Member Monday: Mark M

Mark has been a major presence in the early AM classes. Whether waiting patiently in the dark winter mornings for the coach to open so he can set up his deadlifts or quietly remarking on the inspirational qualities (or lack thereof) of the coach’s music choices, Mark is the perfect gym member: always enthusiastic and consistent! 

How long have you been at the Woodshed and what made you first drop by?
I started at the Woodshed in August of 2012. After a little over a year of commuting every day into Boston by train (about 2 hours door to door each way) I swore that if I could ever swing the work-from-home gig, I would take all that time (and money) spent commuting and find a gym. When I shared this with a friend, he asked if I was one of those people who doesn’t want to have to think about working out, but just needs to get their butt kicked, and when I said yes, he told me I should look into Crossfit. Google told me there was one 4 miles from my house (who knew?!), so it was clearly fate that I ended up here.

Have you always been an athlete?
I was never an athlete, actually. In fact, “gym” (as we used to call it when I went to school 😉 was actually my least favorite (OK, dreaded) class every week, for myriad reasons. I struggled with weight issues for a long time, and when I finally joined a gym after college and started seeing results, my perspective on physical improvement changed, and it enabled me to see the possibilities if I took control. 

What’s your favorite workout/lift, part of this community?
Of all the great things I could say about the Woodshed to anyone considering joining our community, what I would tell them first is to forget anything you’ve ever thought “joining a gym” meant, and forget everything you’ve ever read about “Crossfit”. From the day I walked in for my first class, to every day since, I’ve never left the place feeling like I wasn’t coming away in a better place — mentally, if not always physically, because, well, you know, we all have off days — and that could be either because someone encouraged me during a lift, or that I had an opportunity to watch someone set a personal best they’ve been striving for, or just because I worked up a sweat and knew that my fitness work for the day was done, and my coffee was within striking distance.  If you ask me to “pick a lift”, I guess it would have to be Deadlift. Despite some hip flexibility issues I have always been challenged with, it is by far the lift that always yields the most quantifiable progress for me, and the best endorphin high when you hit that final rep.

What is your best advice/workout habit/rehab motivation you can share that may help other members?
It sounds trite, but like so many things, fitness is really a day by day thing. Yes, goals are great, and they help you monitor progress and track milestones. But, it’s also very liberating to just know that each day (or every other day, depending on your schedule!) you are doing something to challenge yourself and, more than likely, improve some aspect of who you are. Every day you show up (or do a home workout, “during these challenging times”)  is an achievement, and you will feel better on your way out the door than you did coming in.

What do you like to do in your downtime (i.e. when not in the middle of a leisurely Woodshed workout)?
I am very much a foodie, am also into film and contemporary art, and like to travel. So, if I’m not home making something interesting for dinner and then picking out something to watch on Netflix afterwards, you’ll find me in some other country, attending a film festival, and eating in some interesting places (between movies!). 

Tell us something interesting about yourself. 
When I retired from the corporate world 3 years ago, I transitioned pretty immediately into what has evolved (unexpectedly) into a different type of full-time role as Board President of Fivesparks, an arts and culture non-profit based in Harvard. Among other things, we offer art, movement, and other classes for both kids and adults, in addition to a constantly changing schedule of programs, exhibits, and workshops. As an all-volunteer organization, it is truly a labor of love, but we have a great team that works really hard to keep things going. I guess the tie-in here is that others, like me, might be surprised to learn how some unexpected pursuit can lead to similarly-unexpected gratification, and may add something to your world view that wasn’t otherwise available. For me, that was the Woodshed.

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