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Member Spotlight — Steve D.

Tell us a little about yourself and what got you on the path to CrossFit and Nutrition…

My name is Steve and I live on James Island with my wife, two kids (12 and 9 years old), a dog, two cats, and a bearded dragon. In real life, I work in ocean conservation but for an hour each day I get to sweat, complain, and dominate with you all at the gym.

This CrossFit journey has been life changing. I’ve always been super active, but I’ve never been formally coached in body mechanics, movement, and nutrition. It’s tough to overstate how big of an impact CFJI has made on these aspects of my life. I’m stronger and have more stamina. With this, I can play with my kids longer, excel at new sports, and generally stay active longer. The first big “a-ha” moment was 6 months into my CrossFit journey. My family and I were snowboarding out west; my daughter’s first time. Five years old at the time, my daughter spent the first day on the bunny slope. After each short run, I’d carry her the 50 feet up the bunny slope to try again. Over and over again. That’s when it occurred to me that the time I spent in the gym translated to better (and more fun!) parenting.

Complementing physical changes has been a new approach to nutrition. Over the past 5 year, I’ve cleaned my diet up significantly. The most important step was joining CFJI, learning about nutrition, and then setting long-term goals. While I generally understood healthy eating, the gym gave me a firm clean-eating goal. Rather than go all-in, I slowly modified my diet toward the Whole 30 standard. While I’m not 100 % there, I’ve found that this slow march has been sustainable and pretty easy to maintain.

What made you start in the first place?

My first class was on August 8, 2014. Coming off a dedicated, self-directed workout at the local corporate gym, my idea was to try 6-12 months of different gyms and workout types. I get bored easily and thought this plan would keep me engaged. The first spot was CFJI. I thought I’d give it a try and move on once I was bored. Still waiting to get bored….

I was not used to the intensity when I first started. I could barely air squat more than 6 inches deep. After my first class, my goal was to get through the 1st week so I could say I gave it an honest effort. That turned into a one-month goal, a six-month goal, then a one-year goal. The workouts are tough and sometimes I’d feel the program wasn’t sustainable. However, once I had recovered from the workout, I felt great. I mean really, really great. I also began to understand how my body should move and how to avoid injuries, even in everyday life. Once I started feeling these results, it was tough to quit.

What keeps you coming back each day?

Three things keep me coming back, even on days that I don’t want to.

  1. So many aspects of my life have improved since starting at the gym and I don’t want to backslide. As long as I make it in, I know I can keep the habit up.

  2. Accountability. While I’ve never been shamed for missing a day or a week, I know that my absence will be noticed. Simply knowing that is often a great motivator.

  3. It’s fun! Well, it’s usually fun. The workouts are diverse enough to keep my attention and I really enjoy getting a chance to interact with others on a daily basis. I work remotely from my house and I can easily go days without seeing people outside my family. CFJI provides some great in-person interaction (except right now!!!!!).

How has your lifestyle changed since starting at CFJI?

Overall, I’m just healthier. I move better, eat cleaner, and think healthier. I attribute these changes to two features of the gym. First, you’re surrounded by people who care about their physical, mental, and emotional health. No one hits all three perfectly, but the mindset is contagious.

Second, when you repeatedly push your body through intense workouts, you begin to see how other life choices affect you. For example, you can get by on poor sleep and nutrition for quite a while if you are minimally active. However, when you start pushing your body (and measuring results) you really begin to see how sleep, nutrition, mood, and stress affect your body. It seems so simple, but it took hard workouts for me to understand this. I can feel and measure how my performance is affected by excess work stress, a poor night sleep, or a pizza night. It’s ok to indulge and stress is going to happen, but it’s been revolutionary to mindfully understand how they affect my performance and mood.

What is your favorite at-home exercise to do?

I don’t have a go-to, structured exercise or workout at home, however, my family and I are constantly moving. We spend a lot of time outside and our weekends are always filled with biking, paddling, swimming, running, and playing.

If you had to do 100 reps of one movement (not running), what would it be?

Dodgeball. Can’t wait to get back in the gym and peg Willey.

What do you like most about your workout crew?

If motivated, I can beat every single one of them in the game of tag.

What are 1-2 of your goals for 2020? Have you accomplished any of these yet?

To just keep progressing. That’s a boring answer and not really a goal, but I’d like to maintain this slow march of improvement.

Favorite Lift?

Barbell strict press (remember these?!)

Least favorite movement?

Lunges. It’s my weakest movement and they’ll leave me sore for days.

Least Favorite Gymnastic Movement?

Kipping pull-ups. I enjoy them, but after 10 or so, my form starts breaking down.


Virginia Beach, Virginia

Favorite Charleston Restaurant?

Chez-Nous. Oh man, I really hope all my favorite restaurants make it through this stay-at-home order.

What is your favorite non-exercise Quarantine activity?


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

I’d take Kai Lenny’s job. Never seen someone master so many water sports.

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

Nothing. Thirteen-year-old Steve thought he had it all figured out and I’m slowly realizing he may have been right.

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

A forced conversation with a stranger sounds miserable. Pass.

One thing about me people would be surprised to know?

My “sport” through all four years of college was caving. As in, every weekend we’d travel to caves in western Virginia and West Virginia to explore, climb, and rappel. Nearly all of my closest friendships in college were forged inside a cave.

If the CFJI coaches came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare?

Sous-vide, then sear filets. Grill some Roma tomatoes and asparagus, maybe throw a sweet potato in the oven. Can we still drink? If so, I’d open some red wine and big IPAs.

What is your favorite movie?

The Graduate

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

That Girl Scout cookies are way, way overrated.

Is there anything else we need to know about you?

I’m going to hijack this question to offer an unrequested closing statement. Please let me extend a big, sincere thank you to CFJI, Kyle, Jenna, and coaches past, present, and future. Because of you, I’m healthier and feel better than I have in years. Furthermore, you’ve given me a foundation and a new set of tools to stay healthy forever.

I also really appreciate all you’ve done during this stay-at-home order. It sucked when the gym had to close, but you guys have risen to the occasion. Between the equipment loans and zoom classes, you’ve given us all an opportunity to come out of this ahead. Thank you!

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