August Athlete Spotlight: Ashwin Thiagarajan

ashwin

Tell us something about your life outside of CrossFit (career, family, hobbies, etc).

Born not too far away (in NJ), my life has come a whole (geographic) circle after living in India, Chicago, and Scottsdale, AZ.  My wife and I moved to Newtown this past October after a long stint in downtown Chicago. Transplanted from a very different ethos, we are still getting our feet wet when it comes to settling in! My wife is Bhairavi and our four-year-old terrier is Choco.  Yes, we are A, B, and C! (I won’t tell you if that was intentional)

 I work with/for my Dad, which is an interesting/fun/challenging experience!  We run an education technology company that offers a student lifecycle CRM to higher education institutions primarily in the US and UK.

 I love to travel (only on personal trips) but sadly 90% of all my travel is for work.  Traveling is not as exciting as it sounds when it’s for work!

My favorite book or movie:

My favorite book is a quick read that taught me to think differently: ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’.
My favorite local restaurant:

My wife and I are foodies!  We are always hunting for good food recommendations so let us know if you have one!  Here are a few we have found in our limited time here that have been remarkably consistent: Thai Chef and Noodle Fusion (Penndel), Osteria Procaccini (Kingston), The Love (Philadelphia), and Zebra Striped Whale (dessert in Newtown).

Tell us something that we don’t know or would be surprised to learn about you:

 

I’ve earned lifetime elite status on the world’s largest airline alliance just from flights I’ve flown on over the past eight years, averaging over 140k air miles a year.

How I was introduced to CrossFit:  

 

I first did CrossFit around 5 years ago in Chicago for a short period of four months.  I remember loving it – the culture, the people, and the coaches. It was great because the box was just a few steps from my front door.  Fortunately for them (and unfortunately for me), they outgrew the space they occupied and had to relocate to another spot that ended up becoming too far for me.  CFN is currently walking distance from my home but I will stick around should we outgrow this current space!

My fitness routine before CrossFit:  

 

I’ve dabbled in a number of fitness regimes over the past years.  My largest issue, however, has been my own lack of consistency. I value convenience in terms of physical proximity and also like being held accountable, and a form a structure.  Also, knowing I can pick the brains of folks that are more experienced than me and not expect any judgment is an important part of my exercise regimen. I have run multiple half-marathons (with little to no training, oops), participated in spinning and other group classes, and been part of multiple ‘regular’ gyms.  Just as I finally find a rhythm, which typically involves finding a trainer who can deal with my inquisitive nature and make me find my inner strength (special shout outs to coaches Anoop Kumar and Ben Timmis), I moved!

 

CFN gives me access to fantastic coaches, a structured schedule, and a whole body workout.  More on this later…

My thoughts after my first CrossFit workout:  

 

It took a lot for me to even make it to my first class.  I had perused CFN’s Facebook page, read many articles/blogs about CrossFit, and was convinced I didn’t have what it took to be a member of the community.  I saw incredible athletes do amazing things. I was inspired but coming off of a few months of nothingness (when it comes to exercise), I was thinking if this really was the next best move for me?

I somehow mustered the confidence/curiosity to email CFN late one Friday night and Coach Matt emailed me a few hours later, at 4:45 AM on Saturday morning!  He assured me that I’d fit in and that I should join Monday’s class. Kate was so pleasant at the front desk and made me feel welcome. Coach Stef was a guiding light through that class (and continues to be!).  She assured me that I can/should scale and that I won’t be the only one dying through the workout. Her demeanor and outlook tremendously calmed my nerves. I had a tremendous workout, nearly died (still do every time I come in), and couldn’t wait to come back the very next day!

My proudest CrossFit accomplishment is:  

 

Having my wife come in, try a class, and now trial a month!  She has been watching my journey from nervousness to absolute obsession and I’m glad she has taken her first steps in this direction.  I hope she sticks around cause it’s great to be transforming together!

My favorite WOD is:  

 

Is ‘favorite’ another word for ‘most difficult’?  If yes, I have many to choose from. I attended my first Sunday WOD session this week and I think it makes the cut as an answer to this question – it’s a WOD with many sub-WOD’s!

6 min cap: 100 thrusters, max burpees

3 min rest

5 min AMRAP: 10 overhead barbell lunges, 10 wall walks

3 min rest

4 min AMRAP: 5 KB cleans, 5 KB front squats, 5 KB push press (53/35)

3 min rest

3 min AMRAP: 6 overhead squats (95/65), 6 box jump overs

2 min rest

2 min AMRAP: Push-up/pull-up ladder 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3…

1 min rest

1 min AMRAP: Back squats (135/93)

Yes, in CrossFit, “rest” is such a misnomer.

My Favorite Lift is:  

 

Clean and (split) jerk!

My next goal is:  

 

To make it to the next step on each of my scaled moves.  I scale MANY moves right now!

How has CrossFit affected your life outside of the gym?

 

Approximately half of my non-work conversations are now centered around, “do you have any idea what an amazing workout I had today?”.  Though my social circle isn’t large in Newtown (CFN is the vast majority of it right now!), I share my experiences with my friends and family from around the world on FaceTime.  My best friend from Chicago visited me and, thanks to me, he had no option but to visit CFN. I think the bug bit him too and now he does CrossFit-esque workouts at his local gym.

I know my body has been changing, rapidly.  On a physical standpoint, I’m eternally sore.  It’s actually an amazing feeling. My changing body has also changed my mind.  I definitely am more confident and feel that I can ‘take it on’. The outlook is often, “come on, if I can get through that WOD, this ain’t nothin’!”.

In full disclosure, I was rather upset about my move to PA from Chicago but CFN has dramatically changed that.  When I travel now, I immediately regret missing classes and hate that I’ll be missing out on working my guts out alongside some fantastic people.

What I love most about CrossFit Newtown:  

 

CFN is a fantastic place.  One thing about CrossFit is that it really sells itself.  You do a WOD and you know you’re going to get fitter! The community is what keeps you coming back though.  The ability to be able to get an effective workout within a defined timeframe and be able to train various parts of your body consistently is awesome.  Combine that with the motivating coaches who enable you to train safely and effectively is a blessing. I want to especially thank Coaches Stef, Tasha, and Carrie, with whom I take most of my classes with.  9:30 and 11 AM classes FTW!

What advice I would give to someone just joining CrossFit Newtown:  

 

SCALE and BE CONSISTENT.

It’s not difficult to be intimidated by watching others if you’re new to CrossFit.  It’s also often tempting to press that little blue ‘Rx’ button on Wodify. My recommendation is to listen to your body (and maybe push just a wee bit more) instead of trying to perform a workout Rx right out of the gates.  There will be some workouts where you know you can go harder than others – go for it, by all means. I try to push my body to the max (which is likely Coach Matt’s halfway point, lol) when I am doing a metcon. I know I’ve gotten a great workout and I know I see/feel results with consistent visits to CFN.  Yes, I may be down towards the bottom of the whiteboard but I know with scaling and listening to my body (and focusing on good form!), I’d be able to likely do the same workout better/faster/stronger in the future.

CrossFit is great because you have structure – you know when you need to come in, you know when you are going to leave, and you know what workout you’re going to do.  That said, it’s not ridiculously regimented and allows for flexibility within your workout in terms of how you scale or how hard you push yourself. Every day is different – some days you can push harder than others.  Also, thanks to the sense of community, you watch others enduring the same ‘agony’ and it only motivates you to keep moving. You’re competing but these are your best friends – it’s such an amazing dichotomy – and I love it.

You likely are going to hate the workout during it but by the time you’re on your way home, you can’t help but think: “Gosh, that was awesome!”.

Scale your workouts and keep coming in.  You’re bound to succeed.

Do you have any diet/nutritional advice?

 

Those who know me well would laugh if they knew I was asked to give diet/nutritional advice!  I come from a family where I was forced to finish my plate (and I often also often proceeded to finish others’ plates!).  I have been a vegetarian (eat eggs but no meat/seafood) for the vast majority of my life but that doesn’t mean I am healthy.  My diet has been very high on carbs/fats and as I often say, “I’m a vegetarian that doesn’t like vegetables!”. I also have an incredible sweet tooth.

As I’m getting older and with newer goals, I understand that’s not a sustainable lifestyle.  I’ve become increasingly interested in nutrition and have tried becoming more aware of what I put into my body.  Not going to lie – I do enjoy a good dessert from time to time. I look at diet/nutrition just like I do many of the CrossFit movements: I try to scale!

The internet is sometimes a scary place.  Everyone has an opinion and is going to tell you ‘do this and don’t do that’.  While it is difficult to separate the sources of merit from those that are merely clickbaits, I have tried to make some modifications to my own routine over the past few years.  The ones I think I have benefited by, especially in the last few months are:

·       Drink a few glasses of water before I eat anything (in fact, it’s the only liquid I drink)

·       Cut back on dairy (I still can’t give up ice cream yet)

·       Reduce dessert/sugar intake after 3 PM (replace with raisins/dates)

·       Try not to eat past 8 PM

I will soon be taking my progress to next step once I meet with Coach Matt and focus on macros and tracking my food.  I’m excited!

 

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