January Athlete of the Month Number 1: Mike Clark

Every month, we will select one athlete to honor and celebrate as Incendia Athlete of the Month. This athlete doesn’t necessarily lift the most amount of weight, win every WOD, or is a CrossFit Games contender. This person is selected by the coaches as someone who pushes hard, never gives up, and works to accomplish something every day they are in the gym. The Athlete of the Month leads by example, remains humble when successful, and encourages others along their personal fitness journeys.

In January, we selected two Athletes of the Month. They just happened to be husband and wife. They are also Members Number 1 and 2!

We met Mike Clark and Darien Chavez long before we opened our doors at CrossFit Incendia. Mike contacted us for information about membership as soon as we affiliated and showed up on the CrossFit Map. We had no idea about pricing, classes or anything at that point in time. I am sure that we looked like bumbling idiots who had no idea what they were doing. He and Darien visited the gym when we were just putting it together. Things weren’t quite so organized around here back then!

We honor Mike this month because of his efforts inside the gym. We have watched him increase his cardio capabilities while mastering double unders, kipping pull-ups AND butterfly pull-ups. He recently moved up to CrossFit and continues to grow as an athlete. Mike is always the first person that offers help if we need a hand,  a ham, or a drill! Please read Mike’s own words about his experience with CrossFit:

When did you start CrossFit?

My first day of CrossFit was on 11/10/2012 for the Saturday free class which was a partner WOD Darien and I did together. Darien and I started regular 101 classes on Monday 11/12/2012. Prior to joining, I had come in and asked Brian and Lisa a million and two questions. I was so impressed with their knowledge and obvious passion for CrossFitting that I was ready to sign up right then and there even though the gym was not opening for another two weeks. (Lisa didn’t even have signup sheets or waivers yet)

Why Did you Start CrossFit?

I had been researching CrossFit for quite a while. I had checked out a number of gyms without much success in terms of where I felt comfortable for my wife and I to join. I have been weight lifting for a number of years and have seen results from that but it had gotten monotonous. After seeing the CrossFit Games, doing a lot of reading, watching videos online and talking to other CrossFitters, I had become convinced that CrossFit was the best thing going in terms of overall and functional fitness and that is what I needed.

What kept you coming back and motivated?

I enjoy the diversity. Everyday is something different. As easy or, as is most commonly the case, as scary some of the workouts look on the website the night before, I have yet to walk out of the gym not feeling like I worked my ass off. I am noticing improvement with my cardio which is something I was not getting from a regular gym workout. The people at the gym are amazing. Everyone is friendly, helpful and encouraging which is something I have never experienced in a regular gym facility. No one has ever cared at the local globo gym if I showed up, had a good workout or achieved a PR. And, one of the most important reasons for me, it is something my wife is enjoying. I have seen her get through some really tough workouts and while doing so she is getting stronger and faster. She is enjoying the atmosphere, the people, the camaraderie and just plain working out in general and that is a big reason I am motivated to keep coming back.

What is the best thing you have gotten our of doing CrossFit?

A sense of accomplishment from completing these WODs. WODs like ‘Karen,’ with the pleasant little push-up penalty thrown in for a good and painful measure, Dirty Thirty, ‘Joe,’ and the memorable 12-Days of Christmas, of which I am thankful I won’t see again until next Christmas, all instill a huge amount of accomplishment that I have never gotten from completing a standard weight lifting workout in a regular globo type gym.

What is the one thing you have done here that you never thought you could do?

Run! I have been asthmatic all my life. Running is one of the scarier things for me to do. But, 2-3 weeks ago I did the WOD where we ran a mile, rested for the same amount of time it took to run the first mile, and then ran a second mile. Not only did I run both individual miles without stopping, I went earlier on the second mile instead of waiting the full rest time. For me, a run hater, this is a big accomplishment!

What is one goal you have reached? And, one goal you still hope to reach?

Other than getting my cardio to improve, doing butterfly pull-ups were a goal I wanted to attain. A Thursday open gym session with Brian helped me to make some big improvements on kipping and butterfly pull-ups. Three goals I hope to reach in the near future are to enter and run in a 5k, to eventually progress into the regular CrossFit classes and to be able to see my abdominal muscles. (Note: Mike has made it into CrossFit since this was written. Yay!)

How has your diet changed since starting CrossFit?

Paleo. We have found books and websites as well as other members and coaches that have offered hints, tips, tricks and recipes that have made this dietary transition much easier.

What do you tell your friends about CrossFit?

I think the saying goes, “How can you tell is someone CrossFits? Cause it’s all the F%^K!* talk about.” My friends ask me daily about the WODs and I watch their shocked expressions as I explain what we did that morning. This doesn’t feel, to me, like a quick fix gimmick or a fitness fad. This is a lifestyle that, so far, includes a lot of awesome like-minded, motivating people. What’s not to talk about with all that going for it.

Additional comments/anything you’d like to add?

Hopefully I am speaking for Darien also when I say that we really are having a blast with CrossFit. I think fate definitely intervened in a good way with steering us to this particular gym / box with these coaches and all the amazing people we have met thus far. We are eagerly looking forward to seeing some great results in the next two months while continuing to motivate and be motivated by all the others sweating alongside us during the WODs!