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Stan Yoo

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.

IMG_6137What 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?

Um… I eat. Kidding. I confess to not eating Paleo or

Zone, but watching others do it, you can’t help but try to eat more healthily and balanced as well.
Name one thing outside of 215 that has been affected by your training.
One thing that CF has done is that it has encouraged me to be an active participant in my life. Starting at 215 was really one of my first steps (excuse the pun) at willingly re-entering any sort of community since my accident. I was hesitant at first, since I wasn’t sure how I would like it, how well I would do, whether I could tolerate it, etc. but I did it anyway. As a result I made gains I wasn’t sure I ever expected to make, new friends and in some ways created a new definition and understanding of myself. At times I still find it difficult to involve myself in new things/situations, but when I reflect on all the good that has and continues to come out of doing CF – something I started because on a whim one day I walked through the 215 doors – I become much more open to new experiences and possibilities they might bring. Cheesy, but true.
What’s one thing interesting about you, whether your fellow 215ers know it or not.
I’m a food network junkie. OK, not so interesting, but it’s all I can think of at the moment.

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