What brought you to Mountain Strength CrossFit?
Entering my 50s, I was looking back at decades of sitting at a desk or in airplanes, while starting to hear about friends with health issues. I liked to exercise and did a few triathlons but was not doing enough of anything. As my sons became good skiers, I realized I would have a problem keeping up with them (on the mountains and otherwise) if I didn’t build some strength. I knew I didn’t want the Nautilus machines, and I didn’t want to work out alone. I had heard of CrossFit, and I asked Mike Flanagan (in his civilian, pre-coaching days) about Mountain Strength. Needless to say, he was pretty positive about it.
What is your favorite exercise or movement?
With the barbell, I’m most confident in the deadlift – slow and not above the head. Perfect. I also like toes-to-bar. It’s a somewhat athletic move that I can manage and even have fun with – to a point.
What is a skill or movement that you are working on to improve?
I’m still trying to master the form for snatches and cleans. I’m getting somewhere on double-unders, but: muscle-ups, handstand push-ups (let alone walks), overhead squats, pistols, the soul-crushing bike, … I like the huge variety of the work and the opportunity for continual improvement.
What changes have you seen in yourself since you started at Mountain Strength CrossFit?
I remember how tentative I was in my on-ramp sessions. I really didn’t want to be the guy who had the intro heart attack. Now, most workouts are still daunting, but I have a pretty good sense of my capacity. I’m always sore, but in a good way, and the general functional fitness is real. Thanks to some excellent and simple nutritional advice from Coach Amy Mariani, I’m lighter too. Physically, it’s been a big success. And more than that, I’ve got a whole new group of friends and I’ve brought athleticism back into my life. It’s been a great blessing.
What is your favorite memory of Mountain Strength CrossFit?
Notwithstanding all the crazy workouts, PRs, and flubs, the memories are all about the camaraderie. Witnessing PRs and firsts on any given day has been inspiring and heart-warming as the whole gym seems to turn and recognize what’s going on. After a cold and lonely spring in 2020 that had me running around the neighborhood with mulch bags on my back, the summer of parking lot WODs with gym friends was a tremendous boost.
Any advice for people who want to try CrossFit but are afraid to do so?
Just give it a go. Mountain Strength is probably not the CrossFit you have heard stories about. At this gym, the focus is always on proper form and productive work. It’s not about lifting more than you can handle but about starting where you are and moving forward in a healthy and sustainable way. Every workout gets scaled to where you are. The coaches are very knowledgeable and observant; they’re engaged, positive teachers. And the community provides huge encouragement for your effort. Knowing there are both friends and challenges to see in every class makes it easy to keep going back.
It’s a long story and an unlikely role for a guy from New Jersey, but I asked Jimmy Buffett to exorcise the curse of the Bambino from Fenway Park. He did, in concert at Fenway in September 2004.