Athlete of the Month

Hometown: Ivyland, PA (originally from Kiev, Ukraine (aka Dragoland))
Current Location: Blue Bell, PA
Age: 29
Occupation: Analytical Research and Development Chemist
College: Temple University

How long have you been a CrossFitter?
13 months. I got bored with the Globo-gym routine and took a 7 month break. Overheard a conversation between a few friends about barbells, burpees, box jumps, handstand push-ups, puking and knew right away that this was my next venture. Started out three times a week and more recently I’m at 5-6 days a week.

Did you ever play sports?
Yes, primarily recreational. I’ve played roller hockey and football starting from about the age of 10.  Lifted weights since I was 17, competed locally in powerlifting as well.

Got some cool (or uncool) hobbies you'd like to share?
I’ve kept a pretty extensive coin collection since I was a kid. I can put together a PC computer from scratch. (I’m a closet nerd). Used to play a lot of billiards, so I’m decent with a pool cue.

What is your biggest achievement at CrossFit?
Cleaning 285#. I’ve never cleaned prior to CrossFit.

What do you feel that you still need to work on?
Um, everything! I’d like to get to a point where I can actually enjoy doing double unders. It’s my biggest weakness and my least favorite movement. I loathe double unders. Even more now than ever, because I’ve whipped myself in the eye during a WOD.
My attitude needs some polishing. To make the “metcon” workouts suck less physically, I’d like to be able to put my mind in a place where I enjoy being in complete hell. I think it’s what separates the good athlete from the average.
Body weight skills/movements. Currently, I’ve been really focusing on Olympic weightlifting and it has helped with my overall kinesthetics, but I feel more attention on bodyweight movements would benefit me (like my double unders…).

Goals for the rest of this year:
 225# Snatch, 300# Clean, 480# Squat, 550# deadlift, 7-10 consecutive muscle ups, take less breaks, stay humble, improve muscular endurance, place top ten in a competition, grow a beard, suck less, beat Jason Lyons in a drinking contest, consistent double unders and eat more cookies.

What's your favorite WOD?
Both CrossFit Totals. I also love the classic couplets and triplets.

How about your favorite food/snacks?
Eggs, bacon, apples, meat, meat, meat and almond butter. Ice cream, cake, brownies, pie, dark chocolate, fudge, Belgian chocolate mousse, éclairs, and Laura Pappas’s paleo chocolate chip cookies.

 What is the craziest workout outside of CF you have ever done?
Charity touch football tournament. About 7 hours straight of football, team kept winning and the breaks in between games were short. In the championship game I found myself having to stretch every play because of leg cramps.

 What’s your least favorite WOD?
 Anything that involves a jump rope.  

 Favorite lift/movement:
 Back Squat is up there. I love everything barbell, even thrusters…

 Least favorite lift/movement?
 Double unders

 What skill do you want to work on in 2013 the most?
 Perfecting the Olympic lifts. Double unders are what I should be doing.

 Whats your favorite piece of workout "gear"?
 Chalk, yes, that’s right. It’s the powdered sugar of barbells.

 What would you say is your biggest improvement since starting CF?
 1) Mental toughness. I find myself much calmer in stressful situations than I used to before. Or maybe that’s me getting older, who knows.
 2) Mobility. How can I forget? Thanks to CrossFit and Kelly Starrett, I have become more flexible and stable when executing the lifts/movements. It has tremendously improved my recovery time and avoiding injury.

 Who is your favorite coach?
This has to be the hardest question for me to answer. It’s like asking me which color Ferrari do I want to drive.  Again, I can’t pick just one, so I’ll nominate several coaches because of their influence, qualities and styles that I admire.
Obviously, Aimee and Jason have to be mentioned because of their diligence to foster such a wonderful community and groom the current coaching staff.  Keith has an intensity about him that is “unique”, his classes are always full of energy and I don’t want to let him down when he’s yelling at me when I’m sucking wind. Whenever I take one of Vinny’s classes I know I’m in for a show, a spectacle of comedic proportions. Also, Vinny utilizes some of the best coaching cues for pull ups, muscle ups, bicep curls and bench press. Chris has a very good eye and is good at spotting faults in movements, so any feedback he provides goes towards my personal improvement.

PR's to mention? Goals Reached? Nutrition highlights?
PRs/Goals Reached: 515# deadlift, 440# squat, bodyweight snatch and press.
Nutrition: When I first started CrossFit, I drank the “Koolaid” and transitioned from the common traditional diet to more Paleo. At first, I was really strict, and my body responded well, but as the training volume increased my caloric intake wasn’t enough to sustain my training schedule. I lost a decent amount of weight but felt that I was calorie deficient because of the removal of refined carbohydrates. As winter approached I added more starchy vegetables, increased good fat intake, and vitamin and protein supplementation into the diet and haven’t looked back since.
I’ve been maintaining an 80/20 ratio. During the week I’m really strict, on the weekends I eat whatever I want, such as a 1200 calorie dessert or a whole pizza. It is important to point out that cleaning up my diet has really made me feel great. I almost never feel lethargic after eating, which is a sign that my body is responding well. I do not measure my food or count calories. Whereas, I eat whenever I’m hungry and do not over eat (unless it’s cookies). Also worth mentioning, if I do partake in a morning workout, it’s done so in a fasted state.


ak said...

Congrats Gene!

ak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Lyons said...


Mike P said...


Congrats, Gene.

Sarah J. said...

Yay Gene!!! You definitely deserve this!!

Gina Spinelli said...

Congrats Gene!!!! Very well deserved. And you are also very good at rock, paper, scissors!! :).

Unknown said...

Congrats Gene - very well deserved. Enjoy working out with you and desperately wish I had the commitment to streching/mobility that you do.

Unknown said...

Im surprised you didnt mentioned as a great accomplishment...being number one on my list..just kidding...congrats gene..keep lifting big and keep rowing..................shirtless

Unknown said...

Im surprised you didnt mentioned as a great accomplishment...being number one on my list..just kidding...congrats gene..keep lifting big and keep rowing..................shirtless

Keith B said...

Yeah Gene!! Way to not be an IDIOT!!!!

Joy N said...

Congrats, Gene!

Unknown said...

Congrats Gene! I feel your pain with double unders, we WILL get them one day!

Chris P. said...

Gene, I think your best traits are indeed being humble and constantly seeking to improve. A lot of guys in your position and your numbers would be pretty darn content, but you are always looking to learn and accept feedback. It's one of the reasons you are AOTM (the other reason is when you take your shirt off). I also think it's darn cool that you offered those mobility sessions. Congrats buddy, you deserve it!

Oh, and there's a typo. In occupation it should read, "Occupation: Reading and watching any and all CrossFit and Olympic Lifting materials via the Interwebs while pretending to be an Analytical Research and Development Chemist"

Unknown said...

Hell yeah, Gene! Definitely well deserved!

namastasie said...

Congratulations Gene! Well deserved, and in addition to your athletic prowess, you're a witty guy too. You're good for some laughs.

Jen Naspinski said...

Congrats, Gene! it's amazing to watch what you can lift, even WITH your shirt on. Your work ethic and passion for crossfit is practically unparalleled at the box. One of the best things about you joining the community (besides your wicked sense of humor)is how generously you share your experience and knowledge. We all are better for having you as a part of KOP. Can't wait to see what you can do for the Games season in 2014! JNa