Athletes of the Month: The Spaks

Hometown: Mark - Cherry Hill, NJ
Jamie – Norristown, PA

Current Location: Bridgeport, PA

 Mark – 29
Jamie - 33

Occupation: We’re both IT Managers at Vanguard.

 Mark - Rutgers University and working on my Drexel MBA
Jamie - Ursinus College undergrad and Drexel MBA

How long have you been a CrossFitter?
 Mark - 2.5 years
 Jamie - 3 years

Did you ever play sports?
 Mark – I played baseball, basketball, and hockey growing up but baseball is what I played most in organized leagues. I also used to skateboard, wasn’t great but can still do a kickflip, so that’s cool to show off sometimes. Now I play intramural flag football and softball and as much golf as possible. I play pickup basketball when I can and roller hockey at marple sports arena but had to stop both of those because life got in the way…especially getting my MBA…that got in the way big time…so did getting a dog, but it’s worth it.
 Jamie – I played field hockey and lacrosse 6th grade through senior year of high school. You may know a few of my teammates from high school, Alicia Marie and Bri! I never planned to play a sport in college, but after getting into Ursinus College and hearing amazing things about their field hockey program, I decided to try out for the team as a walk on. I was one of the lucky few walk ons that survived pre-season and made the team. Throughout my college career, my team made it to the NCAA DIII tournament each year, making it to the Final Four twice and winning the DIII national championship! It was such a fun and amazing experience! Being a member of the Ursinus Bears field hockey team and program molded who I am today as an athlete - I’ll always miss it. To help fill the void of being on a sports team, now I play co-ed Softball and Flag Football in my company’s intramural league.

Got some cool (or uncool) hobbies you'd like to share?
 Mark – I like to cook and make craft cocktails. Other than that, crossfit is a hobby of mine and so is golf. Did I mention I like craft cocktails? Mmm bourbon.
 Jamie – Does CrossFit count? I’m not sure if these would count as hobbies, but I love cooking new paleo recipes, hosting events and trying new restaurants. Oh, and if you put a Nintendo in front of me, it will be hard to tear me away from a game of Super Mario.

What has been your biggest achievement at CrossFit in general?
 Mark – my biggest achievement has honestly been consistency. Since I’ve joined about 2.5 years ago I try workout about 5x per week and have been very successful. I haven’t had this amount of consistency in an exercise routine in my entire life. Prior to joining KoP, Jamie was at a different crossfit gym and she’d wake up to go to the morning class and she’d try to wake me up to go to LA Fitness. It worked some days. Other days, she’d think I’d wake up and go but to her surprise, I’d just go back to sleep and not go because I wasn’t motivated enough. 6 months later, I was finally convinced to start crossfit but I told her I wasn’t going to her gym because there was one walking distance from our house, so enter Mark to KoP in November 2017 when Jenna gave me my first fundamentals class and I told her I wanted to sign up for unlimited ASAP. So, biggest achievement = consistency…and pullups. When I first started I had to use the largest band we had AND a small band to get ONE pullup…Steph remembers…and now, I can string a bunch, good stuff.
 Jamie – I would have to say winning the Open at my previous gym, CrossFit Ironborough. As long as I’m a member of Crossfit KOP, that will never happen again, so I have to hold on to that moment ☺

What skill had you been working on all during 2018, and did they become successes?
 Mark – squats. Jamie can almost squat as much as me, soooo I’m really trying to make sure she doesn’t catch up to me. So far, I’m successful there.
 Jamie – In 2018, I was getting really close to my first ring and bar muscle up. Unfortunately a shoulder injury in August stopped me in my tracks. Although, I didn’t succeed at that goal, I learned a very valuable lesson – I need to stop focusing on RX’ing every wod and to #TrainForLongevity (shout out to Dana for drilling this into my head).

Goals for the 2019 year?
 Mark – don’t let Jamie beat me on anything strength related…besides multiple rep deadlifts because I’m not good at them (or don’t know how to do them right because they hurt my back). But for real, my goal is to get on the 100 dubs board. I get to like 75 and die…one day I’ll get there.
 Jamie - In 2019, my focus has been to reintroduce the movements I haven’t been able to do since my shoulder injury in a safe way. So far I have been able to add back in kipping pull ups, chest to bar, toes to bar and snatches. I’d also love to be able to do a 20 ft rope climb without crying (I’m afraid of heights)!

What's your favorite WOD?
 Mark - Anything with rope climbs and Fight Gone Bad. I literally love rope climbs, something about climbing things is fun to me, maybe it’s all those trees I used to climb as a kid idk. Fight Gone Bad…this was my first workout (after fundamentals)…welcome to CrossFit, Mark!
 Jamie - I don’t really have WODs memorized, so this is a hard one. I love any long and grueling wod that includes heavy cleans, jerks or deadlifts. WODs that come to mind are DT and The Chief.

How about your favorite food/snacks?
 Mark - Tacos, chips and salsa/guac, margaritas, sushi, BOURBON
 Jamie – Easy, Late July Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips and Bluefin sushi.

What is the craziest workout outside of CF you have ever done?
 Mark - Half marathon…it was exactly that…crazy. Idk how people do full marathons just imagine the training for it, “Ok family, I’ll be back in 3 hours, just going for a run!”…nah, I’d rather do an hour of crossfit, and maybe some extra wod(s) with my morning crew. Shout out to the morning crew! You’re the best! (Sorry everyone else)
 Jamie – CrossFit takes the cake for craziest workouts I’ve ever done, but I guess you could say the 2 or 3 a days we did during field hockey preseason were pretty nuts – mentally and physically. 

What’s your least favorite WOD? Mark – Probably the 5RM Deadlift, because like I mentioned earlier, I’m not good at them/don’t know how to do them correctly. Jamie – I know I said that I like WODs with heavy lifts, but I truly despise the Bear Complex. It’s miserable.

Favorite lift/movement?
 Mark - Rope climbs, back squats, and 95# thrusters Jamie – Cleans and Squat cleans for sure. And dumbbell movements. What’s your least favorite lift/movement? Mark – Deadlifts
Jamie – I HATE rowing. I’ve gotten good at rowing, because I hate it so much and want to get off as soon as possible, but I still hate it. The 2K test we did the other day was so mentally draining for me. I also hate anything with 20 ft rope climbs, because they make me cry and muscle ups and overhead squats because I can’t do them right now ☹ .

Whats your favorite piece of workout "gear"? 
Mark – It used to be my grips but I think I lost them…so it’s probably my nobull shoes or my king kong bag.
 Jamie – Unfortunately for our bank account, I recently became a Lulu addict. I love my Lulu “Time to Sweat” leggings ☺

What you say is your biggest improvement since starting CF?
 Mark - My endurance. I used to get so tired during workouts and take super long breaks. Don’t get me wrong, I still welcome a break and am not considering myself “fast” at workouts but I have noticed that I am taking a lot shorter of breaks and can move through workouts more efficiently than when I first started…must be those 30 pounds I lost since I started here!
 Jamie – Since college, I’ve always been a fitness junkie mainly focused on cardio and light lifting. Since starting CF, my biggest improvement has been my strength training and the confidence that I can learn and improve new skills every day. The thing I cherish most about CF is the community and the friends I’ve gained. When my field hockey career ended, I lost a family. CF gave me another family to love. I joined KOP in August and immediately felt like I belonged. I have Mark to thank for introducing me to his gym and all of you for being so welcoming ☺

 Who is your favorite coach?
 Mark – you’re not getting ANYTHING out of me on this question. OK maybe this one thing…Aimee you’ve done an AMAZING job hiring the coaches at KoP, they are all great.
 Jamie – This is a tough one. We’re so lucky to have such an amazing staff of coaches at KOP, each bringing something unique to our CF journey. Manisha and Tim – Thank you for being up at a crazy hour every morning to let us 5:15er’s WOD while everyone else is sleeping. You’re both so knowledgeable and truly care about our morning crew. Aimee – without your dream, vision and dedication, the CrossFit KOP community wouldn’t have been possible. You’re an amazing coach and leader and an inspiration to the females that want to be strong AF. Keith – I don’t get to take your classes often, but when I do, I learn a ton and laugh even more

 PR's to mention? Goals Reached? Nutrition highlights?
 Mark – There’s just way too many things to list here. I started crossfit because I wanted to get in better shape leading up to our wedding…I didn’t know I’d get addicted to it to the point where I’m staring at the clock at 8:55pm for 5 minutes so I can go to the web browser on my phone as soon as the clock strikes 9 and type in “a” and aimeesfitnessblog.blogspot.com is the first thing to pop up. I’ve reached so many goals and so many more goals to go: 100 dubs, heavier squats, handstand walks, ring muscle ups, and the list goes on. I just think it’d be so cool to walk on my hands…I mean, what other move can you whip out in the wild that people would think is cool that don’t go to a crossfit gym? Handstand walks! I guess I should practice them more. Thank you for picking us for athletes of the month!! We are honored and we love you all! See ya tomorrow morning crew!
 Jamie – My biggest PR moment was hitting a #180 squat clean! As far as Nutrition, Mark and I have been experimenting with weighing and measuring when we can and adding more protein to our diets. I think these changes have helped us out a ton.

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