Happy Thursday to ya. The sun is shining. Everyone here is safe from Irma. Who would have thought Anderson, SC would get wrapped up in a tropical storm? I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s always worse somewhere else. And with that, my thoughts and prayers still go out to Florida, and coastal Georgia and S.C as well. 

BUT the weekend is almost here 🙂 Hopefully you have some exciting plans… besides watching college football. I’m going to enjoy one of the last summer ish weekends here in the Upstate!

I’m really excited about today’s post! If you’ve been doing CrossFit for awhile -or any other fitness routine consistently- for that matter, it’s such a cool feeling to know that you stuck with it. 

I remember when I made it through a year of CrossFit. And I say “made it” because being able to say that you’ve been doing CrossFit for over a year is a big deal – not because of the burpees, or snatches, or even the assault bike – but because of how it challenges you and changes you mentally. Sometimes people give up for one reason or another, sooooo being able to push through when it gets difficult sometimes is an accomplishment, I do believe. Yes I do.

Yep. So with that, September marks 1 YEAR of CrossFit for my friend, Dick. Dick is 72 years young, and he has been showing up consistently to CFEC for right over a year now. Watching his transformation over the past year has been one of my favorite things about coaching. I remember the day Dick began coming to the 8:30 class. He went through foundations, and he was ready to start! However, Dick hadn’t done too much exercising in awhile, so we were starting from scratch. 

Dick was nervous. And truth be told, so was I! I hadn’t been coaching for very long at this point in time. I can honestly say that having the opportunity to coach him over the past year has changed me for the better as well. 

Like a lot of people, Dick has come so far in his movements, his strength, and his confidence over the past year. Having the honor to witness this first hand is something I will never take for granted. Dick is strong! And he has put the work in to get there… starting with just a PVC pipe for all of his movements. His range of motion has increased, especially in his squat. He is all the way down to a 16 inch box now! But his confidence has impressed me more than anything else! For example, when he started CrossFit, he couldn’t even do the initial warmup with the class on the turf. He was scared AND he couldn’t stand on one leg without falling over. NOW Dick LEADS the line!

Dick is a go getter. And a risk taker. He’s going to do whatever it takes to meet any goal he has. So, with that, he is someone you have to watch closely because he will see someone in the gym attempt a skill or a certain weight, and he wants to go for it too! I love that about him. Dick has taken part in both In House Competitions we’ve done over the past year, including the OPEN, and he completed MURPH Memorial Day Weekend, which was a big goal of his. For those of you who don’t know, MURPH is a yearly tradition at CFEC and most other CrossFit gyms across the USA. We do it to honor those who have served, and even given their lives in service, while fighting for our freedom. Dick was able to complete MURPH because he prepared for it! He trained for it, and was able to complete it at an appropriate level for him. However, his version still included the same amount of reps as everyone else, AND a mile at the beginning, and a mile to finish it out. We all cheered for him so hard as he ran in that last mile. 

I asked Dick a few questions about CrossFit – about goals, how CrossFit has helped him outside of the gym, and some of his favorite moments over the past year. Usually when people send these to me, I stay away from copying and pasting their answers. However, Dick is pretty intelligent (They don’t call him Dr. Whiz for nothin’.) And I believe that all of you would rather hear his words than mine. 

Be inspired — Especially by that last paragraph!

What made you want to start doing CrossFit?

As most kids my age, I grew up spending my time climbing trees building forts on the ditch bank and riding my bike everywhere.  We had a swing set and would spend most days climbing the bars with pullups, backing the bar.  We thought nothing of riding our bikes miles to visit another friend.  We even played tag on the bikes.  So I was active.  After graduation from High School I attended Clemson (College at that time) and walking up and down hills to class and everywhere else kept me in shape. After graduation in 1971with a BS in Chemistry, I decided to turn down a job as a chemist at a major company and teach school.  Except for walking up three flights of stairs to class, the only exercise was holding a book and walking around the room.  Then, in May 2016, after 45 years of bells telling me where to go and what to do I retired from a profession I loved every day.  By August of that year I was feeling depressed and lost.  My son Andrew attended CrossFit in Anderson  and invited me to come watch.  I decided to check it out.  To my amazement, I could not do a single pushup, could not hang on the bar for more than five seconds without feeling my arms pulled out their sockets. I knew I was so out of shape that I felt there was no hope for me.  I knew I needed help. Then I met with Nick and worked out with a PVC pipe, and did Ring rows in place of pullups.  I did a single pushup using a box. While doing a squat, going down was easy, but standing back up was difficult, so I again used a 20 inch box. After a week I met with the regular 8:30 AM class and worked with them.  I could not stand on one leg without holding on to something and along of list of other things I could not do.  I was embarrassed to say the least. But in that first day of class, I was welcomed and made to feel good by everyone.  I was laying on the floor at the end of class totally exhausted, and I believe it was Jeff  turned to me and said something like “ you did great, you may not lift as much weight as some of us, but I know you are just as tired as the rest of us.  Way to go.” As I got ready to go home there were many people who came over to meet me and to let me know they were looking forward to seeing me again the next day.  So here a year later, I am still attending and enjoying CrossFit every day.

 

What is your favorite thing about CrossFit?

 In the fall I had been attending class for only a short time and I was unsure about taking part in the CrossFit games  (Open). The experience on Friday night with the games was fantastic. I will never forget it. I could not jump over a box, so I stepped over it. I did my Burpees using a box. I had to “modify” a few other things, but I completed the exercises assigned to me. I call it a competition but it was really an opportunity to complete the exercise and take part in an exciting experience with a lot of wonderful people. Then there was Murph. I spent a month getting ready. Especially with pushups. I could only do four or five at a time. But I began at home and started with twenty sets of five each day at home. After a week I was doing 10 sets of 10 pushups. The first five were easy. Then came six (only a number) 7 (days in a week), 8 (an octahedral) 9 (only one more, you can do this) then 10. I could now do 10 in a set. And that is how it went. Each morning when I went to CrossFit I would do 25 pullups using a ring row. Then one weekend before Murph I did 200 pushups and 300 air squats. I was able to do this by breaking it down into 20 sets of 10 hand release pushups and 15 air squats. I would complete the set then wait 20 to 30 minutes before completing another set. I knew I could do the 100 ring row pullups, the 200 hand release pushups and the 300 air squats. I was 70 years old and it might take me longer than anyone else, but I could do it. The day of the Murph games, the mile run was a part run
and part walk thing and the 100 ring row pullups, 200 hand release pushups , 300 air
squats were all done in 20 sets of 5, 10 and 15. Then the last mile run… I remember friends
encouraging me and John and another friends running that last mile with me. So my
favorite thing in CrossFit is not that I am getting more fit, but I have a new family of
friends that brightens my day every day. Teaching school was my daily fulfillment before,
but now it is CrossFit. The handshakes, the pats on the back, the encouragement that
everyone gives freely and sincerely to each other.

What is your favorite thing about CFEC?

 I cannot speak for other Crossfit organizations I only know Electric City here in Anderson.  The friends that I have come to know are great, but the coaching staff is beyond belief.  They not only encourage me and instruct me, but they are there to make sure I do not “overdo it”.  I am eager to do squats without a box, but Alison and the other coaches remind me to remember form, take my time – “Do not hurt yourself”.  I know they are earnestly glad I am there and they want to help me achieve my goals.  Like the day a few months ago when I did my first pullup on the bars.  Alison took a picture of me while others clapped and sang out “way to go”. We all want each other to be successful on whatever level it may be.  

In conclusion I would like to say that attending CrossFit continues to be a journey. I started with working out using a piece of PVC pipe, then a bar that weighed 10 pounds.  With time, I was able to add two 10 pounds weights to the bar.  Today, a year later at 72 years of age, I have lost 25 pounds, I can dead lift 100 pounds, and can press 60 pounds….A long way from lifting my body weight.  I am not able to take part in the “athlete” level, but I find myself a sort of hybrid somewhere between wellness and fitness. I have the following goals of pressing my body weight, climbing a rope, doing a handstand pushup, and doing a muscle up on the bar.  Give me time, and with the help of everyone at CrossFit, I will complete those goals.

Dick Whisenhunt