Islip CrossFit Member Spotlight
Congratulations to Mike Chew, our September Member Spotlight! Mike is one-of-a-kind, we thought he was quiet/shy when he first started at Islip, then we got to know him. His sneakers are pink, shirts bold colors, and his shorts are simply awesome. He owns his own style like he owns that Ski Erg! We’re proud to have Mike as our member, traveling across the island to WOD with us and getting stronger by the day. Mike has targeted goals and he works hard each week to reach them. If you ever have the chance to partner with Mike in a WOD, take it. He’s a great team player and he rows ALL the calories 🙂 Congratulations Mike, well deserved to be honored this month. Oh, and you’re welcome for the Arctic Summers 😉
A WORD FROM THE COACHES….
Mike walks into the gym everyday with a smile on his face ready to work. He is always asking smart questions and scaling workouts to push himself. He comes to open gyms to work on his weaknesses and turn them into strengths and my man is a legit beast on the ski erg. Congrats Mike! –Coach Pete
Mike is super fun to coach and WOD with! He really brings the fun and an excellent push each and every day. I love his energy and the sense of humor he brings to class. Mike works toward his goals consistently and scales to meet them, which is so admirable. Keep up that mobility work Mike! 😉 Congrats! –Coach Christine
Tell us about yourself?
I’m 35, live in Long Beach and work in East Islip. I grew up in Brooklyn, went to school in New Orleans, moved to Connecticut, and have methodically worked my way south around the LI Sound since then. I daydream about skiing (good) and surfing (not good) although I haven’t done either since I moved to Long Island in 2015.
What do you do out in the real world?
Full-time, I count beans for individuals and small businesses. In my spare time, I’m an aspiring slumlord with a couple humble properties in the carolina lowcountry. So while everyone else is worried about their NFL team, I’m anxious about the concurrent bachelorette party season.
What brought you to Islip CF? How long have you been doing CrossFit?
I’ve done CrossFit on and off – way more off by like 6:1 – since late summer 2012. My time at ICF since June 2018 has been the longest continuous stretch by far.
A friend who coaches at Reebok One in Southie (Boston) sent me this way. The story is I showed up really really fat to a Memorial Day 2018 wedding in Savannah, and the groom, bride and said friend are all devout crossfitters and (rightfully) let me have it. I initially brushed their pleas aside but I’m back at work the next Thursday and said friend texts me the IG profile pic of Erica Pollock (who I’ve never met but he met at the games) intimating I should join her box. I griped that she lifts more than me (I’m still not sure why I thought that was a good argument to not CrossFit), checked out the ICF website, rolled up to the box around 5:30pm, lurked around but avoided contact since class was in session and I was still undecided if it would be creepy to name drop Erica, saw ropes hanging from the rafters (which had always been a goal I had but somehow never done yet in life) and reluctantly resolved to join. That night I typed my info into the website’s contact box and Pete reached out during the next day’s lunch hour.
What was your first CF workout? What did you think after it?
My first CF workout was the free trial at NYC Black Box in late summer 2012. It wasn’t much of a metcon (they didn’t even use the term metcon then) but it was a tabata intro with push-ups, ab-mat sit-ups, air squats and one other movement I can’t recall. I left a little bit unnerved because I had never been called out for chicken-winging my push-ups nor complimented on my squat mobility by anyone never mind another dude. Then I had my initial DOMS experience about 36 hours later and realized that I needed to expand my fitness beyond running, swimming and bicep curls.
My first ICF workout was some shoulder press off the rack with Pete as coach and Derin as the strength partner. I totally asked Derin his name five times and just pretended I got it after that. I don’t recall the metcon but I was initially unsure because I remember thinking this box cares more about strength than conditioning, which wasn’t what I was looking for even though I had just signed up through Labor Day. Needless to say that concern was allayed in short order.
What changes have you made in your workouts that have been the most successful?
Using wodify has been massive for scaling weights instead of just pissing into the wind when I get to class. In my previous other CF stints I was told to get a school notebook, which I always did but I’d never actually write anything and would just recycle it when the corners started curling.
Most embarrassing/funniest gym moment?
Losing my grip during a WOD at the top of a t2b rep and falling off the rig flat on my back. It was a weird time because I hadn’t felt my kip in 2 ½ years yet it was showing signs of life again but my grip was clearly not ready. I didn’t feel in control but never imagined I’d go full Hans Gruber. Matt came over and expounded the virtues of chalk, which I had always previously avoided because gross.
Favorite movement? Least favorite? Benchmark WOD?
I miss strict pull-ups because they’re simple and the most transferable movement to the water but I’ll likely never do another one because of the risk posed to my long-term range of motion. You could say power/dumbbell snatches are growing on me.
I don’t like squat cleans (crushing), deadlifts (too tight) or handstand-anything (who would ever move like that?). I don’t actually mind box jumps or burpees but they seriously concern me when we have to share equipment because I’m so slow there is a risk I’ll hold up my equipment-sharing partner.
I don’t track benchmarks. If it has squat cleans, hopefully I’m working at my firm’s Westchester office that day, which is something I typically avoid at all costs.
Favorite memory at Islip Crossfit?
Memorable was the 2019 Open the Friday before St. Patty’s. Big O’Malli pulled off a bar muscle-up and the box went nuts. I hadn’t known it was her first so you could say the timing of my appreciation was off but the ICF reaction to that moment highlights why I enjoy working out in this community.
If you could program it, what is your perfect workout?
Low-skill grunt work. Tire flips, light sled pushes, and a male barbell limited between 75-95#. Maybe rope climbs, too, but not if t2b or 70# kbs are the next day.
Favorite workout music?
Country for strength, though rap will do. EDM for WOD. Actually, without request, Taylor played Gaga on my birthday and it was awesome, probably good for +40# on that day’s one-rep ohs. My favorite spin instructor in Nassau County plays a very Gaga-centric setlist so like whatever.
Advice for a new member or someone thinking of trying CrossFit?
They should be honest about what they want from CrossFit (lose weight, build strength) and be prepared to give it a go for at least six but no less than three months. The first week probably won’t actually feel that bad, but the second and third weeks will gut them if they’re like me. They’re appetite will change/increase, and they should be prepared to eat properly. And don’t pay any mind to what anyone else is doing but the coach.
I remember rushing out after a lunchtime WOD at NYC Black Box during my first month ever and seeing one of the D1 offensive lineman from my school ohs-ing even less weight than I did and struggling. Clearly my school did not and still does not have a very good football program but I like that moment because it exhibits the willingness to do it right.
How do you find/make time to get your workouts in?
Morning workouts have never been my thing but hitting 6am on Mondays and Tuesdays guarantees work dust-ups won’t screw me in the evening. Plus I’m usually in Westbury for client meetings on Tuesday nights, unless I can get away with sending staff in my place and then you’ll see me at 6pm. Wednesday night is set aside so I can catch the double whammy of 7pm+open gym. After that, I’m just grasping at straws the rest of the week.
What is your favorite part of Islip CrossFit?
The people and the programming. I love the focus on the barbell at ICF. We pick it up almost every day. I can do burpees at the park (not that I would) but I can’t really clean, snatch, jerk or drop weights anywhere else. I’m also not a natural around the bar so I need the constant reminders to stop looking up like a turkey in the rain or leaning backwards. I’ve been to other boxes that don’t focus on the bar as much because they get too cute with their movements or don’t have enough floor space for their membership.
What motivates you to keep coming back each day?
Having a dad bod despite not being a dad. That is so embarrassing. And as of yesterday morning, Maggie adding three years to my age. Ach, Maggie! Still love her.
What is your greatest achievement in your fitness so far?
Losing weight and being closer in fitness to where I used to be than when I told Pete I didn’t want to take fundamentals a third time.
What has been the most challenging part?
Balancing eating for weight loss versus performance. My carbs are pretty restricted, so I basically rely on caffeine to get me through everything. It works for a few days but the inevitable end of week crashes are rough. I do not recommend this approach to anyone.
Short term goal? Long term goal?
These are the same for me. Don’t get hurt and get to class as much as possible. Actually, I’ve always wanted to go 51x unbroken t2b. I consistently topped out at 39x back in 2013.
What/Who motivates or inspires you?
This might be more shame than inspiration but the families at ICF. I like to think I don’t have time but seeing so many couples make it work with each other and their kids, and crush it day in-day out, really leaves me no wiggle room for making excuses, a favorite pastime of mine. Like, sure there are CrossFit couples elsewhere but it can be pretty glaring that one or the other doesn’t actually want to be there. That is not here.
Favorite Cheat Meal?
Any decadent and simple pasta – like cacio e pepe or true spaghetti carbonara. Washed down with more carbs/beer.
What changes have you made in your diet that have been the most successful?
My diet is basically eggs/chicken, spinach/carrots and fruit. A few months ago I rotated in pasta-substitutes like banza, shirataki, zucchini spirals and Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi to preempt all-out carb-binges.
My summer intern sold me on cutting out cheese, although I keep grated pecorino romano in the fridge to ward off any soft cheese indulgences.
At my grandma’s suggestion, I now keep all my bones and boil them in a stock that I skim and drink after the most crushing workouts and runs. It’s not something I look forward to, but it has really sped up recovery.
My sister got me to cut out dairy, but that’s to better control breakouts and not really fitness related.
Oh, White Claws of course. Even better are Arctic Summers, bless whoever brought them to wizard sticks.
What is the worst “diet” you’ve ever been on?
Each of my shoulders has suffered a major injury. And each time, I went on a beer and kettle corn diet. I’m at a loss to explain why it’s just how things unfolded.
What’s your go to breakfast?
Depends on the workout. If 6am had weights, then a whole egg and two egg whites. No weights, then probably a plain greek yogurt and some almonds. If I went to spin class or slept in, then chia seeds in coconut-flavored almond milk with peaches or pineapple. Fruit daily, but bananas are only permitted for the sorest of days.
Do you eat before you workout? (If so, what?)
Generally no, but when peaches are in season, I can rationalize the need for one before a WOD.
JUST FOR FUN…..
Something no one at the gym knows about you?
I’m insanely ticklish. Obviously, only an ex would generally know such a terrible thing, but my military call sign was “Elmo” because my men and the medical trainers inevitably discovered this during combat first aid training.
What was your first job?
Teaching 5 & under kids how to swim when I was in high school. No doubt my favorite job ever.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you were a teenager?
This would be a pretty pointless task, but I’d try to convince teenage me to be more entrepreneurial and creative.
Anything curt, snappy and clever.
What Superhero are you?
Probably Cyclops from the early X-men movies because that MF is boring AF.
Not being there when needed. Pretty deep stuff.
These days, any past trip with my little sister like White Mountains or Provincetown as kids, or Europe when I studied in London and she backpacked after graduating. A few years ago it would have been something more tropical and with friends but since my sister moved to San Francisco, that time with her seems to mean more now.
If you aren’t at the box, where would we find you?
Typing at my work desk, commuting in my car or sleeping.
If you won lotto, what would you do?
Cash out my paltry IRA’s, shove what I can into my car, write a check for a year’s co-op fees, and drive to south Florida to establish residency for the next calendar year before making the claim.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’d really like to ski Zermatt in the next year because a former co-worker now trades out of Lausanne and for him, going to a word class ski mountain is as simple as hopping on a rail like the LIRR. So ridiculous.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Not sure if she’s a celeb but Molly Baz from bon appetit magazine’s youtube channel. If not, then Kelley O’Hara from the USWNT.
Last pic on your phone?
Flyer that was posted on the Long Beach boardwalk for a one-mile open water swim/race back in mid-August.
What’s the wallpaper on your phone right now?
The night stars that Apple originally loaded onto it.
What’s in your most frequently used emoji tab? (get a screenshot)
I haven’t figured out emoji’s just yet. I don’t really plan to either.
What’s the last thing you searched for on Google?
I’ve been googling the view from various seating sections of LA Coliseum since the Saints are playing there Sunday.
Summarize your lifestyle in 5 words or less
Bland but sunny.