Congratulations to Dan Rockwell, our final Athlete of the Month for 2022! We couldn’t bestow it on a nicer guy.
Dan has worked the program the way it’s designed. In June of 2020 he started during the pandemic when we were outside in the Bird Cage. He got back into shape and figured out what this CrossFit thing was all about. In 2021 he took the next step toward wellness by working with Coach Steve in our Blackbird Nutrition customized program to improve his eating habits, sleep, and nutrition. After seeing improvements in his body composition and performance, he began concentrating on other things. Joining Barbell Club with Coach Chris to dial in his form to not only increase capacity, but also reduce the chance of injury. In 2021 he also took advantage of our inaugural Committed Club program, coming to 15 or more classes per month for the full year. And in 2022, he maintained that consistency each month and became one of the nine members to achieve the 2 year Committed Club! He also had a big shift in mindset this year.
Dan realized two important things. One–what we wish for every member, that the ultimate goal is longevity! The personal bests in lifts, mastering new high-level skills, and crushing workouts is fun, but the real purpose of what we do is to be active, strong, and functional well into our later years. He found that pushing hard twice a week and showing up and moving well the other three days was the recipe for putting his body in the best position for recovery, gains, and long-term health. And two– that exercise is imperative for mental health, as well.
Dan and Kristen have gotten their children and other local youth involved in a healthier lifestyle. Their kids participate in our CrossFit Kids program and he even brought in his son’s Cyclones Baseball team for private team training in the off-season. Because of his positive example, many of those kids have remained in the monthly program. They are seeing great endurance, movement pattern, and strength gains that will enhance their performance on the field this Spring and develop a life-long love of fitness outside of sports. And his daughter smiles all throughout class; learning that she is capable of hard things, being a strong girl is cool, and lifting weights is not just for the boys!
Dan’s positive attitude in class, encouragement of others, and coachability also make him an awesome guy to have around. His strength and determination to take back control of his life– mind, body, and spirit– is such an inspiration. He makes a difference in our Blackbird community and in the lives of others.
We want to thank Dave & Heather Snyder for hounding/encouraging Dan to join and blessing the Blackbird CrossFit community with the Rockwell Family. Check out his inspiring story…
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.
Dan Rockwell, 40 years old, I’m married to Kristen and my kids are Ainsley and Chase.
WHAT MADE YOU START CROSSFIT? WHAT HAS KEPT YOU DOING IT?
I tried some CrossFit workouts from CrossFit.com back around 2008 while deployed. I didn’t really understand a lot of the movements, especially the Olympic lifts, so I didn’t get excited about it and didn’t make a habit out of it.
I really got started seriously during the pandemic. Dave and Heather Snyder live next door and have a full setup in their basement. They were already members here so I was able to get access to the programming by working out with them. The first time I dropped a barbell with around 135 pounds on the floor from overhead I was hooked. I joined BBCF when we were outside in the bird cage. I was immediately struck by how welcoming the coaches and members were and I loved the increased challenge and motivation to push when working out with a group.
What keeps me coming back is the difference it makes in my life. I use CrossFit to manage stress, hang out with good people, and build overall confidence. There’s a stark difference between working out regularly, sleeping well, and eating right vs eating crap which leads to lethargy which leads to bad sleep. I start to come unraveled when I miss too many workouts. Now that it’s a habit I know that I actually can’t stop.
My motivation and approach have changed a bit since starting. At first, I was unable to judge how to approach a workout and would sparkle and fade every time. I was crushing myself in an unsustainable manner. Now, my approach is to go 100% two, maybe three, times per week and then 85% for the other workouts to make recovery more achievable. I’d rather be able to make it back tomorrow than PR today. Don’t get me wrong, I want to PR but I’ve learned that patience is most important.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SINCE JOINING BLACKBIRD CROSSFIT?
I’ve observed that mobility, diet, recovery, performing well, relative to my ability, and general attitude are all dependent upon each other. For me, it’s not possible to have them individually without a balance across them all. Staying on “the path” takes focus and effort. I stray a lot but it’s important to get back on track as many times as it takes.
WHAT IMPACT HAS CROSSFIT HAD ON YOUR LIFE IN AND OUT OF THE GYM?
I left active duty in the Marine Corps in 2014. I let too many things go related to diet and lifestyle and became less than what I was capable of. I went through a period of pretty bad anxiety and hit a point when I knew the way I was living wasn’t sustainable. Through quite a bit of reading, listening to podcasts, and self-reflection I realized there were some things from my time in the service that were unresolved. I lost a lot of friends due to the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan and had a lot of feelings of guilt for having survived when they did not. It took more than decade for me to become aware and honest enough to acknowledge what was truly bothering me. I came out of that bad period with the realization that “their work is done and ours is not” (I have a tattoo on my back now with those words). I went through this realization phase as I was getting into CrossFit. There is a direct correlation to the honest approach that’s required in CrossFit when you begin to see what’s truly required to make progress and the work it takes to get there. Joining BBCF was a critical part of getting out of a funk that could have lasted a lifetime. CrossFit helped me get back the energy, ambition, and confidence to work harder and find satisfaction in all aspects of life.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CROSSFIT MOMENT?
Murph 2022. I decided to wear a vest for the first time and had been on travel for work for most of May; the workout didn’t go great for me – and it didn’t matter at all. What made it memorable was that Kristen and I got our kids excited about the workout so they did it with us. The four of us all had different variations and were able to more or less stay together and finished the second run as a group. We had a few minutes after to show them the memorial board with the pictures and stories after and I could tell that they had a sense of the meaning of Memorial Day and the workout. It was pretty special.
WHAT CROSSFIT GOALS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING TOWARDS?
My CrossFit goal is to be able to do it effectively when I’m 60, 70, or even 80 years old. That may seem like a puny goal on the surface but it means many years of healthy, low stress, satisfied years of actual living, not just getting by.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LIFT, MOVEMENT, OR WOD? LEAST FAVORITE?
Workouts with pull ups and pushups are for me. My least favorite movement is the double under – they make me lose my mind. I get super mad when I do them so I end up not practicing very much. I don’t think it’s fair to hate or complain about a movement you don’t work at. Maybe since I put this in writing I’ll actually work on them more now. Maybe.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BLACKBIRD?
Most everyone is happy. By design, BBCF is the place to go to escape stress and anxiety – when you’re there you want to be happy and it creates a very positive environment.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT CROSSFITTING WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?
Helping my kids get ready for life.
WHAT IS ONE TIP YOU WOULD GIVE SOMEONE CONSIDERING CROSSFIT OR NEW TO CROSSFIT?
Be patient and don’t get frustrated. Comparing yourself to anyone else doesn’t provide much value at all. Simply being a little bit better than were before should be the goal. Also, it’s more than OK, it’s expected, that you’ll get banged up or sick and back slide sometimes. Just keep showing up and putting out the effort as best as you personally can.
When someone talks to me about struggling with form on lifts during WODs I always recommend they check out Barbell Club. I personally feel that almost everyone can benefit by focusing on just the lift outside of the metcon to improve form and efficiency. I’ve done a few iterations of Barbell Club and always find immediate improvement on workouts that involve the barbell. The classes are always small and you end up getting nearly one on one coaching – check out Barbell Club.
WHAT IS ONE FUN THING WE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I really enjoy working on cars and have a couple old cars that I have restored.
WHAT IS YOUR DIET LIKE? HAS IT CHANGED SINCE STARTING CROSSFIT?
I have the ability to eat worse than you can imagine. I can eat an entire box of Girl Scout peanut butter patties in one sitting. It can be really bad. However, I’ve done Blackbird Nutrition coaching with Steve and learned a lot. What I learned more than anything is that you have to set yourself up for success; stay away from the treats that are too sweet and have a plan. My biggest take away from really focusing on diet is that consistency is the most important aspect. You can have a perfect meal plan and the knowledge to maintain it but you have to stick to it to be successful. I do better than I did a couple years ago but I still have goals to eat well more regularly – I’m striving for an 80/20 ratio.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WORKOUT FUEL? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SPECIAL TREAT?
I like to keep it simple – chicken breast, frozen vegetables, and water.
Indulgence? Beer, duh.
I’m very appreciative of Matt and Rebekah, every single coach, and all the members. I’m regularly humbled that such a positive environment exists and it’s less than 2 miles from my home. I’ve learned enough about CrossFit to know that the climate of each individual affiliate can vary dramatically. BBCF is a special place and it’s that way because of the coaches and the members.