“Feeling more equipped to deal with things in life is an awesome thing, and with this toughness comes confidence.”

Congratulations to Will, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlight!


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

I started road bicycling in 2007. At first it started as a way to commute to work and quickly escalated into something I desperately wanted to dominate. I participated in all sorts of organized century rides and insane hill climbing challenges like the Levi’s Gran Fondo, the Deathride, and the Nifty Ten Fifty. When I trained for these rides I rode up every steep and nasty hill in the East Bay. To help improve my cycling performance I joined an outdoor boot camp, and signed up for core, high intensity interval training, and yoga classes. During that time I was averaging 100 miles of riding a week.

Cypher: What do you do for work?

I am cell and molecular biologist and work in a research lab. Specifically, I conduct experiments supporting drug discovery efforts. I’m currently at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals in San Rafael, where the focus is finding cures for rare genetic diseases involving lysosomal storage dysfunction.

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

I first heard of CrossFit from a friend who was in a boot camp class with me. I dropped in and immediately loved the high intensity interval aspect of it. I learned about CrossFit Cypher by doing an internet search for boxes near where I live.

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?

I honestly can’t remember the details of my first workout. Whatever it was, it was really rough because I specifically remember writhing in pain and doubled-over on the gym floor thinking “what in the hell did I get myself into.” In my car on the way home I remember thinking I want to do that again, but do it better.


Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?
For me it’s dealing with the thoughts and feelings associated with being in “the dark place” or “pain cave” during a workout. Even though I know my form, fitness level, game planning will constantly improve, I’ll always run into this and have to deal with it.

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

Witnessing anyone achieve a PR or finish a really difficult workout. This really inspires and motivates me to try harder and push through when I struggle.


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

My most memorable milestone was recently achieving a 1 RM on a dead lift at 335#. When I first started it was evident that my posterior chain was extremely weak. Every time I did back squats or dead lifts I couldn’t do anything for several days. There have been several instances where I tweaked my back to the point where I was inactive for weeks. This sort of recurring injury forced me to proactively explore different ways to deal with the pain. I saw a chiropractor, got consistent massage therapy sessions (thank you Leslie P.), and learned which lower back roll-outs and mobility movements work for me. When recently I started the powerlifting cycle I really focused on doing all of the prescribed accessory work to strengthen the posterior chain. I’m really happy to say that back squat and dead lift days no longer take me out for weeks, and I have a lot more confidence doing back-loaded movements like cleans and snatches.

Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?
Gaining some general muscle mass and definition has been nice. But I think the biggest and most meaningful change for me has been developing a sense of mental toughness, which really isn’t all that obvious. During the time I’ve been at Cypher I’ve endured a work layoff and one truly awful working relationship with a manager that really turned my world upside down. The only thing I felt I could control was working out, and it helped me deal with things at first. Later I realized how mentally strong I got from achieving new PRs or simply surviving a metcon. Feeling more equipped to deal with things in life is an awesome thing, and with this toughness comes confidence.

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

I would say to someone just starting to just show up for class. Period. It’s easy to come up with a reason to not show up, and even easier to convince yourself it’s a legitimate one. Every time I don’t go I end up regretting it.

Cypher: You have recently made some big gains in strength, congrats! What do you attribute to your success, and what do you others could learn from your experience?

For me, I attribute my success to trusting a plan and putting in the work. Once a coach assists you in defining goals and forms an achievable plans for success, it’s all on you to execute it. While some things can be achieved by attending class, most of this has to happen during open gym. While you can’t always control the end result, you can control the effort and should feel good about it regardless of the outcome. During this process, it’s key to get feedback from the coaches and make the necessary adjustments. This really started making sense when I started doing the Powerlifting program.



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

At the moment my most urgent goals are to master double unders and kipping handstand push ups. I’d also like to get to a point where I’m able doing more than half of the WODs at the prescribed standards.


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?

I’m a huge SF Giants, SF 49er, GS Warrior sports fan. I rarely miss a game on TV or radio. I enjoy playing collectible card games like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon (I try really hard to play with my daughters and not with other adults, but it happens occasionally). I also like to binge watch anime and sci-fi (TV and movies), and play video games (especially first person shooters). I find that with all of the things I’ve mentioned, the amount of time spent pursuing them is inversely proportional to my fitness level. So the challenge for me has always been to keep my hobbies and my fitness activities in balance. Sadly, I mess it up more often than not.


Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?

A dire wolf. Fiercely loyal.

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

Amazing community with awesome coaches.
Cypher: Any other thoughts or shoutouts?
I never imagined how much I would enjoy being part of a gym community, and you all have been truly wonderful. To everyone at Cypher, I want to thank you for being welcoming and supportive, for fueling the competitive fire, and for offering feedback on all sorts of things. I really want to thank the coaches – Mauricio, Leslie, Milo, Lizzy, Becky and Bianca for helping me and giving me that extra motivation when I needed it the most. I also want to thank the morning crew for my daily dose of inspiration and camaraderie, particularly Randy, Hann, Leslie, Jess, Kim, Charles and Alex. It has been really easy for me to come to the gym that early knowing you guys are there.