Archive for December, 2013

Beyond the Athlete: Mike Condon

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Back by popular demand (I hope) is the “Beyond the Athlete” series.  I have been intending to do this for some time now and finally got around to sending out the interview.  If you find this interesting, good.  That’s the point.  I hope it is a fun way for us to all get to know each other a little more than just our Fran time.

First up is Mike Condon.  Mike and his wife Lyndsey have made incredible progress at 717.  Every time I see Mike at the box he has a smile on his face.  I just learned through my CrossFit 717 news source, Facebook, that Mike and Lyndsey are moving to Baltimore very soon so this post is somewhat bittersweet.  But I know Mike will still keep up with all of us here in Central PA and I am sure he will visit as we are not too far away.  Without further ado, let’s learn about Mike!


1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Maple Grove, Minnesota.  It’s a suburb of Minneapolis and is currently -12 degrees with a high of -2 today.  Needless to say, I don’t miss MN winters 🙂

2. What is your athletic background?

I grew up playing baseball like my dad, but then picked up basketball and football because all of my friends played it.  I quickly gave up on basketball once my friends hit their growth spurts and became 6’8” monsters that blocked everything I threw at the hoop.  I tried hockey when I was younger (like a good lil Minnesotan) but it was too cold, seriously.  In retrospect, I should have ran track and played soccer and baseball.

3. How did you get started with CrossFit?

To be honest, I had never heard of CrossFit until my wife, Lyndsey, told me about it.  It was one of the few things I didn’t Google before attempting, so I was in for a shock when we showed up at the old box.  I was hooked after our first introductory class.  I also couldn’t breathe for 2 hours afterward.

4. How long have you been at CrossFit 717?

The addiction started in June 2012, but our time at CrossFit 717 will be coming to an end in early January as we relocate to Baltimore, MD.  We’re going to miss everyone so much!!  Come visit us!

5. What are your favorite exercises/WODs?

I love squats in any form and won’t turn down a heavy clean.  I preferred endurance WODs when I first started (and still enjoy them!) but now want to throw heavy weights around.  For benchmark WODs, I’ll take Helen, Nancy, and Cindy anytime.  SEALFIT WODs add an even tougher element to the workout and are fun once in a while.

6. What exercises/WODs do you hate?

Thrusters.  I don’t use the word ‘hate’ often, but I HATE thrusters.  As such, Fran can go straight to hell.  I have a running list of the hardest WODs I’ve done which include Zeus, Holleyman, and Fight Gone Bad always makes the list.


7. What are you goals with regards to CrossFit?

Stay healthy, get stronger, and have fun.  Specifically though, I’m hoping to hit a 315 lbs. backsquat soon, learn butterfly pull-ups, do 10 unbroken muscle-ups, and increase my weights for deadlift and strict press.  I’m usually fine seeing small amounts of progress, but those are some of my personal milestones I’d like to hit.  It’s amazing to see my goals now as compared to when I first started…it’s been a fun journey.

8. In your perfect world, what would you be doing in 10 years?

In a perfect world, I’d be surfing daily and then proceed to sitting on a beach with an ice cold Pliny the Elder (beer geek) in my hand.  In the distance, I see Lyndsey overhead squatting a surfboard or something.  After the beach, I’d go for a dip in my vault of gold like Scrooge McDuck.

9. Where did you go to high school/college?

I went to Osseo Senior High School and, coincidentally, Lyndsey went to our rival high school that was just miles away.  It was always fun dating the enemy 🙂

10. If you could eat dinner with 3 people past or present, who would you choose and why? Furthermore, what would you order for dinner? 

This was one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer!  My first and fairly obvious choice is Steve Jobs.  After that I’d probably invite the great Sean Connery, and the late Chris Farley.  I’d probably order steak and lobster with a nice IPA.

11. Who is your celebrity crush?

Sofia Vergara and Jason Kofmehl.

12. What is your favorite movie?

Dumb and Dumber.  I’ve seen that movie at least a hundred times and I laugh hysterically every time. 

13. What is your favorite thing about CrossFit 717?

My favorite thing about CrossFit 717 is the community, which obviously includes the coaches, fellow crossfitters, and their families.  It’s amazing to me how simply working out can bring complete strangers together.  I especially love the work we do around the community raising money for charities or other special causes.  I’ve dropped into a number of boxes who don’t have the same commitment or enthusiasm as 717 and it makes me happy to know I spent my first years at a great place.

14. If you could have any car, what would you choose?

Hmmm that’s a tough call between a Corvette and an El Camino…I’d have to go with an old school Corvette Stingray though.

15. Tell us something interesting about yourself that we would be surprised to know.

I know all of the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by heart.


16. What kind of shampoo do you use?

Literally whatever Lyndsey buys.  Right now I think it’s something in an orange bottle.

17.  Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where and what was your favorite place?

I go on an annual fishing trip to Canada with my dad and the guys in Lyndsey’s family in the middle of nowhere.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  No cell phones, no computers, no CrossFit, no stress.  I also went to Acapulco, Mexico with my crazy-ass relatives when I was younger.

18. What were your best and worst subjects in school?

My best subjects in school were math, science, and social studies (history).  My worst subject was English because I never liked reading.

19. What would you say is your worst personality trait?

Complacency.  I’m a quiet guy and often let things happen without speaking up.  I’m not sure where I heard/read this but I like it:  “Don’t mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness.”

20. When/if you go out, where is your favorite place to go?

It may surprise people, but I’m not a big fan of clubby-type places and will always prefer a cool, quiet bar with a good craft beer list.

21. You are banished to a deserted island for a month and can only bring one person (fictional or real) and one album with you.  Who do you bring and what album do you choose (keep in mind I said album, not song)?

What’s an album?  Just kidding!  AC/DC Back in Black and I’d bring Captain Jack Sparrow because he’d bring rum and might be able to get us off the island early.


22. What do you feel is the most important invention in your lifetime?

The computer.  I’m baffled at how someone actually got one of these things to work and I wouldn’t have a job without them.

23. What are your favorite sports teams (you can list all teams for all sports you are a fan of)?

All Minnesota sports teams including the Wild, Twins, and Vikings although they’ve all been making it kind of hard to be a MN sports fan lately.

24. What are your hobbies and interests outside of the box?

When I have time, I like to play video games, watch sports, and learn about new beers with friends.  Learn about beer?  Yep, I like to taste the different hop profiles in order to better understand them and eventually start brewing my own beer.  I also have a poorly managed blog at

Thanks for participating Mike!  We wish you all the success in the world with your new ventures in Baltimore.  Please don’t be a stranger and stop back to see us soon.

My (Fitness) Christmas Wish List

Posted: December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


This season, I have been thinking about all the things I am thankful for.  I certainly have a lot of great things in my life, both personally and professionally, and don’t need anything.  But for the holidays it always fun to put together a wish list of the things you want no matter how unrealistic.  Plus everyone likes lists.  So without further ado, here is my list of fitness/crossfit/weightlifting-related things I would (selfishly) like for Christmas:

I wish that people would be careful when buying into fitness marketing hype

I admit it, I am guilty of this at times.  I think we all are.  It is why companies like Lululemon can sell what amount to spandex pants at ridiculous prices.  If someone can tell me how their workout pants are different than say, Champion C9 at Target I would love to hear it.  Well, besides the fact that I can see your asses when you workout in the see-through Lululemons and not in the Champions.  But other than that they seem to do the same thing.  Ok, Ok, I know that Lululemon is very popular and one of the “it” brands in fitness right now and I can understand that.  Everyone wants to feel good and look good while they work out so I get it.

What bothers me more is the somewhat cult following the “Crossfit approved” brands seem to get.  The biggest example of this is the seemingly ubiquitous workout recovery drink Progenex.  They sponsor a lot of very high-profile Crossfit athletes and you can’t go to any high-level competition without seeing the logo everywhere.  To Progenex’s credit, they have done an amazing job of marketing their product through the world’s fastest growing fitness system.

But when you look beyond the logo and read the label, Progenex is nothing more than hydrolosized whey protein and some sugars in the form of fructose and sucralose.  Yep, that’s it.  No magic additive that mimics steroids and no super secret supplement that no one else has in their product.  Just some good old whey protein and a few sweeteners.  And for all this they charge you $60 for a bag of 30 servings which amounts to $2 per serving.

A quick Google search of “hydrolosized whey protein” will bring you to the store which includes all of the products they sell that have this version of whey.  Even more convenient is that lists them by brand and includes a line that tells you how much the product costs per serving.  I quickly found a protein from Dymatize called “ISO-100” that comes in a 5 lb. jug.  It gives me 25g of protein per serving (Progenex has 23g) and 5.5g of BCAAs (Progenex has none from what I can see.)  But the best part is the price.   Where Progenex costs $2 per serving, ISO-100 is only $.88.  That is less than half the cost of Progenex and you get the BCAAs.  There are a couple of ingredients that the Paleo purists might not find desirable because they are not “natural” but then again if you are truly following a Paleo diet you shouldn’t be using whey protein anyway.  Oh, and if this rudimentary comparison I did here doesn’t work for you, read this.

Look, at the end of the day it’s your money and you can spend it on whatever you want.  I just hate seeing people get ripped off due to marketing and groupthink.  My advice is to just do your research before jumping in with both feet

Obsessed... with overcharging you

Obsessed… with overcharging you


Is Paleo Right For You?

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


I have been in the CrossFit community for almost 3 years now and which diet to use is still one of the most hotly debated topics.  Without a doubt, paleo is one of two “standard” CrossFit diets (the other being Zone) and I know a lot of you do it as well.

Having tried paleo myself several times, I have my own opinions about it plusses and minuses.  I think this article from T-Nation summed those up perfectly.  All in all, a very good read for those of you weighing your options.  Also very good for those who are trying to match their fitness goals with the diet that will work best.

Your Own Person

Posted: December 4, 2013 in Advice, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Neil Young

One of my favorite music artists is Neil Young.  In my opinion, his best music was written at a time of in the US where we were at war in Vietnam and there was a quickly evolving youth movement.  Because of this, many of his songs have real social meaning to them unlike today’s garbage.

One of his greatest is the song “Old Man”.  The song is about a man Neil bought a ranch from.  Through talking to him, Neil realized that their lives aren’t too dissimilar and that in many ways, the needs of a young man are the same as those of an older man.  Although the song itself doesn’t apply as much, one line always hits home for me:

“It doesn’t mean that much to me, to mean that much to you”

I think this always hits home to me because it is how I try to live my life.  There are few people in this world that I actually want acceptance from.  Those are my closest friends and family.  The rest are friends and acquaintances but their acceptance is not something I worry about.  For example, my coworkers think the fact that I eat the same lunch everyday is weird.  Does it bother me?  Not at all.  I think the fact that they refuse to take care of themselves is weird.  When they go to lunch, I stay behind at the office with my baked chicken, apple and pistachios.  Do they talk about me at lunch and mock my eating habits?  Probably on occasion.  Do I care?  Nope.

Every damn day

Every damn day

I was reading one of the recent “CrossFit is dangerous” articles on the train to NYC for a work function while listening to “Old Man” and it got me thinking.  It got me thinking about what we do at CrossFit 717 each day and life in general.  And I came to some conclusions.

People spend too much time worrying about stupid shit.  For every “CrossFit is dangerous” article there were about five “No it’s not and here’s why” defense articles.  I actually felt sorry for all the people who spent a second of their day defending themselves and their exercise of choice to the masses.  It showed the world that they cared what other people thought about their lifestyle.  But why?  Who really gives a shit if some dumbass blog-writing troll thinks what you do is dangerous.  Do you like doing it?  Is it enjoyable for you?  Is it legal? If you answered yes, isn’t that all that matters?

We have read ad nauseum from the defenders that everything we do in life carries a risk (as if we needed to be reminded).  To this point I would bet that most of our worst injuries have been doing something other than CrossFit.  None of that should matter though.  We all come to 717 to exercise and a good number compete.  But for some of us, CrossFit is so much more.  It is a group of friends we never knew we had.  It is an outlet for our everyday problems and a place we can effectively “check out” of life for an hour.  It is a sense of community we can’t find elsewhere.  It is a group of like-minded individuals coming together to help our community in times of prosper and in times of need.  The CrossFit community is more than just a “dangerous” exercise methodology.  The haters don’t recognize this.  And again, who cares?  I don’t care what anyone thinks about me being a (former) CrossFitter and you shouldn’t either.  As long as you like what you are doing, that is all that matters.  Life is too short to waste your time defending your exercise plan.  Which brings me to my next point…

Relax, it's just exercise.

Relax, it’s just exercise.

Life is full of trolls and enough people feed them already.  You don’t need to.  The internet has created an entirely new sub-species of human.  Trolls used to be confined to internet forums but have now made their way out into the general internet and even into real life.  This is largely due to the free blog sites out their like WordPress, Tumblr, etc. where every self-righteous nincompoop can create a blog and share their opinion.  Yes, me included.  Combine stupid opinions with social media and you get someone’s stupid opinion going “viral” for everyone to read or hear about in the real news.  And there is the problem.  We now have someone who is not an expert on anything (except stirring the pot) getting national distribution because their opinion has tweaked a certain group of people.  In our case, competitive exercisers.

The reality is that most people write these types of thing to get a reaction and to get publicity.  They know their opinion will light a fire under the group they are attacking and do it just so people will engage them in the argument.  I have done it on this very blog and on Facebook. Guilty as charged.  Sometimes that is not a bad thing.  In order to evolve we need to challenge accepted norms and the resulting discussions can provide some good viewpoints on each side of the argument.  But feeding trolls who are obviously uneducated on the topic they wrote about is just a waste of time.  Don’t bring yourself to that level.


The more you feed them, the bigger they get

People need to stop justifying what makes them happy.  We all like different things.  What I like is certainly different than what you like.  What do I like you ask?  I like watching and reading science fiction, including comic books.  I like building 1/35 scale models of WWII era tanks and painting them to look battle-worn.  I like watching horror movies.  I like wearing bow ties. Are these things traditionally considered nerdy?  Possibly.  Do I give a fuck?  You know the answer.  These are things that make me happy.  I enjoy doing them.  As long as they aren’t illegal, I don’t need to defend that to anyone.

CrossFit and its variants (weightlifting, strongman, endurance, etc.) are one of the things that make us happy.  I can see it in all of your exhausted faces as I sit on my lazy ass.  After you finish the workout and catch your collective breath, smiles start to emerge.  The camaraderie that started the training session often ends it too.  High fives are given and encouragement is shouted (although some of you do the awkward “high five meets handshake”. Just sayin’).  We LIKE what we are doing or we wouldn’t come back each day.

Yep, I built this and don't give a fuck what you think about it

Yep, I built this and don’t give a fuck what you think about it

Stay off social media.  Wait, nevermind.  I take that one back.  You all entertain me too much with your selfies and life updates…

I hope this blog hits home to some of you like the line from “Old Man” did to me.  Bottom line is this: It shouldn’t mean that much to you what others think about what you enjoy to do.  The more you acknowledge their opinions, the more you will drag yourself down.  Keep doing what you love and ignore the haters.  Their opinion doesn’t matter anyway.

In the end, you will be happier for it.