This month’s Member Spotlight is Jake Strickler. Jake, in addition to being a member of the CFDC community, recently used his athletic skills to accomplish two long-time goals: Qualifying for the Boston Marathon and running a sub-three hour race. We are so proud of Jake and his accomplishment, read below to find out how CrossFit helped him tackle the challenge and reach new limits.
How long have you been doing CrossFit and what inspired you to begin? How long have you been at CFDC? Why did you chose CFDC?
I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 3½ years. Before then, I mostly ran to stay in shape. I hated going to the gym because it took so much effort – having to figure out what exercises I should do and then motivating myself to all of those exercises. But I wanted to experience being all-around fit before I got much older. I found CF and loved that all of the thinking and motivation needed for working out was taken care of. All you have to do is show up.
I’ve been at CFDC since February 2018. I was part of the Praxis refugees that came to CFDC after our old gym closed. I chose CFDC because the facility and equipment were nice, there were some really good coaches, and many of my friends were there already.
Favorite and least favorite CrossFit movements?
Does running count as a CF movement??? No? Then burpee box jumps. I used to hate thrusters, snatches, and many other movements that I wasn’t good at. But now I like them all; I’ve accepted that I suck at them and enjoy working to be better.
What do you do when you aren’t flinging heavy weights around the gym?
I’m a conflict resolution specialist at the EPA, helping our democracy have a bit more civil discourse (obvi a lot to be done). I’m currently working to move back into international work, which is where many of my passions lie.
In my free time, I cook and bake a lot (some CFDC members saw me dressed as my baking idol for Halloween). I also garden, organize cultural events, and get outside for an adventure whenever I can.
How did CrossFit help you accomplish your goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon?
There are many ways that it helped, but I’ll name a few of the most important.
While they might look different on the surface, both endurance running and CF are fundamentally about knowing your physical limits and then expanding them. In all my years of running, I’d never pushed myself as hard as I am pushed while doing CF. All of those brutal CF workouts taught me I could challenge myself to run a lot faster.
It was also key to have a community that supported my athletic goals. It meant a lot to me to have people ask about my training and how I did in the race. It also helped to have CFDC members Kate Maitland and Roxie Cassidy as nutrition coaches throughout my training.
Finally, it was great to drop in CFDC for upper-body workouts on days when my legs were totally fried!
What do you know now about CrossFit that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish I knew that CF is for anyone who wants to be healthier. I used to be really intimidated by it, because I’d never been a part of a real sports team or any group that was committed to fitness. But I found that just by showing up regularly, not only did I get more fit, but I also came to love CF and made some really great friends.
Favorite post-workout meal?
Organic Valley Fuel Protein Shakes. They are expensive, but it’s a nice reward after a hard workout or long run.
Proudest accomplishment (in the gym or beyond)?
My Peace Corps service.
I’m pretty happy with my recent 2:56 marathon too.
Tell us something that might surprise most people at the gym/What was Thom like in the Peace Corps?
Coach/Owner Tom Brose asked me what Coach Thom Szymanski was like in the Peace Corps. A little background – Thom and I both served in the same region of Benin, West Africa, about 6 to 7 years ago. Anybody who knows Thom, knows that he is a unique guy. I will simply say that Thom’s uniqueness was amplified by several degrees while in Benin. Example – his rap music video “Eating Mangos Like a Boss”, with beats by Coach Chris Szymanski, is still a hit with volunteers (yes, in addition to being a stellar coach, he raps as well). Still, Thom was very dedicated to his community and achieved a lot during his service.