Weekly Dose of Awesome: Goodbye Edition

Every so often, an athlete comes along whose journey is so inspirational it makes everyone sit up and take notice. Austin S is this athlete to a tee. He came to us deconditioned but ready to put in any and all work necessary to get in shape. A tall, big guy (viking sized!) he didn't let this slow him down from any movements including kipping pull ups (it's amazing to see a viking fly around the bar!) - he knuckled down and made it happen.

Recently he got a bug up his ass to take his training to the next level. And boy did he - by taking some time to focus on his conditioning, he not only drastically improved his metcon performance level, his body composition has changed dramatically as well. He's also been focused on testing into Level 2 classes and is almost there.

Sadly, this is a goodbye edition. Denver, CO is stealing our Austin. We can't blame them. He's kind of the best, and we wish him all the best. Read on for some parting words from our resident viking.

At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

Q: When did you know you were hooked on CrossFit?

A: Honestly, the first time I did the crossfit workout at the end of my onboarding period, I knew it was what I was looking for. I can't remember much about the specific workout, other than there were 200m runs and slam balls, but the exhausted feeling from cardio combined with the muscular exertion fatigue was what got me hooked. 

Q: What movement/aspect of fitness has improved the most since your Dose of Awesome in August 2016?

A: Wow, where do I start? Everything's gotten better, but I'd have to say that my approach to skill based movements has changed significantly. Getting stronger and having more endurance were areas I knew how to improve: you lift and you work hard on cardio. Approaching gymnastics, olympic lifting, or anything that wasn't about raw physicality seemed like black magic. I've been making a dedicated effort to study skill based movements, and the process has actually translated back into other areas, improving my power lifts and even my running. 

Q: What was your biggest "a ha!" moment in a workout or with a skill?

A: My first muscle up in January comes to mind here; Nikki convincing me to use the false grip and a big swinging kip was the final push. For a more recent example, I had a major breakthrough in snatch form a few weeks ago when I was finally able to combine a strong lift off, a high pull, and a deep catch in the hole. The first time I hit it, I knew I'd broken through a barrier.

Q: Do you have any tips to pass on to others looking to replicate your athletic journey?

A: I go through cycles of 8-12 weeks where I put extra emphasis in a few areas chosen pretty loosely based on what I've been struggling with in the previous weeks/months sessions. Pull ups + cardio endurance, powerlifting + olympic lifting, running + double unders, etc.  Contrary to common sport psych recommendations, I don't have one super explicit quantifiable goal for these, as I'm the type to over obsess on the goal to the point of not having fun anymore. Instead I try to have two or three pictures of what "improved" looks like for those areas, and go into each session with those in my mind. That way if I have a bad day I'm not defeated about it. Even on my worst day it's hard to argue that I didn't _somewhat_ improve on one of those targets just by showing up. I keep that flow with the specific area until I reach a significant date like a competition, or if I'm just bored or tired of the training. Then I reassess what areas to go deep with next and repeat the process. Since I still do normal classes, it's not too repetitive, and eventually everything gets dedicated attention.

Q: What is your favorite community moment at UB?

Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

A: The open was awesome; it was legitimately impressive to see everyone get so competitive, but the environment stay so positive. I'm used to combat sports and martial arts, where when the competitiveness goes up, the negativity can increase as well. But, I'm still blown away that UB rolls deep to outside competitions like the oly team's events in Oakland, or when Erin was running the ultramarathon and needed some pacers. That's probably my favorite part of the community, that we support each other outside of the gym.

Q: What are your athletic goals for the rest of 2017?

A: I'd like to get stronger overall, get more proficient in my gymnastics endurance, and improve my mile run time. If I could improve each to where my olympic lifts are 100/135kg; I can do 10 unbroken MUs; my power lifts are 300/450/525lbs for bench/squat/deadlift; and my mile run is 6:30 by 12/31/2017 I'll be super happy. If not I'll keep chasing the goal and I'll still be better at the end of the year than I am now, which is cool. 

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.