First, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your interests outside of CrossFit?

I am father to two awesome boys, Nolan and Leo, who are already training for the 2029 CrossFit Games, and a little girl (name TBD), that is growing in my beautiful wife Meredith’s belly.  We are a fitness family for sure! Our lives revolve around CrossFit, yoga, baseball, hockey and whatever else we can do that keeps us moving and outside.  I was born in Buffalo, NY, and anything Buffalo is also a love of mine, including chicken wings, Canadian beer, the Bills, and the Sabres.  I met the old ball and chain at Penn State the first week of freshman year, and this year we’ll celebrate our tenth year of marriage! I kid of course, Meredith is the best!

How and why did you get involved in CrossFit?

After running the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathons, I was looking for something to regain some muscle mass as I was “wilting away”, as Meredith says.  I could tell I had lost some strength, as my softball game was struggling too. Those home runs were turning into doubles and pop flies. I stepped into CrossFit Williamsville, just outside of Buffalo, to give it a try. I thought I was in shape from marathon training, but boy was I wrong.  I finished the WOD dead last, even scaling most of it. But I loved it, and I was hooked. I went as much as my body could handle, read up on it, and after a year of CrossFit, went to get my Level 1 Training Certificate, which has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I moved onto another box, CrossFit Amherst, where I began coaching often, sometimes even a special 4:30 am class!  After we moved to Raleigh for my job in new home construction, I tried a few boxes, but found CFS and felt at home right away.  I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to a be a member there for almost 2 years now, and the privilege of coaching all the wonderful athletes here as well.  It truly is a big family.

What was the first workout that you completed? What do you remember most about the workout?

“Filthy Fifty” was my first day.  What a way to be welcomed into CrossFit.  It was brutal, but in a great way.  I remember thinking I could do all those movements no problem, then found out real quick I could not.  I remember also finishing last, but the whole class cheering me on too. Definitely can’t find that in a regular gym.  That was another reason I was hooked and love CrossFit so much.

What are your current and future training goals?

Currently, and this has been one for 2 years now, my goal is a handstand walk.  I have a fear I’m going to snap my neck, so getting in that handstand position without the wall is what I’m working on. I have a poster of Brian Covington and Anthony in my garage that motivates me each day to work towards walking on my hands. In the future, I’d like to be able to still to do CrossFit with my sons and daughter when they are older, and perhaps make a run at the The Games in the Masters Division. Though when I think that through, I forget Rich Froning will also be my age when I’m ready to compete at that age group.  So I’ll stick to just hoping to be able to WOD beside my family for as long as possible. Also, maybe a 400# dead lift would be nice, which I’m slowly getting close to.  And lastly, a sub 4-minute Fran.  Though that will be a visit on the pain train for sure to get there.

What is your favorite activity or lift, e.g., pull-ups, dead-lifts, running, front squats, snatches, burpees, etc.?

Love me some hang power cleans and pistols!  Not sure why the hang power cleans, but I feel like it’s just a straight-up power movement that translates to sports I play (hockey, baseball, golf) so well.  If I had to program my last WOD before I go, it’d be this: 21-15-9 Hang Power Cleans at 135 and Pistols. Maybe a buy in of 10 muscle-ups too, just because I like those too, and why not?

What is your least favorite activity or lift?

My least favorite is no doubt the sumo dead lift high pull.  I hate saying that though, I feel like Coach Paul will now program those whenever he wants to crush me in a WOD into oblivion.  I separated my left shoulder playing hockey in college, and broke my right collar bone in high school playing basketball. So that high pull movement just isn’t easy or efficient for me.

What PR are you most proud of achieving and why?

CrossFit wise, I’m most proud of how the Kids’ program has grown at CFS.  I absolutely love coaching the kids and seeing them grow and put fitness as a natural part of their lives. I get such a big smile and satisfaction from that 45 minute session where I can act like a kid and at the same time, play a small role in their young fitness journeys.  Personally, I’m most proud of breaking into the 200# clean and jerk club this past spring with a 210 C&J.

What do you enjoy more, strength or conditioning and why?

I like a good mix of both.  Heavy weights with some running or dubs mixed in there, and some body weight movements (aside from push-ups, damn shoulders) and you got my jam!

Do you eat Paleo/Zone?

I love cereal and beer too much to eat Paleo or Zone. Here’s my opportunity to pay homage to my wife, the dietitian.  We eat “mindfully”, as she has taught us that through the years.  What I mean by that is if you want pizza, you have pizza. If you want a cookie, have a cookie. Don’t deprive yourself because it leads to a binge.  But all is done in moderation.  During the work week I eat pretty clean, as I prep all my meals Sunday to avoid any work temptations. Usually I grill a bunch of chicken breasts and pork, mix with a green veggie and sweet potato, then some rice, and boom! I have awesome lunches set for the week.  Friday and Saturdays I hang loose a little more with some extra beers, and probably an ice cream with the kiddos.  Nutrition though is such a big part of the success at CrossFit, or any fitness plan.  You can’t out train a bad diet, as they say.

What are 3 fun facts about yourself?

  1. I was a mere 400 yards away from finishing the 2012 Boston Marathon when the bombings took place. Meredith was in the grandstand across from the finish line and saw way too much.  I went back in 2013 and ran again, this time crossing the finish line. So in reality, I ran 52.3 miles for one medal.  So worth it though.
  2. My middle name is Raffaele, named after my grandfather, but also one bad ass Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle.  With my little guy being Leo, we just need a Mikey and Donnie and we have the whole team together.
  3. I dream of owning my own box someday. I have spent way too much time planning it, drawing it up, and fantasizing about it. One day….
  4. Had to add a fourth because Meredith wanted everyone to know she used to crush me in 5ks when we first met and for many years after.  Those days are long gone though 🙂