Kevin started at CFW through our SWEAT Bootcamp back in the fall of 2016. He is now a full fledged CrossFitter with some pretty cool stories to tell. Whenever I meet someone new who is interested in joining CFW, I asked about their goals and what they are training for. Kevin had a pretty cool answer: he likes to climb really high mountains. So I thought it would be fun to hear about how CrossFit prepared him for his last expedition.
My favorite sport is High Altitude Mountaineering. I know it sounds weird for a Winnipegger who lives at 784ft above sea level and whose biggest hill in the city is an old garbage dump, to enjoy climbing high altitude mountains. I have attempted 10 high altitude mountains across 4 countries / 3 continents and successfully summited 4, reaching my highest altitude of 20,995 feet above sea level on Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina.
Mountaineering is not easy at any altitude. 8000 feet is considered the start of high altitude and this is the benchmark I use when choosing which mountains I climb. The first mountain I attempted was Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa) which took 5 ½ days to the summit, reaching a height of 19,341 feet with no mountaineering experience. Mountaineering is a very physical but also a mental game. On summit day, you could be climbing for 15+ hours, in -30c weather and at midnight. There are 3 major areas you need to work on when deciding to climb a high altitude mountain: you need to strengthen your heart, legs and lungs. My boot camp coaches were amazing in their motivation and passion to push me to new heights. I used this new found energy and utilized it during extremely difficult times during my ascent and descent.
Most people wouldn’t think of mountaineers as athletes, simply people who hike up a hill and enjoy cold weather. Both CrossFit and Mountaineering are individual sports that rely heavily on self-generated strength, while working collectively as a team. Doing the WOD with fellow cross fitters and being on a 4 person rope team at 20,000 feet can be difficult at times. You need to find the inner strength to not let yourself or your team down, when you want to give up. Failure is not an option, but the option exists.
The decision to try CrossFit came from my previous work and lifestyle. I used to travel 80% of my year for a major home improvement retailer. My health was declining rapidly and eating out every night wasn’t helping. I knew I needed a change and I wasn’t getting the results at the gym that I thought I would. At first, I was a little apprehensive of coming to CrossFit as I didn’t know much about it. My perception of CrossFit was my #1 de-motivator. I never thought I could ever do what these extremely fit athletes can do. I decided one day to get the courage to stop in and check out CFW. Anna was the one who greeted me and offered to have me to watch a session that was currently going on. I saw the hard work put in by the cross fitters, the motivation from the coaches and the support from fellow CrossFit members. I signed up for the boot camp the very same day and it was the best decision I have made.
I realized this when my boot camp coach Justin, was understanding to the fact that not everyone who joins CrossFit is fit or in shape. Justin and the other coaches (Megan and Anna), really ensured that us “newbie” cross fitters were doing each movement safely and in an efficient manner. They motivated us to push ourselves further than we would on our own. Further into the boot camp, we started to push ourselves to new limits.
I recently finished the Fundamentals classes with Anna and I have officially joined the regular CrossFit classes. I have seen so many changes in myself since joining CFW: improved health, weight loss, better sleep, better mobility (less stiffness) to name a few. CrossFit to me is not a workout, it’s a lifestyle. Some of my favorite CFW memories include being able to do a handstand for the first time since I was 5 years old (give or take 10 years), climbing the rope and ringing the bell, and most of all, making new friends.
If I had any advice for someone who is on the fence about trying something new or trying CrossFit, I would say…
Do it today! If it scares you, it’s meant to be conquered. Push the envelope on what you can do. CFW will take you to new levels you never thought possible.