to our Athlete of the Month---Mike S!

Hometown:  Philadelphia, PA

Current Location:
  Devon, PA



College:  St. Joseph's for undergrad and The Dickinson School of Law (now of Penn State) for law.

How long have you been a CrossFitter?  3+ years.  I wish I had discovered CrossFit much earlier.  While I've never been much of an athlete, I was particularly inactive during my 30s.  When I turned 41, it struck me that I had spent 10+ years on the couch and that my health was going to really suffer if I did not make a change.  I joined a globo gym, but after 3 years, I was struggling to stay motivated.  I then came across this article about CrossFit in the Philly Inquirer.  A few Google searches later, I found Aimee and CrossFit KOP.

Did you ever play sports?  Does bowling count??  I bowled on my high school's team, and that’s how I earned a varsity letter.  Growing up in South Philly, I played "pick up" games of hockey, football and basketball.  We also played lots of improvised games (stickball, wallball, handball, half-ball, etc.) with "pimple" balls.  (If you’ve never heard of a pimple ball,
click here.)  I did not play organized sports.

Got some cool (or uncool) hobbies you'd like to share?  On weekends, I enjoy doing some cooking, trying out new Paleo recipes.  I like to ski and do some running.  I’m pretty involved as a leader of my son’s Boy Scout troop, and lately I’ve been spending time teaching my daughter to drive (which is scary).

What is your biggest achievement at CrossFit?
  To me, my biggest achievement is a series of smaller achievements: pull ups, rope climbs, climbing the 6 and 8 ft. walls, toes-to-bar, knees-to-elbows, chest-to-bar pull ups, ring dips, double unders.  These are all things I could not do when I started CrossFit, but I can do now. 

What do you feel that you still need to work on?
  Everything!!  Strength … especially with pressing and squatting.  Form … especially with deadlifts and the Olympic lifts.  Skills … I still don't have a handstand (let alone a handstand push up).  And my "strung" double unders still come sandwiched between singles.  Mobility … all sorts of opportunities for improvement here.

Goals for the rest of this year?
  Get stronger.  I'd like get my shoulder press to 80% of body weight, bench press to 105%, back squat to 150%.  Hitting these goals would mark significant progress from where I am now.

What's your favorite WOD?  Helen.  I like WODs that involve some running.  I still have not done an "Rx" Helen because I've always scaled the KB weight, but I've been using the 55# KB more and more lately, and I think I'm just about ready.

How about your favorite food/snacks?  Pizza, steak, cannoli, biscotti, ice cream.

What is the craziest workout outside of CF you have ever done?  CrossFit is about as crazy as it gets for me.  Last year, I did a 5-mile mud and obstacle run, and that was a lot of fun.  I'd like to do more of these.  I've done the Broad Street Run several times and one half-marathon. 

What’s your least favorite WOD?  Karen … hands down.  I'm super inefficient with wall balls.

Favorite lift/movement?  Split Jerk.  I'm not particularly good at it, but it is just such a cool lift. 

What’s your least favorite lift/movement?  Did I mention wall balls??  Closely followed by double unders and the deadlift.  I want to like them, but I haven't figured them out yet.

What skill have you been working on in 2013 the most?  For 2013, I worked on strict pull-ups, generally doing 10 or so (not strung) after most classes.  I became inspired by a Plentus blog post where he asked something like, "do you have more than a few pull ups?"  On a good day, I can now string 7.  I'd like to get into double digits.

What’s your favorite piece of workout "gear"?  CEP compression calf sleeves.  They have helped a lot to reduce / eliminate shin splints and calf soreness after sprinting.

What you say is your biggest improvement since starting CF?  The biggest improvement is in my overall fitness, health and well-being.  I'm in the best physical condition of my adult life, and that is attributable to CrossFit. 

Who is your favorite coach?  I’ve been fortunate to have great experiences and learnings from many coaches at KOP.  Tim P. has been a part of my CrossFit experience from the beginning.  He has regularly coached me at 6 AM, and I learned POSE from him, and how to build lung capacity in his endurance classes.  I appreciate Tim’s balanced coaching style.  After Tim, I’ve been coached mostly by Stef, Mike T., Laura, Miranda and, most recently, Emily.  I appreciate the creativity that Stef brings to warm ups.  Some of my most fun and memorable CrossFit experiences are from Stef’s warm ups.  With Mike T. and Miranda, I appreciate that they work mobility into the warm ups.  I’ve picked up a lot from them.  From Laura, I’ve learned a ton about Paleo nutrition, and I appreciate her coaching style, which I view as similar to Tim’s.  With Emily, I appreciate the high level of energy she brings at 6 AM.  Plentus and Laura have contributed a lot to my CrossFit experience through their terrific blogs, each a great source of information, especially on nutrition.  Through BarBulls, I’m getting to work more with Plentus, Paul and Tim M., and I’m learning from their tips and observations.  I’m glad that Aimee and Jason had the vision and drive to make CrossFit KOP a reality and to build and foster a community that is so supportive and welcoming.

PR's to mention? Goals Reached? Nutrition highlights?  As to nutrition, CrossFit introduced me to the Zone, Paleo and Primal.  I did a lot of reading and experimenting before deciding that an 80/20 Paleo approach works best for me.  Through nutrition and CrossFit, I’ve achieved measurable improvements in body composition and bloodwork, something I was never able to do during my three years at the globo gym.  Like everyone else, I enjoy chasing after PRs, but my overall goal is to maintain continuity and consistency with my nutrition and exercise, with a long term objective of maintaining quality of life as I get older. 

Thanks to all of the coaches for this recognizing me as athlete of the month.  I’m very fortunate to be part of this great community.


King said...

Mike S. I do not think there is someone I have seen consistently push, practice and build on their crossfit experience in such a motivated and smart way.

I see you quietly after class doing strict pull ups, push ups or something else on your list. - I know you will accomplish everything on your wish list.

It is a pleasure to work out with you in the 6am class!

Stephanie Vincent said...

Mike YOU SO DESERVE THIS!! You work hard and never let ego get in the way of your goals. You are a role model!

Jason Lyons said...

Proud of you Mike. Well done and keep up the fantastic work.

Unknown said...

YAY MIKE!! Well deserved!! You work so hard and push through every WOD with such determination, not to mention your pleasant encouraging demeanor. Congrats!!! I miss seeing you in the AM.

Travis said...

Great job Mike! Keep up the hard work.

Chris P. said...

Mike, this is so well-deserved that I honestly thought you were one of our first AOTM! haha

If anyone is wondering how to "become" athlete of the month, it's not about becoming, it's about being. Mike S. embodies what it means to be athlete of the month: humble, industrious, encouraging, positive, gritty, and more.

Congrats Mike!

Kathleen said...

Congratulations Mike! You are the poster child of what I think ATOM should be. You hold yourself to a high standard and never give up. You are a true class act!

Kathleen said...

Okay, I think I finally figured out how to get my name to show up using google. Mike surely you can appreciate my technology challenges. :-)

Gina Spinelli said...

Congrats Mike!!!!!! This is so so so well derserved! Love working out at 6 am with you. You constantly push yourself, stay determined and positive and also are one of the nicest people I have ever met. Yayyyy! Keep up all the hard work!!!!:)

Unknown said...

I haven't worked out with you much before BarBulls but it's been a great experience working with you the last few weeks. You definitely are the epitome of APTM, Congrats brotha!!

Aimee Lyons said...

Congratulations- very deserving Mike! I still remember in the early days when you would do the 6AM's with Nikki! Keep training hard. I enjoyed reading your post.

Kristin T. said...

Mike! One of the 6 AM originals! I have watched you improve so much! You are like a monkey on those rope climbs! Keep up the great work!

Mike S said...

Aimee, yes, at the time, 6AM classes were just 3 days a week, Wed. with Nikki, Thurs. with Tim and Fri. with Jeff. When I started was also right around when Chloe was born!

Everyone, many thanks for all the kind words! The community aspect of CrossFit is a big part of what keeps me motivated, and we are fortunate to have such a collegial community at KOP. This is especially true with the 6 AM crew! I'm looking forward to seeing you all again regularly after BarBulls. Thanks again everybody!

AK47 said...

Congrats, Mike! It's always a pleasure to work out with you. Thank you for your support in the class and good luck with your goals.

Jay E said...

Congrats Mike, Awesome work! You're one of the hardest working guys I've had the pleasure to work out with. Well Earned.

Oleg said...
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Oleg said...

Congrats Mike! Very well deserved!
Your hard work and dedication are amazing, a true motivation for me. Keep on being awesome!

Mike P said...

Way to go, Mike!!!!