Athletes of the Month: Ben and Jess Mell

Ben. Havertown
Jess. Havertown

 Current Location:
Ben. Bridgeport
Jess. Bridgeport

Ben. 34
Jess. 33

Ben. Sales Manager
Jess. Home manager + home-educator. We are also parents to three kids! Definitely a job.

Ben. Drexel - Music Industry
Jess. UPenn - Philosophy + Religious Studies

 How long have you been a CrossFitter?
Ben. 2.33 years.
Jess. I started in the on-ramp class in January 2017.

 Did you ever play sports?
Ben. Once. I made it on the baseball team and after the first practice, the coach told me I should go back to little league. "What's little league?" was my response as I remember it. He told me to ask my dad.
Jess. Yes, since I was a wee one through high school-- softball, field hockey, basketball, a little lacrosse. It all vanished into thin air when I went to college, though. #poetstage

 Got some cool (or uncool) hobbies you'd like to share?
Ben. We sang in a community choir this year. That's cool, in case you weren't sure which category it fits in... I also lead a band with Jess at Conshohocken Vineyard Church #RichAndrews. Again, cool. Jess. I make some mean buffalo wings and homemade blue cheese dressing. Come over sometime. :) Also, we never turn down a good British baking show.

 What has been your biggest achievement at CrossFit in the whole 2017 year that passed?
Ben. I can do pull-ups. I did a hundred in this morning's WOD and three years ago I couldn't do one. Jess. Probably at the top of my list is rope climbs. In one of my first official WODs after the on-ramp class, rope climbs were in there. I felt so self-conscious and incapable while attempting them, and I was so discouraged that I cried on the drive home. By the end of 2017, I could do an isolated rope climb here and there. In March of this year, I completed 17 15' J-hook rope climbs in one workout! I still feel excited when I think about it. :) Stringing kipping pull-ups is pretty cool, too.

What skill have you been working on as the new year 2018 is here?
Ben. I am working on endurance in running.
Jess. I managed my first toes-to-bar in the Open, and the next step is to find the rhythm to string them together. I also want to keep working on my efficiency in pullups in general. And I am trying to fully get down to one ab-mat for handstand pushups.

 Goals for the rest of this year?
Ben. Don't let Jess pass me in any weight-lifting. And end the year 25 lbs lighter than I started it. I'm down 22 lbs so far, but keeping the food intake in-check is how it will stay there for the rest of the year.
Jess. I want to improve on the barbell, particularly lifts from the floor. I'm currently in the Bridgeport Barbell Club developmental program on Wednesday nights, and even after two sessions, I feel worlds better about my set-up and transition into the snatch and clean. Also -- deadlifts! I am determined to unravel that mystery.

 What's your favorite WOD?
Ben. My favorites are the ones with a time cap, or AMRAPs because then I'm not the last one working. Oh, and I like WODs with built-in rest. So nice!
Jess. I'm always hoping for a partner workout!

 How about your favorite food/snacks?
Ben. Wine. Chopped apples in Greek Yogurt. Butter, oil, and salt: Popcorn, chips, and salsa.
Jess. Edamame. What Ben said about butter/oil/salt. Buffalo wings. Creative specialty cocktails. I'd eat good Indian food any day of the week.

 What is the craziest workout outside of CF you have ever done?
Ben. I really enjoyed the Insanity workouts on DVD... remember those? Shawn T had such confidence in my abilities as an athlete!
Jess. Nothing from my years of playing sports holds a candle to CF workouts. [Ha! I totally forgot about Shawn T! Ooooohmy, okay, I guess that was intense.]

 What’s your least favorite WOD?
Ben. No WOD in particular, but I am truly bothered if I tear on a bar or hit my shin on a box jump. Those are the worst WODs.
Jess. 5 rounds of anything.

 Favorite lift/movement?
Ben. I like most movements that involve squats, partially because most people don't like them: Wallballs, thrusters, etc.
Jess. Box jumps. Dubs. Dumbbells. Rope climbs, now! :) Because of the lifting class, I'm starting to like the snatch.

 What’s your least favorite lift/movement?
Ben. Deadlifts. They don't like me, and I don't like them.
Jess. Easy -- ASSAULT BIKE! And any overhead barbell movement. Oh, and deadlifts, too.

 Whats your favorite piece of workout "gear"?
Ben. Fancy sweat-wicking shirts. And my new running shoes--Ghost 10s! I like cool sounding gear.
Jess. The wrist-wraps I always hope are available on that shelf near the abacus counters. My rope is pretty sweet, too, especially since Joe Comly gave it a tune-up. Like buttah.

 What you say is your biggest improvement since starting CF?
Ben. Before CF I had a problem with "tennis elbow" in my right arm from playing guitar. It really limited how many pushups I could do. At this point, it doesn't really bother me. I am guessing it's because I've built up enough support around the elbow and we don't do too many pushups.
Jess. I'd say that the overarching success so far is that after/while parenting three kids, I've been able to regularly get my fitness on for over a year and I'm only getting more excited. For me, the excitement over building strength, the desire to learn and hone new physical skills, the regular practice at enduring/not running away from physical pain -- I believe God has used all of these elements of CF to reveal parts about me that I had forgotten or didn't know were there.

 Who is your favorite coach?
Ben. Probably a tie between Manisha and Tim. I appreciate Manisha's cheer and motivation at 5:15 AM and I like that Tim is so aware of physical things. I tend to be a bit more abstract in my thinking so I learn a lot when he shares his insights.
Jess. I'll say a few things that I've appreciated about my primary coaches over the year. From Aimee -- a foundation in all things CF. I love her dynamism and energy, and her jaw-dropping skills are inspirational. From Keith -- he cracks me up, and I am grateful for his tip to think force-through-the-heels on handstand pushups. From Jenna, I will remember her tip to not fight the negative movement in things like pushups and squats. And doing the penguin-taps helped me realize that I needed to alter my rope speed on dubs. Tim is so much fun and such an expert. I'm so grateful for his hawk-eye and database brain. Steph helped me turn a corner and not fear the kettlebell! Now I really enjoy them. 

PR's to mention? Goals Reached? Nutrition highlights?
Ben. Started tracking what I was eating in January and dropped some poundage. Turns out good fat in large quantities is good for not helping me lose weight.
Jess. I joined Ben in nutrition monitoring at the start of the year and some significant weight came off fast. Many of the movements we do became easier as a result.

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