2036 Blake St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
A little over a year ago, I called Grassroots Crossfit and the first words out of my mouth were, “I want to join, but I can’t do any pull-ups!” One of the trainers, Kris, explained how everything in Crossfit could be modified so I could build the strength to actually do a pull up (and many other things).
The whole time he was saying that, I was thinking to myself, “How the hell can you modify a pull up with a 300+ lb. man!?” If you didn’t know, I was over 300 pounds at one point. Kris described many different ways to alter the pull up, which made me feel more comfortable about joining. I told him I’d drop in during the next Monday class to test it out.
Here are a couple before pictures ( Yes, I was a professional video game player ).
I attended one of the morning classes to see the other trainer, Melissa. I told her the exact same thing, “I can’t do any pull ups!” I remember her specifically saying, which I tell everyone today, “Everyone comes here for the same reason-- which is to get in better shape.”
Every class starts off with a quick 400m run. The first week, that honestly felt like a mile. I was extremely exhausted by the time the warm-up was over. When you first walk into the gym, you see nothing. It’s just a huge empty room with a rig. That alone scared me because it says running and sweat all over it. If you know me, you know how much I HATE running. And just as I thought, I was right.
In the beginning, the workouts would be so fierce, I would become exhausted and I was on the verge of quitting. I know 100% if I did all of those workouts alone and if Melissa and the class weren’t there to encourage me, I’d still be 300+ lbs. I would’ve given up the second I felt unpleasant, but something about the whole class and Melissa cheering me on pushed me to finish.
No matter how much faster people finished, Melissa encouraged me to always have proper form and not worry about time because it was going to build more strength which would help me out in the long run. What’s the point of doing something fast and wrong? (Yes yes, my butterfly pull-ups could use some work…I know!)
By the end of the workouts, my gas tank was on empty and all I could do was just collapse on the ground, gasping for air. Ever since I started working out, that was the feeling I wanted. I could never get that tired or sweat that much at a regular gym. But this really sweet trainer named Melissa could make me collapse on the ground—almost drowning in my own sweat—within 5-15 minutes. I loved how short and effective it was. Over time, I’ve learned that the easier it looks on the board, the harder it will hurt. I knew then I was bitten by the Crossfit bug.
Month after month, I started seeing progress. I started with the black band for pullups, and eventually I moved on to the green, then the blue, and next thing you know, nothing at all! Now I’m banging out muscle ups and butterfly pullups like its my job! Just showing up and not cherry picking the WODs, I see progress almost every day. I had never run a mile in under 7 minutes in my life, and now I can!
Accomplishments like that happen over and over now. What Melissa said when I first started was right. No one is there to laugh at you. Everyone is there for the same reason and is going through the same pain you’re going through. Doesn’t matter how you modify it, you’re still feeling the same pain the person next to you is.
One of the biggest things I had to work on was my diet. I asked the trainers for help and they gave me some ideas and specific things to eat. I decided to follow the strict paleo diet, and that lasted for about a week and a half until one day I decided to eat fried chicken with some cookies. It was amazing for about 5 minutes! After that I had a stomachache for the next hour. The next day, the workout consisted of running and other things. Halfway through the workout, I seriously felt all of the fried chicken and cookies in my stomach. It felt like there was a huge rock holding me down and I couldn’t run. From that moment on, I said to myself I was never going to eat garbage again. This is my advice: if you really want to lose weight, go strict for a week or two then cheat! You will feel how awful garbage food is! It will stand out like Arne in a club! (Arne is 6’8” for those of you who don’t know him).
Now that a whole year has passed, I can proudly say I have lost 100lbs exactly! Without the constant support from Melissa and the community, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I love it so much, I have to be reminded to rest. I have met some amazing people and have had some great times at the gym. If you see me doing some insane workouts or wearing something ridiculous, its probably because I’ve lost a bet (see the tutu photo above). Now that I see newcomers almost everyday, I wanted to pass on the things I’ve learned. I hope to create many more memories and like Melissa said….
Remember, we’re all here for the same reason :D
Thanks for the amazing year Grassroots! Love you tons!