Name: Daryl Daniels
Occupation: Surgeon in the US Navy
Which class do you usually attend? 5:30 pm Tuesdays, Saturday Pilates and CrossFit. Favorite WOD: Anything involving running
Favorite Lift/Movement: Power Cleans
How long have you been CrossFitting?
I started in 2012, but had a two year hiatus when I was overseas.
What keeps you coming back?
Two things, the great workouts and the camaraderie among the athletes and the coaches.
We all find CrossFit in a different way. Where did your story start?
Like most people I used to go to the robogyms for strength training and run or swim on the weekends for cardio. I enjoyed it but I kept hitting plateaus and wasn’t making any real improvements in my fitness level. My weight was up and I eventually had to go on medications to control my blood pressure. I knew I needed a change.
I had first heard about CrossFit while I was a student at National Defense University in Washington DC. I think Greg Glassman himself gave the presentation. They didn’t actually offer CrossFit at the school, but they wanted us to know about it because it was gaining in popularity with the military and was really showing benefits. After I moved to San Diego a few years later a CrossFit box opened up near our house. After driving by it a few times I finally decided to try it. I’ve never regretted that decision.
Do you remember your First WOD?
Yes, it was during my on ramp. There were three or four of us starting up. It was a four minute WOD of air squats and hang cleans. It seemed so hard at the time!
How did you end up at CrossFit Reanimated?
When we moved to Virginia Beach I knew I wanted to start back on CrossFit. I looked up all of the boxes in the area and read their internet sites. Each box has a different feel to it, and I was looking for one that was more laid back, not one with a bunch of super-athletes deadlifting 500 lbs. or one that was a combined martial arts ring. CrossFit Reanimated seemed like a good fit so I went and checked it out. I liked it and joined up.
What is your athletic background?
(Laughs) None whatsoever! I dabbled in rowing in college. Before that the closest I got to a sport was when I was the timer for my junior high soccer team and played in the marching band for my high school football team.
How has CrossFit changed your life, lifestyle and level of fitness?
CrossFit has taught me to recognize and appreciate fitness. Since I’ve never played on a sports team at the competitive level, and I’ve never had a job that depended on physical ability, I’ve never had to manage my fitness to any degree. I just did and ate whatever I wanted. As I got older I had to start thinking about fitness and my lifestyle. I stopped eating fast food, cut down on soda and sweets and started running more. But it wasn’t making much of a difference. As a doctor I think most of the information on fitness available to the general public is unhelpful, untrue or unsustainable. CrossFit is based on sound principles and really changed how I think about fitness. I started working on form and flexibility, not just on how much I could bicep curl. I now think consciously about what I eat, how I lift, how I use my core, and how I carry myself in my everyday life. And the neat part is that it’s fun. It’s not a chore to maintain a good diet or to stay in shape. It’s something that I want to do so it’s part of my daily routine.
What is the One Thing you have done here that you never thought you could do?
Since I’ve been at CrossFit Reanimated I’ve actually been able to come down off my blood pressure medicines. I used to take two pills a day, now I’m down to ½ of one pill and my blood pressure is actually lower than it was when I was taking both pills. I’ve also lost about 15 lbs. Most people never reverse the downward spiral of aging and health. I’m grateful CrossFit Reanimated helped me break out of mine.
What motivates/inspires you?
Those little victories and acts of humanity that maybe help us push ourselves and classmates through one more rep, one more WOD, one more day.
Name one goal/personal achievement that you would like to achieve through CrossFit?
My near term goal would be to be able to do double-unders consistently. I’m slowly getting there. But my long term goal would be to do a handstand pushup. I’ve never been able to do one. It’s going to take a lot of work on strength and flexibility to get there so it’ll be awesome when it happens.
What goals have you achieved in CrossFit?
In one WOD I ran a six minute mile. That is the fastest mile I’ve ever run, better than when I was in high school and college. That’s been my biggest achievement. My other goals focused on form. They seem small but they mean a lot to someone starting later in life—developing fast elbows, doing a heavy deadlift while keeping a flat back, stuff like that.
Hobbies/interests outside of CrossFit?
Music. I play mostly wind instruments. I’ve played jazz and blues saxophone in clubs with many different groups in the US and overseas. Currently I’m playing classical clarinet with the Hampton Roads Metro Band. I’m also teaching myself banjo on the side.
Tell me about your diet:
I started working on my diet a while ago. I’m proud to say I haven’t eaten at a McDonald’s since 2008. I also cut out sugary sodas. Then CrossFit introduced me to the Paleo diet. I was a big fan of Paleo for years but lost the faith when it got so commercialized. Now I’m sort of following something called the Wild Diet by Abel James. It focuses on eating more raw and whole foods and minimal carbs. It makes sense biologically and I’ve cut some bodyfat using it.
Any advice for new members?
Lots! Check your ego at the door—it’s not about the number of pounds or who came in first. Don’t think twice about scaling, if you think you need to, do it. Expect to have fun and laugh each workout. Be a part of the tribe—your classmates will see you succeed, see you fail, see you sweat, see you gross, see you frustrated, see you PR, see you totally jazzed—and the cool thing is they’ll be there for you through it all. And remember you win every time you show up.