After a brief chat with Neil last week, one that began with him saying: “Yesterday my arms were so sore I could barely lift my coffee” I felt the urge to share a little about his story. Neil is currently our oldest male client but you wouldn’t think it from everything he does. This past memorial day we completed the MURPH workout which is an annual event within the CrossFit community to honor those who have fallen serving their country. The workout was created in honor of Michel Murphy who’s story was the inspiration for the book and subsequent movie Lone Survivor. It’s a brutal gauntlet consisting of a 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another 1 mile run.
Every year on Memorial Day we have a large crew show up to do the workout and I learned this year was the first time Neil was able to complete the workout as it’s written without modifying any of the exercises. 4 years in, at 66, he’s still improving constantly. He truly embodies our mindset of Always Learning.
1. How old are you and how long have you been training @ CRAIC?
I turned 66 years of age last February and I’ve been training at CRAIC for 4 years as of last August.
2. What made you try CrossFit?
I’ve always tried to stay in shape. I studied Tae Kwon Do (achieved Black Belt and competed in competitions). I started running and ran in a few road races (5ks and half marathons). I even took up dancin
g when my daughters started dance school. About 5 years ago I started Tae Kwon Do trying for another degree. This worked for a year but been there done that. That’s when I saw the sign outside of the Dedham gym. It peaked my interest so I asked around. A friend told me he had tried to join and said it was to difficult. He also made the mistake saying that I wouldn’t last a month, and yet here I am.
3. Do you remember your first workout?
Yes, I was nervous at first but Glen my first coach set my mind at ease and then began the torture. I actually enjoyed it and could not wait for my next class.
4. Have you ever done any thing like this in the past?
Yes, Boot camp in the Army. It was tough then also and it made me grow up (I was a very young 19 yrs old). I was in the Army for 3 years and spent time in Germany but came home due to my Fathers passing. I was transferred to
Ft. Devens for a year and eventually I was sent to Viet Nam for a year. I was stationed in 3 different locations.5. What is your favorite part of CrossFit?
It’s hard to say. First of all I love the diversity of activities. I love the challenge and the rewards. Its like our motto ”
Always different always hard”. And I couldn’t ask for better coaching. Secondly I love my fellow Craic Heads. The friendship and love that comes with Craic is outstanding. Everyone is so helpful, understanding, and supportive. I always look forward to going to the gym.
6. How many competitions have you entered and how long before you started competing?
I entered my first comp 6 months after joining Craic. It was my first CrossFit Open. I have done 4 Opens, 2 CrossFit New England Masters (55+) and I’m about to do my 4th Ocean State Masters Throwdown on June 6th (a 3rd and 2nd place finish).
7. You recently did your 1st RX Murph after 3 years of doing it modified. Being a Veteran did this accomplishment feel special in any way and why?
It was very special. I never want to fail at Murph! I do it for all Veterans especially those that we lost. On days like Memorial Day I ask my self why was I so lucky. I do it for those who cant. So, and this may sound corny, when I’m doing Murph and start to falter, I call upon their spirits to push me. Lift me. Help me if they can. I make them a part of the challenge. This time my prayers were answered. When I came out the door for my second run I was ready to quit. Then I looked up I saw and heard cheers. “Come o Neil! Lets go Veteran. You can do it!” And then four maybe five Craicheads started running with me (thanks Mitch, Jim, Sean, Jamie, I hope I didn’t miss anyone.). They just said lets go you can do it. I almost broke down in tears. It was amazing and I WILL NEVER FORGET IT!!! Because of this I was able to finish and PR Murph!!!!
8. What advice would you give someone your age that says I’m to old to join CrossFit?
Its simple. I believe that the fountain of youth is not a thing. Its an action. Keep moving. CrossFit may not be for you but you’ll never know unless you try. You cant live in fear of injury or failure. Don’t worry about embarrassment. Hell you’ll be too tired to be embarrassed. I can guarantee, you wont regret the effort. If you do it and its for you, you’ll feel it grab you and it will make you young again!!!…PROMISE