Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

K-Tjen stuck out as a prime candidate for some follow up awesome recognition since recovering from his injuries. He is always motivated in class and constantly give his best with a great attitude that easily spreads to others working out around him. He is always responsive to movement feedback and thankful. He is a joy to have in class and is one of the many reasons I am stoked to be apart of the UB Tribe.

Name: K-Tjen K.

Nickname / Alter Ego: Ragin' K-Tjen (it's been a while since I've lived up to that... although Pride is just around the corner)

Hometown: Singapore

Occupation: Day 4 of fun-employment (last week I was head of marketing for an interior design tech start-up) 

When did you first start CrossFitting?: Sept 2013 - I vividly remember my first class because the first warm-up movement was tumbling forward rolls and I was the only person in the entire class who couldn't do them. In that eternity of dying of embarrassment from 2 failed attempts, I remember thinking, I'm never coming back...

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: Same - UB was/is my first, one and only 

Favorite WOD: I'm a total WOD-sadomasochist and I love the long chipper ones - it would probably be "Painstorm XII" which we did last December

Least favorite WOD: My 2 big goats are muscle-ups and handstand-pushups so it would be "Nate" which sounds like 20 mins of hell haha

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I was doing personal training with Alex Armstrong, who used to coach at UB. All he kept talking about was CrossFit and how I would love it, and so one day I gave it a shot and (after the failed tumbling forward roll warm-up) I was completely hooked. The irony isn’t lost on either of us that his introducing me to CrossFit led to the end of our personal training sessions, but he understands. It was the best possible break-up; we continue to remain close friends.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? All my life I've been a barely-functioning social introvert - group settings still give me anxiety - and one of the big reasons I continued with CrossFit was to force myself out of my comfort zone. I'm never going to be Jason Luk (but a guy can dream, right?) but I'm working on being less of "The Tinman" every day. I moved around a lot growing up – I went to 4 different high schools in 4 different countries – and I’m used to feeling like a bit of an outsider. So while I didn’t expect to love CrossFit the sport, the bigger surprise was finding UB, the awesome, driven and diverse group of people in it (many of whom seem to be in the 630am class), and the feeling like I belong here. I think I’m going to be here a while.


What challenges did you face during your injury recovery and what kept pushing you and inspiring you during those times? This past January, I tore my shoulder muscle doing a WOD with 50 ball slams at a weight heavier than I should have been using, and with not-great form. Then, because the universe has a sense of humor, I twisted my ankle running from the car to class soon after that. I’m not by nature a patient person so the initial few weeks were incredibly frustrating since I was forced to slow everything down.

In addition, my nutrition had also slipped for about a year leading up to the injury. Nothing major at first, but gradually there were more and more cheat meals during the week. I was drinking 5 nights a week and there were too many nachos-and-fries happy hours. I was 10 pounds heavier and half my clothes didn’t fit. I got to the point where I was feeling sluggish and winded during the cardio parts of the WOD.

February to May was a big reset period for me. Building movements back up from zero weight was an opportunity to work on form and setting progressive goals. Talking to all the coaches about modifications meant learning the intent of the programming (and why you always ask instead of coming up with your own substitution – the best alternative isn’t usually the most obvious one). The injury was also a big incentive to kick the nutrition back into gear – big thanks to Nikki for helping me completely change the way I think about eating. Thanks to all the morning coaches – Jenny, Olivia, Shannon, Nikki, Jason & Jack – for helping me modify WODs week after week, and for all the advice, suggestions and support. I’m down 10 pounds, the ankle is healed, the shoulder is definitely getting there. Yesterday I logged my 3rd Rx WOD in a row for the first time since January, and that felt pretty awesome.