Picture the kindest person on the planet…did the guy above come into your mind? If you know Greg Clark, it must have! There just aren’t enough adjectives for nice, genuine, and sincere that would sufficiently describe him. Greg always has a smile and a kind word for our coaches and members. He is one of our most loyal and long-standing members, over five years as a Blackbird. He came to us as a cyclist, but now we are pretty sure he would officially identify as a CrossFitter! 😉

Greg admits that in the beginning of his CrossFit journey he used to be a cherry picker, only attending class on days they were in his wheelhouse. But the real magic happened for him, when he realized that he wasn’t going to get in better shape by only doing the things he liked or felt confident doing. When he started reaching beyond his self-perceived limits, we saw a spark was lit. And for years now, he doesn’t back down from a challenge. He is consistent. He’s patient. He listens to the coaches. He has a positive attitude. He works hard each day. And because of it, he is stronger, leaner, and healthier.

For the past year, like so many of our members, Greg used the gym to help him through the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and some significant life changes. He continued to show up, no matter what and he says it had a “big impact on maintaining my health and my mental well-being.” Well, we agree with Greg, exercise and the Blackbird community is the best kind of therapy for a healthy mindset! We also cannot thank him enough for always lending a hand. He was integral in the setup and tear down of our outdoor gym, The Bird Cage, that kept our business going during quarantine.

We are honored to have him as part of the Blackbird Family. Check out his story below!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.

My name is Greg Clark.  I’m a 55-year-old native Marylander.  I grew up in Catonsville and have lived in Maryland pretty much my entire life.  I have two adult daughters, Samantha and Jessica, and I’m very proud of them.  I have a BS from VA Tech and a MS from The George Washington University.  I’ve worked for the Dept. of Defense supporting our military for almost 34 years and can’t believe I’m nearing retirement age!  I don’t feel old enough for that!

WHAT MADE YOU START CROSSFIT? WHAT HAS KEPT YOU DOING IT? HAS YOUR MOTIVATION CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED?

I was pretty active in my younger years, but when my kids came along, I found myself spending most of my time with them, watching their activities, and putting off my own fitness.  After being diagnosed with cancer at age 34 and again at 44, I realized that I needed to make some changes to my health, fitness and nutrition.  I loved bicycling when I was a kid, so I bought a bike and I set a goal to participate in a Century (100 mile) bike ride.  However, even though I was logging a lot of miles on my bike, I wasn’t getting a variety of fitness, and definitely not much upper body or core strength training.  In November 2015, my friend Mark Welsh told me about this thing called Crossfit and talked me into trying it out with him.  I attended the Foundations for Beginners classes but was pretty intimidated and decided that it wasn’t for me.  After thinking about it for a week or so, I decided to try it anyway, and the rest is history.

For the first few months after starting Crossfit I skipped many workouts because they just looked miserable.  I soon realized two things – first, I wouldn’t improve if I didn’t do the workout or movement, and second, as challenging as the WOD might be, when I was done, I felt pretty good, both physically and mentally.  And that’s what keeps me going back.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SINCE JOINING BLACKBIRD?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that nutrition plays a huge role in health and fitness.  Sticking to a good nutrition plan might be the hardest part about staying fit.  I’ve also learned that my ability to perform the WOD is more of a mental challenge and less physical (although the physical challenge is still there!).  I’m rarely at the top of the whiteboard, and I don’t often Rx the WOD, but if I go into it with a can-do attitude, I usually do pretty well.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CROSSFIT MOMENT?

I have a few proud moments.  The first time I did the Full Murph, finally breaking the 300 lb barrier on a deadlift, and Pr’ing on some of the benchmark WODs.  In general, anytime I improve, I’m happy.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT CROSSFIT?

By far the most enjoyable aspect of Blackbird is the community.  I’ve been a member of regular gyms, and I never got much out of them.  At Blackbird, the people are always there to motivate you, cheer you on, and be there when you need them, even outside of the gym.

I also enjoy that the workout is almost always a combination of both strength and cardio.

WHAT IMPACT HAS CROSSFIT HAD ON YOU IN AND OUT OF THE GYM?

Not only has Crossfit helped put me on a path to good fitness and nutrition, but it has had a positive affect on my outlook on life.  My life took a hard left turn last year with my divorce, and what I thought was my plan for the next 30 years was completely thrown out the window.  Add a pandemic to the mix, and everything went sideways.  Continuing to do CrossFit during this crazy time has had a big impact on maintaining my health and my mental well-being.  I am forever grateful for Matt and Rebekah’s willingness to adapt to the pandemic closures by first offering virtual classes and the ability to borrow equipment, and then by creating a very awesome outdoor gym.

WHAT CROSSFIT GOALS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING TOWARDS?

My immediate goal is to get back on track with my nutrition.  Two years ago, with the help from Blackbird and Coach Steve, I started a good nutrition journey and really began eating healthy.  I noticed a huge difference – I lost some weight, I gained muscle, my blood pressure improved, and I just generally felt better.  Last summer and into the winter, I fell off that nutrition wagon.  My goal for 2021 is to fix that.  I’m making progress, but I have some work ahead of me (not helped by my sweet tooth!)

FAVORITE LIFT, MOVEMENT, OR WOD? LEAST FAVORITE?

The 12 Days of Christmas has become one of my favorite WODs.  The first time I did it I didn’t like it at all, but over time I’ve really started to like it.  Maybe it’s the holiday season, or maybe it’s because we do that WOD near my birthday, but I really like it.  Well, except for the handstand pushups.  I’m still trying to train my brain to be OK with being upside down.

My least favorite movement is the OHS. Those things are just rough!

WHEN YOU’RE NOT CROSSFITTING WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?

I don’t have one favorite thing to do.  I enjoy lots of different activities.  I like the outdoors, especially cycling and hiking.  I’m also pretty good at home improvement projects and usually have a few of those going on.  And I like to play the drums, although I’m no Neil Peart (not even close)!  (The youngsters at BBCF may need to look up who that is!!)

I’ve always wanted to own a motorcycle, but it never seemed a prudent thing to do with young children dependent on me.  So I never followed through on that dream.  Well, last spring I decided that since my kids were grown and well on their way in their own lives and careers, I could indulge myself.  I bought a slightly used Yamaha V-Star cruiser and have had a blast exploring the twisty back roads of MD and PA.  I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can start riding again.

WHAT IS ONE FUN THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE MAY NOT KNOW YET?

I was a firefighter and EMT with the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years and was active until about 10 years ago.

WHAT IS THE ONE TIP YOU’D GIVE SOMEONE CONSIDERING CROSSFIT OR WHO IS NEW TO CROSSFIT?

Try it.  Don’t be intimidated.  Even if it seems ridiculously hard.  The coaches are fantastic, and they will help you adapt the WOD to your fitness and skill level.

WHAT IS ONE POSITIVE THING YOU TOOK AWAY FROM 2020?

No matter how crazy life gets, there are still things to be thankful for.  I am very blessed to have a stable job, a roof over my head, a great relationship with my daughters and family, great friends, and an awesome BBCF family.  As upset as I was about the unexpected change in my life, there are many people who are in much worse situations than I ever have been.  It’s important to concentrate on the positive aspects of life, and focus your energy on what you can change and don’t worry about what you can’t change. A quote that really resonates with me is “The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

WHAT IS YOUR DIET LIKE? HAS IT CHANGED SINCE STARTING CROSSFIT?

When I started Crossfit, my diet was OK, but I ate a lot of fast food and junk food.  Changing my eating habits a few years ago has really helped, but as I mentioned, I got away from a really healthy diet.  I am getting back on track slowly but surely.   There’s still work ahead of me and this will be a lifelong challenge since junk food and sweets are always tempting.

RESULTS! TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESULTS!!

One of the best results I’ve gotten is more energy and an overall improvement in my health.  Since I started CrossFit I’ve also lost about 10 lbs, took about 3 inches off my waistline, gotten much leaner, and definitely stronger.

FREEWRITE:

Greg at Foundations for Beginners in 2015

I want to give a shout out to all the coaches at BBCF.  They are an amazing team and they have had an enormous impact on my fitness journey.  In the 5+ years I’ve been going to Blackbird, I can’t recall a single time that the coaches have not had a great attitude or a friendly greeting for the members.  That makes a big difference and is a driving force behind sticking with CrossFit.   Matt and Rebekah – you’ve put together a great team!