About Steve: "Most of my professional career was spent in news radio, but in 1997, I signed up for the Reston Triathlon, and things have never been the same since. Over the years I improved my own game and got more and more into fitness and triathlon racing. I earned a couple of coaching and training certifications, really just as a hobby. I started to get into CrossFit myself around 2010. I trained at Balance gym and in my garage. I got another certification (CrossFit Endurance) and that’s when we made the decision to open our own box. Certifications: CrossFit Level 2; CrossFit Endurance; CrossFit Kids;CrossFit Mobility; USA Weightlifting Level 1."
Steve was kind enough to answer questions for us in the latest installment of our CrossFit Talk series.
What kind of athletics did you participate in before CrossFit? How did you start CrossFit?
Prior to CrossFit, I was - and still am - a triathlete. I did my first triathlon in 1997 and have done at least one, sometimes as many as five, every year since. I have done all distances from sprint to Ironman. Sprint races are the most fun, but I have raced more Olympic distance races than any other. One Ironman is all I need in this lifetime. I'm not sure how many total races I have done, but it's well over 50.
For most of my professional career, I worked at WTOP Radio. During that time, I became very interested in endurance training. After a few years of doing it on my own, my wife hired a coach for me as a Christmas gift. That following season I was setting personal records across the board. I still remember the Reston Triathlon in 2004 as being one of my best performances ever. So I became very interested in the coaching aspect of it. I was also growing tired of my job and started to branch out. I earned coaching certification from USA Triathlon and started coaching friends in their first races for free. This side business started to grow. I added a personal training certification to the mix. Then one day, I was let go from my radio job. It was April, the weather was nice and my wife suggested I start a Boot Camp class outside Lafayette Elementary, where my kids went to school. I had some free time, so I thought, what the heck. She sent an email to 10 people and about 8 of them showed up. Word spread and I started getting requests for additional Boot Camp days and times. Little did I know that would last two and a half years. It was during that time that I got into CrossFit myself.
What made you become a CrossFit instructor?
While running my boot camps, I also got a part-time job as an endurance coach at CycleLife in Georgetown, working under my own triathlon coach, Eric Sorensen. I was still interested mainly in endurance training when I heard about a seminar called CrossFit Endurance. I was going to a few CrossFit classes myself, and was interested in the philosophy behind it all. After that weekend seminar, I came home and told my wife that we needed to stop running boot camp out of the back of the car and open a CrossFit gym. That was the night we started the planning process.
From an instructor's perspective, tell us one thing you think CrossFitter's should do more of and one thing they should do less of.
My bias will show here, but I think CrossFitter’s should do more swimming, biking and running. These are fun, social, life skills that get you outside and moving for longer periods of time than we do in class. All of it is part of a balanced fitness diet. I don't know if there is anything they should do less of, except in some cases, training itself. I see people come in when they are sick, tired from lack of sleep or have a nagging injury because they don't want to miss a workout. People need to be taught that they get stronger and more fit when they rest, not when they train.
What is your favorite CrossFit workout and why?
Helen (3 Rounds: Run 400, 21 KB Swings, 12 Pull Ups). It's the workout we did at the CrossFit Endurance seminar. People who don't understand CrossFit often ask, "What about cardio"? Our response is, "Meet Helen."
How big of a role do you feel diet plays in your ability to perform at a high level? What foods do you eat a lot of? What foods do you avoid?
Diet is huge. You really can't overstate it. The biggest problem I see is that people will "out-eat" their workout, in terms of calorie consumption. They reward themselves with meals that pack on way more than they burned. Foods that cause inflammation are of particular concern to performance and injury mitigation. I eat a lot of eggs. I am 20-years McDonald's-free.
What is your favorite article of gear or clothing you use when training?
Gear is big in triathlons, but I'm somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to CrossFit. I love my Innov8 shoes. I am a fan of anything that keeps you safe: grips or gloves for pull-ups and even shin guards for box jumps. Once you've crashed your shins a couple of times, you learn that lesson.
Describe your weekly workout schedule. How many days off do you take?
My schedule is all over the place, based on work. It's funny. Even though I own a gym and find myself in there for hours at a time, I still need to get motivated like everyone else. I don't work out with the class I am coaching (almost never), so I have to do it between classes. But then I am thinking about all the things I need to do. Since I do the programming at Second Wind, I generally will do either the workout I have written for the class, or do a swim, bike or run. I rarely take more than two days off in any given week unless I'm sick.
Please offer some advice to someone thinking about trying CrossFit that hasn't taken the plunge.
1) Don't be afraid of it. Everyone had their first day of CrossFit and felt woefully inadequate and out of shape. Good coaches know how to adjust each workout to your ability. Look for a box with a Foundations or On-Ramp program that will teach you the basics and ease you into the classes. Prepare to be pushed. You can do WAY more than you think you can.
2) Find the right box for you. You have plenty of choices in D.C. Find one that has owners, coaches and members that you like and a vibe that makes you feel welcome and important.
Train with Steve at Second Wind CrossFit.