What brought you to Mountain Strength CrossFit?
I was turning 50, and had spent the better part of a decade working 70-80 hours a week. In my younger years I’d been an avid hiker and mountain biker, but the stresses and demands of running a start-up no longer allowed that kind of “free time.” I’d put on weight, lost tone, and was showing physical signs of stress. Worst for me, I started to notice that my balance (which had always been great) was not what it once was. I needed to act. One day I drove past MSCF and decided to look them up online. I was impressed enough to arrange a consultation with Coach Rich, and we ended up scheduling a block of one-on-one sessions. Rich was awesome, and he really helped jumpstart my path to fitness. Our sessions happened to overlap with the 9:00 a.m. CrossFit class, and I remember watching these folks challenging themselves through some pretty intense workout… but also laughing together and encouraging one another. They seemed like a tight group, and I decided to give it a try. Although I was initially intimidated, every single MSCF coach and member welcomed me, encouraged me, and made me feel like I was “home.” I can honestly say joining MSCF is one of the best decisions I have ever made. (Really!!)
What is your favorite exercise or movement?
I really enjoy the Olympic lifts. One of my favorite movements is the snatch, which, to me, combines the mental challenges of a golf swing with the physical challenges of a traditional lift.
What is a skill that you are working on to improve?
Anything that pushes my strength-to-weight ratio, such as pull-ups and rope climbs. Oh, and the elusive double-under (DU)!
What changes have you seen in yourself since you started at Mountain Strength?
I am definitely seeing increases in my overall fitness and strength. I’ve lost over 20 lbs (probably more, but I’ve offset that loss with muscle gain), and have really changed the way I think about nutrition. I’m sleeping better and have more energy. People comment on how I look and ask what I’m doing to achieve these results. I have a new confidence and pride in my progress. I still have a long way to go, but the folks at MSCF always find a way to make me feel good about what I’ve accomplished. This means that, instead of dreading my workouts, I actually look forward to them!
What is your favorite memory of MSCF?
Last year we were in the midst of a Wendler cycle and had really been pushing it with upper body workouts. Then, an upper body WOD came through that finished with 50 push-ups. Toward the end of the workout my arms and shoulders were so spent that when I got to push-up #30, I just couldn’t do any more. Coach John got down right across from me, looked me in the eye, and said, “Listen, you can do this.” He encouraged me to push ahead, first two-at-a-time, and then singles, to chip away at the remaining 20 push-ups. After a few reps, I realized that the entire class had gathered around me in a circle and were cheering me on. Much to my surprise, I ended up finishing that workout with my 50th push-up, to the cheers and fist bumps of the whole class. Mark (a great athlete) came up to me afterward, shook my hand, and said, “Tom, that was inspiring!” I remember thinking to myself, “Me? Inspiring?” This really sums up for me what the Mountain Strength experience is all about.
Any advice for people who want to try CrossFit but are afraid to do so?
If you are thinking about trying MSCF, do not be afraid. The coaches are world-class, and you’ll be welcomed by a community of caring, nonjudgmental people just like you. Sure, some may have a head start on fitness, but others won’t… and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll make friends, achieve results, and feel great about your progress.
Random Thomas fact?
Thomas Byrne is the founder and CEO of The Real School of Music.