This month I picked a client who makes me proud to train him. Everything I have to teach is something Dru craves as a client. He is an achiever and he seeks out mentors/coaches to get him where he wants to go. If there is something you know that he doesn't, he will find you and get you to teach it to him. I haven't seen many people excel to the level that Dru has in a shorter amount of time. Ambitious, Hungry and Humble are rare qualities but this guy has them.
Dru has a story that needed to be shared in a way that was his voice. I had a chance to sit down with Dru to talk about his CrossFit experience. Here is part of that conversation:
Me: You got picked as client of the month for pretty obvious reasons – super committed in terms of seeing what’s possible for yourself, really taking on training like a CrossFit athlete, saying “What am I not capable of and what do I want to achieve," and next, next, next, next. You’ve been doing that since you joined our gym 7 or 8 months ago. And I know it started off as weight loss, so you came in as kind of a non-athlete…so tell me a little bit more about that story in the sense of who you were when you started CrossFit, what kind of athletic experience you had, and what CrossFit changed in you to make you bring that inner athlete out.
Dru: So when I moved to Austin I did CrossFit as just a weight-loss technique. I had got my first physical in a long time when I was 27 and my cholesterol numbers were very high so I decided that it was time to start working out, start taking care of my body. I tried swimming, I tried running, I initially just joined a local globogym and was “attempting” to weight train but I really didn’t know what I was doing. Thankfully, a friend of mine knew what he was doing and he kind of took me under his wing. We started working out, and his sister actually has a CrossFit box up north in North Dakota. So he went and visited her for Thanksgiving. She made him do a CrossFit workout, kicked his butt, and as he was driving back he called me and he said “You gotta go check out this thing called CrossFit, that’s what we’re gonna do and you gotta go buy this book called The Zone because that’s the diet we’re gonna do.” He was sold hook, line and sinker.
So we started doing it. It was just the two of us working out of this globogym that we had memberships to. And that was a lot of fun. I still remember the first time we realized Fran was supposed to be done in like 7 minutes…not 20…and that brought a whole new level of CrossFit to us because we were not really doing it for time, we were just doing it, and then when that time domain came in it was just a whole different workout. And that got me quite a ways, got me in a lot better shape, I felt a lot better. And then I got the job down here in Austin. I had already Googled CrossFit in Austin. My job is up north so it was by coincidence that Central was just the closest box to me.
The difference for me here is, when it was just me and my friend, we had to push each other and it was real easy sometimes to just say “You know, I’m just not feelin’ a 21-15-9 kind of day, let’s just do 15-12-9." You know, we’d scale it down because we were already having to scale, we couldn’t do a lot of the workouts. We didn’t have that unbiased third party saying “Oh no, no, I know you can do it. You’re gonna do it.” And that’s been the big change for me here at Central, whether it’s you [Big Mike] or the assistant coach always helping me find what my next level is.
Nothing is as hard in my day as the WOD is. If I can survive the WOD then I can survive the day, …easily. Nothing gives me as much confidence in life either. I just lifted twice my body weight off the ground. What did you do this morning?
As far as the “becoming an athlete” part, that’s kind of my life story, I find something, I get into it and it’s like “Well, I don’t have Olympic lifts and I just got my butt handed to me at Godai because of that. All right, there’s an Olympic lifting badass here, I’m gonna go train with him.” And now my Olympic lifting is great. So now that my Olympic lifting is great, I’m looking at what’s next. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, I’ve had a couple of coaches tell me it’s time to start eating, so I have to start figuring out how to eat for weight gain instead of eating for weight loss now, and that’s proving to be a challenge.
When I found CrossFit I was 30 years old, weighed 220 pounds (size 38), lived a sedentary lifestyle, and ate absolute crap for food. When I came to Austin, I was 190 pounds with 23% body fat after a year of CrossFitting on my own and really pushing my diet with Zone. Now I’m 163 pounds, 9.7% body fat and my size 31 pants are falling off.
Me: So you were having cholesterol issues, basically your health was on a serious decline. Did a doctor advise you to start taking care of your health or was that something you just decided on your own?
Dru: Yeah, I just decided because that’s what everything pointed to - if you would run, if you would eat better, these are the thing you need to do to get your cholesterol under control. So that’s what I started doing.
Me: So let’s talk about this. You are taking on CrossFit as a serious endeavor for yourself, saying “I want to get into this as a sport.” Now, you were not an athlete ever before right? So why now? How old are you?
Dru: I’m 33 this month (February)
Me: All right, why now?
Dru: I was never an athlete and why now is because the things I do at work I’ve achieved a certain amount of success in and to go to that next level is going to take a whole lot of work. CrossFit is a very high-reward thing for me now. I don’t put a whole lot of effort into it and I’m getting a lot back out of it because I’m constantly improving, I’m constantly getting a PR. That’s very nice, it’s a reinforcing circle. Also, a friend of mine back home and I were talking and he said “Crap, when we have kids, they’re gonna be running circles around us and we’re not going to be able to play catch with them, we’re not going to be able to do the things that dads do.” That’s scary! So, on the off-chance that I would eventually have kids I want to be healthy enough to be around them, to keep up with them and go out and do all the things that would be fun to do as a dad.
The reason why I took on Godai as my first elite level competition with CrossFit was that I wanted to do something beyond just class that would be fun. I’ve run a couple of 5Ks and a couple of 10Ks and I love that event experience where everybody is amped and excited to do what it is they are about to do and I wanted to see what that was like as a CrossFit athlete. So I signed up and really had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew in the end that it was me against myself and it didn’t matter if the 2011 winner of CrossFit showed up, it was still going to be just me and myself, off in my own little area, playing with my toys and we’re just going to score it and see what shakes out. As soon as I realized that, it stopped being scary, it stopped being anything other that just a challenge to prepare for.
With The Fittest Games, I thought this was something I wanted to take a little more seriously, so I stepped it up. I did not only morning classes 3 days a week, I did 2-a-days on Monday and Wednesday, I sacrificed some personal time in the evenings to make that happen, and then when time could work out I would schedule some PT sessions. I feel like I did a lot better at The Fittest Games and it was a lot of fun being out, having all those people cheering. That’s an experience I didn’t get in high school and I didn’t get in college since I didn’t play competitive sports.
CrossFit is a lot of fun because it’s picking up heavy things and throwing them around. I feel more confident as a person as well, especially having done the competitions. I think it will be really cool as CrossFit continues to grow to be able to say in 10 or 20 years “Yeah, I was at the first Godai. I’ve been to The Fittest Games. I was there.” And then with the Open…clearly CrossFit has excelled to a point where I’m not going to the Games. And I’m OK with that. But I’m excited to see what I can do in the Open and how far I can go. And this year and next year is about how far can I get. So for two years, I’m going to be focused on CrossFit and just see how far I can go.
Me: So you get into a really good point: knowing the athletes that are competing in the Games, knowing who’s out there in CrossFit, what they’re capable of, the tremendous amount of work that they are actually able to perform in a short amount of time and over extended weekend competitions, and just knowing how far advanced those guys are and this is still an open sport for you to get into and compete in and you don’t have to be on that level to still be interested in being competitive in the sport of CrossFit. So what do you really see in the next two years for yourself as you get more experience, still being able to enter a competition like The Fittest Games, knowing that you might not podium, that you might not even be able to get into the top ten but still seeing realms for improvement. Why is that important to you?
Dru: Well I think you have to constantly be improving in life, and if you’re not improving, you’re dying. Whether that’s in doing what I’m doing for my career or in what I’m doing for myself physically, you’ve gotta just keep pushing yourself. Yeah, I’m not going to get to the top 10, that was pretty clear after The Fittest Games, but that’s OK because I’m catching up to Tim. Tim Bougie I see you! I’m coming! Or Lisa Thiel, I’m just saying, I know you’re kind of a badass but I’m coming for ya. You just find somebody that’s in your area and just chase after them. Pick them off, find somebody else. How many people can I pick off before I stop. And then ultimately there’s a sense of feeling like I’m being a good role model for my family, for my sisters, that fitness is important. My coworkers now all CrossFit because I came in and started CrossFitting and I’m seeing dramatic changes for my coworkers as they continue to get healthier. How can I spread that concept that fitness is important and you can do it - three times a week for an hour and see really amazing results.