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Member Spotlight — Rick Rockwell

This month's member spotlight almost never happened. Rick Rockwell was a bigger CrossFit skeptic than most. His active career was his top priority and his physical health could not be compromised by any kind of silly injury due to exercise related issues. He'd already dealt with some shoulder issues that had plagued him for years and was just hoping for something to strengthen him so he could play with his kids and live a healthy life. Needless to say it took a lot of coercing and sweet talk to get this stud in the door. Since that first month, Rick has been a staple in the noon class and turned into one of our biggest advocates. His wife Masheed and his sister Mary Game are also members and both have been surprised to see him change his tune. (Maybe even a little annoyed by his progress). Without further ado we give you Rick Rockwell!

What got you in the doors at CFJI and what keeps you coming back?

My wife (Masheed) and sister (Mary) are both responsible for me trying CFJI. Mash knew how important it was to me, as a new father, to age well, in terms of our boys and being able to play sports with them etc. My sister, who I grew up training, practicing with, coaching, attending her games and her mine, also gave CFJI high marks. That goes a long way in my book. She was always the great and natural athlete in our family. I was a well-rounded athlete, who could think of ways to win or beat my opponent, but that’s not the same as being a great athlete. Mary is the latter. Years ago, in another life, I trained extensively and trained others, but that was a different context and another time for me physically. With CFJI, at this time in my life, I had to figure out if the competitiveness which my sister and wife still have a healthy dose of, was the key to achieving Crossfit results. And there was no denying the results. But if that was the case, if that was the ‘X’ factor, I would not be a good fit at CFJI. I do not, will not, cannot, care what anyone else in any gym lifts in comparison to me. The competitiveness that exists in me as a person today, is devoted solely to my work. I have nothing left for anything else in that regard. And even then, it’s not with others, it’s in my head, always trying to build better and better. I am not ashamed in the least to admit, I am probably the worst athlete at CFJI. I modify most things for fear of injury and/or my awareness of past injuries. That first month or so, I was assessing and monitoring myself constantly... ‘Would I hinder my ability to do my work?’ was a question I had running on a loop in my head. Because the answer would potentially affect the one world where I am truly competitive. Once I designed an approach to the WODs, with Kyle and Jenna’s help, I was golden. So the answer to the question, which I am sure is not uncommon; ‘Is there room at CF, for someone with an abundance of past injuries, who can no longer generate competitive energy’ … the answer is “yes”. It just takes some planning.

How has your outlook on nutrition and weightlifting changed since you started?

Weightlifting science has evolved so much since I did it on a daily basis in the 80s and early 90s. I approach it with a tremendous sense of respect, knowing that movements can be broken down, studied and mastered over the course of many years by people who do it for a living, like Kyle and Jenna, along with Mike and the other coaches. I still tread lightly around the more complex exercises. It’s my nature to master things in small pieces. Whether it’s restoring a house from 1800 or starting a major workout regime. Start with the foundation and work your way up to the peak. In time, I’m sure I’ll do more, but for now, I am practicing the steps of how to be a better athlete.

Diet is something I have been fascinated with over the years. I was a vegetarian in grad school. For the past six years I have been vegan. Right now, I am trying to morph the Whole 30 diet into something I can live with as a lifestyle. I’m close on this. I just need a few pieces for lifelong grazing, snacking routines that are not likely to end for me… (I love snacks!!!)

What do you like most about CFJI?

What I like most about CFJI starts at the top with Kyle and the coach I’ve worked the most with, Jenna. It’s key for any organization to know how important they are to the others within that organization. I tested both of these people in the beginning. I know there are other coaches, but it was Kyle and Jenna I pressed. Do they genuinely care and understand the needs of their clients? That’s what I needed to know. The answer is, yes. If I had any doubts about the answer to that question, I would not be a part of CFJI. I’m a skeptic by nature, always questioning authority and conventional wisdom. With people I work with, I seek two things; expertise and passion. Give me someone with passion about their craft and I will work with them for the rest of my life. To find that, I will not wait around to have it revealed, I’ll seek it out. When it comes to work, I will push a person until I see what’s there, good or bad, I’ll find it. I’ve seen what their craft means to them and I’ve seen how they respond when pressed. Kyle and Jenna may have had no idea what I was up to, when I started. But I had questions about CF. They had not just answers, but multiple answers with multiple options within those answers. Not only do they know their craft, they care. To whatever extent other people care what I have to say, I will forever be one of their biggest advocates.​

Favorite Lift?

My favorite exercise may be my weakest now, but I’d like to get good at pull-ups again. When I can perform those again well, I’ll know I’m strong again. Until then, it’s all about the journey and the struggle.​

Least favorite Lift?

Least fav lift… squats… out of fear for my right knee. Nothing wrong with squats per se. It’s just me and my baggage.​

Favorite encouraging words you’ve heard at CFJI...

Kyle and Jenna’s constant encouragement is filled with subtle nuance. Too many examples to recall just one. ​

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

Ridiculous fact…. Page one of “A Farewell to Arms” is a summary of the entire book.

(that just came to me.. I have a plethora of useless and ridiculous facts..)

If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?

A dolphin, so I can swim in the ocean.

Biggest pet peeve.

Ignorance, in adults is truly disheartening. I would not consider myself to be naturally intelligent. I have known extremely intelligent people, geniuses in a few instances. I’m not that. But I’ve worked hard to build my knowledge base and IQ, by reading. Lots of reading. Working out the mind, if you will. I believe reading is the only way to effectively learn broad and deep subjects when they go beyond one’s personal experience. (Most) anyone can read. Library cards are free.

Favorite song.

“Walk Away” by Tom Waits… or “Hallelujah” sung by Rufus Wainright

Depends on what side of the struggle I’m on… am I winning the battle that day or losing…

Name of your first car.

“Marilyn”… 1973 Blonde Chevy Impala… ‘big blonde and beautiful’ I used to say…good car.

Top thing on your bucket list…

Live long enough to see my boys happy as adults.

What game show would you be good at?

Depending on the day, Jeopardy.

Most random thing in your car…

Doorbell hardware from early 1800’s.

You’re a superhero...what’s your superpower?

Look, this is easy, I’m Batman. No superpowers... Think it out. Fight hard.

That’s all anyone needs to do.

2018 New Year’s Resolutions?

Read more. (I’m my own harshest critic)

One thing about me people would be surprised to know?

The year I taught high school for the Detroit Public School System, may have been one of the best years of my professional life.

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