Member Of The Month – July 2015

Posted by on Jul 12, 2015 in WOD | 3 comments

  
Steve Hanlon
When Steve walked into CFSJ in March 2014 and it was obvious that he was a natural athlete. You can always spot him in the corner of the gym after class, putting in the extra work that has made his progress skyrocket over the last year. He’s our resident superstar runner so if you think you’re fast, try going for a run with him for a little extra “motivation”. He has been a competitive, motivating and supportive addition to our community. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments this year, Steve! 

Tell us a bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, random facts)

 I was a Nuclear Medicine Technologist for several years and worked at the Saint John Regional Hospital, briefly at the Moncton City Hospital but spent most of my time working at the DECH in Fredericton. I started working for the Department of Health in 2010 as a PACS Administrator for the NB Diagnostic Imaging Repository – or as my wife Maureen would put it, “Computer Nerd for the Government”.

 I’ve also volunteered for a long time with the NB branch of the Lifesaving Society (www.lifesavingnb.ca). I’ve been on the Board of Directors for a few years now and was elected President at this year’s AGM back in April.  

 Maureen and I live less than a km from CFSJ, which is convenient. However, Coach Jeff recently found out where I live and is now far less impressed on the days I run over for the WOD.  

What were you doing for fitness before Crossfit?

 I’ve been a runner for a long time. I’ve completed many half marathons and 5k races and most other distances in between including a couple of trail races. I ran the full marathon at Marathon by the Sea twice in 2007 and 2012. I was the 5th overall finisher in 2012 and the 3rd place NB finisher. (It was the NB Marathon Championship that year).

I also competed at the Canadian Lifeguard Championships in 1999 and 2000.

When did you start Crossfit?

March 2014, about a month before my 40th birthday.

What made you start Crossfit and did you have any specific goals when you started?

 I don’t think I really had any specific goals when I started Crossfit. I was actually very skeptical about what it could do for me, but I knew I needed to start doing something. Even though I was running, it wasn’t a year-round pursuit for me. I took a pretty good tumble on the ice a few years back that scared me off running in the winter, and every year the treadmill became less and less appealing. I was really only staying active 4 or 5 months of the year, letting myself get out of shape every winter, and then struggling to run even 5k when the snow cleared in the spring.  

 The final push that got me through the doors at CFSJ was from Maureen. She and I started Fundamentals together, at least partly because she was getting tired of hearing me whine about getting out of shape and not doing anything about it.

Have you achieved those goals and what achievements are you most proud of?

 I didn’t really start off with any clear goals, but I soon became frustrated that I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with pull-ups. I could manage about 3 or 4 strict pull-ups when I started and I was always using 2 or 3 bands every time they came up in a WOD. So I started doing strict pull ups (instead of using bands) during every warm up until I could get to 10 unbroken, treating it as an extra strength component. I asked Coach Mike, “What’s next?” and got started on a long stretch of weighted pull-ups. Then at this year’s Open, I got my first ring muscle ups. When I started Crossfit and saw some of our athletes perform that movement I thought they were superhuman and that I’d never be able to do it.  

 Favourite WOD?

Maybe Cindy or Jackie. I like the body-weight movements and rowing. Thrusters aren’t my friend, but with the empty bar, they’re do-able.

Least favorite WOD?

At the moment it would be any WOD with DUs. I can string some together, but I’ve been working through a nagging Achilles tendon injury, so right now they’re not happening.

 Favourite lift?

Deadlift. It’s not that I particularly enjoy this lift over any others. It has more to do with the fact that there’s not as much technique involved compared to most other lifts. You do have to think about your form to keep it safe, but basically it’s “pick it up, put it down”. I think it’s one of the movements that has helped my running the most as well. Those muscles weren’t really “switched on” before.  

Least favorite lift?

Thrusters

If you were to create your favorite WOD, what would it look like?

Maybe wall balls, box jumps and kettle bell swings? We’ve done similar WODs lately and they’ve been fun

What are your current goals for the future? (PRs, skills, any sports/ events outside of Crossfit etc.)

I just completed my first sprint distance (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) triathlon this past weekend in St. Andrews with fellow CFSJ athlete Mike Hugenholtz. So that was an instant PR. There’s a pretty big group from CFSJ getting ready for the Rockwood Park Triathlon on July 26. I hope to run a PR 10k at Marathon by the Sea this year.  

As for Crossfit skills, I’d like to learn how to do butterfly pull-ups and get better at stringing together some toes to bar. I don’t have a number in mind, but once my summer endurance training is over I’d like to get back into doing Daily Squats and see how much I can bump up my PR in 2015.

What do you enjoy most about CFSJ?

The longest I had ever spent strength training before joining CFSJ was 3 months, and I hated every minute of it. It just wasn’t any fun at all. While it may not always look that way, I have fun at Crossfit.  

The coaches have all been great and of course it’s great to be a part of the CFSJ community. Everyone might have come to Crossfit for their own personal reasons, but we all pull together and help each other and cheer each other on. I know there is such a thing as the local “running community”, but I couldn’t imagine approaching a close rival before a race and giving them helpful tips on how to run more efficiently. That kind of thing happens at CFSJ every day.

Do you have any advice for someone who may be considering beginning Crossfit?

 I’m sure a lot of people see the cost as a barrier, but I think you have to look at it as you would any other investment. It will take time to pay off. When you and all your friends are turning 75 and they’re out shopping for the latest in hover-wheelchairs, maybe you’ll be looking at the new line of laser tennis rackets or something like that 😉  

Anything additional you would like to add?

Two things that I’ve found helpful as a relative newbie:

1. Document your progress: Yes, you can write down your PRs for certain lifts and named WODs on the whiteboard, but from the moment I started I tried to track all of my workouts. I was accustomed to doing this from my marathon training. I’ve seen a few people walking around with notepads after WODs or taking pics of the whiteboard to get their score, and I think that’s great. I usually just copy and paste the WOD from the CFSJ website and fill in the weights that I’ve used and any MODs that I’ve had to make and plunk it right in the same website I use to track my running. It’s great motivation to be able to look back and see the improvements that you’ve made. If you just erase the whiteboard and fill in new PRs as they come, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve progressed and perhaps become frustrated if your rate of improvement slows.

 2. Consider signing up for a competition: The first one I participated in was Maritime Mayhem back in November at CFSJ. I think I finished last in all but one event, or as I prefer to think of it – a solid top ten finish (there were only 7 registered in the Masters Men Division). One of the WODs ended with 20 overhead squats. I hadn’t even attempted to OHS 95 lbs until the week before the event. When I made it to the OHS portion of the WOD, I was the only one left on the floor trying to finish it off. Of course all the CFSJ athletes and volunteers were there supporting me, but I also had athletes and coaches from around the Maritimes cheering me on and helping me to eke out as many reps as possible. It was a great experience.  

The competition was tough, but it gave me a bit of kick in the butt to work a bit harder and focus on some weaknesses.

3 Comments

  1. Congrats Steve! Well deserved and amazing progress!

  2. Way to go Steve!

  3. Congratulations Steve!

    Great to see you progressing every week at the gym.