Mark Welsh has been a member of BBCF since September 2015! We met him a few months before that at an ERR 5K at Liberty High School. BBCF had a tent set up with physical challenges people could attempt. As we now know well, Mark is never one to step away from a challenge, so he threw his hat in the ring. He went for the title of longest plank hold and won! A few months later, he showed up to see what else we did besides planks and he’s been with us ever since. As a cyclist, Mark had a great endurance base and solid body weight movements. He was quick to excel at new movements.  He can crush strict handstands all day,  he can now nail bar muscle ups with ease, and he’ll wear a vest to challenge himself further during almost any endurance WOD if one of his gym buddies even lightly suggests it. He approaches each day in the gym with enthusiasm and does a great job of adding a dose of healthy competition to any class he attends. When a workout shows up that’s in his wheel house we all know he’s going in with 110%. He leaves it all out there. And when Mark finishes, he will be the one cheering the loudest or running final rounds with those who are struggling to finish. This athlete has heart! Mark’s also one of the first athletes to introduce himself to new folks in the gym and make everyone feel welcome. He inspires people to do their best and he inspires us with his positivity and unwavering work ethic. He’s a beast and we’re honored to have him as a staple in our CrossFit community! MEET MARK WELSH…

1.TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. 

Hey, I’m Mark Welsh and am proud to say I’m 52 years old (53 on June 9th).  I have been married for 28 years to my wife, Debbie, and have a daughter, Rachel, who will be a senior at Salisbury University this fall majoring in Earth Science (and wants to be a Volcanologist) and a son that will be a freshman at College Park majoring in Biomedical Engineering.  My wife and I graduated from UMBC (a long time ago) and she works for the Department of Defense as a computer analyst and I am an accountant (CPA) and work for the American Urological Association located near BWI.

2. WHAT MADE YOU START CROSSFIT?

Greg and Mark at BBCF Annual Holiday Party

I started CrossFit because I wanted to try something new related to fitness.  I’ve always been an active person playing lots of sports, primarily in my 20s and early 30s.  Kids came and I really didn’t stay consistently active while they were young.  I coached baseball, soccer and helped with Cub Scouts.  In my 40s, as my kids got older, I began to run and cycle (thank you Greg Clark, my cycling mentor).  In 2015, as cycling season was ending and I’d recently turned 50, I decided it was time to give CrossFit a try and convinced Greg to give it try too.

Initially, I was excited about all of the various lifts and skills.  There was and still is so much to learn.  I’ve never been bored with a workout.  Two and a half years and what shows up recently – dumbbell box step overs! Still something new – I love that!  But, what has kept me isn’t just the workouts, it’s the community (more on this later).

3. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SINCE JOINING BLACKBIRD?

I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn!!  There’s too much to write about.  I’ll just share a quote that I like and have on my phone.  “Crawling is acceptable, Falling is acceptable, Puking is acceptable, Crying is acceptable, Blood is acceptable, Pain is acceptable, QUITTING IS NOT.”

4.WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BLACKBIRD OR CROSSFIT IN GENERAL? 

I know that no matter how difficult my day has been, I’m making a positive impact on my wellbeing by stepping into BBCF.  It is the highlight of my day.  The community of like-minded, hardworking, welcoming people is the environment I want to be a part of and is what I enjoy most.  I do love the workouts too, but community is number one. I also enjoy being over 50 and hanging out with people my kid’s age.  If you hang out with old people, you get old, but if you hang out with younger people, you stay young.  I’m just jealous CrossFit wasn’t around when I was your age.

5. WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CROSSFIT MOMENT? 

Hmm? Probably the first time I did Linda (Deadlift – 1.5xbody weight, bench – 1xbody weight and cleans – .75xbody weight, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1).  I knew I couldn’t Rx because there was NO WAY I could do 55 DL at 1.5xbody weight.  Matt was coaching and he encouraged me to try and of course we built the bar to strip weight off (I knew it would happen).  Or, so I thought.  It didn’t happen and I Rxed Linda on my first attempt (it was extremely hard) and have done it two other times since bettering my time by over 7 minutes.  Thank you Matt Titus!!  I think this is the only workout where I was a little emotional afterwards.  I did something that I was convinced (and would have bet money) I couldn’t do.  You might fail, but you’ll never know unless you try.

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVEMENT/LIFT? LEAST FAVORITE?

Favorites: HSPUs, anything on the rig, wipers, bench press, burpees, cleans, thrusters and anything body weight and yes, I said thrusters.  Least favorite: OHS, snatches, wall balls and heavy deadlifts in a WOD (my aching back)!

7. WHAT ARE YOUR CROSSFIT GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

I’ve never put my goals in writing, so don’t look on the goal board.  I can say my first CrossFit goal when I started was to have consistent double-unders by the end of the year (I started in early November 2015).  Ok, that didn’t happen, so I gave myself a one month extension.  If you’ve seen me in a WOD, I still can’t consistently do double-unders.  But, I haven’t quit – I just have gotten lots of extensions!  Improving my muscle-up form is another goal I’m slowly working on.  I did wear a vest during Murph this year, which was a goal.  I started with a 10lb vest almost a year ago and gradually added weight.  One of our younger athletes asked me after Murph what my goal time was for next year, suggesting a sub 40 minute goal.  I told him at my age, I’d be happy to maintain from year-to-year.

Mark has the biggest strict deficit handstand push up in the gym at 15″!

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

Talking about CrossFit, going outside in thunder storms, eating Hershey’s Moose Tracks ice cream, visiting amusement parks, listening to “Let’s WOD About It”, skiing, watching my son play soccer (he’s pretty good), game nights and going to the beach.

11. THE ONE TIP YOU’D GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT STARTING CROSSFIT OR JUST STARTED?

Try it! What do you have to lose?  I can emphatically tell you, you have everything to gain!  Don’t be intimidated because you can scale every movement.  I started with banded pull-ups and an empty bar.  I didn’t know any of the lingo: kipping, snatch, hollow rock, superman, AMRAP, WOD, etc.  I didn’t know what any of that was.  I hadn’t had a gym membership in 25 years! So, if I can do this, anyone can do this!

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

I’ve not officially participated in the nutrition challenges at BBCF, but I have always eaten a pretty clean diet.  I strive to eat whole foods or what I call “lightly” processed foods.  I have learned a lot from this year’s focus on nutrition.  I tend to eat more carbs than I should – I really like fruit, but at least they are whole foods.  My go-to food when I get home from work, before CrossFit is a banana with peanut butter and some berries.  If I’m hangry, because I didn’t eat a good lunch, I’ll sometimes pick a Kodiac cake with berries.

13. RESULTS? TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESULTS! 

Three CrossFit Opens (2016-2018): 1st – all scaled workouts, 2nd – all scaled workouts, 3rd – 3 Rx workouts!!

FREEWRITE:

I am honored to be Athlete of the Month, but a little humbled as well.  I am an ordinary guy, living an ordinary life that by some chance stumbled upon an extraordinary CrossFit box. And, I truly believe BBCF is extraordinary!  I told both Matt and Rebekah at the Murph that they should be so proud of what they have created.  They are changing lives – it is truly inspirational!!  I said earlier that what keeps me doing CrossFit is the community.  There are so many athletes/friends that motivate and push me every day – thank you for your encouragement, commitment, friendship and antics!  Many of you have life changing stories that I totally admire and respect.   And finally, thank you to all of our coaches.  You guys are what make this work.  You are knowledgeable, passionate, patient and caring.  Keep doing what you’re doing – GOLD STARS for all of you!!