of exercise, so right now I’m just making sure I get out to the gym regularly and doing cardio to compliment the high-impact lifts regularly.
How do you make time for exercise?
I come twice a week on Monday and Wednesday. I can slot CrossFit in since it’s right after school for me, but being a musician going to school in Manhattan does make finding the time difficult. I’m a person who really needs to know what my week looks like three weeks in advance, so planning out which days I’ll go to the park or the gym in advance has been super helpful.
What do you do when you’re not at the box?
I spent a large portion of my week studying music and performing, as well as keeping up-to-date on current events. I’m somewhat of a politics and government enthusiast, so I love exploring that realm on my own.
What do you have planned for after high school graduation?
After graduation, I’ll have to find some sort of summer work, but as long as I’m still in NY I’ll keep doing weightlifting. Wherever I go for college, I’ll find my way to the fitness center!
What’s your advice for other teens who are interested in weightlifting?
Just dive in! It’s not as intimidating as you might think, and you meet a lot of wonderful people along the way. Stay committed and focused and the fun stuff will come naturally!