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Member Spotlight - Matthew Cirnigliaro

Matt's dedication to fitness, nutrition, and family over the past few years landed him this Member Spotlight. His inspirational story below speaks volumes to to the type of person that he is, and anyone who has had the pleasure of talking to Matt during or after class could attest to such. After an initial stint at CFJI a few years back, Matt has returned in a big way and dedicated his attention to a healthier lifestyle for both him and his children, who are also members at the gym. You can find Matt at almost any class time throughout the week, so next time you see him be sure to congratulate him on being this month's Member Spotlight!

You started CrossFit a while back and then went all-in on when you restarted. How different do you feel from the day you started until today?

I first started at CFJI during a sort of hectic time in my life, and I didn't do a good job of consistently carving out time for it. That led to a hiatus. When I returned, I was a lot more focused. Getting to the gym is near the top of my priority list now; hectic or not. I've been consistent for about a year and a half, and the changes in my strength and athleticism are dramatic. CrossFit is really humbling though.

When I started, I would have told you that I was in decent shape. After your first couple months of CrossFit though, even though you've progressed from where you started, you realize just how far you have to go to truly be in decent shape. It has a way of speaking truth to some of the little lies our egos like to tell us.

Your twin boys are in the CrossFit Kids program and your oldest, Enzo, has become a staple of the 5 pm class. How important has it been to you to see how much your boys have enjoyed being healthy and working out at such a young age?

I love that they're interested in their health, and I hope these habits stick. Honestly though, that is secondary at this point. Like a lot of young boys, they love sports. They look up to the athletes they see on TV; not so much as role models, but just in awe of their physical abilities. As a kid, it's easy to look at those athletes as simply gifted when in reality there is a ton of work that goes into honing their bodies for their sports. That's the message that I want my boys to get. I want them to feel empowered to improve their performance rather than feeling like they're at the mercy of a higher power that only hands out talent to some. While CrossFit helps teach that lesson physically, I hope the concept imprints on them in a broader sense as well; that they have the power to improve themselves.

I notice a lot of times you will pair up with Enzo on workouts and warmups — how has it been to have that extra time with him and how competitive are the two of you?

Enzo LOVES the competition. It's always a big day for any adolescent boy when he beats his dad at something. It won't be long before he whips me at everything. However, I have an ulterior motive for pairing up with him at the gym. A 14 year-old boy and a 37 year-old man don't have a great deal in common. Their typical days are very different, they read different books, they watch different shows, they have different definitions of success, and they have different stressors. A lot of adolescents sort of drift away from their parents because of this. I sure did, and I got myself into a lot of trouble. I signed him up at CFJI so that we could have a touchstone through these teen years. We get to spend time together, we get to talk about the WOD, and we get to track our gains (GAINZ!) together. Of course, he thinks it's just so he can get ready for football next year. Don't tell him my little secret!

Between work and being "taxi-dad", I'm sure your schedule stays pretty packed, but what do you like to do for fun when you are away from the gym and work?

I'm an avid ocean kayaker. You can find me out in the surf on Folly just about every Sunday morning. I was also a baseball player in my younger days, and I'm thinking about joining a team this spring. I like the idea of using my gains (GAINZ!) for athletics outside of CFJI. CrossFit has definitely made me a better paddler. We'll see what it does for my opposite field power!

What do you like most about CFJI?

Man, that's hard. There are so many things I like about CFJI. I love that I don't have to think much. As you pointed out, my days stay pretty packed. At CFJI, I don't have to think much about my fitness. I just show up, get my ass kicked, and enjoy feeling better. I also love that the coaches force me to do what I suck at. If you're in charge of your own fitness, you tend to do what you're good at because it boosts your ego. At CFJI, I have to work on my weaknesses because that's where improvement happens. I love that. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the community here. I'm not sure if smart people are just interested in fitness or if CFJI actually makes you smarter, but we have an awesome group of super smart people at our gym. One of my favorite sayings is, "If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." The CFJI community is always sharing knowledge, finding ways to get better, and challenging everyone in the group. There's always someone that's better than you at this, that, or the other thing. It give me a lot to aspire to. That goes way beyond fitness, by the way.

What are 1-2 of your goals at CFJI for 2017?

While I'm certainly more keyed into my nutrition than I was when I started, I still have a long way to go. That will definitely continue to be a focus in 2017. I also want to really push my mobility this year. It's clearly the biggest limiting factor to my progression right now, and I'd like to push through that barrier.

Favorite Lift?

Deadlift. There's something very primal about seeing something heavy and just thinking to yourself, "I'm gonna pick that up."

Least favorite Lift?

Front squat. The aforementioned mobility issues make front squats feel like torture. I could say the exact same thing about overhead squats too though.

Least Favorite Gymnastic Movement?

Hand stand push ups. I just can't seem to get over the hump on these things. It's on my goal sheet though. It'll happen!

Favorite “Girl” WOD?

I really enjoyed New Years Eva. I felt pretty accomplished after pushing through that one, and it gave Enzo and I a lot to talk about.

Hero WOD?

The only one I've done was whatever we did for the 31 Heroes workout. I'm not even sure that's actually a Hero WOD. I'd really like to take a crack at DT one of these days though.

Least favorite?

Fran sucks. It looks so simple, but it makes me want to cry. Damned front squats...


Cincinnati, OH. WHO DEY, BABY!

Favorite Charleston Restaurant?

I'm not nearly as well versed in the awesome Charleston restaurant scene as I should be. Lame as it may sound, my favorite meal out is usually just Sunday brunch with my family at Sweetwater Cafe.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

I'd replace Anthony Bourdain as the host of Parts Unknown for as many days as they'd let me!

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

Put the cigarettes DOWN!

What is the best book you have ever read?

Man, it's so hard to choose just one. For fiction I'd probably say A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. For non-fiction I'd have to say Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Which one would you want most – flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities?

As cool as flying cars and moon cities would be, I have to go with robot housekeepers. My house is a wreck!

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Leonardo Da Vinci. He was the original renaissance man.

One thing about me people would be surprised to know?

Before moving to Charleston and meeting my wife, I was a single parent. The boys and I had lived on our own, just the four of us, since they were toddlers. While that certainly had its challenges, I wouldn't change it. It's a huge part of who I am today, and it gave me motivation that I'm not sure I would've had otherwise. In a round about way, that motivation led me to CFJI. I'm really thankful for that.

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