Watch Stan’s Inspirational WOD for Spinal Cord Injury Video
What is your athletic background?
I grew up playing tennis and skiing during the winter seasons –my parents were good about exposing me to a whole lot of sports when I was younger – but I was only a recreational athlete until the end of high school. I also started Tae Kwon Do when I was about 13 years old, but it wasn’t until the very end of high school that I became much more serious about staying in shape. I was a late bloomer and as soon as I started working out consistently I was an aspiring jock. I began weight training in college and continued Tae Kwon Do on and off for the next 14 or 15 years. I was a second dan, or second degree, black belt by the time I stopped. At 26, around the time I was weaning off Tae Kwon Do, I began gymnastics which I did for about 3 ½ years.
Having done a contact sport for near half my life I suffered a fair number of injuries including a broken hand, broken fingers, a broken foot, and ankle sprains. Interestingly though, in the short time I did gymnastics I racked up more injuries than probably my entire athletic history beforehand. This included more ankle sprains, a separated shoulder, a torn MCL, and a small chip/avulsion fracture in my face. You’d think that would make me stop, but as much as the injuries sucked, I kind of wore them like a badge of honor. “This is what I have and will suffer for my sport/s”. Sounds like a weird concept to most people, but in this circle, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.
By far my most serious injury was the reason I stopped gymnastics. In November 2008 I was warming up on the trampoline before a class when I misjudged a jump. I ended up flipping in the air when I didn’t mean to and landed in the middle of the trampoline on my head and neck. Though I didn’t break anything, the hyperflexion dislocated my neck, something called “jumped facets”, making it unstable, and as a consequence I suffered a spinal cord injury. It was just about the only injury that would get me to stop gymnastics or any other sport I felt like doing. Initially, I was completely debilitated. I couldn’t use my hands because they were so profoundly weak that I could hold utensils or even type on a keyboard, and I couldn’t move anything from my chest down. Clearly, I’ve improved since then.
What is your history with CF and 215?
I had heard about Crossfit from other people, including one of my occupational therapists while I was doing rehab. It was only fairly recently before I got hurt that it occurred to me that my approach to strength training, which was still very “conventional” and muscle-isolation based, was unhelpful if not hindering me in the sports I was involved in. I wanted to completely change the way I worked out and was slowly on my way to doing so when I injured myself. Crossfit seemed like a perfect complement in terms of strength and conditioning to the skills I was trying to learn in gymnastics, because it is so involved in functional movement, and it is definitely something I would have loved to try before my injury. But early on it seemed like a bit of a pipe dream because it all was too high level for me at the time, and so it was something I didn’t pursue right away.
I finally did begin Crossfit here at CF 215 in March 2010. Just by chance, at a friend’s recommendation I got a massage within the same building complex, and as I was walking out I happened to see CF 215. At that time, I had finished formal physical/occupational therapy programs and had been back in a regular gym for nearly a year. However, especially after essentially losing all my function, I felt as though the way was working out, which had once again focused mainly on muscle isolation exercises, was inadequate for the types of gains that I wanted in my performance and needed in my day to day life. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to be able to do, but I decided to give it a shot. My first intro WOD was outside and included burpees, double unders and running up and down the ramp, all of which I sucked at. I hate sucking at stuff so I’ve been here ever since, working on getting better
Give me some of your favorite numbers on yourself?
500 burpees in under 49 minutes. 4 unbroken dead hang muscle-ups.
The best and the worst:
a. Best moment at 215: any time I manage to beat a few people at a WOD, or even better,
the once in a blue moon I beat everyone in the class.
b. Worst moment at 215: any time it takes me about twice as long to finish as everyone
c. Fav lift/movement : rolling on the foam roller. Is that a movement? Jk. Honestly, not
sure. I’m liking box jumps a little more now that I can connect a few sometimes.
d. Least fav lift/movement: Turkish Get Ups. HATE THEM.
e. Fav WOD: Twelve Days of Christmas
f. Least fav WOD: 5k runs, or anything involving TGUs.
a. 3 months – 5-10 unbroken butterfly pull ups
b. 6 months – rope climb
c. 12 months – break a 200lb squat again
Describe the impact CF and 215 have had on your life.
CrossFit has given me back a good amount of the confidence that I always got from being active. Any and everyone who suffers a debilitating injury has body, self-image and self-identity issues, and I am no exception. I defined myself by my physical abilities and endeavors and when those were taken away from me I was absolutely crushed. Crossfit has given me back a level of function that I don’t think I would have achieved by just working out the way that I had before, and while I don’t perform as well as I used to, I take pride in the fact that even as someone who is technically “disabled”, I still can outperform the average person who wouldn’t even think of trying something like Crossfit.
I can’t express how invaluable the support is that we give one another at 215 is to me, from the coaching to simply pushing and cheering each other on in a WOD. We all want to see each other get better, and in the world outside of the box that’s unfortunately an exceedingly rare thing.
What is your current nutritional plan?