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Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. March’s Athlete of the Month is Matt Merritt. Matt was chosen because of his hard work and daily dedication at the gym. You can find him not only spending extra hours refining his gymnastics skills or completing the daily accessory work, but he is also a staple participant at many of OPCF’s non-fitness functions as well. He always comes to the gym with a smile on his face and the determination to give his best effort in every workout. His positive attitude and the encouraging words he offers to his fellow members has made the gym a better place and we love having him as part of the OPCF community! Learn more about Matt below.

1. How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? My first day attending classes was July 22, 2019. So by my count, I will have been working out at the gym for 223 days by the time this is posted.

2. What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? I remember exactly what it was… James was leading us through bench press (3×5) and Z press (3×5). The metcon was 21-15-9 Push Press (135/95) and pull ups. I didn’t finish. Afterwards, I hurt physically and I was surprised at my lack of conditioning. However, I knew I had to get back in the next day so I could start improving.

3. What has been your favorite workout so far? I think my favorite workout so far was on Jan. 21, 2020 when we did E3MO3M for 21 min of 12/10 cal row, 10 DB S2O (50/35), and 8 burpees over DB. Overall, I think I could have gone a bit faster on the row and my DB transition between arms, but I was completing each set around the 1:18 mark which let me have plenty of rest for the next round. That workout was one of the first where I felt in control the entire time, where my heart rate wasn’t redlining and I didn’t have to pause to breathe.

4. What is your favorite cheat meal? So, I love ice cream and I’m a self-proclaimed connoisseur. I’ll give pretty much any flavor a try, except for mint. Mint has no place in ice cream. Some of my favorites include cookies and cream or extreme moose tracks. I think the best ice cream I’ve ever had, though, was a honey flavor with actual honeycomb from Van Leeuwen’s in NYC.

5. What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now? In high school we had a social studies class that introduced us to the power of compounding interest. After that I became fascinated with the idea of investing. I was able to work on the debt side in the capital markets for five years prior to moving to KC, but the hours and work/life balance was not enjoyable. Nowadays, I work out defaulted real estate loans packaged within Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities and Asset Backed Securities to prevent bondholders from losing money on their investments.

6. What do you like to do outside of work? I’ll try to keep this one brief. I enjoy reading a lot, but struggle with dedicating the time, so I do lots of audio books and podcasts. I do lots of fantasy, sci-fi, and classic literature. I’m a huge fan of board games, and I tend to get fairly competitive over a game of Catan. To get out of the house I like to go hiking which is tough in KS. This spring I’d like to start gardening and visiting the local farmers’ market. I’m also currently planning a trip over to Japan in early May. So, if anyone has any travel tips or suggestions, I’m all ears.

7. What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF? Consistency is key. It’s hard to get better when you’re not attending the gym on a regular basis. The trick to maintaining consistency for me has been engaging with my fellow classmates. It’s a lot more fun to go to class when you’re working out with people you know and like.

8. What is your favorite/least favorite movement? Least favorite? Wall balls. I hate having to throw that ball so high in the air to just to watch it come back down and smash me in the face. Most favorite? Definitely the deadlift. Picking up heavy weight and putting it back down is so simple, it’s refreshing.

9. What’s one Crossfit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? I have a list of these written down, so picking one is really tough. But, I would say my primary goal is to maintain consistency. That’s measured by days working out at the gym and the goal is to workout 71.4% of days (or 5 days a week) in 2020. So far, I’ve managed to hit 76.2% days at the gym which feels great.

10. What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? This is a tougher one. I haven’t noticed a ton physically yet, but at this point we’re only four weeks into the nutrition challenge. I’m learning a lot from that in terms of how many veggies I can and should be eating. Right now I think I’m going to continue with the program post challenge to see what long term changes could occur. Mentally, I’ve found that I feel energized about exercising again now that I’m not going to a globo gym and doing the same routine week after week.

11. What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? Biggest accomplishment so far has definitely been getting my first bar muscle up. For the longest time I kept slamming my chest into the bar, which wasn’t very effective. And like many things in Crossfit, it all came down to technique. Coach Jeremy was able to point out some things I was doing wrong in my pull and after 5 minutes of coaching it clicked and I was able to get one. Now it’s all about practicing the kip to start stringing them together in time for the next WOD.

12. How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? On weekdays, it’s the thing I look forward to after a day at the office. I typically get in to work early so I don’t have to feel guilty about leaving at five to make it to class by 5:30. Traffic also makes it easier to get to the gym in the evenings vs driving straight home so that helps too. On the weekends, I’ve changed my Friday/Saturday night activities so I can be in a position to wake up and feel energized about going to the gym.

13. What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Handstand walk. I’ve never been able to get the balance down. Getting handstand walks down are another goal of mine for the year. Maybe I should start working on them now that I’ve gotten a bar muscle up…

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