Name: James Hirschfeld
Hometown: Jericho, VT
CrossFitting Since: September 2011
Favorite WOD or Movement
I like pull-ups and the tabata workouts. Pull-ups because I feel like I’m decent at them, and tabata because it’s short, effective, and you can do it anywhere.
Least Favorite WOD or Movement
Rope climbing. Last time I did that I got burns all over my ankles that took weeks to heal.
What is your fitness background? What were you doing before CrossFit?
I lost my “shape” in my mid-twenties and decided that running would be the way to get it back. I started running 3 miles every day, eventually ramped it up to 4 miles, 5 miles, etc, until I was running 10 miles per day 3-4 times a week. In that time, I basically made no physical improvements. I could run 10 miles, but I wasn’t really getting into shape. It was very frustrating. After that, I joined a gym, but I usually just used the treadmill and elliptical which yielded the same results (not surprisingly).
How did you come to find CrossFit? What led you to stop running and start CrossFitting?
In 2010, I was working for Dan Baldini who is a CrossFitter here. He’s almost twenty years older than me but was in way better shape than I was. We’d sit around at lunch and he’d tell me about the crazy workouts he had done with funny names like Fran and Helen. After hearing him talk about it for a year or two, I got a free class (actually at CrossFit 718), but then ultimately decided to come to CrossFit Virtuosity because this is where Dan worked out. I liked Virtuosity and felt like if I knew someone here, it would make it easier.
Before joining CrossFit, I thought the only way I could get into shape was with a personal trainer. However, the cost of a personal trainer was way too expensive for me (I am a musician and play the trombone). CrossFit seemed like it would have all the same benefits of personal training, but comparatively speaking, at a fraction of the cost.
What was your diet like before you joined CrossFit? Did they change at any point after you joined?
When I was running, I would go do a 10 mile run and then eat a pound of pasta. I was in a bad routine – during the week, I would party, stay out late, order 20 chicken wings! It was an ongoing cycle… eating poorly begets eating poorly.
After I started getting more serious about CrossFit, I realized that if I stayed out late drinking and eating garbage, I would have a miserable workout the next day. (I like to come at 12:30PM.)
Today, I try to eat paleo with “cheats.” I bought a cookbook called “Make it Paleo” which is an amazing book. For me, getting a paleo cookbook with a lot of recipes was really important because it showed me how to cook without starch and sugar.
How have you changed since starting CrossFit Virtuosity?
I’ve tried to apply the core concepts in CrossFit to other areas of my life. The idea of progression rather than perfection, showing up and focusing intensely for an hour, breaking down a complicated movement into a bunch of more basic, easily manageable chunks. If you only focus on the big picture, you can get caught up in the enormity of a task. When you break it up and concentrate on the progression, you’ll find that you enjoy it more, and over time, you realize how much progress you’ve made.
I would also say that having a coach is really important. Most people don’t have coaches in any area of their life. It makes me wonder, what if I had a coach for all of those other areas of my life?
You participated in CFV’s last Paleo Challenge at the beginning of 2012. How did that affect you?
Well, it started in January so I was just coming off the holidays. I probably gained 8lbs over the holidays, so I was in a good position at the beginning of the Challenge.
Once the Paleo Challenge started, I started eating strict paleo – no booze, no cheats, etc. I was immediately amazed that I never felt bad or sick after any meal I had eaten. I would go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7AM feeling well-rested and energized. It was amazing. At the end of the four weeks, I weighed in at 170. I lost 12lbs total and improved my “Cindy” workout considerably.
Did you have any goals when you joined CrossFit? Where are you in terms of achieving them?
When I first started in September 2011, I was 29. I wanted to be in the best shape of my life before I turned 30 in December. That only gave me four months, but by the time my birthday rolled around, I had definitely achieved that goal.
I’m in better shape than I was then, so as I approach my next birthday, I am trying to just get stronger overall and I’d also like to get better at the Olympic lifts.
Any best CFV stories?
I liked when we did Murph on Memorial Day and had a cookout after. I really enjoy the camaraderie and friendship in the CrossFit community.
What advice do you have for people who are on the fence about CrossFit?
If your goal is to get in shape, there’s probably no quicker way to do so than by joining CrossFit. Like I said, I got into the best shape of my life in 4 months. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of walking by a NYSC and seeing a line of 50 people on elliptical machines. It really kills me to see those people on the ellipticals. I remember being one of them. I think about all of the time I wasted, staring up at a tv.
What advice do you have for people just getting started?
I finished On Ramp with a total of six people in my class. When we finished, we were all high giving about how in shape we were going to be… then no one else showed up after On Ramp ended. It can be difficult to make the transition from On Ramp to regular classes because you’re probably out of shape, don’t have the movements mastered and don’t know any of your classmates. Despite all of this, I would encourage people just to show up. Force yourself to come in and force yourself to meet people and make friends. That’s really all I can say. Not coming in is the worst thing you can do – it completely derails you from the momentum gained through On Ramp.
Any last remarks?
I love all the people I’ve met through CrossFit Virtuosity, especially at the 12:30 class. I don’t know their last names or what they do for a living, but they feel like good friends of mine… and that’s ridiculous, but it feels that way. Once you do start to learn more about the people you work out with each day, you realize how interesting and accomplished everyone truly is, in and out of the gym.