A: 21 Unbroken Back Squats, 15 Unbroken Back Squats, 9 Unbroken Back Squats
B: As Many Rounds As Possible in 12 Minutes:
10 Ring Dips
10 Lunge Steps
C: Tug of War
In the video below, recent CFNYC member Ari Meisel talks about how he overcame a chronic, life-threatening health issue through changes in lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition that allowed him to get off of medications and heal his body. Since filming this talk, he’s started crossfitting to take his health to the next level. Watch the talk first then read my Q&A with him below:
What has changed since you did your talk? You took Elements with me in the past month and are now attending CrossFit workouts. But tell us what else has changed with training/nutrition/sleep/recovery, if anything? Well I did the Ironman for one. It was an incredible experience but once was enough for me. I feel like I tackled endurance, now I want to gain function. The biggest thing is time, at my peak I was training 20 to 25 hours per week. I would get up at 4 in the morning and bike until 8 on a trainer in my office staring at a TV screen. Now I look at a “Fran” that takes 4 minutes and totally destroys me, I like those numbers better. While training for the Ironman my diet was probably 85% carbs and I was consuming approximately 6,000 calories per day. Now I’ve reversed it. I’m a pescetarian so I’m eating a lot of fish, tofu, beans, and good fats like olive oil and avocados. I do my best to cut sugar out of my diet. I’m sleeping more than I was back than and as far as recovery, I’ve found that the pescatarian diet, which is highly alkaline, seems to aid in much faster recovery.
You plan on doing half-Iron Man and Iron Man distance triathlons. Do you worry about such extreme endurance training beating you down too much? Do you engage in any active recovery practices and if so, what?It’s so much a mental game it’s ridiculous. Dealing with Crohn’s Disease I learned to live with an enormous amount of pain every day and I needed something even harder on my body to give me perspective. I’m a big believer in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you can push through mentally and tackle small goals, one at a time, you won’t get too beat up. And I mean SMALL goals, finishing a Helen is not a goal…one more kettlebell swing is a goal. I find that swimming is excellent for active recovery, no impact, nice cool water, it’s the best. Plus I’m a big fan of the Russian and Turkish Baths on 10th Street. The hottest room is 260 degrees and the cold plunge is below freezing, there aren’t many neuromuscular problems I’ve dealt with that it hasn’t solved.
How does your yoga practice inform your approach to crossfit?I have a greater understanding of anatomy and flexibility. I know what I should be feeling and what I shouldn’t be feeling. For instance, if my hamstrings aren’t screaming when I do Good Mornings, I’m probably rounding my back. The yoga increased my level of proprioception immensely. Also when something feels sore, I know exactly how to stretch it out.
What are you most excited about with crossfit-style training?I actually look forward to the blog posts each night, I follow 6 different feeds including Crossfit Endurance, and SealFit. I love that there’s always something different and that you can always do better. I feel like I’m seeing exponential improvement with Crossfit where I haven’t seen that in other activities.
You told me when you started crossfit that you wanted to get stronger. Tell us more about why you want to get stronger.
Mostly because of my struggle and eventual triumph over Crohn’s. I was so weak when I started that a flight of stairs would get me winded. Our bodies are machines and you need to keep them running at peak capacity or the gears start to gunk up and things break down. When I started a month ago my max deadlift was 95 lbs for 1 rep (I know, I know). The other day I did 7 times 3 reps of 225. I got so lean training for the Ironman that if I leaned over to pick up a back of groceries I had to worry that I might pull something. My body can handle a lot more now. Also, I do Krav Maga and I used to box. My main asset in fighting had always been speed, now it’s becoming power.
How has your then-girlfriend and now wife helped you in your journey towards health and fitness? She was instrumental in turning me onto yoga and getting my nutrition where it needs to be. She was my yoga teacher for months and really worked at improving my practice. When it came to nutrition, she went against what everyone else said (which was that greens were my problem) and got me eating less meat (now just fish) and lot and lots of hearty greens. The results were immediate and lasting.
Anything else you’d like to add…? For months leading up to the Ironman people kept asking me what was next and I didn’t know. Crossfit has opened my eyes to what I consider a revolution. As the SealFit guys say, “Do today what others won’t, do tomorrow what others can’t.”
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Here’s what’s on tap for Thursday’s WOD classes:
A: HSPU Practice
B: In teams of 3:
Row 3000 meters
100 Thrusters 95#/65#
300 KB Swings 24kg/16kg
One person per station, rotate each minute, with the team picking up the rep count from where the last person at the station left off. When the total number of reps for a station are complete, that station becomes rest.
(e.g, A rows 1200, B rows 1100, C rows 700, A does 15 thrusters, B does 20 thrusters, C does 10 thrusters, A does 10 thrusters, etc…)
C: 50 Knees-To-Elbows
Each time you let go of the bar, do 5 burpees