Mike Zurla

Mike Zurla, CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week, just hit his one year mark with us on December 1st.  Besides being one of those ‘big strong guys’ around the bunker, Mike has made his mark by dragging in quite a few members of the PAX River Rugby Football Club and keeping pace with (and often beating) many of the veteran crossfit athletes around the gym.  Mike is one of those guys who is always willing to help out another athlete with their form and the coaches can point to and say “watch that guy, he’s doing it right”.  So, sorry Mike, but in this case, you are “that guy”, and its not such a bad thing.  Mike is not a kool-aide drinker and you won’t see him wearing a shirt that says MY WARM UP IS YOUR WORKOUT.  It’s just not his style, and frankly, we think he is a pretty classy guy.  In his own words:

“My then fiancé, now wife, Alyssa told me about how there was a new CrossFit gym opening in the area and that she wanted us to sign up for the December fundamentals class. I said fine, and we were off. Since then, I have jumped in with two feet. However, I have not adopted the CrossFit terminology. You will never hear me say “WOD” (either as a verb or a noun), refer to the gym as a “box”, and nothing is “paleo”. With that said, CrossFit has changed my views on fitness and has become a regular part of my life.

Since starting with CrossFit PAX my “CrossFit Total” (Squat, Deadlift, and Strict Press) has increased significantly and is now over 1000lbs.  I can perform Muscle Ups, Double Unders, and Hand Stand Push-Ups (though not as well as I would like), my clean is no longer a bicep curl and is up to 275lbs (a gain of 50 lbs.) and my aerobic conditioning is leaps and bounds ahead of where it used to be. All of this has also helped me out on the rugby pitch.  Since starting at CrossFit PAX, many of my teammates have seen the improvements I’ve made and joined as well. The variety of training in CrossFit translates directly to the rugby pitch.”

Of all his athletic accomplishments, however, Mike says he is most proud of ” the respect that I’ve garnered from the coaches and athletes. I feel that I have become someone in the gym who other athletes can approach for help, and one that the coaches use as an example. I hope that my performance in the gym helps push others beyond their own perceived limits, just as everyone else in the gym helps to push me past mine.  Without a doubt, the people at CrossFit PAX make it amazing; from the owners, Jade and JD, to the coaches, and, probably most importantly, the other athletes.  After years of being a guy who would work out on his own, I can say that having other people there to push you past what you thought your limits were is great.  Whether it’s a coach yelling to pick up the weight, another athlete going rep for rep with you in a workout for time, or the rest of the class cheering you on as you finish the workout in dead last; the people at the gym help me go beyond what I thought I could.”

Here is something we would really like to drive home and it is something that has helped Mike.  Are you ready…. drumrolllllll…. he sets goals.  I know, revolutionary, right?  We say it in fundamentals and our coaches preach it, but this guy has it down.  Here are a few of his measurable, attainable goals:

Short Term: By the end of the year I would like to have my Deadlift over 500lbs (current 460lbs), my Back Squat over 400lbs (current 385lbs), and finally get proficient at Hand Stand Push-Ups… After that I want my clean over 300lbs (current 275lbs) and snatch over 225lbs (current 190lbs).  This upcoming year, my goal is to finish in the top 500 of the region in the CrossFit Open.
Long Term: Over the next year, I would like to increase all of my lifts by 20%, maintain a consistent training schedule, and possibly participate in a throwdown/competition outside of CrossFit PAX.

Beyond 1 year, I plan on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, continually working on my weaknesses, and helping others to achieve their own goals as well.

I think there are typically 2 types of people who start CrossFit; ones who are trying to get into shape, and ones who think they’re in shape. If you are trying to get into shape, my advice is push yourself. You are much stronger than you think. For the people who think that they are in shape; check your ego. You are not as strong as you think. CrossFit can be the most rewarding, and also the most humbling activity. You can crush a workout one day and feel like you’re on top of the world, only to be crushed the next one (just ask me about Hand Stand Push-Ups…). That is what appeals to me; the constant challenge of having to build your skills across different domains.”

One final word of advice from Mike:  “There is no such thing as “the best fitness program”. There is, however “the best fitness program for you”. Spread the word about CrossFit and speak highly of the results you’ve seen, but don’t rag on what others are doing for their own fitness.”

Thanks, Mike, for sharing your accomplishments, goals, and thoughts with us.  We are glad to have been a part of your pretty impressive improvements and accomplishments and can’t wait to see how you do in the Open this year!  Keep it up, and keep those knees out!