Member Spotlight: Brian Peterson

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In July of 2015, my wife Catherine and I moved to Columbus from Bloomington, Indiana. My brother Brad had been trying to convince me to give CrossFit a try, but I was nervous about it based on what I had heard about injuries at CrossFit. In August of 2014, I had back surgery to fix a herniated disc that was causing nerve pain, numbness, and weakness from my right hip down to my big toe. I didn’t know if my repaired back could withstand some of the CrossFit movements. Beginning a couple of years before my surgery I worked with a personal trainer, and I continued with her after the surgery, working hard to rehab my back. At the time I thought I was in decent shape, but after the first couple of months at CFC, I was completely humbled. I realized I had a lot of work to do to improve my fitness. I remember turning to my brother after one of my first run WODS and asking him “How the hell do these people keep running so fast for so long?”

Even though I had taken the plunge by joining CrossFit Clintonville, my weariness about protecting my back didn’t go away immediately after starting. I was worried the first few times I saw deadlifts and back squats on the programming. I hadn’t performed those movements since high school, and deadlifting was how I initially injured my back.  Pat was my main coach at that time. He made sure to pay close attention to me and he scaled down the weight I was using. He never pushed me past my limits and over time my confidence grew.

My fear of injury was not the only thing holding me back when I first started at CFC. I had to scale most movements like pull-ups, ring dips, etc. Like the Olympic lifts, it took me a long time to be successful in many of the gymnastic movements. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight for me has always been difficult. I weighed as much as 260 pounds when I played football in high school and as little as 205 pounds when I was in college. In the past, the only way I lost weight was to go on a very low-carb diet, so in February I decided to get back on a low carb diet. I immediately noticed having less energy in my workouts, and also felt really sluggish outside of the gym. On top of that, I wasn’t losing much weight. It was frustrating, so I researched alternative diets.

Through the Crossfit community, I learned that I knew very little about nutrition and that healthy carbs aren’t going to cause me to gain weight.  I immediately noticed my energy level was much better both inside of and outside of the gym after I adjusted my diet in April of this year. The weight began to fall off and I was getting stronger, while also improving my cardio. I was able to improve almost every move that I previously struggled with. Double-unders became easier, I got my first muscle-up, and my overhead squat went up to 225 pounds from 175 pounds.  I thought I would lose some strength with the weight loss, but it was the complete opposite. My mobility improved and so did my confidence.

While there were many factors in my growth as a CrossFit athlete, one of the most important factors that motivated me to come back daily, and to work to improve, was the community at the box. CrossFit is challenging, but being a part of such a great community at CFC, and having great coaches, makes it feel easier. It is much more motivating to go to the gym when you work out with the same people every day, and when you have dedicated coaches. The coaches constantly encourage me and critique my form so that I can continue to improve every day. I’m a regular at the noon class and have become good friends with many of the other “nooners,” as we call each other. We have a ton of fun together, and I love the competitiveness amongst us because we push each other to work hard every day.

It’s amazing to think about how far I have come with my fitness and nutrition, and overall health in just over a year. I made a lot of progress with the Olympic and gymnastic movements I struggled with early on. I feel confident that my new way of eating is healthy and sustainable. My back feels better than ever, and I owe it all to CFC.