Please Join me in welcoming January 2017's Athlete of the Month, Byron Nash!
Guitarist Musician/Owner BNDEEPendent Music Head bartender/Harris Grill, Bartender/Pork and Beans, Big Burrito Catering.
How long I've been doing CrossFit:
Four years now.
Favorite WOD: Fran (I have a love hate relationship with Fran)
What CrossFit Means to me:
CrossFit to me means FAILURE.
It was about me relearning the art of failure. I know that probably sounds odd and isn't the typical answer people give, but it is true. What I mean is, if I were to break it down percentage-wise, I fail more in CrossFit than I succeed. That's the whole process. When I was 39 I said I wanted to get in the best shape of my life by 40. I was active, but my lifestyle and job always made it hard to maintain. I "looked" in shape, but didn't feel fit. I work late nights on my feet bartending and have early mornings. I'm busy 99.9% of the time and currently on average work 7 days a week. My music, music business, projects, and three jobs keep me on the go, but It also wears me down. In conjunction with musician/bartender life, it is super hard to maintain a balanced diet and lack of sleep is my biggest problem even still. For example if I close the bar and get home by 4:30a.m., I still get up at 8a.m. to make it to the 9a.m. class. I always wonder what I could do with 6-8hours of rest. And for some time, I was also drinking too much to cope with the stresses of the life I was living. Plainly put, I was a hot mess.
When I first went to CrossFit Pittsburgh, it was on a group pact made with me and a couple guys at work. We were supposed to go on a Saturday, and give it a try no matter how hard it was. We all closed the bar the night before, and I showed up early. Once there I looked around at all of these in ultra-in shape athletes doing crazy pull-ups and stuff, all of whom were built like they were extras in the movie "300." To say I was intimidated was an understatement. Up until that point, I didn't "work out" at all. I was active for sure, but I definitely didn't lift weights ever, or spend anytime in a gym. As a matter of fact, I always hated gyms and steered clear of them. I rode my bike a lot and was fortunate that I maintained some athleticism from my teenage years of being a serious skateboarder. At that time, CrossFit Pittsburgh did a 9a.m. Saturday beginner level tryout class. Needless to say, my friends bailed and left me hanging. So I did the workout which was super-challenging for me at the time, but wasn't AS bad as I thought. Then I was convinced by Rachael Thurber (who had recently started a month prior) to stay through the 10a.m. when the real deal cats came through. I was nervous, unsure, and honestly hated every minute of it. I pushed, I failed, I fought and sucked, but most importantly: I survived. Although it was the most sore I and ever been in my life, I went for three more weeks before I committed. I decided I was going to give it a full effort no matter the outcome. Plus I knew I couldn't get into the shape I wanted to on my own. I needed help and structure.
Shortly after starting, (about a month in) my hands started failing terribly. I was concerned about my wrists due to how much I use my hands with music and my job. CrossFit was even more trauma and my hands and arms started throbbing and going numb everyday. My wrists hurt, the nerves in my hands and forearms ached so badly that I was sleeping two hours a night. I was so afraid CrossFit brought it on and seriously considered quitting. I went to so many specialists, physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors and they all assured me that the severe Carpal Tunnel I had wasn't due to CrossFit, but that it was actually helping my hands from falling completely into shambles in some ways. More than anything I feared surgery. The idea of my hands being cut open terrified me because I didn't ever want to lose my ability to play guitar. If you know me, you know that music is my life and soul. My spirit was crushed when my doctor told me that my case of Carpal Tunnel was the worst he had EVER seen. So per Dr's orders, I tried everything to keep surgery far away: braces, stretches, meds, slept in weird hand braces, yoga, six appointments a week for seven months and nothing got rid of it. The final straw was one day I was playing guitar recording and my hands went numb and I dropped the guitar pick and couldn't feel anything. I had to stop and put the guitar down. I started crying and was heartbroken. That's when I knew that I needed surgery. I was probably 6-8months into CrossFit at this point and was just starting to really get it. Long story short, I had surgery done on both hands about 6-8months apart. It was painful, but the real challenge was my recovery and rebuilding my dexterity musically and at the gym. For the longest time I couldn't do pull-ups, push ups, jump rope, kettle bells, any type of over head press or lifts. I wore a brace and gloves over my healing hand that had a hard piece of plastic in it to protect the wound as it healed. It was daunting to not being able to lift as heavy as I had started to or do a simple pull-up. For well over a year, EVERYTHING I did was modified. My confidence was repeatedly rattled because I would lose skills and strength. One day I could climb the rope, the next day I couldn't. I failed at many things that I finally started to get good at. Needless to say, I was back at square one, FOR THE THIRD TIME with CrossFit!. For, me the competitive spirit of CrossFit wasn't based on doing better than the next guy or girl in the room, beating someone's time, or lifting more than someone else. I was ALWAYS competing with the clock, self doubt, limitations and myself. Sure, I want to do well, perform well and get good scores and numbers, but I always felt that if I focused on what the next person was doing, that I already have lost because I should be focusing on myself and where I am at with the lifts, the weights, or the WOD I had to come to terms with the reality that because of my Carpal Tunnel surgery before and after, there were some things that I just physically couldn't do---for a while. However, I wasn't going to let it stop me from eventually doing those things even if it took three times as long as the next person. I was determined to beat it no matter what. Thats where my concept of failure comes in. The state of failure is a dark and lonely place where you have to dig deep inside of yourself, tap into the spirit of your being and fight one inch, one minute, one negative thought, and one day at a time to overcome obstacles to succeed. Of my four years doing CrossFit, I spent three of them in pain or recovery. To be honest, I'm finally just starting to get IT. The other thing is that I always remind myself that I couldn't do any of the things that I can do today until after I tried them and failed a couple thousand times.
Thats what CrossFit Pittsburgh brought to my life. Since then, I gained a newfound hunger, drive and fire in me that has been lit through the sport of CrossFit. In time, my hands healed, and I worked extra hard to get back to not just where I was prior, but beyond that. I had more bad days than good, but when they were good, they were REALLY good because I knew how much effort it took to get there. I happily embraced the suck, I challenged the challenges, and I am no longer intimidated by failure. I don't care what people think of me, my scores or the weight I can lift. Think about it, how many times have you failed at any lift before you got it? If I landed five good snatches, that means I probably tried fifteen to twenty times to get just those five. By design I failed more than I succeeded, and that's perfectly ok. But where the real success lies is in waking up, pushing through the soreness and tiredness, not making excuses, and getting back in the gym to put in the work. I still am confronted with hand issues regularly. I'm healed from the Carpal Tunnel, but the scar tissue prohibits mobility for me, so I had to adapt. If I have a hefty night at work slinging drinks, my hands may be tight, achy, or plain hurting the next day so I adjust accordingly. Sure, the Carpal Tunnel is gone, but I have to be mindful and some days I'll purposely lift less, or slow my pace just to avoid injury. CrossFit and maturity have taught me to listen to my body. There's days I push through, then there's others where less IS MORE for that day. I can see a lot of improvement, however, I want to get better, faster, and stronger! I'm on a serious mission in 2017.
My favorite element is that CrossFit does not allow complacency or laziness. Sure, we all have been there when we weren't focused, were exhausted, sore as hell and gave a half-assed effort, but I'm pretty sure no one ever felt good about it afterwards. That's where the coaches and other members come into play to give you that extra boost of support. I love the accountability to myself, but also to others who right there with me working on their things, trying a little harder, and are dying in the workouts right beside me. I want to try hard for them as well. To me that's my inspiration, the other members and their goals and success that I get to witness. We are all working to improve, and an old score is just that: AN OLD SCORE! Sure, maybe I had a 3:38 Fran time two years ago, but I still have to hard work at it cause I'm no where near it now. Sure, I dead lifted 500lb recently, but it doesn't matter because I still have to work on the fundamentals to improve and grow in other ways. I love that no matter how good I get, CrossFit keeps me humble, grounded and never ahead of myself because I have so much to learn still. I really embrace the mantra "Better Than Yesterday" because it doesn't allow me to be defined by yesterday's work, score or accomplishment. It gives me something to strive for everyday. There's still so many things I suck at and 2017 is the year I attack them all with a vengeance. I have the mentality that one must "Respect the Weight." The weight of a 135lb barbell, will never change. It's always going to be 135lb and heavy. The only change is me, my effort, my mental state and skill set to handle that 135lb the right way. Respect. There's no excuses in CrossFit. (aside from being smart due to injury and listening to body)--there's no excuse. Come in, do your best. Hit repeat. To me CrossFit is about finding yourself through these hard workouts, lifts and putting in effort in training, learning and adapting to new techniques to improve not just in the gym, but in life. In a weird way, I guess you could say that I found myself in CrossFit.
Thank you everyone for the support over the years. I appreciate it. It is an honor to be chosen for this month.