“Now, CrossFit forces me to confront my limits; I dance with them, flirt with them and at the end of the day find new ones. Knowing your limits is humbling and having the pride to change those limits takes strength.”

Congratulations to Don, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlight!


Cypher: What were you doing to stay in shape before you started Cypher?

Before Cypher I was bouncing around from gym to gym trying to find the right fit. None of the obvious options gave me the community and the competitiveness I had become accustomed to because of Intercollegiate Athletics.


Cypher: What do you do for work?

I am a fifth grade teacher in downtown Richmond.

Cypher: How did you hear about Crossfit Cypher and CrossFit?

I first heard about CrossFit Cypher after searching online for local gyms. At the time Cypher was a five minute drive from my house. However, I first heard about CrossFit in passing and through conversations with friends.

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?

Oddly enough I remember a lot about my first day of CrossFit. I did Isabel. Charis Chan and Milo did my on board. Mauricio gave me my first compliment, “That has to be the prettiest first Isabel I’ve ever seen.” But above all I remember leaving the gym with the feeling that I had found the right place for me. Now, almost four years later, I’m confident that Cypher was the right place all along.

Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?
The most challenging part of CrossFit for me was confronting my own limits. I’m not afraid to say now that, during my early years of athletics, the term sandbag and Don often ended up in the same sentence. I was able to get by for years just doing enough. Now, CrossFit forces me to confront my limits; I dance with them, flirt with them and at the end of the day find new ones. Knowing your limits is humbling and having the pride to change those limits takes strength.

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

The most rewarding part of CrossFit has been the test of character it provides for everyone involved.

Cypher: What is one of your most memorable CrossFit PRs or milestones? What did it feel like when you did it?

My most memorable CrossFit PR was my 405lb back squat. For me it was the product of a lot of hard work and lot of eating. It also served as evidence that I could transform my body if I worked for it.

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

Since starting CrossFit I have put on 20 lbs. I came in at 185lbs and after my first strength cycle I weighed 205lbs. I was a big boy. I was taking in 4000 calories a day and lifting 3-4 times a week. I think it was the most jacked I have ever been. Since then I have leaned out and weigh about 195lbs. I’m working out more for health and wellness than aesthetics but the attention to beach muscles is still there.

Cypher: What encouragement or words of advice would you give to new people coming in?

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming” -Ali

Cypher: What books are you reading and/or would recommend?

Right now I am reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; no not the H.G Wells novella. This one is about a black man growing up in an America that doesn’t see him or recognize him as man let alone a human being. And I always take the chance when asked to recommend Richard Wright’s Native Son; the book changed my life.

Cypher: Who are/have been some of your greatest teachers? Why?

My older sister, like many black women before her and today she put herself second to make sure my brother and I made the best decisions. She had to deal with a lot growing up, after all I was her brother. And despite everything that comes her way she still squeezes so much happiness out of life.

Cypher: What fitness goals have you set for yourself to achieve in the next 12 months?

Over the next 12 months I want to master all the CrossFit movements and go fro my level 1 certification. I want to be able to continue CrossFit and Coach on the side while in Law school.

Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym? Any fun facts your gym-mates might not know about you?

Outside of the gym I enjoy cooking. A friend recently got me the two volume set of Julia child’s The Art of Mastering French Cooking. I am attempting to make all 500+ recipes over the next few years. Get read for some Coq au vine. I am also a bit of a linguaphile; I know English and Spanish; and I’m currently teaching myself Russian.

Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?

My roommates like to say that I’m a cat: temperamental, at times lazy and very protective of those close to him. But I like to think of myself as a big cat-a Puma. My superpower: single digit body fat.

Cypher: If you could describe Cypher in five words, what would they be?

and then it got worse…

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