I am obsessed with knowing everything about… everyone. When I started CrossFit a few weeks ago, it was a no-brainer that I would approach the 7 CrossFit coaches and assistant coaches about their “why” as it relates to CrossFit.

I hope you enjoy the features over the next few weeks!

Hi Jon! Tell me about yourself and what you do!

Jonathan Ross, 35 years, born in Saint John, NB.

I work at JD Irving Ltd./Part-Owner at Fundy CrossFit.  My education was in Forestry at UNB Fredericton. I ended up specializing in Geographic Information Systems (mapping, GPS kind of stuff) and started with the JD Irving Woodlands department about 10 years ago.  I work for their IT division now.

I don’t have a lot of hobbies these days! It’s just a lot of CrossFit. I spend a lot of time with my family outside of work and the gym.  Jen and I are lucky that we have a lot of great friends so we love socializing on the weekend when we get time. Growing up and through high school I was just sports sports sports.  Mostly basketball but I also played volleyball, football and soccer.  I got in to basketball refereeing after university and was a nationally rated official. I refereed a lot of the high school ball around SJ. I did a national tournament and was getting in to much more university level games when I got out of it. I got out of it shortly after we had kids, it took up a lot of time….which is a bit hypocritical now because I dedicate even more of my time to the gym but I love it more, it’s a much more rewarding venture and my family is involved.  I love the idea of my kids growing up in a gym surrounded by healthy people!  I’ve got two kids, Georgia (5) and Elliott(3) who pretty much rule my world.  They’re on my mind at all times for one reason or the other.

When did you join CrossFit?

I started on my own just in my yard and at the UNBSJ track in 2007.  I joined the YMCA in 2008 because I wanted to start lifting weights instead of just doing bodyweight exercises. In 2010 I joined the local CrossFit affiliate.  Late 2010 I got certified to coach and in 2011 I started coaching.

Appropriately titled “Vacation WOD”

What were your goals when joining?

When I first started I was just looking for a different and unique way to train.  I heard of this archaic looking website that had a bunch of crazy workouts on it so I checked it out and wasn’t even sure it was the right website. I couldn’t do much of them because of the weights involved so I found a website with a bunch of bodyweight workouts that you could do while travelling or at home so I just started doing them.  My goals were just to be really fit, nothing specific. I wanted to look good and feel good because I really got away from that in university.  I gained a lot of weight and felt sluggish and slow. I wanted to get back to that “high school” form!  It didn’t take that long, I made a pretty drastic change and went all in with nutrition and CrossFit.  If you eat and sleep well and do CrossFit, it doesn’t take long!

What are your goals now?

My goals are much different now.  Day to day my goal is to be the best coach I can be.  It’s been very rewarding seeing people make incredible physical transformations! I respect the process very much and I don’t ever want people to look at me and see that I’m a “slack” coach or that I can be doing more or that I’m not being as attentive to people as I should be. People pay us a lot of money and put their trust in us to give them the environment, motivation and instruction to succeed. I try to relay this to the assistant coaches as well.

In terms of my physical goals, I’m so busy working about 60 hours a week and trying my best to be a good Dad that I’m just trying to eat well, get as much sleep as I can and get a work out in here and there…but I’m ok with that!  It’s been way more rewarding to assist all these wonderful people on a day to day basis, the energy I get from it makes it all worth it.

Jon lifting at the Atlantic Hopper

What piece of advice would you give to new CrossFitters?

Mechanics are paramount for a couple reasons.  For one, Injuries are real and we shouldn’t just get away with saying “Oh CrossFit is awesome you don’t get hurt at all!” At Fundy CrossFit our perspective is a little different.  We highly respect human movement and understand that if you put yourself in a position that the body isn’t supposed to be in then it’s inevitable: you will get hurt.  It might not be today, next week or maybe even a year from now but WE’RE NOT IN THIS FOR THE SHORT TERM, we’re trying to set people up for life!  We do our best to take people slow when they need to go slow, understand their restrictions and introduce some corrective exercises so that they can be consistent and eventually move faster and faster.

The second reason is that without efficient proper mechanics, we end up cannibalizing our potential peak athleticism (Kelly Starrett, mobilitywod.com).  It’s one of the very core principles we believe in at FCF.  Exercising what we refer to as virtuosity in movement will eventually help you to move more efficiently.  Moving more efficiently will get you better at everything in the gym: WODs get easier, the bar starts moving up quicker, all of a sudden you’re doing pullups or handstands and other things you never thought you’d be doing!

What is the most underrated workout?

Ha! They’re all pretty underrated…a 500m row scares the blazes out of me and gives me butterflies…whoa…even now typing this to you I noticed that my brow just furrowed and I got a bit of a chill.  I’ve got to mention Fran though (21-15-9 Thrusters/pullups), I know it’s the one that everyone will mention cause it’s the most popular, but seriously, it’s completely effin savage.

What is your favourite lift?

I like cleans.  Probably because I do them well and can move a lot of weight with them.  It’s a perfect example of putting it all together.  Strength, power, speed, coordination, and balance all come in to play. It’s also one that you don’t get better at unless you master the mechanics, it’s a constant pursuit of trying to hit the right positions, move quicker, pull properly, stabilize at the right time…it helps to be strong but the technique is much more important.

photo: Mark Hemmings

What are some misconceptions that people might have about CrossFit…

and why aren’t they true?

The biggest one I hear is that people say they need to get in shape first, then I’ll join a CrossFit gym.  I understand this, because people see the things we do and without understanding that everyone basically starts from ground zero, it can be intimidating.  I just wish I could convince people that it’s not like that with us, we truly respect the beginners and the reasons for intimidation and try to harbor a culture of encouragement and positivity.

The other one that I touched on above is that it’s dangerous.  This one actually excites me because I believe that what we’re doing is ahead of the curve to some degree.  We don’t shy away from injuries, we try to understand the reasons that one might get hurt by looking at the person’s history and daily habits and address them face on and up front and get people moving in a way that’s safe. We don’t just load people up with weight and tell them to go for it, we hold people back from some movements if we feel they’re not ready but give them things they can do to so that they can eventually get there. We’re very proud of this.  So it’s not really a misconception if you don’t train in the right gym and don’t respect mechanics. It’s kind of the same with a lot of sports. Do you go down a black diamond hill if it’s your first day skiing downhill? No, you go down the lazy trails and practice until you feel your ready.  Even still when it’s that first time down you probably snow plow, maybe just stop and sit down but you take it easy.  It’s kind of the same thing with CrossFit.  Eventually after putting in a lot of work you brave the bigger hills.

How can I get the most out of CrossFit?

Eating good food is like taking PEDs for CrossFit, you’ll be amazed at the increased productivity you get from filling your body with the fuel that it is expecting to get.  I’m a big believer of natural intake. We should do our best to eat what our body expects us to eat based on the species that we’ve evolved into over the last 10s of thousands of years.  We evolved in to this species BECAUSE of this food so I struggle to understand the reasoning behind miracle drugs, magic formula foods, or really anything that comes in a box.  Meat, vegetables, healthy fats, fruit and nuts…easy.

Sleep well.  We do the work in the gym but when we work out we sort of intentionally break ourselves.  The workout is kind of all for naught unless we recover from that work. We do our best recovering when we sleep. Eight hours a night would be optimal.

Those are two obvious ones but the least obvious recommendation I would give you is to try to enjoy the people around you.  The owners, myself included, have come to realize that the definition of CrossFit is much more broad than what it was in the beginning.  It was originally a prescription, just a method of working out: constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.  A more modern definition would be: a community of dedicated people who are passionate about the idea of constant self improvement who reach their goals using constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.  Kind of a mouthful…I just say we’re community of people trying to get fit.  The gains that people see are often facilitated not only by just the workout but also because of the support and commitment of the community around them.  These folks all got “stuff” going on outside of the gym but once a day we all get together, grind it out, push our boundaries, slap each other a high five and go back out there a little bit better then when they came in.  Togetherness can be very powerful.

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Thanks, Jon!