Congratulations to Will Michaels for being our JUNE ATHLETE OF THE MONTH. Will and his lovely wife Arianna started CrossFit for the first time with us in December, and we have seen huge HUGE improvements from Will (AND Arianna!) since his first class. I believe Mike's exact words after coaching him a few weeks ago were "Where the f*ck did Will come from??". Every time he comes to class, you can see how much he wants to improve and how hard he works to get to his goals. When Will first started, he was back squatting around 150#, and as you'll read later in the post, is now almost in the 200#s. His pull ups are better, his barbell technique is so good you'd have a hard time believing he's a semi-beginner, he's even trying to tackle the workouts RX some days. He has basically just been killing the game lately, which is why we've named him our June AOM!
We asked Will a few questions about himself and here is what he had to say:
What did you do for fitness before CrossFit? (And/or what else do you do for fitness besides CrossFit presently?)
"I had a very brief membership at O2 Fitness that mostly involved running a few miles and doing a few push-ups, but never really had any strict regimen or guidance on what I should be doing. Other than that, up until my wife Arianna and I joined CrossFit at the beginning of the year, I was mostly sedentary unless you count lifting tacos toward my face.
Today, Arianna and I do some running on occasion outside of CrossFit. She really likes the Al Buehler trail at Dook, even though being close to that campus gives me hives. We've also radically changed our diets compared to a few years ago to low fat and sugar, with high protein."
What do you spend most of your time doing outside of the gym?
"I'm lucky to love my job. I work at the NPR station here and am hoping to launch and lead some of my own projects soon, so it keeps me pretty busy. But Arianna and I love to travel. We sometimes conveniently miss the grueling Saturday workouts to go to Wilmington to see her family, Atlanta to see mine, or the mountains to go hiking and explore waterfalls. We're going to Switzerland at the end of the month. Arianna's grandmother is of Swiss heritage and wants to stay in a Swiss chalet, eat Swiss cheese and Swiss chocolate and drink Swiss beer, so we're begrudgingly obliging."
Tell us something about yourself we may not know.
"I almost went into theatre/acting instead of journalism. I was in plays and musicals all throughout high school and college. I used to be able to sing well. I'm a quiet, soft-spoken introvert by nature, but I actually like an audience. My favorite roles were probably Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I'm partial to tragedies.
I'm also on the board of the North Carolina Governor's School Alumni Association. I went to Governor's School in 2005 for... theatre."
What got you started in CrossFit?
"It was all Arianna's idea. She had done CrossFit before and really pushed for us to go. I was skeptical at first, mostly because I thought it would be so intense that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but I'm really happy I've bought into it."
What's your biggest accomplishment at CFCH so far?
"I'm still in a phase where I'm making progress very quickly, so I've been excited about a lot of stuff lately. It's a toss up among getting to nearly 200 lbs. on back squats or more than 200 lbs. on deadlifts. Then there's finally being able to climb the rope or do a few reps of pull ups without a band. In general, though, I'm thankful that I used to feel like I was going to die at the end of every workout, and now I only feel like that most of the time."
What's your biggest non-fitness accomplishment?
"I think making steady progress has helped a lot with my confidence in general. Physical appearance and food have always been sore spots of mine, but seeing and feeling results has helped out a lot. It's also helping me keep an even keel with nutrition. I know if I want to keep up the progress, I have to eat consistently well, but I don't feel bad anymore if I have tacos every once in a while."
What fitness goal are you currently chasing?
"Number one is improving my shoulder mobility. When I started CrossFit, it was difficult to do an overhead squat even without a bar. I'm steadily adding weight to OHS now, but it's also an issue when I do moves like clean and jerks, so I'd like to strengthen my shoulders in particular."
What life goal are you currently chasing?
"I've had so many recently! I moved into a position at work that I love even more. Arianna and I got married. Now, we're trying to buy a house, so the next goal is getting the keys to the first place that we actually own."
What is your favorite CrossFit movement of workout?
"It's a tossup between deadlifts and back squats. Everyone can lift the really heavy stuff with those, so it's kinda fun to feel that powerful."
What movement/workout makes you cringe to see on the board?
"This might be a common answer, but THRUSTERS. Maybe I will grow to love them."
What's your favorite thing about CFCH?
"Encouragement, guidance and camaraderie. I've learned so much about the proper ways to exercise and how to push the limit without going overboard. But having coaches and fellow athletes around who will help you do that means more than I can express. The best way I can think to explain it is that I've often felt skeptical about what I can do, but no one else ever has. This community is so good at lifting each other up that we rise as a whole, even if you're the only one working out at 6 a.m."
What long term plans do you have in the realm of health and fitness?
"I want to continue to build my confidence. Eventually - meaning maybe in a year or two - I'd like to give the coaches a run for their money." (GAME ON!)
What or who is an inspiration to you?
"My family. My wife is way smarter than me, compassionate and driven. She majored in biomedical engineering and philosophy, and is about to finish medical school, so shes' getting what feels like her 94th academic degree. But she went to NC State so her team will always be worse than mine."
Which band/station/playlist is your favorite to really get you pumped up at the gym?
"It's all over the board, but I'm a sucker for 80s music and old school hip hop. I used to listen to Muse a lot when I ran more often."