December 2014 Spotlight Athlete: Matt Thurber
What made you decide to start CrossFit?
After moving from Nebraska to Jacksonville, I was physically at a point where I was in the worst shape I had ever been. Talking out loud at work, I had expressed to co-workers that I was having problems getting motivated to work out on my own, but was unsure of what type of program or regiment I wanted to pursue. Former member Ellye Aull overheard my conversation, and knowing my previous background in gymnastics, thought I should try CrossFit. At the time, I had heard of CrossFit, but did not actually know what it was. I met with Ryan less than a day later, struggled through the baseline workout, and have been hooked ever since.
What results have you seen or goals have you achieved?
When I first started at Strongpoint, I had no goals other than to attempt to get back into shape. I was coming off of the second of two major shoulder repair surgeries, and was uncertain as to whether or not I would actually be able to perform many of the associated movements. The results for me have been nothing short of remarkable. I am lifting more weight, and feel in better shape now in my late 30’s than I did competing collegiate gymnastics in my early 20’s.
What do you like best about the gym?
The people. This is both from the standpoint of the excellent coaches that Strongpoint has, to the varying degrees of its members ranging from the very beginner to the seasoned athlete. Everyone comes with different backgrounds and life experiences. It is the blend and personality of the “Box” that makes Strongpoint what it is.
What is your favorite exercise or WOD?
My favorite exercises are those which involve gymnastics such as rope climbing, hand-stand push-ups, box jumps, and pull-ups. I also like those WODS that stretch the body’s endurance.
What is your least favorite exercise or WOD?
My least favorite exercises are snatch and overhead squat as I have had the most difficulty mastering these two lifts with my shoulder limitations.
What motivates you to show up day after day?
The people from a dual perspective. I like the camaraderie of working towards goals and setting personal marks of achievement with those in class. I also look forward to competing with the entire gym as it relates to the WODS, and my personal goal to attempt to either beat a mark previously set, or to set a time for others to work towards.
What negative thoughts hold you back from being your best?
Fear of injury. It is very easy to get carried away to perform that last set, or to lift an additional ten pounds in an effort to achieve a PR. I have to remind myself at times that I am not as young as I used to be, and my body can be prone to injury. However, that fear must be checked to prevent it from becoming counterproductive.
What has been your most memorable moment at Strongpoint CrossFit?
Competing with everyone in teams at Rep Your Box.
What has been your least favorite moment at Strongpoint CrossFit?
A recent knee injury that has been extremely slow to recover.
What’s one thing that no one at the gym knows about you?
I recently had the word “Unbroken” tattooed onto my torso. Although this word does have meaning in CrossFit, it was motivated by other aspects of my life which CrossFit has helped me once again see. On two separate occasions following major shoulder surgery, I was told by orthopedic surgeons that I would not be able to perform any form of strenuous physical activity involving my shoulders. The first time was when I had to retire from gymnastics at the age of 15, and the second time was in 2008. In each instance, I worked hard to re-strengthen my shoulders, and was able to compete in collegiate gymnastics at the University of Iowa, and I have now found myself again in CrossFit. We are all dealt different hands in life, and are to some extent, “broken.” However, it is how we react to the adversity to shape ourselves by which we become “Unbroken.”
What is your favorite quote from Strongpoint CrossFit?
Day 1 – Ryan Miller told me a quote that has shaped my entire experience at Strongpoint:
“Just show up”
What do you want to accomplish with your training in the next year?
This year I am eligible from an age perspective to compete at the Masters level for The Open. My goal for the next year is to push my training to the next tier in an effort to qualify for Regionals in the Masters Division.
What advice would you give to someone who just started out?
“Just show up”
What advice would give to someone who was on the fence about starting?
Attend classes two or three times a week for one month. If you hate it after that, then at least you will not have any regrets about not giving it a fair shot.
Coach’s Comments: “Matt T.” came to us in the fall of 2013 with a great athletic base, but little conditioning to go with it. He started competing within six months of joining the gym first during the 2014 CrossFit Open and then at the spring Festivus Games a couple of months later. Competition seemed to ignite something in Matt and we watched him creep up the leaderboard as his mechanics started to return and his aerobic base improved. Now it’s not at all uncommon to see Matt among the leaders on the whiteboard each day due in no small part to his dedication and consistency. Additionally, Matt routinely goes out of his way to encourage other members of the class after he finishes the workout. He is absolutely tireless barely taking a minute to catch his breath before moving from person to person to help push them through their last reps! Matt has become a key member of our afternoon classes and we look forward to seeing him continue to progress in the coming year.