Meet Tom

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 21:59

When Tom walks into my 8:30am class, I know a few things to be true: There was maple syrup involved with his pre-workout breakfast. He’ll have some current news for me about whatever is happening in the Olympic weightlifting world. He’ll have kind and empowering words to say about his friends’ efforts in class that day. If it’s a squat day, he’s going to go big or go home. It’s hard not to smile when Tom comes into class, because he’ll be greeting everyone with a big grin of his own. Really, he’s been a dynamic presence since his first visit to CF100. While most of us have done battle and lost to a plyo box at some point, wearing the scars on our shins proudly, Tom faced a nasty box on his very first class. But Tom wasn’t scared off. He came right back and joined our CrossFit family. He even brought his own padded box to share with his classmates! Through the years, Tom continues to persevere. Through injuries and set backs, he only concerns himself with recovery, progress and continuing to make strength gains. Tom made a pact with himself early on that he wouldn’t go the typical gym rat route of benching heavy and skipping leg days. He promised himself he’d work hard on his squats and it has paid off. Tom has had his share of injuries. He’s dealt with a torn labrum. In high school, and twice in college he tore his meniscus. But despite doctor’s warnings that his knee was going to wear out, he has continued to build strength through squatting, strength work and moving cautiously. Now, he can barely remember which knee was the bad one! Tom works hard to pay attention to how he’s moving and how to get stronger. When he started in group fitness, he remembers throwing his back out often. Now, he takes the time to stretch, recover and only experiences muscles soreness, but not anything that stops him from working out. Tom played every sport growing up, including Division 1 hockey in college. Later on in life, he fell away from team sports and his fitness. Before moving to WI, an ex-Navy Seal friend of his got him moving again. He discovered paddle boarding and loved it. He was happy to find he could do some running and was getting a lot of aerobic exercise, but not any weight training. His move to Wisconsin was not conducive to the year-round paddle boarding he loved in FL. When he and his family came here in 2015, he found the (now defunct) Monkey Bar Gym and fell in love with group fitness for the first time in his life. “I learned something … I used to work out alone when I was young, but you have to provide all the motivation and programming. And really the motivation factor when you go to a class, you don’t have to think about anything. It’s magical! You just have to get your big toe in the door and you’re gonna do the work. It’s incredible!” So Tom stayed motivated at Monkey Bar Gym for awhile, until one fateful day when a group of weightlifters/CrossFitters came into the class for a trial. They were looking to incorporate some of the boot camp/gymnastics/mobility work that was happening at Monkey Bar into their regimen, but Tom wanted in on what THEY were doing! Living only a mile down the road from 100, Tom said he’d run on the trail past the gym many times and saw the barbells flying. After his conversation with one of the weightlifters he encountered, he finally drove in and thought he had to get a barbell back in his hands. So it was a little luck that brought Tom to our community. And a little luck has struck Tom at other times in his life, as well. Tom grew up outside of Minneapolis, MN and was playing high school hockey when he was scouted by the Air Force Academy hockey program. He’d never even been in an airplane before he earned a scholarship to the Academy and played all four years, becoming captain of his team senior year. He shared that, when all the freshman class got sent out to different Air Force bases as a learning experience, he was fortunate enough to get sent to Alaska. He fell in love with the beautiful state (and with his wife, whom he would meet there as well), spent a great deal of his military career there. He didn’t think he’d ever leave, and still owns property there to visit whenever possible. Tom considers himself very fortunate to have lived the life he’s been able to, thanks to his 22-year career in the Air Force. When Tom and I talk about his goals at the gym, he said they have changed a bit since first coming here. He had the similar experience of many members who walk in and want to tackle all of the skills they see happening around them in class. But Tom says he worries less about that and more about doing what his body tells him to do. If he could give a new member advice, he’d tell them that you just don’t have to do everything to have a great workout. “You could probably learn it all if you have the time end effort, but you don’t have to. Marcela was telling me that the whole time but I wasn’t listening! You have to be honest with your coaches. They can’t help you or monitor you if they don’t know what injuries you’re wrestling with.” In fact, one of the things that keeps Tom coming to his daily 8:30am class is the strong connection he feels with Marcela, the coaches and members. “I went away for two weeks and I was on my way home and I got the, ‘Where are you, when are you coming back?’ message from Marcela. This place is incredible and there are a whole bunch of wonderful people here. What keeps me in here? You come in here for an hour and you feel great for the rest of the day. What else are you going to do that makes you feel like that?”