June Athlete of the Month: Brett Bernstein
Congratulations, Brett! You are our June Athlete of the Month!!
Brett has been one of our most consistent morning athletes over the past few years; therefore, it has been no surprise that he’s also been one of the most consistent during one of the hardest times we have experienced over the last few months. Brett has done a great job adapting the program to what he has at home - doing all the pull ups in Murph from an I-beam is a special feat to say the least! More importantly, we truly appreciate how active and encouraging Brett has been within our community on our FB group page! He has been so awesome keeping spirits high and always has something “fun” to say to lighten the mood. We appreciate your commitment and dedication to our program and our community - thank you!
Quotes from Brett:
“I started tracking macros, which was something I told myself I would never do when I started CrossFit. Shockingly, I learned that I was not eating enough calories overall, and specifically was not getting enough carbs. In simplest terms, I was under-fueled. I could feel a difference right away when I started coming into morning WODs with a full fuel tank. Even though I'm eating more, my overall weight is down ~5 lbs. More importantly, I feel a lot leaner and have more energy in the morning.”
“It goes without saying that the past 10 weeks has been crazy, surreal, mentally exhausting and probably a dozen other descriptive adjectives. I'm incredibly grateful for Sam, Dan, and everyone in the community at NoCoast because with all that was going on, I knew that my day would feel better because I saw what everyone else was doing and did whatever workout was on the board. The sweat-angel pictures are an awesome visual on just how hard everyone is working, regardless of where, how, or when. “
45 / 175 pounds
I am a total late-bloomer as an athlete. As a kid, I was never out-of-shape per se, but I wasn't in-shape either. I still have bad flashbacks from not being able to do a single pull-up in high school gym class. I started playing lacrosse in college and then discovered triathlon after I graduated. That was my focus for 10 years and it was through triathlon that I (shockingly) found a passion for running. My favorite race was the Pikes Peak marathon which I ran in 2009 (because when you live at sea level nothing says "great idea" like running a marathon up and down a 14er). I think I had trouble walking up/down stairs for a week afterwards.
How long have you been CrossFitting?
I've been doing CrossFit for almost 5.5 years.
How did you get into CrossFit?
As much as I loved running, I was getting burnt-out. I was out of balance physically and needed a change. Windy City CrossFit was on my running route one day and they had their garage door open. I thought about it but was intimidated by how easily everyone was moving what looked like really heavy weights. Six months later in January 2015 I was training for a 1/2 marathon along the Chicago lakefront and was well past burnt-out. I decided to try Crossfit and started the day after the race (side note - NOT my best idea from a timing perspective). I committed to giving myself 6 months to figure out if CrossFit was the right thing for me.
It was exactly what I needed. Every day was something new with exercises I had never done before (hang squat what?) or something I had never even thought about doing (you want me to do a handstand AND THEN a vertical push-up? Are you nuts?). I felt challenged in ways that I only realized in hindsight I had been missing. Training and exercise became fun again.
What is your favorite WOD/CrossFit movement?
My favorite WOD is Murph. I'm a fan of long, grinding chipper WODs. The community energy that comes along with Murph is icing on the cake.
My favorite movement ... it's a tie between pull-ups and cleans. I struggled with linking pull-ups together when I started CrossFit and things just clicked for me right before my first Murph. Clean was another movement that I initially struggled with. The bar just didn't move smoothly for me. I've made a lot of progress on my Clean the past 2 years and I was *really* excited to PR 225# last fall.
What is your least favorite WOD/CrossFit movement?
If you saw me at Monster Mash in the fall then this is an easy question to guess my answer: Double-Unders. I just can't get the timing right. Every year I tell myself *this* is the year I carve out time to finally learn how to do them ... then life and family and activities gets in the way.
What is your most memorable CrossFit moment?
It's really hard to pick just one! In no particular order:
* My first Murph ... It was after that workout that I knew I was hooked.
* Open workout 20.4 ... I successfully Cleaned 225# (Yay!) and then dropped it on my head when I missed the Jerk (Doh!).
* Running Ragnar with a group from my CrossFit gym in Chicago ... I have never had so much fun doing something so exhausting. We won the CrossFit Division in 2018 for the Chicago-to-Madison race.
* My first bar-muscle-up and ring-muscle-up ... Both came in Open workouts and before those respective days I had never come close to getting a good rep for either movement. I think there is something about the Open that motivates you to push yourself harder.
* My first 12-days-of-Christmas WOD at NoCoast when I realized that the 12-ounce beer written on the board for day 12 wasn't a joke.
How does nutrition play a role in your fitness and recovery?
Nutrition was never something that I really focused on until last year. I wasn't following an unhealthy diet, but I also wasn't making nutrition an active priority. Last year I worked with a nutrition coach, who also happened to be one of my first CrossFit coaches. In addition to knowing my strengths/weaknesses, she also knew how to coach me as an individual. I started tracking macros, which was something I told myself I would never do when I started CrossFit. Shockingly, I learned that I was not eating enough calories overall, and specifically was not getting enough carbs. In simplest terms, I was under-fueled. She prescribed a marco-plan that had me at nearly 2700 calories (which was not as easy as I thought it would be). I could feel a difference right away when I started coming into morning WODs with a full fuel tank. Even though I'm eating more, my overall weight is down ~5 lbs. More importantly, I feel a lot leaner and have more energy in the morning.
How has CrossFit improved your overall wellness?
CrossFit helped me find the balance in my training that had been missing. I'm in better shape in my mid-40s than I was in my 30s (or for that matter, my 20s). Beyond the physical side, I've gotten so much out of the community side of Crossfit both here in Colorado and when I lived in Chicago. I didn't expect that to be such an important part of what CrossFit means to me.
It goes without saying that the past 10 weeks has been crazy, surreal, mentally exhausting and probably a dozen other descriptive adjectives. I'm incredibly grateful for Sam, Dan, and everyone in the community at NoCoast because with all that was going on, I knew that my day would feel better because I saw what everyone else was doing and did whatever workout was on the board. The sweat-angel pictures are an awesome visual on just how hard everyone is working, regardless of where, how, or when. (Speaking of "when", a side note to the 5:30am crew ... I'll be back soon.)
How has CrossFit changed your family?
I think Crossfit has been a great way to set examples for our kids about the importance of movement, mobility and nutrition. In Chicago, I would sometimes take them both to open gym on Sundays. My son *loved* the NoCoast kids class back in January. My daughter joined me for a workout a few weeks ago and it was all she talked about the rest of the day. I've been really excited as they've both taken more and more interest in what I'm doing in the basement each day. After watching me do Murph this year, they both asked really good questions and designed their own scaled version.
Advice to new people:
(1) The hardest part is walking in the door the first time.
(2) You be you. Everyone has a different fitness journey so the only person you need to compare yourself with is the "you" from yesterday (and even then the comparison is totally optional).
(3) Everyone was once in your exact shoes trying to learn new movements. Everyone is going to be supportive. Everyone wants you to succeed.
(4) Trust the coaches and, more importantly, trust yourself. You got this.
(5) You will be sore in muscles that you didn't know existed. Don't worry ... It's all good.