Spotlight Athlete: Bob Sawyer

Name: Bob Sawyer
Age: 50
Occupation: Director of IT Services / Freelance Web Guy
Which class time do you usually attend? Depends on schedule; currently 7pm Tue/Thu and occasional Saturdays.
Favorite WOD: Anything without thrusters!
Favorite CF Movements: Anything where I can use my height to my advantage — rowing, wall balls… but I also love power cleans.
3RM Back Squat: Max is 245, but it’s been a while…
1RM Deadlift: Max is 405, but again, that was a while ago.
Favorite Food: My wife makes killer braised pork ribs with creamy polenta. Also bacon.
Favorite Movie: Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” is without a doubt my all-time favorite. I’ll also never pass up an opportunity to watch 1980’s “Flash Gordon” (cheesy space movie with a soundtrack by Queen? Aw yeah!)
Favorite Athlete: Muhammad Ali. The Greatest. End of story. I cried when he lit the cauldron during the opening ceremonies of the ’96 Olympics.
Dream Job: To get paid ridiculous amounts of money to sit on a beach while people bring me drinks.
Dream Vacation Destination: Look, I’m happy to get down to the beach at SSI a couple times a year, but after my daughter spent two weeks there a couple of years ago, I’d really love to visit Croatia someday.
Favorite WOD Song: Anything by Rage Against the Machine.
Favorite Motivational Quote: ”I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

How long have you been doing CrossFit?
“Since September, 2011. I think the only person left who’s been a member longer than I have is Greg Hayes.”

How did you first discover CrossFit and what made you decide to start?
“After my then-business partner and I first met with Ben Davis and Kyle Maynard about redesigning the NEC web site, Ben kept nudging me to come try CrossFit. It took a few months of prodding, but I finally came in for my assessment. Ben had me me do two rounds of 1 x 250m sprint and 5 air squats. I almost passed out, and then almost threw up. But I knew I had to make a change: I was in terrible shape. I grew up watching my father battle heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension — the Big Three — and then after two bypasses and multiple stents, he died of a massive heart attack in 2004. I was well on my way to the same fate — pre-diabetic, blood pressure creeping up the dial, and overweight and weak to the point that going up a flight of stairs left me out of breath. I had two little girls whose lives I wanted to be a part of as long as possible, and I knew if I didn’t get off the couch, that time was going to be shortened.”

Tell us about your sports/fitness background:
“None to speak of, unless you count marching band in high school. Actually we worked our butts off — but after high school, I never approached that level of activity again until I started CrossFit.”

What sorts of positive changes (mental, physical, emotional) have you noticed in your life since getting involved at No Excuses?
“I’m an extreme introvert and as such I tend to keep my emotions bottled up. CrossFit helps me “burn off” a ton of negative energy. Nevermind the physical improvements — my wife says I’m happier when I go to the gym, and I tend to agree!”

What keeps you coming back and motivated?
“The desire to continue to improve. I used to try to compete against other athletes during WODs, but eventually learned that the best competition is myself. After my recent injuries, I’ve learned that at the very least, if I get a little better each time, it’s been a good day in the gym. I’m also fundamentally a lazy slacker, and having the coaches and other athletes around to keep me motivated is imperative. Working out in the garage by myself is much more of a challenge because there’s no one there to keep me accountable! I also want to express my gratitude to all the coaches, but especially Fischer and Brandon, for working with me to find alternative movements that I could do while my body worked to heal itself. Having them say, “come on in and we’ll find something you can do” when there’s literally nothing in the WOD your injuries will allow you to do is, I think, the hallmark of great coaching.”

In what other ways do you use your fitness?
“I treat yardwork like a WOD — “60 min. AMRAP: mower push x 1/4-acre, yard bag lift x 5…”

Who or what motivates/inspires you?
“My wife and kids. They’re the reason I get out of bed in the morning (literally — I get up every morning and cook a full breakfast for myself and them), they’re the reason I go to work, they’re the reason I come to the gym so I can be around for them as long as possible.”

Please share with us a favorite CrossFit or No Excuses moment.
“When you’ve been here as long as I have, you see and hear a few things: Coach Crowder’s penchant for storytelling; the Mele ladies going on to do great things in the world of powerlifting; Coach Laura going to Regionals; the look on Dennis Scales’ face when he got that first bar muscle-up… along with the little victories made every day by every single one of us.”

Name one goal you would like to achieve in CrossFit.
“I *still* don’t have strict pull-ups. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of ever getting hand-stand push-ups or muscle-ups and, thanks to my stupid back, probably will never break that 405# deadlift. But dammit, I want those strict pull-ups!”

Tell us about your hobbies and interests outside of the gym:
“Art, nature, playing guitar, drums, and bass in my in-car one-man band, occasionally picking up a real guitar and running the cats out of the room, watching UGA and Clemson football, hanging out with my wife and kids.”

What advice do you have for someone just starting CrossFit or is on the fence about starting?
“I find myself correcting people all the time who believe they have to be in shape before they start CrossFit. I tell them my story about being in the sorriest shape of my life when I walked through the door the first time (I don’t tell them it took me three weeks before I came back for class #2…) For those just starting: there used to be a sign in the gym that said, “Check your ego at the door.” Seriously, do that. Ego will get you hurt. Your biggest competitor in the gym is yourself. Push yourself to become a better you than the one who came through the door last month, last week, yesterday. But listen to your body and be smart about it.”

What do you love most about No Excuses?
“It’s almost become a cliche, but seriously, the top-notch professional coaching and the awesome people (coaches and athletes alike). I also love that we come together not only for the betterment of our own lives, but also for the betterment of the community around us.”

Coach Brandon’s Take:
“Bob has been a great asset to the gym over the years. From maintaining and updating the gym’s web site to being a judge at competitions, Bob has done a lot for the gym that goes unnoticed.

He’s battled some injuries the last couple of years, but continues to be patient with the healing process and working with us to modify or scale workout when needed. Hopefully, he can get healthy and start training at full speed again in 2018!”