Athlete of the Month: Mark L.
Mark Leach recently had his two year anniversary at NoCoast. It prompted me to reflect on how much he has transformed! He has lost 30 pounds, going from 190-160. He has been able to move in a completely different way than when he came in. After reading his answers, I felt that THIS is what we are all about. Serious life-change and completely turning around the trajectory of people's lives. Mark is healthier, happier, and adding years to his life by changing how he lives! Read on!
Age: 55 Weight 160 lbs.
How long have you been CrossFitting? 2 years
Athletic/Sports history/highlights: I did traditional weight training on and off for 35 years
before starting CrossFit. Weight training became so rote and boring. I love the variety
that CrossFit offers.
How did you get into CrossFit? I had been seeing my physical therapist steadily for about
3 years. We were working on unlearning the forward head posture that had severely
locked up my upper thoracic spine and neck. The ultimate goal was to get relief from
chronic migraine headaches. Although Charlie was always in shape, it became obvious
that he had taken it to a whole new level. When I asked him what he was doing to get the
results I saw in him, he said CrossFit. Then he began recommending that I try it. Me? I
thought he was insane. Weren’t CrossFitters those crazy people that pushed everything to
the limit? I had visions of electrified barbed wire and mud. I couldn’t believe he was
actually prescribing that for me! But one Saturday I bravely walked into NoCoast when it
was still over at big blue and realized that my preconceptions weren’t entirely accurate.
Then I became obsessed. In a good way. Honest.
What is your favorite WOD/CrossFit movement? This is nearly impossible for me to
answer because I have so many favorites. Okay. Hang Squat Clean.
What is your least favorite WOD/CrossFit movement? Box jumps.
What is your most memorable CrossFit moment? There have been so many and each one
builds upon the next. Recently, I was warming up pull-ups and realized that I’d achieved
extreme upper thoracic and shoulder mobility. I’m completely open and flexible in those
areas. I have developed a level of body awareness that allows me to deliberately choose
the muscles I’m going to use for each movement.
How does nutrition play a role in your fitness and recovery? I came to CrossFit already
Paleo due to multiple food allergies. I eat small meals and I don’t vary them very much at
all. I know which foods work for me and I stick to them. Mainly proteins, greens, fruit
and lots of chocolate.
How has CrossFit improved your overall wellness? CrossFit touches body, mind and
soul. I’ve learned to live my life from a place of awareness, fortitude and determination.
Each discovery is physiologically reinforced, which is the best way for me to learn and
When I face an intense WOD head on and do it well, it’s easier to call false on a random
insecure thought that crops up during the day. Before starting CrossFit, I suffered from
debilitating anxiety. Over time, repeatedly confronting the physiological challenges of
CrossFit translated into the ability to master my emotions. I no longer suffer from
anxiety. That’s a massive quality of life improvement.
Advice to new people: After some time, search your heart and ask yourself if you’re truly
passionate about CrossFit. Because I believe that’s an important component to success. If
you are, never quit. If you become injured, learn all you can about how to strengthen that
part of your body. Keep going to the gym as you heal. Injuries have taught me more than
Become aware of those thoughts that tell you that you can’t achieve a goal, whether it’s
in your life or getting through a WOD. Push and you’ll find that you have way more
endurance than you ever realized.
Scaling is perfectly OK. Don’t try to keep up with someone else in class. Always scale
appropriately today so that you can come back tomorrow and go even further.
Get outside of yourself and congratulate a fellow athlete.
Concentrate on form. Listen closely to the coaches and watch them. See if you can learn
something new each time you go to the gym. After all, you’re at the best gym there is.