December 04, 2013

A little more than a year ago, I found myself out of breath walking up a flight of stairs. I was going to the gym every day, but clearly it wasn’t working. So Donna Richardson encouraged me to try a class at CrossFit Harrisburg with her. Since I was in shape, they threw me in the deep end and had me do a full workout instead of a beginner’s version. When I finished, I felt like I was going to throw up, my arms and legs were burning, and I was hooked.

CrossFit felt like a whole new experience. At the gym, no one cares if you work out or improve. At CrossFit, you have a team of supporters encouraging you to be your best. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or slowest; you are a part of a team.

The best part of CrossFit is they incorporate every day moves. You will never find us doing curls because that isn’t a natural motion. Instead we do deadlifts (you use lifting groceries), sled pushes (you would need if your car broke down) and different exercises to increase flexibility.

I also have learned so much about my body – how to eat, how to repair my body and more. With 70 percent of the battle being diet, I changed mine and found I was lactose-intolerant. Today, I’ve fixed my health issues and feel 1,000 times better. Believe it or not, at the age of 36, I feel better than I did in my 20s.

CrossFit has also helped me at JHE. At tear downs, I now use proper deadlift form which has protected me from injury. Even if I am tight or hurting, I know how to repair myself.

After realizing my passion for CrossFit, I convinced my wife to let me buy everything I needed to create my own gym in our garage. On Black Friday, they were having a sale and I managed to get 1,300 pounds of equipment shipped for $5. With the convenience of my home gym, I’ve saved time and money.

Since I work out on my own now, I follow a lot of CrossFit pros, including Rich Froning Jr. and Jason Khalipa, on Twitter and use their workouts to structure mine. I also have recently started going back to CrossFit Harrisburg once a week for the team support as I train for the CrossFit Games.

Last year, I placed 25,000 out of 140,000 in the CrossFit Games Open after only six months of training. For the 2014 Open, my goal is to place in the top 1,000. The invitational begins in March and is five weeks of workouts. Since I will be on the road with The Sprint Unlimited Experience, I have already found local CrossFit gyms with certified judges in all five cities who can judge my workout and submit my scores.

To reach my goal, I have been training five times a week – three days on, one day off, two days on, one day off. I’ve managed my schedule so my “off days” correlate to travel days for JHE. Even on my off days though, I try to do active recovery like rowing, swimming or running with Dan Mott (and try to keep up with him!).

Training on the road hasn’t been easy but it’s all about scheduling. I use the hotel gym or a local “mom and pop” gym to do my daily CrossFit workout and adapt as necessary. Sometimes I even convince the guys to join me although they don’t like it because they will be sore for days. Finding time is key. For example, in Richmond we finished working at 10:30 p.m. I went straight to the gym then ate dinner and went to bed before waking up early the next day for work. Making smart food choices is the other crucial part of my training; I eat things like steak, broccoli and sweet potatoes and avoid bread cheese and milk.

To date, I’ve lost 45 pounds but even better I’ve never been stronger nor had more energy. CrossFit has completely changed my life and I plan to stick with it forever and never go back to being out of breath after a flight of stairs.

– Paul Nolasco, @pfrog4156

Paul Nolasco, CrossFit, CrossFit Harrisburg, Donna Richardson, Rich Froning Jr., Jason Khalipa, CrossFit Games, The Sprint Unlimited Experience, Dan Mott