April 2017 Member of the Month, Tom O’Neil

CrossFit Midtown is very excited to announce our April 2017 Member of the Month, Tom O’Neil! A staple in the breakfast club crew, Tom is one of the most dedicated and supportive athletes here at CFM. Read on to learn more about Tom and his CrossFit journey. Thank you for being such an outstanding member of the CFM community!

Name: Tom O’Neil
Nickname: None so far!
Age: 23
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

How did you get exposed to CrossFit? Since I’ve been working and studying in the fitness and wellness world for almost 10 years, I was exposed to idea CrossFit pretty early on when my cousin was a first adopter. I thought the concept of taking exercise and turning into sport was awesome, but never had a chance to try it for myself while I was starting school in Charlottesville, VA. Then, about 3 years ago, when several personal training clients of mine asked me for an opinion about CrossFit, I told them I’d have to give it a try before I made any comments. I walked into a CrossFit gym in town and loved it from the very first moment. Since I already had experience in a wide variety of exercise modalities, I was able to skip the introduction classes and move into the workouts (at a light weight) right away. I was immediately hooked on the intensity and variety of the workouts and haven’t stopped since.

What brought you to CrossFit Midtown? Once my, now Fiancée, and I knew we were moving to Atlanta after school, the first thing on my list was to find a new CrossFit gym (even before I was looking for a job!). I found CrossFit Midtown very quickly since it was in the part of town we had narrowed our house search to and after reading just about every word on the website, I knew I had found my new spot. I really appreciated that while the workouts were all challenging, the gym itself didn’t seem like one that pushed competition too hard, and that the workouts were all difficult, but accessible. While I may like to go Rx as often as I can, I like to know that there is diversity in the class, it shows a stronger sense of camaraderie and it gives me permission to scale when I need without fear of being chastised.

What was your very first day at CrossFit Midtown like? Very hot, hahaha. The first workout I did was during the last weeks of May and it was Helen. Helen is already not one of my stronger workouts (anything with pull-ups isn’t really), but with the added heat during the run, I knew that to perform well in ATL, I’d have to turn it up a notch. That was only reinforced during Murph the following Monday, which took me about 15 minutes longer than it did in Charlottesville. I’m determined to get that time back down in the 30’s or 40’s this year.

Tom and Paul

What changes have you seen in your overall health and fitness level since starting CrossFit? While CrossFit is no doubt the most difficult and exhilarating physical challenge I have found, improving my cardiovascular endurance and strength, its benefits are much more than physical. For me, the way CrossFit had helped my health and fitness most has been through the shift in my view of what my fitness really is, putting weight on performance and action, rather than aesthetic results. I’ll always strive to be bigger, faster, and stronger, but CrossFit has shown me that these concepts are about what you do, not how you look doing it. It’s done wonders for my mental health and self- confidence, and for that, I’m forever thankful for the CrossFit community.

What kind of changes have you you experienced since starting CrossFit that were completely unexpected? Like I said above, I came to CrossFit looking to take my workouts over the top, but what I came away with was a new appreciation for athletic performance and a new definition on what I thought of myself as an athlete. I’ve also been amazed just by how strong the community really is. I knew that community was an enormous part of CrossFit, but the fact that I was welcomed so quickly at Midtown and that I’ve never been a drop-in elsewhere and felt unwelcome, is heartwarming. In the end, I’ve found that you come for the workout, but stay for the people.

Favorite WOD: I have to say Mary Ann, right? Really anything with a set number of rounds is really motivating for me, it’s easier to set the eyes on the prize and get myself to go over the edge to finish as fast as I can.

Least favorite WOD: I don’t think I’d have a least favorite WOD, to be honest. Workouts with tons of pull-ups and moderate-heavy snatches aren’t my strength, but I recognize that I have to work on those weaknesses, so I’ll always be there to try them. Really any workout where I rip or hurt myself is my least favorite, because it tells me I wasn’t doing a good job listening to myself and let my ego get the best of me.

Favorite CrossFit Midtown moment: I don’t know if I have a single favorite moment, but rather, my favorite moments are whenever someone is the last person doing the workout, or the time cap is hit, but they keep pushing to finish that last round just for themselves. I’m constantly in awe and humbled by these athletes. I think that it shows incredible strength and mental toughness to keep pushing yourself when you know you’re the last one standing or when you know it’s over and the reps you’re finishing won’t go on the board. It’s inspiring to me, and one of the reasons I love CrossFit so much. People come to train and to better themselves, not just to check “working out” off their to-do list.

Hobbies, Talents and or Interests Outside of CrossFit: Outside of the gym, I love to be able to spend time with Kate and my dog Wishes (short for Aloysius), walking on the beltline or learning and experiencing more about Atlanta. We still feel new to the area, so we’re constantly on the lookout for cool new stuff to try, taste, and experience! I’m also pretty much an academic on Game of Thrones, I’m always open to discuss any questions or theories about it.

Advice for new CrossFitters: I have so many things to say for this, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say, learn to listen to your body. I really don’t think this is an easy ask, and it’s one that I’m still learning to do, but regardless, I think it’s essential to be a healthy athlete. Listening to your body is a two-way street though. It doesn’t only mean to know when to pull back, when to scale your weights and movements, and when to just take a break. It also means to know when to push yourself harder than you thought you could. Is level 1 getting really easy for you? Good, now try level 2. Is it going to be harder? Yup. Are you going to have to move slower and have your score suffer? Yup. Does any of that really matter? Nope. Listen to yourself so you know when to push and know when to dial it back. Easy to say, hard to do.

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