Member of the Month – Mr. Saunders

Aug 10th, 2012

Category: CrossFit

Member of the Month – Mr. Saunders

EMOM for 10 minutes
2 Squat clean thrusters (heavy)

12 minute amrap
3 wall climbs
6 alternating pistols
9 box jumps (30/24)

L2- 2 Wall climbs (24/20)
L1- 1 Wall climb (24/20)


How did you get involved in CrossFit? What was your first WOD/experience?
I believe everyone has their own path to follow for everything in life and my path to Crossfit was extremely personal. In October 2008 my dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer at the age of 73 (he passed away 2 years later). He was the strongest person I have ever known and easily one of the most influential people in my life. I was 27 at that time and still had youthful feelings of invincibility and this was the first time in my life when it really hit me that no one was truly invincible. Not me, not my dad, no one…at some point this life was going to end and all we can hope to do was stave off that inevitable day.
Couple this news with the fact that my wife and I were expecting our first child and I was literally in limbo. Here my dad was suffering from this insidious disease and I was in the process of taking my first steps towards being a dad myself.
My decision to get back into shape took root during this time but I didn’t really get serious about it for another year or so.
In November of 2009 I saw a picture of myself (attached) at the Boston Garden after a Celtics game. For the first time ever I looked at myself and didn’t recognize me…the real me. Instead of seeing the guy I always thought I was staring back at me I was looking at someone completely foreign.
I was 28 years old, 5’8”, weighing in at a robust 263lbs (plug that into a BMI calculator!) also I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (taking medicine) and was probably pre-diabetic.
After seeing that picture, thinking about everything that we were going through with my dad, everything that I could put my son through if I didn’t get healthy, and all of the memories that were yet to come that I may miss out on if I didn’t start taking care of myself I finally started working out consistently in January 2009.
Fast forward 5 months. I had lost 35lbs but the weight loss stopped and I was getting bored with the gym routine. One of my colleagues showed me a max height box jump video on YouTube and in the background was a Crossfit logo.
I Googled Crossfit, did some reading on the main site forums, other blogs, and finally searched for the closest box which, at the time, was Crossfit Boston.
I scheduled my intro for the next day.
My first WOD was the baseline WOD (500m row, 40 air squats, 30 abmat situps, 20 pushups, 10 pull-ups w/green band) for time. This would be the first (but not the last) time I threw up after a WOD…but I was hooked and signed up the next day.

When did you start coming to CrossFit Southie?
We moved to Savin Hill a few months after I joined Crossfit Boston and with James ( yes he’s a junior), our first child, getting older I needed a box much closer to home. I heard that a box was opening up down Dot Ave. in Southie and stopped by one day. That is when I met Chris and Amy and saw the box they were still in the process of building. We talked; they took my information, and told me when they were most likely opening up the box. The opening was delayed a bit but I kept calling. One day Amy said they were opening the following week. I came down that afternoon to sign-up. That was September 2010.

Is this the first CrossFit you’ve worked out at / how long have you been CrossFitting for?
I got my start at Crossfit Boston where Neal and his coaches were absolutely awesome. I have been Crossfitting for just over two years now.
When did you realize that CrossFit was right for you?
It was either as I was throwing up after the baseline WOD or just after ?
What are you short-term and long-term CrossFit goals?
My short term goals are to continue increasing my strength as that is what is holding me back from both the elusive muscle-up and unassisted HSPUs. My long term goals are to continue having fun with what we do in the box. It might not be a quantifiable goal but what keeps me coming is that each day I’m better than I was the day before. Also, the “collaborative competition” that exists in each class is awesome. No one is truly great at everything and you are constantly learning from your peers, those same people push you each WOD to do your best, and when you fall short they are there (sometimes literally) to pick you up.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Biggest accomplishment (in life) – Having two awesome little boys (yet another pic) and a great, patient, and understanding wife who allows Crossfit to be my mistress.
Biggest Accomplishment (Crossfit Related) – Losing a total of 63#, normalizing my blood pressure (no longer medicated), getting to know some awesome people….

What is your favorite / least favorite WOD/movement?
My gut reaction was burpees but I strangely enjoy them now. So on second thought box jumps – they enjoy a level of suckitude that is unmatched by any other movement

What do you do for a profession outside of CrossFit?
I am in High Tech sales focused currently on the Healthcare Market. For all intents and purposes, if it has an on off switch or lives in a data center I can sell it

What are your hobbies outside of CrossFit?
FOOD! I love to cook and I’m wicked good at it…no seriously…like insanely good at it…trust me…

Do you eat Paleo or Zone? What is your favorite paleo/non-paleo meal?
I’m 85-90% during while at home…almost impossible to be 100% with kids in the house. When I travel for work though the diet goes to sh!t but I have taken up visiting other local boxes or doing travel WODs to offset the diet.

Fun fact?
• Both of my thumbs are double jointed.
• I geek out to sci-fi in a big way (Star Trek, Stargate, etc) and secretly (not so secret now) want to go to Comic-Con.
• I haven’t lost a game of Madden NFL Football (Xbox) in over 10 years


  1. Butlaaaaaaaah 08/10/2012 at 7:16 pm

    Congrats James! You are actually the first person that told me about crossfit and introduced me to Amy and Chris. Luckily you can sell Technology just like you sold me on Crossfit. I think the first work lunch we had, that was all you talked about! haha congrats brothaaaaaaaaa

  2. Aaron Contreras 08/10/2012 at 6:48 pm

    Big ups Mr. Saunders.

  3. Joe 08/10/2012 at 3:33 pm

    James, any time you want to cook for me and have me wipe the floor with you in Madden please let me know. But seriously, you’re a boss.

  4. Wheeler 08/10/2012 at 3:23 pm

    Right on James!!! I second Darin, lets your fellow crossfitters try some of your good cooking!

  5. Dudley 08/10/2012 at 1:38 pm

    yeah james! thanks for sharing your inspiring CF story

  6. Maze 08/10/2012 at 1:27 pm

    Congrats James. Keep on killin it!!!!

  7. Dbibeau 08/10/2012 at 1:00 pm

    James Well Done!!!!!!! I think you should cook for all of us at Southie!!! Again great job!!!

  8. Crowley 08/10/2012 at 12:56 pm

    Congrats James. Keep crushing it.

  9. Whisler 08/10/2012 at 12:43 pm

    Yeah James! Keep up the good work!!

  10. Bish 08/10/2012 at 10:45 am

    Atta boy James

  11. L. Lebo 08/10/2012 at 3:26 am

    Nice work James! P.S. your kids are SUPER adorable

  12. Lexi 08/10/2012 at 2:52 am

    Woohoo! Way to go buddy!! You are super duper!

  13. Harris 08/10/2012 at 2:15 am

    James your are the man and it is a pleasure to see you WOD’in whenever I am around the box!

    Lets play Madden ASAP….. haha

  14. B Isola 08/10/2012 at 2:05 am

    Congrats! Happy to know that I am not the only one who has vomited! Thank you for your inspiration.

  15. jason barrow 08/10/2012 at 1:21 am

    HELL YES!!! Congrats Saunders!

    Great hanging out with you this winter during all of those Open WOD weekends when I was still new here. It’s a shame our schedules haven’t matched up much since.

    And just so you know I’m FULLY DOWN to hit up a convention with you. When I’m not at Southie I’m usually reading comic books.

  16. Bill P 08/10/2012 at 12:13 am

    Congrats James! Well deserved. By the way, both of my thumbs are double jointed too, must be a Savin Hill thing?

  17. JeffSully 08/10/2012 at 12:06 am

    Congratulations to one of the greatest guys I know and a true inspiration…you have been such a great help dude and a great friend ever since we first started hanging out on the bar crawl right when I joined cfsouthie haha well deserved man keep on working hard and achieving all your goals

  18. papa schurk 08/08/2012 at 12:25 am

    congrats james! great work! and i think im with ya on the burpees v box jumps