Student Spotlight – David Christensen

Tell us a little something about yourself: Where are you from? What do you do for work and fun? What is your sports & fitness background?
Originally from the mid-west (Iowa farm boy), my family left the state on Thanksgiving Day 1969 and relocated to Missoula when I was in 8th grade – almost 46 years ago. My roots help define the work ethic I was raised to exhibit; however, I identify with being a Montanan even though one is truly not a Montanan unless born and raised in the state.

I have taught public school for 28 years, ten of which were also spent at the University of Montana directing the Montana Writing Project. So, I spend a lot of time planning devious learnings for students and then poring over them to evaluate the learning. MMMM . . . working to make more work for myself seems kind of odd actually. But that is the stuff of teaching.

I enjoy existing . . . coffee and a cinnamon roll at Bernice’s Bakery. Breakfast at the Catalyst downtown. Reading books – mostly get involved with the stuff of teaching during the summer, but I read with the kids during the school year and get some action there. My ‘me’ time is CrossFit and it is fun – for me. I also want to purchase a Wilderness Tarpon 100 SOT kayak. I love the solitude of calm water early in the morning.

During my prepubescent years I wrestled – yeah, figure that one out. A string bean weighing about 15 pounds wrestling with arms and legs with a diameter of two inches. I also played basketball which has been a passion of mine ever since. I played in an adult league and coached for 15 years. Soccer found me in my 50’s and said goodbye at 57. I loved the physical aspect of knocking people around. Broomball was also a kick. Played that and was a part of the team that won the city park and rec championship. I am now content to watch and feel my legs begin to twitch to kick a soccer ball and arms move to shoot the basketball.

I failed miserably at working out at the Missoula Athletic Club in East Missoula back in the day- like a lot of years ago. The same happened at the Peak when it opened. The best part of the Peak back then was the free chips and salsa after a workout. You could also buy wine or beer. Very cool. However, getting ripped and muscular, which was my goal at the time, did not transpire. Nor did the idea of becoming more fit ever really enter my psyche.

About 7 years ago I decided to find a personal trainer with the idea that after a couple of months I would just take it on and do the work at the YMCA. Yeah, like that was gonna happen. My search brought me to Daniel’s name and I saw that he had a 10 series of structural integration [massage therapy] which everyone should take on. Amazing. And I actually began to walk freely and stand erect. During our conversations Daniel talked about the training he does and I committed. Seven years and 30 pounds lighter and a lot whiter (hair) I am lean and fit and on the wellness spectrum. Cannot imagine anything else.

When did you first start training at CrossFit Missoula?
I began my journey to wellness slightly over seven years ago – June of 2008.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Describe your experience.
My first CrossFit workout was Angie. Enough said. I was humbled. Yet I also was realistic about my state of wellness and fitness. The camaraderie of the folks training at the time hooked me. I knew from the get go that spending a couple of months and then doing it myself elsewhere was not in my new reality. In some ways, I am reliving those early days, being one-winged for three to four months after the rotator cuff surgery, but through some of my devices and Daniel’s considerable ingenuity, I have been able to maintain those workouts.

Really, it was the three-month into CrossFit mark that turned the page. I had successes that showed progress and that fueled the fires to continue – I was hooked completely. At that moment I knew I wanted to be able to give back and work to have a modicum of Daniel’s expertise to help others achieve their goals. Now I do. A modicum that is! I will continue to be mentored by Daniel and study to find the best ways to help young people and older people become fitter, stronger and faster.

What’s your CrossFit “super power”? What are you good at?
I have always thought invisibility would be interesting as a super power but that doesn’t work in CrossFit. My favorite super hero is the Daredevil – a normal guy (albeit blind) but he is driven by goals to make a difference and is not afraid to take risks that may not always turn out the best for him. He does not have a “super power” although his senses and intuition meld together allowing him to do amazing things. CrossFit has done that for me. So, what am I good at? Keeping on keeping on despite what life throws my way to grow in my knowledge of CrossFit pedagogy and become functionally fit. Mayhaps achieve a PR or two along the way even.

What’s your CrossFit “goat”? What skill or ability are you currently chasing?
Mmmm I bleat a lot. Goats bleat right? However, one definition of bleat is a whining feeble complaint. So, I don’t bleat. Perhaps that means I do not have a “goat.” I look at those movements and skills that I struggle with as challenges to work within and perhaps overcome with as much work as I can muster over time. Some of those movements are clearly more challenging than others, but I love that about CrossFit – it is what makes us better people and fitter, stronger and faster. What challenges my mobility – Overhead Squat; what can sharpen my lifts – speed in my movements. I am so laid back unless someone releases the sleeping dragon inside me. You probably would rather not experience the dragon. I need to release the energy of the dragon more in my lifts. I identify with the “firebreather” – one who faces the triumphs and tribulations of great physical apposition with an indomitable spirit; an optimistic energy associated with the heart of an athlete (J.C. Herz, Learning to Breathe Fire, p. 45).

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting at CrossFit Missoula?
Aside from my fabulous lean physique and obvious attractive looks, I have become mentally healthy. A positive outlook stemming from physical wellness breeds success in life. Although fate tosses us about at times and works to test our strength and faith in the human spirit, CrossFit helps to mitigate those less desirable happenstances that throw kinks into our lives. I am blessed to have not only the camaraderie of folks who are of a like mind to seek fitness – wellness, but mentors to help me chase life and embrace its vigor and rigor.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit Missoula moments:
“Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi discovered that people find genuine satisfaction during a state of consciousness called Flow.” When I am in the middle of a work out and “live the flow,” that is my favorite moment in CrossFit. “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Lifted from The Pursuit of Happiness website.)

What advice do you have for someone just getting started with CrossFit?
Embrace the friendships and genuine caring and intelligent and strategic advice provided by the coaches and other “worker outers” immersed in the WOD (work out of the day). Let go of your ego and listen to your body. Strength and conditioning are not about killing a lift with as much weight as possible but challenging your body physically to do those things it is not used to while maintaining the integrity of the mechanics of the movement. Greater weight will come. Accept the body’s limitations and celebrate its successes as you move across the wellness spectrum and become stronger, fitter and faster.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I live for the coffee and cream that Daniel cooks up in the morning for my post-workout relaxation moments.