Each month we highlight an outstanding member of this community as our “STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE MONTH”!!! This month we have chosen a very hard working athlete that continues to improve. He is very consistent and makes the gym a priority every day, some times twice! Let’s get to know SLADE!
What’s your age and athletic background? I am 36. My athletic background is spotty at best. I have worked out at gyms on and off my entire life, but I ramped up my fitness when I started running in 2010 and would run in 5Ks and Half Marathons. In 2012, I started a bootcamp with CrossFit style lifting when I was still living in Florida. Unfortunately, all of the progress I made towards my fitness goals ended when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014. My fitness level returned to zero after my surgery and recovery.
What results since starting CrossFit at LaLanne Fitness? After moving to San Francisco and starting at LaLanne, my body has become more toned and my strength has multiplied exponentially. I lost 4 inches around my midsection, and I have gained quite a bit of muscle. I weigh 204 now, and a year ago I was 228. While those stats are great, the biggest result has been gaining confidence in my physical ability. Anyone that has had cancer can tell you that it leaves you feeling broken, mentally and physically. My biggest fear after cancer was that I would never get back to my pre-cancer PRs. I can now happily say that fear is completely gone. I have greatly exceeded my pre-cancer PRs. I never imagined that I would ever be this strong, and I am continually getting stronger!
How has your mindset towards fitness changed since starting CrossFit at LaLanne Fitness? My mindset has changed dramatically. Fitness used to be a chore. It was fun, but it was still something that I felt “I had to do,” and I would look for any excuse to skip. When I did a great workout, it would be an excuse to skip a few days. But now, fitness is my main mode of thinking. I find myself looking for mini-challenges whenever possible. Running up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, speed walking instead of taking BART. I have also started doing workouts twice a day whenever my schedule allows for it – even if the first WOD of the day crushed me, I will come back for more! The days of me saying “I am too sore to workout” are long gone. The biggest mindset shift is that I no longer fear that I am too weak to take on new CrossFit challenges. I used to avoid movements that were challenging, but now I throw myself into it, knowing that if I cannot do it today, that I will be able to do it soon enough. Now I keep a list of movements that I want to master!
What’s your favorite CrossFit movement or workout? This is a tricky question, because any movement I am bad at or I hate becomes my “favorite” – currently my favorite is back squat, which I have been working on for weeks using the Smolov cycles to increase weight, but I have recently started to tackle thrusters and push press. I also have a strange love/hate for the Rower and the Assault Bike because they both kick my ass. I have so many movements to work on and conquer, so the list goes on and on!
Do you have any favorite CF gear? I am a tech/gear addict, so I would say that all my gear is my favorite gear! The ones that help me the most are probably my knee sleeves. Doing a WOD with 150 wall balls in the morning and then coming back to do back squats in the afternoon, really makes one gain an appreciation for knee sleeves!
Future athletic goals? My future athletic goals are quite infinite. I do not want to let anything conquer me ever again, so I will work hard to conquer everything. It is the one gift that I got from cancer after I finally beat the depression. I became twice as driven in fitness. To answer the question: I want to become CF level 1 Certified, and be able to do all the movements at the RX weights. I feel I owe it to myself and my coaches to take my training to the next level so that I compete and place in a CrossFit competition. I also want to get back into distance running and do another half marathon. From there, I am sure I will find a new set of physical goals to conquer.
What motivates you?
A few things: Fear of not being the best version of myself. Life is so frighteningly short; I want to make sure that I make the most of it. My wife, Ashley. I have always been inspired by how amazing she is physically and intellectually. Every time in the past 15 years where I think I am about to catch up, she takes it to the next level, leaving me with motivation to try harder. The coaches at LaLanne. I would not have been able to make this much progress without the nurturing environment that is so unique to LaLanne. They never gave up on me and I was forced to not give up on myself.
Thank you sincerely to: Michael De Lange for the constant encouragement, Joe Siler for being a brosef and making any WOD seem more fun than it actually was, Michael Mather for his excruciating stretches and telling me to use more weight, TJ Istvan for making Saturday Mornings fun and hilariously inappropriate, Kevin McPhee for never letting me get away with bad form, Sam Smith for being my Instagram Idol and getting my cleans from 85lbs to 155lbs, Val Tenyotkin for somehow making WODs MORE intense, Jonathan Hanna for introducing me to Smolov cycles, and Richie VanOsten for going out of his comfort zone and showing me that I can do the same. Last, but definitely not least, thank you to Chris and Maribel LaLanne for creating the best fitness community I have ever had the pleasure of being part of. It has literally changed my life.