Iron Bridge Athlete: John McConnell
What was your fitness background and what brought you to Iron Bridge CrossFit?
As a kid I played baseball, tennis, and basketball almost daily. Once I got to high school that took a backseat so I could be a band nerd. I did discover the high school's weight room and got the basic meathead moves down my junior and senior year. When I made it to college I discovered of the nectar of the gods, BEER, and decided to give the weights a break. I blew right past the freshman fifteen and pulled a freshman fifty. I graduated high school weighing around 195, and by the end of my freshman year of college I was about 250. It happened so fast I didn't realize it until it was too late. I floated along at that weight until after I got out of college. When I decided to do something about it I didn't really know what to do so I turned to the all knowing Internet and decided that I needed to run and go on a calorie deficit diet to get the job done. For 3 months I ran 1-3 miles a day and ate approximately 900 calories a day, all of which came from Lean Cuisine frozen meals. Meg can attest to my rosy disposition during this time, as we were coworkers. I lost most of the weight I had picked up in college but my body composition was terrible.
Once my metabolism dried up because of depriving myself for 3 months I started eating again and
started hitting the weight room. This was my life for the next few years. I bulked up on internet bro-science and whey but found it hard to stick to any one program that I found online or in magazines. After seeing 300 and a quick Google search I found CrossFit. I dabbled at first with CrossFit on my own and with a couple of coworkers for a few years. I did WODs that I found online or made up on my own, ignoring movements that I didn’t like or didn’t want to spend the time mastering. I was content and probably still would be if Meg had not decided she wanted to start CrossFit. I had tried to get her into it over the years but she needed the coaching and box environment that I couldn’t provide. She found Iron Bridge and fell in love with the coaches and community and not long after insisted I come along. I put it off for 6 months until my gym membership ran out and I decided to take the plunge. Next to marrying Meg it was possibly the best decision of my life.
How has CrossFit improved your life inside and outside the gym?
CrossFit has made my life better in everyway, and I don’t mean the brand of CrossFit I was doing on my own, I mean the Iron Bridge CrossFit. Instead of hanging with coworkers at happy hours every week, I’m hanging with all my friends at Iron Bridge doing something meaningful for myself. My body fat is down, my lifts are up. Just today I did a WOD that I couldn’t have completed a year ago in near the time I did today. I handle the stress that life throws at me much better than I used to. I used to come home and stress eat-and-drink, but now I just pick up something heavy and that makes it all better. I think Meg appreciates this new me too--not that she doesn’t think I’m a wonderfully happy drunk, it’s more of a special treat when she sees it now because it’s so rare.
What has been your favorite moment at IBCF?
My favorite moment was the end of the first Paleo Challenge I completed. I lost body fat, improved my fitness, and my hard work was recognized by others at the gym. I had several people comment on my body change and it meant a lot. When I was making changes on my own it was typically only me that took notice or recognized the work I put in. Having the community around me give me a “pat on the back” meant so much more than I realized it would.
WODs and Movements - what are your favorites and what makes your palms sweat?
When I see a WOD with cleans, deadlifts, or double unders come up I get a grin across my face. When I see thrusters, snatches, or overhead squats I typically rethink ever coming through the door of Iron Bridge. And FYI, there’s a special place in hell reserved for the guy that came up with the burpee.
One piece of advice for someone new to CrossFit
My advice for someone new is to give it a chance to work. We live in a society that demands results yesterday and the changes you’re about to make to your body do not come fast. Listen to your coaches and make friends with as many people as possible at the box. The community and the relationships you make will make the journey so much better than going through it alone.
What keeps you going in a WOD when your mind is telling you to stop?
What keeps me going are the people right there next to me, going through the same thing as me, feeling the same pain I’m feeling. If they can keep going I can keep going.
Anything else you'd like to add...
If you guys closed up shop I don’t know what I’d do. In less than a year Iron Bridge has become a major part of my life, and I am extremely thankful that Meg got me in the door.
Must do in Charleston
This goes against the clean living that CrossFit is all about but when you come to Charleston you gotta eat. Checking out downtown and seeing the sites is great, but you will remember the great meals you have in this city way more than some old building and the guy that built it. Just hit King Street and eat at every place that serves a hot meal, you won’t regret it.