CrossFit Anniversary: March 2016
Starting weight: 327
Current weight: 254
Favorite CrossFit Movement: Snatches—Once I started getting them down, I was just like, ‘they’re fun’—the fact that you can just throw that weight up over your head.
Favorite WOD: DT
Movement that makes you most likely to skip a workout: Burpees. Or running.
Favorite thing to do after a WOD: Lay on the floor and complain.
I always ask our members why they decided to try CrossFit. The answers are all different, but they also have a commonality: everyone who joins wants something that works, and something they can stick with. Before Dion Thompson joined CrossFit 405, he told himself over and over that he would find a gym, that he would get his health back on track, that he would find a way to lose the hundred-plus pounds he’d gained since high school.
And he did. It just took one friend’s invitation to help him find the way that worked for him.
“My buddy Kyle Weirich was like, ‘hey, you should try it one time, see if you like it.’”
Dion’s grandfather had just passed, and he was starting to take a serious look at his health.
“I realized I was at a point in my life where I was either going to keep gaining, or do something to fix my life.”
But he knew if he simply did a drop-in class, he wouldn’t be invested. He knew he didn’t need another failed gym sign-up—he wanted to make sure his buy-in was solid.
“I thought, ‘if I just drop in to one class, I’ll quit,’” he said. “So I signed up for the whole on-ramp class.”
He competed his first on-ramp class with Karen, moving through the introduction and warm-ups we all complete during our first week of classes at CrossFit 405. And then, the workout: a 400 meter run followed by 40 air squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, and 10 burpees.
Once it was over, he said, he did want to quit.
“I felt like crap,” he said. “I couldn’t feel my arms, couldn’t feel my legs.”
So Dion resolved not to come back to the next on-ramp class.
At the time, he was a part of an adult kickball league, and the Monday after his first CrossFit WOD, coaches Karen and Madison, along with James attended his kickball game. They asked him a simple question: “Are you coming to your next on-ramp class Wednesday?”
Ah, the subtleties of peer pressure.
Dion thought, what’s one more class?
“I figured I paid the money,” he said, “might as well spend the on-ramp money.”
And so his “one more class” turned into finishing the week, and because he recognized the investment he was making, he finished the program—and that’s when he found his hook. When the on-rampers came to their last day of class, they had to repeat the workout from their first day at CrossFit—more running and burpees—both things Dion still hates.
Even so, he finished the workout more than 10 minutes faster than his first time doing the WOD, and he couldn’t ignore the results.
“There’s proof in the pudding,” he said.
Dion didn’t know much about CrossFit before he joined 405. Most of his exposure was from watching the games when they came on ESPN on Saturday afternoons.
“I thought it was interesting—the different mindset about workouts,” he said.
He was used to the popular concept of focusing on one muscle group at a time, doing an “arm workout” one day, and “leg day” the next, with cardio planned a few days every week. He admitted to having a few preconceived notions about “The Box” before he joined.
“I kept expecting the ‘bro-ment,’” he said. “In regular gyms—globo gyms—there are ‘bros’ everywhere. I thought CrossFit would just be a place where all the ‘bros’ wanted to do long, hard workouts.”
Dion noted that it’s not often you find people in “regular gyms” cheering each other on through a workout, or even making casual chit-chat. Everyone typically keeps to themselves, barring the awkward moment when you have to ask a stranger for a spot.
“But there was none of that here,” he said. “There was a community aspect to it. CrossFit sort of helped me break out of my social shell—I’m pretty quiet and I keep to myself, but this kind of forces you to break out of that. It’s just different than going to a regular gym.”
In fact, he said that the social part of CrossFit 405 was probably his favorite aspect of the sport. Whether that meant the fact that there’s always a coach to correct his form, or someone to cheer him on when he’s losing steam—he realized you’re never on your own when you’re working out at CrossFit 405.
“Even seeing other people struggle is encouraging,” he said, “because you see them struggle and then realize it’s okay that you’re struggling too.”
The Struggle and Striving
As much as he loves CrossFit 405, Dion said it can be difficult to make it to the gym on days when other parts of his life feel overwhelming, and that makes it harder to keep his head in the game during the WODs.
“After long workdays, if I have a super stressful day,” he said, “sometimes I’m still more worried about stuff going on at work or home.”
Which is ironic, he noted, because he knows that those are the types of days he really needs a workout.
“That’s usually why I come to evening classes, so I can work out that stress.”
When stress isn’t enough of a motivator on the days when he’s dragging, he relies on his old reason for sticking with the WODs.
“I look at my bank account and watch that money come out!” he said. “A hundred and fifty bucks matters. Unless I’m hurt, I’ll be here three times a week and coming to open gym on Saturdays.”
And of course, there’s the long-term, more fulfilling reasons Dion stays committed at CrossFit 405. He said he likes being able to prove to himself that he can do more, and that he’s getting stronger every time he makes it in for a WOD. Plus, he’s determined not to give up on his long-term dream of getting back to his post-high school weight.
“It used to be that every day, I told myself, ‘I’m gonna go sign-up for a gym, get under 300,’” he said. “Now I finally did, and I’m dropping weight, and I’m still pushing toward 205. Every day I’m getting closer and closer to realizing that goal.”
Not only has CrossFit helped Dion get motivated for his physical health, but being around the coaches and members at CrossFit 405 has challenged him personally as well. He said he’s used to doing things for himself, and that he’s very individualistic in most areas of his life—but CrossFit has challenged that.
“CrossFit has gotten me out of my shell to accept criticism and improve,” he said. “And to try new things—all the Olympic lifts—before CrossFit, I would never do snatches, ever. Or double-unders. Or even attempt to do handstand push-ups.”
And like most people, there’s something about CrossFit that brings out his competitive side.
“I do wanna be better than everybody,” he said. “But I know my limitations, so I can’t complete with everybody here.”
Instead of pushing himself to be the best at everything and burning out, Dion works to focus on his own strengths. Even in his on-ramp class, when he was learning alongside an ex-military yoga instructor, Dion decided he would be satisfied with the fact that he could lift heavier than his classmate, because that was a strength of his. If his classmate finished all the metcons faster or got a pull-up first, Dion recognized that that meant they each simply had different strengths.
“You might beat me tomorrow or the next day,” Dion said, “but I’ll beat you at at least one workout this week.”
Sounds like Coach Joey was right when he called Dion a “hard-working teddy bear.”
“It’s the damn truth,” Dion said. “I’m the biggest, softest person you will probably ever meet.”
With that attitude and his commitment to his goals, there’s little chance this guy is going to fail. Dion’s example is proof that with a few simple changes, and commitment to a specific goal, you can improve. You just have to sign-up for your next step.