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  1. What was life like before you became a member?

Historically, I held the thought that fitness was synonymous with “weight loss”. I spent much of my youth, adolescence and young adulthood drastically fluctuating my body weight. In high school, college, and in both my late 20’s and at 30, I was at times both as low as 170 and as high as 300 pounds. I felt a lot of pressure to achieve academically in high school and college but held minimal interest in the education system. I regularly conceded to my life stressors, highlighted by my current career that previously included 8 years of government customer service and another 3 years prior holding various service sector jobs.  I would often cope with routinely hard days by consuming more carbs and sugar than I needed to and after I would stimulate my brain with things that caught my attention, largely video games or card games for hours on end. Once exhausted I would get a minimal amount of sleep (4-5ish hours) then I would wake up and do it all over again. Metaphorically, I was doing my best to keep my chin up and tread water. If I felt my body “drop under the waves”, I would try to lean out largely through heavily restricting my diet with a minimal amount of exercise, almost exclusively in the form of walking or jogging. Due to extreme moods that coexisted with these cycles, I struggled to maintain meaningful relations or friendships. November 2021 I had a health scare which jettisoned me into another fitness cycle; I spent most of 2022 dropping from 295 down to 185 largely through walking, jogging, and minimal abdominal exercises. I was offered my current position at work to start 2023, and instead of pushing the waves away, comparatively I’ve been floating on a raft. After a half year of maintenance and decompressing, I sought to better both the health inside my skull and body; at that point I entered KCF in late July 2023. 

  1. At the time you enrolled, were you already exercising? What was your previous background in fitness?

When I began at KCF, I was doing 2 miles of walking or jogging daily. Maybe once or twice a week I would push it to 3-4 miles. Additionally, I had a 30-day ab challenge infographic on my phone that I would run through every month; the start of the month was easy, and the end was always brutal. I did planks, sit-ups, crunches and leg lifts. I really had minimal/no other background in exercise, and I did not use any equipment. I was raised by an incredibly protective parent and did not play any sports in high school. When I went to college, I joined the club team for Ultimate Frisbee, and our only conditioning/exercise besides throwing was… you guessed it! More running! The only time I had ever stepped into a gym or weight room was the one at my work building, and I had only ever used the treadmill. Even today, I still blink in confusion when “x or y machine from the gym” gets mentioned.

  1. What originally prompted you to seek us out?

For years, my best buddy Gery from high school would always encourage and offer me to try and join his gym. However, he regularly would be injured and despite achieving great physique, I always shot his offer down because I felt having no background in fitness and poor resilience would be a recipe for disaster. Last summer I was at a low mental point despite my many life upswings, and at the time Gery’s girlfriend, now fiancé, who you may better know as Coach Nikki, completed her local training and got her L1 instruction certificate. She reassured me that she would not let me do anything that would cause me major bodily injury in my first weeks/months, and in return I would show some humility and give the classes a fair shot. I did the entire first week, and vividly remember the soreness of putting on a t-shirt after discovering my body had muscle groups I never knew existed. Then I did another full week, then another, then another…

4. What was your goal when you originally signed up?

When I first started, my goals were loosely as follows:
Try not to do something ignorant or stupid and hurt myself with equipment.
Try and maintain my weight range that I had fought to get back under control (185-195ish).
Try to leave the house and have a small amount of social interaction daily.

5. What have you liked best about working with us?

For me, the first of two highlights of attending classes at KCF would be first,  the hands-on coaching. I entered having no idea how to do anything properly and try to show the willingness to learn and improve. While I did not have many previous interactions to compare, I never felt like me learning something new from the class instructor had burdened the class. I am largely a 9am’er/nooner, so Tim & Jess are often my coaches; they never hesitate to stop me if I am doing something that would be detrimental to my person or my movement. Secondly, given I am still working night shift/swing shift (230-11p), I really do appreciate the flexible class schedules and planned programming. I have attended every time slot on at least 1 occasion, and I like the freedom of just showing up when I want, to do as much as I can on any given day. Now that I have done a few drop-ins, I’ve seen some other gyms have strict signups and aren’t always as accommodating. Others may not know what the WOD is until that morning, while I know usually several days ahead of time.

6. What are you most proud of achieving since you started?

I think the thing that I feel the best about achieving since I have started at KCF is having been part of the Committed Club every month since it launched last October. (I would have gotten credit for August & September as well!) I really have not cherry picked a WOD I didn’t like, and I feel that nearly all my muscle groups have gotten stronger since I started. While I have seen a few milestones (a few double-unders, weightless kipping swings, weight increases, etc.), I’m excited to see how I’ll chisel out in time. I’m hopeful to one day string double unders, do bar muscle ups, and hit my body weight in most lifts. I have more to learn and work on.

7. With everything that you have accomplished, has your view of yourself changed?

Yes, I don’t feel nearly as self-conscious about my overall physique. I look at my old stretch marks now as battle scars and know that below the remnants of my beer gut, I have a solid core and that I have pectoral muscles forming instead of fat deposits. For the first time in my life, I have mostly grown out a beard, likely due to increased levels of hormones that I was not properly producing. Mentally, generally, my highs and lows feel a lot less swingy. They still exist as part of life, but I feel more resilient. Generally, I feel a lot better about myself, and I won’t forget what I have had to deal with to get to this point.

8. What would you say to anyone else who might be dealing with any similar struggles you did?

First, sorry. Second, the truth is it only gets better if you choose to make it better. You will catch good breaks and bad breaks, but life’s not out to get you. You must try and duck out of the lows quickly and milk the highs for as long as you possibly can. Learn a new physical activity you are bad at and try and make some pals along the way. You will always be harder on yourself than any other human on this planet, so learn to forgive your own shortcomings.

9. Do you have any special moments/memories?

Noteworthy KCF memories:
July 17th 2023, Struggling to learn hang power cleans barely holding up a 15lb bar with 2 plastic 5’s on it in my first class.
Aug 17th 2023, Doing the Jerry and realizing that I had a fairly strong row stroke despite no previous exposure and feeling good about my overall time with rowing and running.
Sept 11th 2023, Being at an affiliate gym in Cincinnati area for a drop in and having the coach yell “Ya’ll gonna let a Pennsylvania boy who started two months ago beat you out on the mile run?!?!?! Move it!” (Once we got back inside to the bar movements they all “lapped” me.)
Oct 28th 2023, Completing my first rope climb! I was in full costume as Link! It was after a partner WOD also in full costume.
Dec 2rd, 2023, Holiday Throwdown with Matt. We got second in the 3rd round, because I did a full rope climb. It was a fair mix of me not having raw strength to lift a lot of weight and Matt was nursing a sore ankle for other movements. Even though we didn’t money out, we made a great team, 5/7 would partner again.
Feb 26th 2024, I achieved my first real double under with the guidance of Coach Jess. It was wild how it all clicked together. Now I’m onto the stringing together phase.
Mar 8th 2024, 24.2, even though I did it scaled, I felt great about just pushing through some of those later rounds; it was my favorite one of the Open.
Mar 20th 2024, I achieved weightlessness on the kip swing just before doing the WOD, inching me closer to a kipping chin up/pull up.

10. What is your favorite movement/lift?

Right now, I am currently obsessed with the Kip Swing because the feeling of weightlessness is like ecstasy to my brain. I would say overall, I feel best about my front and back squats as they are two of my stronger bar movements. I also enjoy deadlift day, and I intend on getting past my 300 barrier in the near future! (I did 295 last PR because I did improper math.)

Outside the gym, my hobbies and interests include; eating a steak every Saturday, doing live band karaoke with the Dance Hall Devils or Emo Night Karaoke, attending other pop-punk shows/concerts and lifting crowd surfers in the pit, running an occasional 5k/10k, learning Japanese on Duolingo, and playing Chess and Hearthstone on my cell phone. It’s been an honor!

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