December Male Athlete Spotlight - Matt Cavanaugh

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When did you start CrossFitting? Who/what got you started? I started exactly a year ago in November. My wife, Laura, and I had moved here from Portland where I was a gym rat and into mountaineering. In Kansas, we joined LifeTime Fitness and it was a lonely and boring experience for me. I just needed a change and gave 913 a shot. SO happy I did!!!What is your favorite/least favorite WOD? I love anything that allows me to surprise myself by accomplishing things that previously didn’t seem possible… like Murph! Defying workouts like Murph provides a huge adrenaline rush and confidence boost. Least favorite WOD is anything involving gymnastics. It’s been a very long time since I was on my high school gymnastics team and it feels like it! I try to stick with ‘em though, they’re good for me even though I’m not good at them. What is your favorite/least favorite movement?Deadlifts and squats are so fun! I’m sort of enjoying the Assault Bike now, too, but I think I’m alone there. Least favorite would be anything that works my weaker pecs and shoulders eg. handstand push ups.Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.) I grew up on the southside of Chicago and was super involved in hockey, baseball, soccer, cross-country, road biking, and softball. In 2008, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my Master’s Degree and also to play music professionally. While in LA, I fell in the love with the outdoors and began to work as a private mountaineering guide and also at REI, a cool co-op that outfits people to experience outdoor adventures. I met a girl, Laura, and we got married. As I’ve moved up the ranks at REI, they’ve moved us to Santa Barbara, then Portland, and now Overland Park where I am a store manager. For fun outside of Crossfit, I love to play with my dogs Starbuck and Ellie (scifi dogs!), I run a blog that profiles White Sox upcoming prospects, and I spend a lot of time playing music at my local church. I’m also trying to record one final solo record before I “officially” retire from being a musician.

What was your workout routine before CrossFit?I fell in love with climbing mountains in California and that gave me a very strong cardio engine. Over time, so much wear and tear of climbing and hiking killed the meniscus in both knees. To rehab post surgery, I started squatting and deadlifting at globo-gyms and gained a lot of strength but lost a lot of my cardio. When we moved to OP, I joined Lifetime Fitness but I found it really boring, uppity, and lonely. I would spend 2 or 3 hours a day there, listening to podcasts and doing the same routines over and over again with little improvement. I thought it was time to try something outside my comfort zone and to accomplish better balance of my time - so I tried Crossfit.What did you think after your first CrossFit workout?I swear I felt like I was surrounded by superheroes. I was doing some super-scaled thing but I saw people climbing ropes like they could fly, running 400 meters in what seemed like sub-minute times, and knocking out pull-ups like they were sit ups. The intensity was bonkers and I knew I wanted to be around this group of people.What were your goals when joining CrossFit? Have you achieved any of those goals?I wanted to be more balanced in my strength. I had some brute strength but was weaker in mobility, conditioning, and had some strength imbalance. I can remember trying to squat for the first time at 913 and hearing how high above parallel I was. Setting mobility goals versus increasing weight #’s isn’t the sexiest thing but it was the healthiest goal I could’ve set. I’ve come a long way in a year and have much more mobile hips now - and it’s allowing me to start setting new goals. Thanks for helping me in spite of my stubbornness, coaches! Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?Big time. I love being a store manager and I really enjoy mentoring my team. However, having mental, emotional, and social separation from my team has been imperative for me. Crossfit 913 has provided me with that and it’s made me happier and healthier - and ultimately I’m just a better person and employee. Winning!

Do you have any other special memories/ achievements during your time here?This past Summer, I hit 400# on deadlift for the first time. That felt unbelievable, as it was a goal I’d had for a few years. Since then, I’ve gotten to 425# and would love to see if 500# is a possibility someday. What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit 913?I would recommend knowing who you are first and knowing what you want from Crossfit second. I didn’t always understand that at first. As I’ve matured in that understanding, I’ve been able to set really attainable, healthy mindset goals - my daily goal is to have fun, push myself to my own personal limits, and to leave everybody and everything around me better than before I was there. By being so positively focused, I’ve set myself up to become a better version of myself each day and to have a helpful effect on my surroundings hopefully. It’s very easy to focus so much on physical strength stuff at Crossfit but don’t ignore the mental and emotional strength needed to become a better person. Something you might not know about me is?I was adopted at birth. When I met my birth family at age 21, I found out that my favorite football playing growing up was actually my birth mom’s brother in law. Yeah, that was super weird.

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