“The big thing I have learned about CrossFit is that it’s not about what you can’t do.  That’s actually in sharp contrast to my thoughts prior to coming out.  Everyone starts somewhere, and while there are benchmarks and standards, it really is for everyone. I used to be embarrassed about the numbers I wrote down and that’s where the intimidation set in.  I’ve learned that the numbers are there to show your accomplishment, and give you something to strive for next time.”

Congratulations to Eric S., our Cypher Athlete Spotlight for April 2015!


Cypher: What is your athletic/fitness background?

Eric: I began swimming at a young age, and continued swimming through high school and for one semester of community college.  Around age 13, the coaches threw a ball into the pool, called it water polo, and we never wanted to swim competitively again.  Of course, if we wanted to play water polo, we had to swim as well once high school started, so we did.  I also played soccer and basketball into my sophomore year of high school.  My lack of height and jumping (in)ability was the true end of my basketball career at a young age.


Cypher: What is your occupation?

Eric: Police Sergeant, City of Richmond Police Department

Cypher: How long have you been with CrossFit Cypher now?

Eric: Began in February 2014

Cypher: What was your impression (based on media, word of mouth, etc.) of CrossFit before coming here?

Eric: I heard about CrossFit years ago, when a colleague began.  He urged me to come with him and turned me on to a few websites and introduced me to some people from his gym.  I was seriously intimidated by the gymnastic movements, the Olympic lifting, and how strong the people were.  “Intimidated” probably isn’t a strong enough word to describe it in all honesty.  I went to a competition and after seeing everyone, both men and women, I we too intimidated to even show up at an open gym or invite session.  


Cypher: How did you first hear about CrossFit Cypher? What made you decide to try us out?

Eric: In 2014, I finally decided to give it a try and wanted to find somewhere in Richmond. The main purpose was due to my work schedule and honestly to work out in a box where I didn’t know anyone. A number of friends and colleagues belong to boxes close to my home, but logistically, that wouldn’t work. The whole intimidation factor was there too, so a box where I didn’t know anyone seemed like a better idea.

I checked on-line and realized Cypher was just down the street. After looking at some other area boxes, I reached out on-line and was introduced to Leslie M. She invited me to stop by while a normal class was in session. We spoke about my concerns, and she urged me to try the on-ramp and check it out.

Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?

Eric: My first on-ramp session was gnarly.  I realized it was going to be even more challenging than I had originally thought, and how far I had to go. (Still do).  The barbell movements felt so foreign, and I was gassed at the end.  Although tired, beat up, and not sure what we would attempt in the next session, I was eager to return and learn new things.

IMG_4739 - Copy

Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?

Eric: The most challenging thing about CrossFit for me was the realization that every day won’t be a PR (Personal Record).  Hard work, dedication and more reps will lead to improvement.  A few months into it, I was really frustrated with some of my numbers and the lack of improvement.  From talking with some of the more seasoned CrossFitters and coaches, I realized this was normal and not to become too frustrated with my progress or lack thereof.  Recently I looked back over my training log and am very happy with the progress I’ve made.  Small steps……..


Cypher: What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?

Eric: While I’m certainly pleased with my own improvements over the past year, the most rewarding part of CrossFit is the relationships I’ve made with people in the box.  I had always heard of the social aspect of CrossFit and when I first signed up, that was truly the last thing I was interested in.  All of my previous gym experience had definitely been a solo affair or a small group of people working out.  Since meeting the people at Cypher, my opinion has really changed about what Cypher offers.  I look forward to seeing everyone on a regular basis, discussing work, working out, and what’s going on in their lives.  As it relates to working out, I would much rather see someone in the box achieve a new PR and love cheering them on and seeing the excitement on their faces, and throwing them a high-five or fist bump.

IMG_4737 - Copy

Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health, fitness, and life since starting CrossFit?

Eric: In addition to being sore in places I never have been, or don’t remember being quite so sore, I feel better every day after starting and don’t see a time in my life where I wouldn’t incorporate both strength training and met-cons into my workout regimen.

Cypher: Talk about your favorite CrossFit achievement/milestone. What was that moment like?

Eric: Last year, I was urged to compete in the CrossFit Games Open just one month into CrossFit.  I knew I wasn’t ready to take on something like The Open, and 14.1 certainly proved it.  ( I couldn’t do a double under to save my life).  That’s a skill I’ve worked on and can now link a few together.  My PR is currently sitting at 27, and I have a long way to go.

After this last year, I knew I wanted to sign up for The Open.  As we all know, the format changed a little this year with the addition of the scaled division.  I had hoped to complete all of the workouts RX, but was really pleased just to compete and complete it.

When 15.1 was announced, I was seriously worried I wouldn’t be able to get through one whole round.  (As everyone in the AM classes knows….toes-to-bar are one of my favorites, NOT).  I decided to go RX and made it through a full round and was really happy with it.  Then on to the Clean and Jerk, which resulted in a PR of 30 pounds and I couldn’t wait to write my new number on the PR board for that one.  I was pumped!

15.5 (Thrusters & Rowing)  Last year I tried 14.5 and couldn’t do 95# thrusters.  I completed the workout at 75# in 27 minutes.  It was horrible, and not even RX.  This year I was pleased with the progress, and did 15.5 RX 5 minutes faster than a scaled 14.5 the previous year.

IMG_4735 - Copy

Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym?

Eric: Outside of work, I try to spend as much time with my family as I can.  Work takes me away from them too often due to my on-call schedule, so we go out of our way to make the most of our time spent together.  My 9 year old loves to play outside, ride bikes and hike to the “Secret Spot” near our house.  My wife and I do our best to sneak away to the wine country and enjoy a little “Grape-Juice” too.

Cypher: What is the one piece of CrossFit gear you have now that you could not live without ;)?

Eric: I certainly have a Love/Hate relationship with my RPM jump rope which has DU’s SUCK engraved on the handles.

Cypher: We have heard that you have visited a few different CF gyms now while on vacation and traveling. What are some similarities and some differences from Cypher that you have noticed during your gym drop-in adventures? Anything cool we should consider adopting?

Eric: I have been lucky at the CF gyms I’ve visited and met some good people, never having a bad or even poor experience.  While at Blue Coast CrossFit in Oahu, I noticed a number of kegs in the corner.  After inquiring, I learned that these were not there for lifting anything other than cold beverages poured from them. We might need to have something like that on a more “regular” basis….let me know and I’ll bring the keg if someone buys the cups 😉


Cypher: What are a couple short term (3-6 months) fitness goals you have (ex. Back Squat X amount, get first pull-up/muscle-up, PR Fran, etc.)? How about long term goals (6-12 months)?

Eric: On the short term, I need to link my kipping pull-ups together. I’ve recently been able to do sets of pull-ups with weight and finally got a kipping pull-up. Linking them together is the only way to tackle any of these wods with a lot of prescribed pull-ups like Fran.

For the long term, I hope that next year I can compete in the Open RX. I know this is a lofty goal, but it’s something to strive for.

Such squat, much speed. @es1329 with a 15 REP (+9) #hatchsquat AMRAP set ????! #crossfitcypher #gainzongainz

A video posted by CrossFit Cypher (@crossfitcypher) on

Cypher: Any advice for people just getting started or new to CrossFit?

Eric: The big thing I have learned about CrossFit is that it’s not about what you can’t do.  That’s actually in sharp contrast to my thoughts prior to coming out.  Everyone starts somewhere, and while there are benchmarks and standards, it really is for everyone. I used to be embarrassed about the numbers I wrote down and that’s where the intimidation set in.  I’ve learned that the numbers are there to show your accomplishment, and give you something to strive for next time.

Cypher: What’s one of your favorite quotes and/or mottos?

Eric: The quote I like most in the gym is the one that says, “It’s a rest for the weights”.  This quote makes me laugh every time is see it.  When I spot it in the middle of a MetCon, and when I’m not panting like a dog, it urges me to pick up the barbell again.  Those weights don’t need to rest when the box is open.



Cypher: Any other thoughts or shoutouts?

Eric: I really want to thank the Cypher crew for their leadership and guidance in the gym.  I really didn’t know what to expect when I first got involved and am so pleased that I signed up with Cypher.  The coaches are great and really push you to achieve more than you thought was possible!!!  I can’t wait to get back in the box as I write this, talk with everyone there, (even though Mauricio probably thinks I talk too much), hear about what new PR has been achieved, the new addition to someone’s family, or recent trip that  has been planned or taken.  Thanks for making me feel like part of the family of CrossFit and Cypher.

Eric Sled