Dave Smanik 

By: Jenessa Connor

Dave’s been CrossFitting for over three years, and it’s changed his entire perspective. Literally. (He recently added handstand walks to his gymnastics repertoire!)

But, in addition to seeing the box both right-side up and upside down, he looks at certain aspects of his life a lot differently than he used to. Prioritizing working out, healthy eating and adequate sleep has put him in the best shape of his life… and on the box’s competition team. Read our Q&A with Dave and learn more about this O.G. member of CrossFit 718.

When did you join CrossFit 718?

I joined CrossFit 718 in February of 2013, way back when the box was a single bay garage on 5th Ave. I’m not quite as original as Cory and Chrystie, but I do remember when Olympic Lifting was just a twinkle in Coach Iz’s eye, and when TamBot didn’t own a single pair of Nanos or Metcons.

How did you discover CrossFit?

I couldn’t tell you how I stumbled onto the workouts, but I started fooling around with the mainsite workouts (scaled of course!) in a globo gym while living in Boston. When I returned to New York in 2012 I decided I should give the “group class thing” a try at a dedicated box, and I quickly got hooked.

What kinds of changes have you noticed since starting CrossFit? 

Oh boy, a LOT. I can say without question I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my life, which I never would have guessed would be the case at 32 years old. But the mental aspect is probably a bigger deal for me. Making CrossFit and my health a priority in my life has changed the way I think about a lot of other things, which has put me in a position to be a more successful CrossFitter as well as healthier overall. I eat better, sleep better, and generally take better care of myself because I want to perform every day in the box. And when I perform better, I feel better.

Oh, I can also walk on my hands now! I had never done a handstand when I walked into box in 2013. Whether that’s odd or not, it’s something I’m immensely proud of!

What’s it been like to transition to 718’s competition team?

Competition team is as much about your commitment to getting better as it is another tier in our coach’s programming design. The expectations of comp team are not so much focused on how much you clean and jerk or how many muscle-ups you can do, but how committed you are to show up at the gym for practice four times week and give 100% of what you are capable of to the workout of the day, whatever it may be.

Comp team is also about giving back to the gym and to other members. I never thought I would compete in CrossFit but now I do competitions regularly and perform to the best of my ability, because we are representing 718 and I am proud of that. The team is awesome, and I’ve developed a close relationship with every person on it. But beyond that the 718 community is awesome, and all the things we’ve learned on the team we try to pass along to other members as they develop.

I joined comp team because Coach Iz goaded me into trying out. And I can’t thank him enough for that. It’s been a pretty special experience.

How do you make time for working out?

I count myself lucky that my work schedule allows me to get to the box pretty frequently in the evenings, but working out is in the background of every schedule decision I make week to week. I frequently work out five times a week, so obviously I dedicate a lot to getting to the gym regularly. But at this point it’s such an important part of my life that a lot of those decisions come automatically to me nowadays.

What’s your favorite lift or WOD?

I’ll give you a lift and a WOD. My favorite lift is the full squat snatch. It’s not my “best” lift, but it’s the lift I’ve dedicated the most time and effort to learning over the years. And in the past year, it’s become a really satisfying lift to perform. It is so technical and yet, when you execute it well, it flows so naturally. I’d encourage everyone who’s struggling with this lift not to give up or get frustrated, it comes with experience!

My favorite WOD is Murph. I have not served but I have so much respect for everyone who has, and Murph is a workout I’ve always taken very seriously as a time to consider what they have given up so that I can live the life I do today. It’s long and hard and unrelenting, but that’s what I appreciate about it. It’s a time to embrace Zen, un-focus your mind, and just do work. I appreciate it so much I bought a vest specifically for this workout!

What’s your Fran time?

Fran is not a favorite workout of mine, and I freely admit it’s the one workout I used to miss regularly… on purpose. That said, I believe my best Fran RX time is 6:13. And I am planning to give it another shot next time it’s scheduled!

What recent achievement are you most proud of?

HAND STAND WALKS! I’m not super proficient but I’ve recently gotten comfortable kicking into a free handstand and shifting my weight, instead of using the momentum of the kick up, to get myself in motion. It’s awesome.

What goal are you working on?

Pistols are my kryptonite. It’s strength to an extent, but much more flexibility that gets in my way. I’m getting better! But it’s still a struggle. I tell myself there will always be struggles, and that’s important because that means I am always challenging myself.

What do you do when you’re not at the box? 

My job is trading derivatives for Cantor Fitzgerald. It’s a quick moving and pretty charged workplace, and it’s much better now that I have the gym to blow off steam at the end of particularly tough days. Aside from that I’m an avid backyard BBQ smoker and pretty active socially in the neighborhood. I suspect if you live or spend time in the South Slope area you’ll see me somewhere else in the neighborhood, and please say hello when you do!

5 replies
  1. Tammyli
    Tammyli says:

    You are such a big dude to be prancing around on his hands

    Nice Article; I’m glad your part of my family

  2. Smanik
    Smanik says:

    Thanks Tammy. Having you guys in our life has been a huge blessing.

    UPDATE : FRAN time is now 4:10!


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