Feb 3rd, 2014
Author: Haley Byrnes
We are pleased to announce our newest member of the month, Brad Blake! If you’ve ever been to the 6AM class, he’s the guy warming up while eating a banana. He’s always got a smile on his face, chatting with other members, and giving his best at every movement or WOD that comes his way. He is very active in the community and is always willing to lend a helping hand when it’s needed, or offer a joke during a tough WOD. We’re very lucky to have him in our community and are proud to have him as our February member of the month! Way to go, Brad!
When did you start coming to CrossFit Southie? What was your first WOD/experience?
My friend Katie started going to CrossFit Southie in August of 2011. After a lot of prodding, I gave it a try a couple of months later in October, 2011. I remember walking into orange with her and our friend Kristie on a Tuesday night to do an intro session with some guy named Maze. The garage door was open, the music was blasting, and every bit of what I saw scared the crap out of me. People were really nice, though, and Maze brought us through the core movements and explained the intro workout, which assuaged my concerns. When he described the ol’ 7 minutes of box jumps, burpees and barbell thrusters, I remember thinking, “7 minutes? Really? I got this.” Ha. Riiiiiiight… Who knew 7 minutes could last that long?
I just found an email I sent to a friend two days later: “i went to crossfit southie the other night for an intro session. first – SUPER hot guys there. second – i thought i was going to die. i loved it.” That about sums it up.
When did you realize that CrossFit was right for you?
I liked it right away, which is a little surprising given that I never would have pictured myself doing anything like CrossFit years ago. As a teenager, I was a 6’5”, 140 pound closeted gay kid who shied away from anything competitive or athletic. While other boys were out tossing around a football or riding their bikes through the woods, my friend and I were barricading his bedroom door to choreograph the latest Paula Abdul song without interruption.
Over the years, though, I’ve increasingly found happiness in different types of exercise. For some time, I focused on cycling, running, and triathlons. I loved the camaraderie of training with others and grew to enjoy the competition aspect of it.
My challenge has always been putting on and keeping on weight. When I started to get more serious about cycling and tris, I would eat and eat, but I weighed about 20 pounds less than I do now (and if you’ve seen me, you know I’m not exactly jacked). I was getting faster, but I was out of balance. I also “went to the gym” for years to lift and would sometimes enjoy doing that with friends, but never really got into a great routine and often found it really boring and isolating.
CrossFit, and specifically my experiences at CrossFit Southie, hit on all the right things for me. I’m keeping myself at what I think is a good weight for my body, but I still get the cardio rush I used to get from running and cycling. I’ve become stronger at a lot of things, but still have plenty of challenges to tackle. It always changes to keep it interesting, but enough things stay the same to make it feel stable and where I can track progress.
And most importantly, I get the camaraderie that I love. I’ve met some fantastic people and have made some great friendships. I think there’s something very natural there – like a primal/tribal instinct from our ancestors – based in doing physical activity together with common goals and constraints. Our ancestors were hunting down food together. We’re chipping away at burpees and box jumps together (preferably to “Call Me Maybe”). Texting the night before with Barry and Katie to get each other to show up at 6, fear that I’ll let Chuck down if he doesn’t see me and my banana at least a couple of times a week, wanting to make sure Tom and Melissa still invite me over to drink their Tequila—those relationships, and so many others—are what keep me coming back even on the most challenging days.
A big ‘thank you’ to Goose and Amy for setting the stage for that kind of environment and hiring a team of people who ensure that it stays that way and spreads.
What are you short-term and long-term CrossFit goals?
I’m turning 40 this summer. I know that doesn’t make me the oldest guy out there, but I’m definitely at the more senior end of the curve. For me, Crossfit long-term is about balance—not just the standing on my hands kind of balance, but balance between strength, cardio and flexibility that will help me be able to feel good and do the things I like to do for another 40+ years.
It’s also about balance in life. I walk into CrossFit Southie in all kinds of moods depending on the day or what’s going on in my life – happy, tired, energized, frustrated, feeling on top of the world or feeling downtrodden and depressed. I always walk out feeling better.
Short-term? Handstand pushups, more than a couple of pistols at a time, and doing snatches without slamming the bar into my crotch. I don’t think I could call muscle-ups ‘short term’ but, maybe someday…
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Besides being named Member of the Month? My biggest in-gym accomplishment was probably getting unassisted kipping pull-ups. A lot of people helped and encouraged along the way, but Brian Schurko was the man who finally got me to do them. He may have regretted it, because for weeks after, as I was able to string more together, I would yell, “Brian, Brian…look! Look at me! Look how many I can do now!”
Aside from that, my biggest CrossFit-related accomplishments have actually happened outside of CrossFit. It’s things like being able to jump off a row boat to swim around, knowing I can easily pull myself back in (pretty much an assisted muscle up), or doing Tough Mudders and being able to cross the monkey bars, get over the walls, catapult myself up a slippery half-pipe onto a platform without help, and keep a good running pace in between obstacles up and down a mountain for 10+ miles.
What is your favorite / least favorite WOD/movement?
Give me a chipper any day with some rowing, running, wallballs, double-under, sit-ups, some pullups and toes-to-bars.
However, ask me to put a lot of weight over my head or lots of squats (front, overhead or otherwise), and I’m not quite as happy. I’ve never cursed being so tall as much as I do when at the bottom of an overhead squat.
What do you do for a profession outside of CrossFit?
I’m a VP at an advertising agency, focusing on social media and digital strategy. So, basically I’m the guy who tries to make the ads in your Facebook feed less annoying.
What are your hobbies outside of CrossFit?
Lately, my husband Allen and I have spent most of our free time binge-watching Breaking Bad. Other than that, we like to get out and hike, go to live theater, and hang out with friends making dinner or playing games. On my own, I sporadically act in plays and am currently taking piano lessons. We also travel quite a bit – sometimes internationally and sometimes locally, often visiting the Cape where I grew up or the Bangor or Portland Maine area where his family lives.
Do you eat Paleo or Zone? What is your favorite paleo/non-paleo meal?
I don’t eat Paleo, but I’m thinking of giving it a try. It probably wouldn’t be that far of a stretch for me. But, no cheese? Hmmm…Maybe I’ll do Zone instead. I think cheese is allowed there. That sounds much more reasonable.
Some people already know this, but I married my friends Katie (often at the 6am) and her husband Paul last February—not like in the polygamy sense, but as a one-day designated Justice of the Peace. It was one of the most special things I’ve ever had the honor of doing. I figured sharing it here would also give me a good reason to submit a fancy picture for this post to offset some of the gems from my Member of the Month photo shoot…
Hollow Rock challenge week 5 – 50
5 Power Snatches (115,80)
7 Overhead Squats
9 Box Jumps (27,24)
Level 2 (95,65)
Level 1 (75,35)