November Athlete of the Month: Corin O'Connell
Congratulations, Corin, you are our November Athlete of the Month!
Corin and Ashley have been a part of our NoCoast community since the very day we opened! They have been some of our biggest supporters and we are truly grateful for them and all that they have, and continue to do, for us! When Corin is not on the road traveling for work, you’ll find him at the 9am and noon classes. Anyone who has attended these classes knows Corin as he is truly one of the kindest, most genuine people we know. He is always the first to introduce himself to new NoCoasters and is the first to get a round of high fives going at the end of a workout. Corin embodies everything we want NoCoast to be - his goal is living a long and healthy life and he does this by coming to the gym consistently, while scaling the workouts to his abilities. Most importantly, Corin cares about everyone in our community and he thrives on working out with you. Whether it’s a competitor or someone's first day, he’ll be your biggest cheerleader! Thanks for being such an integral part of NoCoast, Corin!!
47, 200lbs, 5/11"
I've been skiing since I was 6 or 7 and that's the sport that I'm really best at and would do all the time if I hit the lottery. I did some corporate league racing for a few years but just ski recreationally now. In high school I ran cross country and was very middle of the pack. In high school I also did a lot of martial arts and taught for a couple years. During college I got into swimming after I wrecked my ankle and knee in a bike crash and couldn’t run for a year. I got into masters swimming and competed a few times but was very middle of the pack at that too. Since I learned to swim with a pool buoy I can actually swim faster without kicking than I can with kicking. In my 30’s I got into road biking and tried racing a few times but never had enough time to dedicate to it to be competitive and I was again, middle of the pack… there’s a theme here ;)
How long have you been CrossFitting?
This month makes 8 years.
What keeps you coming back after so many years?
I love the workouts, the camaraderie and the satisfaction of knowing that I’m getting stronger at a time when the conventional wisdom says I should be declining and getting weaker. I like the accountability, I’ve done a lot of different types of working out over the years and nothing has been able to keep me pushing my hardest in every workout the way CrossFit does. I definitely hold myself to a higher level because I don’t want to let down my coaches or the other people doing the WOD alongside me. I’ve also got a history of heart disease and diabetes on both sides of my family so I feel like being in shape is literally keeping me alive and adding decades to my life. And it’s always fun even when I’m suffering… Besides skiing, everything else I’ve done I’ve eventually got bored of when I felt like I’d reached a plateau that lasted for a while. With CrossFit I’m still able to keep making progress and hit new PR’s or learn new skills every week. And finally, the NoCoast community is just so great – outside of school sports there’s not many places in life where you get to regularly hang out with people you really like and scream your support of each other and high five after suffering together!
How did you get into CrossFit?
A friend who I worked with and used to bike with talked me and Ashley into trying it. I had given up biking because I was too busy and I was traveling a lot for work and eating too much crappy food – so obviously I gained weight along with bad cholesterol scores. The doctor warned me that if I kept it up I’d probably die of a heart attack sometime in my 40’s or early 50’s – Yikes! So the timing was right.
What is your favorite WOD/CrossFit movement?
I like anything that’s got intervals with fixed amounts of time for rest and work, that way I can flirt with my aerobic threshold and manage it with short recovery times. I also like the heavy weight lifting days either stand alone or in a WOD.
What is your least favorite WOD/CrossFit movement?
Burpee Box Jump Overs… They probably hate me as much as I hate them. Insta-red-zone for me. Whenever they are programmed it takes all of my self-control to keep from cherry picking.
What is your most memorable CrossFit moment?
The first time I got to the gym for a WOD that had 100 pull-ups in it and wasn’t scared. When I first started and could only do 4 or 5 pull-ups I thought doing 100 in a WOD was a pipe dream. Now when I see it I know I will finish tired, but I’m confident about getting it done. That’s a confidence that carries over to the rest of my life – big problems can be broken into manageable chunks and knocked out.
How does nutrition play a role in your fitness and recovery?
I used to eat like crap, especially when I was doing lots of endurance training and felt like I could take in all the calories I wanted. Through a few nutrition challenges and just being more aware of how fuel affects the engine, especially in masters athletes, I have realized that how I ate through my 30’s was going to kill me. Also, being really aware of getting the right mix of macros and fueling workouts has made a big difference. Just in the last 18 months I’ve gotten really disciplined about getting a lot of protein right after WOD’s, particularly heavy days, and I’ve seen big gains – all my lifts are up 10%+ in 2017 after about 3 years of a plateau.
How has CrossFit improved your overall wellness?
I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m not worried about heart attacks anymore and my blood tests are no longer in the “pre-diabetic” range. I weigh the same now as when I started but I’m down 4 or 5 inches in my waist and up a couple in my chest. I have exercise induced asthma that used to strike “randomly” when I was doing different types of workouts. Through CrossFit I’ve learned how to work up right to the edge of my aerobic threshold and hang out just below what gives me an attack. I’ve also learned/managed to push up my work capacity significantly within my AT by working out smarter. I haven’t carried an inhaler for years.
How has CrossFit changed your family?
CrossFit has been something that Ashley and I really enjoy doing together. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and usually choose to do partner WOD’s together and pick up the slack for each other’s weaknesses. Even though our kids are not doing it, we’re setting an example for them about the importance of fitness, team work, eating right, and also about having fun. JJ did CF Kids while it was offered and had a blast with it and will definitely be back. The older boys are doing school sports for now but I suspect there will be some CrossFit in their futures.
Advice to new people:
Don’t try to match what other people are doing, run your own race. There’s no shame in scaling things whether it’s for a day or even a whole set of movements, listen to what feels right for your body and goals. Especially as my recovery times are getting longer in my late 40’s, it’s all about being able to come back tomorrow – I’ll scale every time rather than doing something that will leave me wrecked and needing days of recovery. Also, trust our coaches! I’ve been to more than 40 boxes around the world and we have the best coaches who will ensure that you’re being safe and making progress. Not all things come to people at the same pace, it took me 3 years to get double unders, Ashley figured them out in about 5 minutes :)