Meet an Athlete of Merit: Mark's Story

Mark Heys

Merit Member Since September, 2016


I am the odd person in CrossFit that loves Burpees and Running WODs.

Where are you from?  

I was born in England, grew up in Canada and moved to Maryland 18 years ago.

What is your age? 45

How do you spend your time outside of Merit?

I live in Huntingtown, MD with my wife, 2 boys (10 and 15), 3 dogs, 3 cats, 4 horses and a snake (crazy I know). For work, I am the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of a Virginia based start-up called ChurnZero. For fitness, outside of CrossFit, I am an avid runner and am working toward my second degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.

What were your goals when you originally joined Merit?

When I joined Merit I felt I was reasonably fit so my goal was to find something to help me maintain my fitness level. Since joining Merit I have added many goals based on the movements. I am currently working on Double Unders, Strict Handstand Push Ups and Ring Muscle Ups.

Have you accomplished any of those goals so far?

While my goal was to maintain my fitness level, I have found that CrossFit has made me so much fitter. I am in the best shape of my life and feel like I am still improving every day. I have also completed my goals of being able to do Toes To Bars, Bar Muscle Ups and Kipping Handstand Pushups plus many more.

What is your favorite CrossFit movement/WOD?

I am the odd person in CrossFit that loves Burpees and Running WODs.

What is your least favorite CrossFit movement/WOD?

Whenever the Snatch movement is in the WOD I have to take a deep breath. Being someone who focused on body weight exercises prior to starting CrossFit, I find the Snatch very challenging but every week I am getting better at it.

What is you memorable CrossFit moment so far?


In Workout 17.2 of the CrossFit Open I did the workout on the Friday and the 50 ft walking lunges with two 50lb dumbbells killed me. While other people made it to the Bar Muscle Ups I ran out of time (12 minutes) before I got to them. I was completely humbled and spent the weekend thinking about how to improve. I re-did the work-out on Monday and not only did I get to the Bar Muscle Ups in 9 minutes, I was able to get my first Bar Muscle Up ever. It was such a satisfying feeling.

What/Who is your biggest motivator? 

The athlete’s who work out at CrossFit Merit are the most supportive, friendly people you will meet.

My Dad had a heart attack in his early fifties which is always in the back of my mind and I think a big motivator for my focus on fitness. At the Box, there are so many people who motivate me from Jason Linville who proves that you can have a lean body type and be a great CrossFit athlete to Cathy Lupfer who works out so hard and always gives me encouragement throughout the workout. In fact, during every workout I see something that helps keep me motivated from seeing Julie Hartley PR a snatch so effortlessly to Molly Shea getting Double Unders.

What would you like to say to people on the fence about trying CrossFit? I came across CrossFit Merit by accident. I was returning some equipment to the Comcast office next door and happened to look in and saw two people working out. I decided to go in and find out more. When I entered, the man and woman working out were throwing weight over their heads like it was nothing and I was immediately intimidated especially since they were both looked really fit and strong. After talking to Jason, and even though I was intimidated I decided to give it a try. It was one of the best decisions I have made. CrossFit work outs are scalable to any fitness level from the two people I saw working out (who it turns out were CrossFit Merit coaches Andrew and Maggie) to people who are new to working out. The coaches at CrossFit Merit are excellent as they are patient, focused on technique, encouraging and know when to push you. The athlete's who work out at CrossFit Merit are the most supportive, friendly people you will meet. If you are on the fence about CrossFit, give it a try, you won't regret it.