What do I enjoy the most about Albany Crossfit? What I enjoy most about Albany Croosfit is the ever-expanding family that I have acquired through my membership. I first joined ACF more than five years ago looking for something to supplement my Karate training – something that would throw my body an athletic change-up from what I had been doing for the previous 20 odd years. When I first started I was perfectly happy being the lone guy in the back of class just getting my work done and then heading home. One of the problems with crossfit is that once the community (even with the constant additions and deletions) gets its hooks into you, you cannot fight it. The people here become your friends and family. While you may not get along with everyone, you still deeply care about what is going on and how everyone is doing. So when everyone answers what they love about ACF and they say “The Community” – it’s the truest answer you can give. It was the most common answer in 2008 when I started; it’s the go-to answer today and 5-10 years from now I’m sure it will be the answer still.
What keeps me coming back? The answer to that is part of the answer to question #1 but it also goes into a conversation I had with Murph a few years back. He asked me why I always volunteer to help out at events and why I show up early and stay late. The answer to this is that when you care about something enough, you are willing to do the extra thing or go the extra mile. I know that I have been very fortunate to find this place and to be able to afford to train here. Jay offers so many great things: great coaches, generous schedule, specialty classes, and open gym – I want to see these all stay around as long as possible and for as many people as possible (myself included). The most common reason why programs or classes or special offers don’t last is because they are more trouble to set up and run. I see all (well, maybe not all – but a great deal) of the good this place does for people and I want to be a part of it and the people that come through the doors. There’s the line from the Beatles’ song – “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – I think that applies to what is going on at ACF.
Where have I seen the biggest improvements? I guess that would be in understanding my body and what it need in regards to rest, recovery and most important, nutrition. The rest and recovery part was the most difficult. I had been used to training in some fashion 6-7 days a week. I would go to karate class Monday through Saturday (I missed Sunday only because the school was closed that day). When I would add running I would do that in addition 3-4 days a week. When I was lifting I would follow the same pattern. I rarely rested and was fanatical about getting my training in. The only times I took off was for a couple of surgeries I had, pneumonia and a Kidney infection. When I first started at ACF, I just added that to the schedule – Karate 5-6 days a week, Crossfit 3-4 days usually right after Karate. Felt great, lost weight, better shape – but at a price. I would eventually pay for all this overtraining in a big way when I herniated the disc in my lower back and had to miss 6 months of EVERYTHING. I had finally learned my lesson – you can only push your body so long and so hard before it starts to break down. I slowly was able to add back everything but needed to adjust my schedule – Karate was now 3-4 days a week, Crossfit 3-4 and I doubled up maybe once a week and really watched the messages my body sent to me. Rest was the key as well as leaving my ego at the door – It no longer mattered that the newer, younger guys (and a growing number of women) were lifting more than me – I needed to be smarter, focus on technique and listen to my coaches who had been preaching these things since I started. I know now what the signs are and when to take a rest day, weekend or week off.
As far as nutrition goes, for years I had functioned under the idea that as long as I kept working out on a regular basis, I did not have to watch what I ate. That might work for a little while, but eventually your diet catches up to you as well. You hit a plateau and the real gains stop happening. The fuel you consume sets the tone for your training – consume the wrong thing and your body will react accordingly, eat the right things and your body will reward you – it’s that simple.
How has it helped you in everyday life? This is probably the easiest of the questions to answer and ties into the previous question – diet and rest. Until crossfit I ate what I wanted whenever I wanted and took hardly ever took any time off to let my body rest and recover from the work I put it through. Crossfit helped me realize that fitness and well-being don’t just come from the workout, it also comes from the fuel that you put into your body and the opportunity you give yourself to rest and relax. The word “Diet” comes from the Greek word “Diaeta” which means way of living. It’s not about how/what you restrict yourself from eating, it’s about finding a nutrition system that allows you to do live your life in a way that is fulfilling and functional. I have such a greater appreciation for real, healthy food – and with that a greater appreciation for what my body can do with the right support. I have to admit that I still get itchy whenever I take more than a day or so of rest & recovery – But I know that taking the time now is a plan that will allow me to continue to be active for decades longer than the average person. This makes me happy – which of course is the end goal of every plan I ever make.
What’s your favorite ACF memory? My favorite ACF memory has to be from 2010 and the ACF Crossfit Revival weekend. It was a special weekend that was filled with seminars on a variety of things and a guest gymnastics session by Camile Leblanc-Bazinet. It was not so much the sessions but after one of them it was time for a WOD – in typical crossfit fashion, the workout was “Fran.” We started getting set-up in the Double – which was the big room back then and fresh from painting. I was in the corner in front of Murph, who I had started to become friends with over that weekend. I was coming back from a back episode and Murph was coming off a leg-thing I think. Across the other side of the room, Camile was setting up so that they could video her workout for some reason. Murph and I both looked at each other and at almost the same time said something to the effect of “I don’t feel great so I think I’m going to go easy on this one.” Without saying another word, we both looked away and got ready for “3, 2, 1, Go!” With the start of the WOD, we both hit it as hard as we could knowing the other one was watching. We weren’t trying to fool each other, we just knew that even though we said one thing, we meant that we weren’t going to give up just because we were not quite in prime condition for the workout. When we were both done with “Fran,” we congratulated each other on our hard work and moved on to the next thing on the agenda. Murph has become one of my best friends and that same scenario has played out several more times – like during “Stephan” and Friday Night Fights. We’ll talk about the workout, we’ll groan about what aches and pains we might be going through at the time, and then we’ll forget it all and give our best when “Go” happens. I will see the video of Camile on Youtube every once in a while (If you look up “Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet hits Fran” you can watch it) and think about that weekend and how I learned something about myself and gained a great friend.