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CrossFitter of the Month – September 2017

Hey Folks!

It’s that time again – our favourite time of month – We get to highlight another beauty from our community.  This person is a shining example of someone who works to challenge themselves physically, mentally, etc.  Each and every time they’re in the gym.  This person helps to push the others they’re around to challenge their self imposed limits, and does so with an easy-going, positive approach.  We’re stoked, and proud to announce September’s CrossFitter of the Month as…


Here are his answers to our questions!

Name: James Kellestine

Age: 36

Occupation: Underground Operations Manager – Dyno Nobel (I manage a group of employees that take care of underground explosives loading equipment at mine sites across Ontario)

What was your exercise experience prior to CrossFit?  and How long have you been doing CrossFit and why do you choose to CrossFit?

My exercise experience began when I was in high school.  I used to go to the “Fitness Forum” in an attempt to put on some muscle for football and hockey.  I started out on the generic program and even attended a few old fashioned aerobics classes.  I had a good friend who was heavily into downhill racing and was fortunate enough to accompany him with a personal trainer in order to learn and be his spotter between training sessions.  That summer was a learning experience – learning how to squat heavy, and learning how to roll a barbell down your chest when you bite off more than you can chew and are benching alone in the weight room!

I played hockey and football through high school until I injured my knee (Osteochondritis dissecans) in grade 12.  My fitness took a big pause during University.  I worked out sporadically, mainly during the summers, but ended up about 40lbs heavier by the time I graduated.  Three years, a wedding and a baby later, I topped out at 256lbs!!! My fellow staff members started a “Biggest Loser” challenge and I got dragged into it by a coworker.  Not to be outdone, I ended up dropping about 40lbs and winning! (funny what a little competition will do).  Around the same time, I decided that my knee was going to have to figure itself out, and I would basically do whatever I could to keep active.  I was pretty sure that being overweight wasn’t going to be good for my knee either, so I started getting back into the gym and pool in preparation to do a sprint triathlon (2007).  Three years of triathlon, and the realization that I am not a swimmer, nor built like a triathlete left me eager for a new challenge.

Enter Facebook.  One of my old high school football teammates had posted a video of him doing “Firefit” – just like on TV.  I was a volunteer firefighter and mine rescue member in Red Lake and wondered if they would allow me to run the course, or if I had to be a full time firefighter to qualify.  I talked to my Fire Chief about it and he advised that those guys are “real athletes” and gave me the vibe that it was a pretty lofty goal.  This, of course, just fueled the fire.  I started googling “tire flipping workouts” and other functional training that was becoming popular and I stumbled upon …. (drumroll please) CROSSFIT.com – this naturally started the big transformation.

Focused on Firefit, I started chewing through the mainsite wod’s as best as I could in the local gym (an 8 min grace with steel plates comes to mind).  I touched bumper plates for my first time at Crossfit Winnipeg, did my CF-L1 in Calgary and competed in my first Firefit race in Medicine Hat (2010).  With 2:00.69 on the clock,  I was absolutely sure that I could do better.  I left absolutely everything on that course, took 2+ hours to recover after, and was in awe of the “big boys” running “sub 90” (fun fact: Eric Pichette also used to run Firefit).  Every year, I worked harder, went to more events (Thanks Shannon for the support!!!) and made improvements in the strategy (sometimes learning the hard way).   Eventually, I managed to become one of the “big boys” myself.  In hindsight, I was a little too focused on the goal at the expense of other aspects of life.  Lesson Learned.

10 years in Red Lake meant enough was enough and we moved to Sudbury.  I came down to house-hunt and attend a job interview, and dropped in to CF Suds.  I still remember squatting heavy with Lisa and Adam (and they didn’t even charge me the drop-in fee).  As a new member, I usually came in after work for open gym.  At the time, I was pretty sure that “my program” was better than the Rx 🙂 .  I have always preferred to get workouts done first thing in the morning, so I actually left CFSuds to try a couple of other gyms, until the 05:30 option came up this year!!!! Since then, I have been thoroughly enjoying the camaraderie of the 5:30 crew, and occasionally the afternoon and weekend crew too.

What is your favourite part about CrossFit?

The Community is a huge part – the shared experience is definitely a big part of what keeps me (and I assume many others) coming back day after day.  As a workout regimen, the beauty of Crossfit is in the measurement and repeatability of the workouts.  There is an old article called “the iron doesn’t lie” or something along those lines, but in the context of Crossfit, the clock doesn’t lie.  There isn’t anywhere to hide.  Your score, is your score, and it’s yours to beat next time.  There are so many facets to the skills and capacities required within Crossfit, that there truly isn’t an end.  Some may find that concept insurmountable, not worth even starting, but I find it inspiring – keep an open mind and work on your weaknesses.  What you focus on is what you’ll improve.  All the cliché’s are basically true – it’s really just “you against you”.

What are the accomplishments you are proud of? (Crossfit or non-CrossFit related)

I am lucky to have a wonderful wife and four great kids! Simply keeping track of four kids is a feat in itself!  I’m particularly excited that Shannon has also returned to CFSuds as a fixture in the Noon class – Thanks to the Coaches for taking such good care of her!!!

On a personal level, I am proud any time I face a fear or awkward situation rather than shy away from it.  Crossfit says that the “biggest adaptation happens between the ears” and I believe it is true.  I make a concerted effort to do things that make me uncomfortable (yoga, toastmasters, etc).  I built a cabin last year (mostly by myself) and it was a tremendous learning experience and exercise in perseverance (and F-bombs too).  Fortunately, I knew where to find a strong help when I needed it!  I am also proud to have started reading this year, and some of what I’ve been reading ties right into this theme (The Obstacle Is the Way, for example)

Favorite workout or lift?

I enjoy interval based workouts that are relatively heavy and intense.  All-out sprints on the Assault Bike, Rower or simple “work capacity” couplets are right in my wheelhouse.  My years of Firefit training have left me with a love of the creatine phosphate/lactic threshold energy system, knowing that the only way to get better is by spending time sitting in the pain.  It is supposed to be painful, and I believe training in that environment translates over into the longer workouts much more readily than the other way around.  Lately, I have also been enjoying working on some of the more difficult skills like handstands and snatching.

Anything else you would like to share please feel free

I’ll list a few things that have stuck with me throughout the years.  I am rather passionate about the whole “fitness thing” so if anyone wants to chat more about mindset, or anything Crossfit related, let me know!  All of this is easier said than done, but hopefully, some of you will find some inspiration like I have.

Aggregation of marginal gains – Look it up if you’re interested.  An incremental 1% improvement every day/month looks a lot better in 10 years than a series of 1% digressions.  Focus on the little things, they become big things!

Crossfit Journal – Hard routine http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/69_08_hard_routine.pdf

Jocko Willink – Discipline = Freedom – This is true in terms of exercise, diet, finances, and most aspects of life.  Put another way, “Easy Choices, hard life – Hard Choices, easy life” (easier said than done, of course)

Nicole Carroll – Nutrition Teeter Totter (CFJ video) “Quantity is PARAMOUNT!’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgenyAXl0rg&t=50s

Chaos league – Any takers? – http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Chaos_Ord3.pdf

My first “Sub 90” (im wearing blue) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt1p_qvEo7E

How Not to Box-Jump – (ffwd to 1:00) “It’s ok, it’s just my back” – Real crossfitter of the month material!!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRii_oM3nc4

And FINALLY, a gem from Invictus to sign things off;

“Surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself”

Kristin, Adam; Thank you for providing the environment that allows all CF Sudbury members to come together and flourish in this wonderful community!

Fellow Members; I have really enjoyed being back for the past few months at CFS and am looking forward to many more years!  Keep it up – keep encouraging the person beside you and expecting more of yourselves.  We are all capable of much more than we realize.  I truly appreciate all of the friendships within the walls of the gym and those that continue to grow outside as well!!!