Merit Member Since June, 2017
Mark is a 42 year old active duty Air Force officer, and father of two. He is originally from the small town of Smithsburg, MD, and moved to Huntingtown last June from Baltimore. Mark has explored many different athletic hobbies over the years, including ice hockey, but after his move to Calvert County he settled in here at Merit rather quickly! Like many other Merit members, if Mark could only eat one kind of food for the rest of his life it would be pizza, and he wouldn't discriminate. Brick oven, NY Style hand tossed, and Chicago style... these are all fair game for him! Read on to learn more about Mark, his life outside the gym, and his love of staying active.
How do you spend your time outside of Merit? I spend as much time as I can with my family. That family would be my wife of almost 12 years Rebecca and our two boys, Luke 7 and Asher 3. Luke is in Scouts and plays almost every sport he can, and I usually help coach those. Asher starts soccer this Spring so my time could double with both kids in sports. I work on Joint Base Andrews at the Air National Guard Headquarters as an active duty Air Force officer currently assigned to the Commander's Action Group. I basically manage the information flow between our National Guard leadership and the 1200 men and women who work here supporting them and the 91 Air National Guard Wings across the 54 states and territories. Hobbies have shifted over the last few years. I used to play ice hockey in late night men's leagues, but since the move to Calvert County, my work schedule, and the kids now in more and more activities, I get my exercise in here at Merit. Other hobbies include snow skiing, usually in Colorado where my in-laws live. Riding my Harley a whopping 3-5 times year, cooking, making beer, and almost any outdoor activity. We are big campers and are looking at buying a camper/RV.
What were your goals when you originally joined Merit?
I started CrossFit a year and a half before joining Merit. I would say after about a year, I started seeing some nice gains in terms of maxes. When we moved, I did not want to take any time off. I wanted to stick to the early classes, and Merit's 5:30 am class and close proximity to the house was perfect. The only down side is I never get to meet most of the other members here since the 5:30 am class is what I attend 95% of the time. Anyway, one of my goals was to simply keeping making progress and not get discouraged by any plateaus that are going to happen. Another goal was to be more involved in the extra curricular activities and competitions held by the box.
Have you accomplished any of those goals so far?
I have accomplished both of these goals! I jumped right into classes and continue to make gains. Programming at Merit is very different from my old place, and I think that change was beneficial. It was something shiny and new and it kept me interested and motivated. I really like the mobility at the end of the class. This was something we rarely did regularly, and for someone like me who is not the least bit flexible, it helps. As for the other goal, I got to do the Paddleboard WOD and more recently, the Winter Classic so yeah, I am getting more involved. Merit does so much together and is such a fun community group, I look forward to doing even more.
What is your favorite CrossFit movement/WOD? Though the Winter Classic did make me like these a little less, my favorite CrossFit movement is the dumbbell snatch. People look at me funny when I say this but I love them because they really rely on proper form the whole way through. From the ground, to the high pull, to getting under it and punching it up, it is a great reminder of how good form can make it a lot easier. I feel I do these well even with the 50lb dumbbells and that makes me feel good.
What is your least favorite CrossFit movement/WOD?
So many to choose, but let's go with Turkish Get-Ups. Burpees are a close second, but TGUs are just torturous for me. I had a torn labrum repaired in 2011 so maybe this reminds me of physical therapy, constantly holding that position steady with the shoulder the entire rep. I am glad I have only seen these once in my 8 months here (knocking on wood).
What is your most memorable CrossFit moment so far?
Competing in the Winter Classic in January was the most memorable moment for me thus far. It was my first competition and I was really apprehensive about it. I want to give a shout out to Chris Cleary for being my partner after working a 48 hour shift (and for carrying us, haha). The energy in the box and all the people in there quickly put me at ease. It was a challenging but fun experience. I was excited to finally be able to do one of these with Merit.
What/Who is your biggest motivator?
That would be my family, especially my two little boys. Watching them grow, and seeing their unending energy every day gets me fired up, and I'm glad it does since I know I have a lot of years ahead of me to keep up with them. To be a positive example to them in health and fitness with CrossFit is motivating. Kids today love their screen time, and if I can get them active by showing them what I do, that is huge.
What would you like to say to people on the fence about trying CrossFit?
Come in and talk to any coach or member. We have all been there, initially viewing CrossFit as some extreme sport for really jacked people. This is not the case, it is custom tailored to everybody. You learn the basics in fundamentals to not only do the movement but to do it safely. After that, the coaches, all of which are friendly, approachable and knowledgeable will show you what to do and work with you every day if you have any questions whatsoever. You can scale anything you want to and work your way up from there. It's not like going to a gym where you have to decide what you are going to do that day, here you show up and do what's on the board and you leave feeling great! Lastly, you will become part of the family here almost immediately and that will make you wonder why you didn't come in sooner, I know I sure did.