Athlete of Month

Lucy Z.
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Lucy Z.

Athlete of the month: January '21
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?

I am currently a senior in high school at Walter Payton, so a large portion of my time is dedicated to homework and college applications. I don’t know where I am going to college yet, but I do know I want to study computer science and math. I play volleyball both at Payton (with Coach Darcy as the head coach!) and on a travel team, and am also involved in a lot of school clubs. I lead Payton’s Best Buddies chapter (which was named the 2020 International Chapter of the Year!), Get Coding club and Youth Wellness Team. And like any teenager, I like to hang out with my friends downtown and at the lake.

WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO TRAINING AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?

My older brother, Henry, was the first of my family to try out crossfit. He really liked it, and I wanted something to keep me in shape for volleyball. I decided I would give it a shot. I had never done anything similar before – working out was never really my thing – so I convinced my dad to come with me. We went to an introductory class, and then jumped right in. In all honesty, I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. But it was new and exciting, and I left every class feeling like I had accomplished something. Even now, two years later, I still get the same feeling.

A large part of why I like Hardware so much is the sense of support. There is always someone cheering you on and encouraging you to do the best you can, the coaches are always happy to help you, and nothing is a competition with anyone but yourself.

WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

My 2021 New Year’s goal is to be able to do a pull-up! It’s something I always wished I could do, so I’m excited to really work on it and (hopefully) get one sometime later this year.

WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED AT HARDWARE THAT MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?

I’m really just most proud of myself for sticking with it. If you had asked me three years ago to go to a crossfit class, I would have laughed and said there was absolutely no way. But despite all my fears and doubts (and the fact that I’m much younger than everyone else here), I decided to put myself out there, try something new, and found that I really do like it.

FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?­­

Wall-walks are always fun, and I love a good partner WOD with my dad!

LEAST FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?

Thrusters. I refuse to believe that anyone actually enjoys doing them. And I don’t like to run, so any distance over 400m is way too long for me.

ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE INTERESTED IN TRYING OUT HARDWARE?

  1. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Trust me. I went to my first class when I was 15 and didn’t know the difference between a dumbbell and a kettlebell, so if I can do it, you can do it.

  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be embarrassed to scale things down. Seriously. No one is going to judge you.

  3. Have fun!! I used to hate working out because it felt like a chore, but Hardware does a great job at making it fun. And when you’re having fun, those thrusters won’t be quite as bad 🙂

 

Dennis G.
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Dennis G.

Athlete of the month: December '20
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?

Outside of my time at the gym I am an actor as well as a live, experiential, and broadcast events producer.  I also love to walk all over the city and try to get 3-5 miles everyday.

WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO TRAINING AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK? 

In all honesty, I initially joined the gym out of pure vanity, particularly to look better on camera.  I knew Coach Adrian’s name from the theatre community and that he had trained a handful of actors around town  who were real fit. I wanted to invest in myself so that I would be better positioned to book some jobs, so wherever he was was where I wanted to be.  Pretty quickly it became clear to me that Hardware meant a great deal more than a place where one person could help me reach some vanity goal. It’s cliché, but the community is truly what keeps me coming back.  Everyone is so kind and supportive, the environment is oriented toward positive growth, and that everyone is so committed to celebrating each other wherever they may be in their fitness journey, means a great deal to me. It’s improved my physical and mental states, in unexpected ways. It’s a place where values are lived, people are respected, and well being is nurtured.

WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

Short term goals would be to complete as many of the named WODs Rx’d without stopping. I don’t know where I am in that cycle, but I’m hoping 6-9 months out.  Long term, I want to execute a no kip ring muscle up, front and back lever, a plancé, and string at least 50 Double Unders and 10 HSPUs.

WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED AT HARDWARE THAT MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?

Stringing the Power Snatches last week was pretty cool. My snatch technique has been a little slow going and it has been a bit of a mental hurdle to get the locomotion right enough to get that weight overhead. Getting two sets of 10 unbroken felt like a big step.

FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?­­ 

I love hopping on the rower and going for long distances, as well as the bear complex.

LEAST FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?

Double unders because they have my number. It’s the fastest way for me to get frustrated and completely lose my cool.

ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE INTERESTED IN TRYING OUT HARDWARE?

Try to take class with as many coaches as possible. I have learned a great deal from each coach, and it’s the secret sauce to have so many skilled people who can offer so much with such generous spirits. It’s always the people that make a company great, and the coaches at Hardware are a value add that is truly unique, a big differentiator.  I’ve been going to gyms and working at gyms for nearly 20 years, this is the first place that I bend my schedule around to make sure that I can fulfill my need to get in 4-5 times per week.

Luke S.
Member name:

Luke S.

Athlete of the month: November '20
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?

I grew up in Maryland (born in Baltimore, raised in Cumberland in western part of the state) and lived many places (D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, western New York, central Massachusetts, Amsterdam) before settling in Chicago in 2009.

Before moving to Chicago, I earned a Master of Fine Art degree, and my photographs and books have been exhibited or collected by a number of galleries and libraries. For several years, I taught courses in art and design at many Chicago-area colleges and universities, but I changed career paths due to the extremely low pay and zero job security afforded adjunct (part-time) professors. But I still publish my artwork and I’m currently putting together a book of my Polaroid photography.

Professionally, I’m a real estate agent, a job I enjoy due to the personal nature of the work. Much like teaching, it enables me to get to know someone, work closely alongside them, and help them reach a goal.

Music is a big part of my life. I play guitar and recently I’ve been focusing on developing my singing voice. I’m a member of the DePaul University Community Chorus, but I especially love to play and sing with my daughter, so if anyone wants to get together and jam on some Disney songs, let me know.

WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO TRAINING AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?

Memorial Day 2018 was a turning point. After a weekend of way too much food and drink, I felt like garbage. And as I watched my toddler daughter playing in the backyard, I realized that she was getting bigger and faster. (I was also getting bigger … rounder, actually.) I had a vision of the future: her running, jumping, playing sports and me being pudgy and out-of-breath. Something had to change if I wanted to keep up.

Exercise hadn’t been a part of my life in a very long time, and I wasn’t really sure what to do. Having previously been a member of “normal” gyms, I knew that wouldn’t work: I’d go, lazily use 2-3 machines, and leave. What I needed was structure, coaching, etc. All I knew about CrossFit was it’s cult-like reputation, so I was wary! But I did a trial workout and thought “Well, that was alright …  I guess the ritualistic sacrifices, wearing of robes, and other cult activities will come later.” After many “Foundations” classes, I nervously showed up for a full-speed class. That’s when I met Coach Adrian and his incredibly motivating combination of enthusiasm and careful coaching. I was hooked.

What keeps me coming back – aside from the wonderful people and amazing coaching – is CrossFit’s wide variety of movements. I’d had zero experience with olympic lifting, had never done a box jump, had no clue what toes-to-bar was. But it was fun and challenging to try them all.

WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

As the calendar flipped to 2020, I was intent on lifting heavier. But then, whaddya know, a global pandemic came along and I found myself taping laundry detergent jugs to a broomstick to simulate barbell work. (This was the moment I realized I had been fully assimilated into the cult.) It’s only been since the “alley” classes began that I’ve managed to get back to barbell work, but it’s going well, so I’m in the process of re-evaluating those goals!

WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED AT HARDWARE THAT MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?

Having never been able to do a rope climb (not even as a kid) it was wild to one day unexpectedly find myself tapping the ceiling and thinking “Shit! Now I have to get down!”. Once, I came to open gym and spent the entire time swinging from the rig, trying to get one toes-to-bar; I couldn’t stop grinning after I got that first one. But I think the biggest accomplishment has been a profound mental shift. Before I began CrossFit, I quite honestly didn’t feel all that great about myself. The crazy thing: I didn’t realize how ingrained that “low” feeling had become until I began seeing and feeling the positive changes to my body. It was like a fog began to lift and a new sense of pride in myself emerged.

FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?­­

There’s something so elegant about cleans. I love the smaller movements within the movement – lifting from the floor, using the hips/thighs to propel the bar upward, squatting to catch the bar in the front rack position – all of which you need to combine to complete the lift. I’m partial to the split jerk for the same reason: propelling the bar upward while dropping beneath it and sending your legs forward/back simultaneously.

LEAST FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?

Plenty! But my attitude is always “I may not enjoy doing this, but I’ll enjoy having done it.” I will single out … mountain climbers. They showed up a lot during the at-home/pandemic workouts, with good reason, but to me they’re just tedious. And when we’d do them outdoors in the grass, I was constantly worried my feet would slip and I’d plow face-first into the ground!

ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE INTERESTED IN TRYING OUT HARDWARE?

Short answer: “Do it! Now!” But to elaborate: CrossFit and being a part of the Hardware community have taught me far more than I ever expected. “Getting in shape” may have been the initial goal, but the benefits of joining Hardware far exceed just physical fitness. My mind and body are more connected. I’m far more aware of how and what I eat. I can (almost) keep up with my 5-yr-old daughter. I used to think “I don’t like exercise”, Hardware has helped me realize that anyone/everyone can enjoy training, you just need to find a method that works for you. For me, it was structure, coaching, and a community of awesome people, all three of which you’ll find at Hardware.

Gisselle G.
Member name:

Gisselle G.

Athlete of the month: October '20
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM? 

I am originally from the Philippines, but Chicago has been my home for almost nine years now. I work as a Physical Therapist in a rehab facility on the Southside. Most of my patients are African American seniors that require therapy for long term care and short term rehab. I am grateful for having a job that is both fulfilling and challenging at the same time. It gives me a sense of pride knowing that my job as a PT can help people recover from diseases, injuries and improve quality of life. 

Living here in the city, I enjoy the perks of trying new restaurants and bars  (I eat a lot and that surprises most people lol! ) and going to concerts and music festivals which i’m very much looking forward to once this pandemic is over.  Outside the gym, I enjoy outdoor activities like running and hiking. I’m lucky to have a group of friends who are physically active, marathon runners, bikers and triathletes. I recently learned how to ride a bike and did my first 18 mile bike ride with my friends. I also learned how to roller skate a few months ago and did kayaking for the first time too! This is the year that I have learned to let go of the idea that it’s too late to learn something new. It is never, ever too late 🙂

I also enjoy listening to The Daily Stoic podcast every morning as part of my routine. In my downtime I enjoy watching documentaries, Spanish series on Netflix and reading books about personal development. (I’m currently reading Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday)

 

WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO TRAINING AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?

I was never athletic or sporty when growing up so being physically active is something foreign to me. I started my fitness journey in 2014 when I first started doing group exercise classes and pole fitness/ dance classes in an all girls gym in Lincoln Park.  I did it for a few years until I had to stop because of an injury. One of my best friends who was living in California started doing Crossfit at that time and told me about how he enjoys his new workouts. I told him that I’m looking for a new fitness challenge so he advised me to drop in to one of the gyms here in the city. It took months before I had the courage to do a trial class and went with my two co workers. I still remember the workout, it was back squat for strength and rowing, box jumps and push ups for the Metcon.  I was hooked in lifting weights and doing different workouts, different movements everyday. I was one of those who never stopped talking about Crossfit at that time. 

Training helped me a lot with my job as I am required to do some lifting  when I have dependent patients. At times, when I have high level patients, I have them do some of our workouts with modifications. My patients enjoy it and told me they feel like they were in a bootcamp during therapy.

I have learned to love running because of training. I used to struggle running a mile and through training I finished my first half marathon, 20 miler and a full marathon all in one year!

I can list down all the positive effects of training and exercise to my physical health but what keeps me coming back is the process of developing my mindset when I face challenges, discomfort, failures and fatigue during a workout. I’m learning to embrace the struggle, to adapt and find an opportunity to  do better in every Wod. I love getting into the headspace where I don’t think about work and my life outside the gym.

WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

My main fitness goal is to finish the six major marathons (I’ve done 1 out of 6) and to finish a triathlon. Those are just some of my long term goals and might take years to accomplish. 

For short term goals, I would like to consistently do a workout Rx, hence, I need to be efficient in gymnastic movements and double unders (I used to jump rope backwards and I really thought it was normal lol! ) I’m doing accessory work at home to build upper body strength for strict movements. 

 

WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED AT HARDWARE THAT MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?

I can say lifting heavier than I used to was one of my accomplishments while training at Hardware but the one that I am the most proud of is surviving and recovering from Covid. I got sick this April because of viral overload at work (fyi we are being tested at work and I take extra precaution before going to the gym)  Although my symptoms were not too severe, I was weak, was short of breath even with going up and down the stairs, had no appetite, lost a few pounds and was depressed since I had to quarantine for weeks. I am grateful that Hardware started doing home workouts at that time and that I was able to do them when I could. Working out helped boost my immune system, improve my endurance and kept me sane in times of isolation.

 

FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?­

I love doing long Metcons, or anything that involves running and bodyweight movements. I also like cleans and thrusters. I know a lot of people will hate me for this but I love BURPEES!

Parker G.
Member name:

Parker G.

Athlete of the month: September '20
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TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?

 

My name is Parker, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I’m originally from South Louisiana, though I’ve been in Chicago for ten years. I moved here to study acting, and have been privileged enough to be a working actor in this city since. I primarily do musicals, though I was juuuuust starting to work in TV and film before COVID-19 came along and decided to slow the industry down (rude, Rona). For my day job, I work for a company that runs PR software, and part of my job is helping to run our LGBTQ+ employee resource group, providing education and on LGBTQ+ issues for our global offices, and helping create an inclusive work environment. In my (little) spare time, I love fashion, and I love drag.

I’m also very passionate about being a visible and vocal trans/non-binary person. Quick breakdown: “Transgender” is an umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some trans people’s gender identity falls along the gender binary: they are either a man or a woman. If a person is non-binary, that means that their gender identity is not strictly “male” or “female.” So while many non-binary people identify as transgender, not all transgender people are non-binary. So I am a transgender and non-binary person. (Hit me up if you’re curious to learn more about gender!)

 

It’s become a mission of mine that in everything I do – from the shows I’m in, to the work I do, to the places I go, that I am providing some kind of visibility for trans and queer people, and making space for others in my community. Because I had to go through a lot to accept and embrace myself for who I am, and I want to do everything I can to help create a world where trauma is no longer intrinsic to the experience of being trans and/or queer.

 

WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO CROSSFIT AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?

 

So growing up, I was never really an athletic or “fit” person – I was always skinny, always feminine, and kind of always seen as a weakling or a “wuss.” I did drama and music; most of my middle and high school bullies were guys on athletic teams, so I stayed far away from any sort of gym.

 

A few years ago, I was assaulted on the street for wearing heels and feminine clothing, and it left me feeling very vulnerable. Like I couldn’t defend myself. So, I decided to take working out very seriously. I knew Adrian through his wife, Brie, and reached out to see if he could teach me the basics of navigating a gym so that I could start on my own.

 

And that not only started a friendship with my fave coach (!!!!), but also an interest in crossfit (are we still calling it that?). Adrian and I went on to have several conversations about ways to make crossfit more accessible and inclusive to people of all genders, because so much of it, especially in competitive settings, was/is tied to the male/female gender binary. And more or less didn’t consider transgender and non-binary people when it came to how they should train. 

 

Ultimately, that got me interested in Hardware, because I could tell they were doing the work to make fitness feel more accessible to me and people like me. And then I joined, and met all of the PEOPLE. We have a pretty great community, and sometimes I forget how that is equally important to the programming/coaching/equipment/etc. I keep coming back because I learned to love challenging my body and doing it with a great group of folks.

 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR CROSSFIT GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

 

In a way, I’ve already achieved some of my goals – I started training to become more confident in my strength and ability to take care of myself. It’s been about a year since I joined Hardware, and I already feel physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. Now, my goal is to continue challenging myself, and keep looking for ways to improve. What movements can I improve on? How can I make my technique better? Do I hate a certain movement, and can I learn to embrace it and grow from it? (Though I will probably always hate wall balls with a burning passion, and I think I am at peace with that… for now.)

 

WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED DUE TO CROSSFIT THAT’S MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?

 

So trans people tend to have pretty complicated relationships with their bodies. I mean, in today’s society, who DOESN’T? But for a lot of trans folks, that’s compounded by the fact that not only do societal pressures tell us to look a certain way – our bodies are even further from the traditional beauty standards imposed on them. 

 

And since non-binary is a gender identity that is less defined, I’ve grappled with feeling like by body is supposed to look a certain way, without even really knowing what that is; it’s pretty confusing to navigate. 

 

Training here at Hardware has helped me sort of disassociate the way my body looks with what it is capable of. And I’ve found a way of looking at fitness that makes me excited about squatting 200 pounds for the first time, or climbing to the top of the rope, or chaining toes-to-bar reps, rather than focusing only on the way it makes me look.

 

Also like, I can squat most of my friends, how cool is that? 

 

 

FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?

DEADLIFTS, BABY!!! (though I love a toes-to-bar challenge, or a rope climb)

 

LEAST FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?

You know, I cannot find it within me to care one bit about achieving double-unders… but my arch nemesis will always be wall balls.

 

 

ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE INTERESTED IN TRYING OUT CROSSFIT?

Throw what you think you know about it out the window. And don’t approach it by assessing the things you can’t do or keep up with; it’s all about building upon what you can do, and going from there to learn and do more.

Get your free Trial Class now!

“It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime, what better better place than here? What better time than now?” - Zack de la Rocha

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