Featured Athlete: Cory O’Brien
By: Jenessa Conner
Since affiliating in 2010, CrossFit 718 has welcomed hundreds of new athletes, expanded its programming and outgrown two boxes. And, Cory O’Brien has seen it all. In fact, he was there “BC” (before CrossFit) when Tammy and Iz were holding boot camp classes in Prospect Park.
Cory’s dedication is a testament to what makes the CrossFit community so incredible. CrossFit 718 wouldn’t be what it is today without Cory’s support. That’s why he’s our featured athlete of the month.
CF718: How did you discover CrossFit? Why did you join?
CO: I never really discovered CrossFit – I discovered Coach Iz.
After Chrystie and I got married in ’07 she moved to New York and joined the NYSC with me. Like most guys I had a back and bi’s, chest and tri’s workout regimen, but Chrystie convinced me to try some of the classes they offered. This was completely foreign and something I thought was really just for women. She talked me into trying a total body class as well as a kickboxing class, both of which were taught by this high-energy and friendly trainer named Izzy. Needless to say, he made these classes so much fun and as varied as possible for NYSC. I never missed a class.
At some point, Iz approached Chrystie and I about a boot camp class he was thinking of offering in the park on the weekends and asked if we’d want to come out. We agreed to join, and thus began our journey with Iz and Tammy. There was anywhere from five to seven of us that would show up in the park on the weekend and do these workouts with homemade sand bags, old kettle bells, truck tires and whatever other random pieces of equipment he could fit into this plastic can on wheels.
When winter came we had to figure out where to go. We became the first nomad boot camp, finding space in places like the Lyceum basement and even an office where sometimes half the people in the class were in one room and the rest in another. At this point, our little group had taken on the name Brooklyn Fitness Factory, and we were about to move into our first permanent space in the basement of a building on 7th Ave. There had been a very small gym located in the space, and the equipment still sat there covered in dust, grease and cobwebs. We cleaned it all out, had a paint party and set up the space for our needs – it was awesome. We finally had a home and could really start to get fit.
A couple months in, Iz started talking more about CrossFit and the possibility of affiliating. Most of us told him to keep his money – we didn’t need all that. But he was convinced that CrossFit was where it was at. Thank goodness he didn’t listen to us! Soon after affiliating we were on the move again to an even larger space down on 5th Ave. We were truly legit now with pull up rigs (homemade, of course), ropes, rings, platforms and our affiliation, CrossFit 718!
Things weren’t always easy, and the early days took a toll on Tam and Iz as they got this thing rolling, but it made them strong in more ways than just body strength. And, I am most honored to have been a part of this whole thing since BC – “Before CrossFit”. So when I am asked why I CrossFit, my answer is about way more than constantly varied workouts that keep me engaged and coming in day after day. For me, it is about family, friends, suffering, joy, achievements, failure and success in and out of the gym. My life is fuller because of Iz and Tammy and all the wonderful people that walk through those gates. CrossFit 718 has given so much to me that I can only hope to give a small amount back by being a friendly face or someone to turn to with a question, some help on a particular lift, or to just talk about life. And, as I head down to the box later today and walk through one of the giant gates, I will still be amazed at how far we have come and how much further we can all go.
What’s your favorite lift/movement/WOD and why?
I am guessing about 90% of the gym could answer this question for me. My favorite movement would be double-unders. Last year for my birthday Tam and Iz were kind enough to name the 200 DU’s for time “Cory”. That was really nice. In terms of lifts, I love cleans of any kind but really enjoy working on my speed from a high hang. And, one of my all-time favorite WOD’s would be the Hero “Nate:” 20min EMOM of 2 Ring Muscle Ups, 4 HSPU and 8 2pood KBS. It is a real grinder and I have always loved MU’s and HSPU’s.
CF718: Tell me about a recent achievement or PR that you’re proud of.
CO: About two months back I PR’ed both my clean and snatch (251lbs / 174lbs) and was really excited about those. But my all-time favorite would probably be either a 25lb PR on my squat after the Smolov cycle (350lbs) or my 222 unbroken double-unders.
CF718: What’s your current CrossFit goal?
The goal I set for myself at the start of the year was to hit a 185lb snatch. Only 11lbs to go!
CF718: What’s your Fran time?
CO: If you can believe it, I have only done Fran Rx once, and that was back in December. My time was 4:21. I am looking forward to giving it another go and shaving some time off.
CF718: What do you do when you’re not at the box?
CO: I have worked for the same company since graduating college in ’99 and sell products and services for the data center space. When I am not working or WOD-ing, I enjoy traveling with my wife Chrystie. We learned to SCUBA dive six years ago and that has taken us all over the Caribbean and as far away as Thailand. We also love spending time in Florida and just recently purchased a condo in Bradenton Beach, which is on the Gulf of Mexico. And, of course, we try to spend as much time as we can with the wonderful friends we have made at CrossFit 718. I honestly can’t imagine my life without 718, Iz, Tam, Moises, that f@*%ing dog and all the athletes I have had the pleasure of meeting.
And if I haven’t met you please say “hello.” I’m the old guy with the sweet beard and stance socks.