Athlete Spotlight – January 2016

The choice this month was initially tough, but that didn’t last long when we realized this was our last opportunity to highlight a favorite member before he moves away from us. We’d very much like to thank TJ Smith for all the energy and enthusiasm he has brought to our box since he joined in May of 2014. We’re going to miss you TJ.

Do you have a nickname?
With a name like TJ a nickname was never really necessary … there was a period of time in college that my friends called me “naked”.
(Ok, we probably shouldn’t continue this line of questioning…)



When did you start CrossFit and where?
When we moved back to the US from China I was 15 pounds over my ideal weight. I had the third doctor on a second continent tell me my cholesterol was super bad and my coworkers started calling me Boodah TJ or TJ Clause (nicknames?). I felt weak and needed to do “something”. It wasn’t really CrossFit but I started doing CrossFit like stuff at the Dimple Dell Req Center with this program called Hellbenders in the summer of 2013. I describe Hellbenders as an aquatic CrossFit. It wasn’t an affiliate but the instructor was level 1 and we did a lot of the metcon stuff that we do in CF. When it closed down a year or so later I wanted to try a real CrossFit but was too intimidated. I met Jeff Richards and he invited me out to CF Sandy. Having someone I knew made it slightly less intimidating.

What is your CrossFit “Superpower!”?
I feel it takes all my superpowers just to show up. This is especially true when I go to a 5:30AM or 6:30AM session but… I have been feeling pretty good about my pull-ups lately. I’ve gone from hating OH squats to actually looking forward to them. Same with cleans. My build makes me a decent runner. Someone once called me a viking on the rower.

What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
I’m a fan of all the metcon stuff but push-ups are probably my favorite. I’m a simple midwestern boy. Everyone understands push-ups.

What is your least favorite CrossFit movement?
Snatch, doesn’t everybody hate this one? If the form is bad, there is nowhere to hide.

Are there high points in your training or big accomplishments you would like to share?
My first rope climb was a huge confidence booster. Anytime I hit a PR or the form on a lift starts to click it’s like, “Hey, I might actually be able to do this.” I will never forget the first time I strung 5-6 kipping pull-ups in a row. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening…. ahhh.”

Are there other members who have had a significant impact on your time at CrossFit Sandy that you would like to share?
I mentioned Jeff Richards earlier. I never would have started CF without his invitation. That entire 6:30AM class I first participated in was important as well. The guys all joked and had fun the entire time but still worked hard. Taught me that I could do CrossFit without taking myself too seriously. Camron is a great coach. He is attentive but does not make me feel like I am under a microscope. He has a way of seeing your shortcomings, prioritizing the improvements, and communicating them in an encouraging way. But really, as I think about this my brain is flooded with names. I am pessimistic that I will be able to find anywhere nearly as special as CF Sandy.

What are some of your favorite WODs?
My favorite hero WOD would be Murph. I read the Lone Survivor book and became very interested in that group of heros. Somewhere in that process I became aware of the concept of a hero WOD and the Murph. It’s what originally made me aware of CF. The most memorable custom WOD of Bethanie’s would have been the EMOM with wall balls and a calorie row. I think we had to accumulate 20 calories. 5 walls balls EMOM and use the remaining time to row … it … was … terrible. Someone described it as being chased by a train in a tunnel. But that’s why I like CF. We did something really hard and survived.

Do you have any pieces of wisdom for new members?
If you are like me after a few weeks/months of coming regularly you will start getting discouraged. You will likely feel as though you are not improving/getting stronger/losing weight. You’ll start comparing yourself to others and feeling like you are lacking. You’ll think, “Maybe something is wrong with me. I’m too old. This isn’t for me. Seriously, this is Crossfit. I have no business here.” Push through this initial discouragement. Double down if you can. Your best gains (or losses) are just on the other side.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” Not sure that is inspirational…

What sports or activities do you participate in outside the box?
I like to trail run. We live across the street from Dimple Dell park/gully. When we first moved here I mapped out a 5K route. My per mile time has improved by about 1 minute since I started CF.

What sports have you participated in the past?
I wrestled my freshman year in high school because my super athletic best friend convinced me my long legs would give me some advantage with “leg moves”. We wore blue singlets. They called me the Blue Worm (Hey, another nick name). I remember liking the feeling that came from conditioning but I was absolutely a terrible wrestler. I walked away from that experience thinking I was just not meant to “do sports”. If I could go back I would advise myself to build on what I enjoyed. Too bad CF didn’t exist in the 90s.

What are some favorite personal moments, past, present, or future that you’d like to share?
My family and I lived in Shenzhen China for 4 years as part of my job with Harman before being relocated to SLC in the spring of 2013. Besides being a major career booster my family and I got to see the world and vacation like rock stars. There are a lot of amazing beaches in South East Asia. Now that my career is taking another turn we anticipate a move out of SLC. Utah has been amazing. The natural beauty of this part of the country/world is truly rare and something I hope everyone at CF Sandy takes daily advantage of.


On to the next adventure.


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