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Featured Athlete: Thomas Rexford

Member since: Jan 2021

In Thomas's words: 

The twenty years preceding my membership at LaCo was characterized by long work hours made tolerable by large doses of good food and spirits. My unfortunate descent into obesity was both gradual and predictable. I knew something had to be done to reverse course, but there was always some other, more immediate, crisis at hand that required my full attention — so the years rolled on and I slowly became a soft, fleshy, and increasingly old man —- the very opposite of a fading self image that I stubbornly tried to maintain. 


The moment of clarity came on vacation in a Maui heliport lobby where I was told, much to the amusement of my snickering family, that I was “well over” their weight limit and I would have to purchase two tickets. I of course considered this loose talk to be grounds for a duel but before I could set the little fellow straight my wife intervened and the crisis was averted by seating me in the middle with small children all around the perimeter. Apparently this allowed the helicopter to fly straight without violating the maximum weight limit. Another result being that I was unable to see out of the windows, but the kids had a good time. I swore a solemn oath to shed the weight and regain some semblance of a healthy figure —- or at least a figure that did not require the purchase of two seats. 


When we got home from that vacation I took a first step. I needed a simple diet that would shed weight and was readily available while I wandered the roads of south Texas for my job. For the next several months I lived on overnight oats and Chick-fil-A cobb salads with light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Sometimes three or more a day. I ate hundreds of them. Still do. It was neither fancy nor perfect but it was dramatically fewer calories than my old diet which tasted much better but rested on the dubious notion that I probably should eat everything all the time. The weight melted away — from 275 to 225 in about 5 months. 


The second step was exercise. I was still carrying too much weight and I had not begun to address the atrophy that had set in during my years of indolence and overconsumption. I had not been to the gym in about 30 years but like a good boy I wandered into Planet Fitness in search of some kind of redemption. I found the StairMaster, a peculiar machine to tone inner thighs, and the mirrors —- but there was no sign of redemption. Many months went by with little, if any, progress and it became clear that I needed a more rigorous approach to the problem. 


Someone somewhere told me there was a thing called CrossFit and that it was full of demented people doing crazy things with barbells. And somehow it included strange gymnastics movements and rubber bands. Maybe some kind of a cult. Sounded odd but rigorous so I signed up for a class at LaCo and resolved to give it my best.


It was immediately obvious that LaCo was completely different than anything I had done before. The emphasis on compound movements like the squat, deadlift, and snatch coupled with surprisingly difficult body weight exercises like burpees and pull-ups was fundamentally different than anything I had done before. Mix in the rower, bike, and an occasional rope climb and you have a truly splendid recipe for full body exhaustion. And all of it intensified by the inexorable grind of a clock. It sounds rather awful but is actually quite addictive.


It is impossible to overstate the benefit of not having to conceive and manage your own fitness program. Most gyms are full of people aimlessly wandering around the machines trying to figure out which exercise they should do today and at what level of resistance and for how many sets and repetitions. To succeed they would have to be both highly motivated and highly educated in resistance training —- a rare combination I suspect. At LaCo the only two things you must know is how to get to the gym and at what time of day. Just show up and do what the coach tells you to do and there will be progress. It really is as simple as that —- I did not say it was easy, but it is simple. Show up and put in the work and you will get the result. For me the result is a markedly stronger body and a weight that remains around 200 pounds, even though my diet is far less severe than it was before I started. In fact, I eat much more than I should but after a couple years of cobb salads and oatmeal I deserve a break.


Please understand that you do not have to be a great athlete to flourish at CrossFit LaCo. It all seems so extreme and bizarre on your first day, like a comic opera really. But all of the movements can be scaled to accommodate your fitness level as measured on that particular day and over time you get stronger and the movement patterns begin to make sense. All the while you are carried along by the encouragement of your teammates. Therein lies the biggest difference between LaCo and all of the other gyms. The men and women next to you are teammates, not spectators; they too travel this winding road and fully understand the obstacles and triumphs that color our shared journey.

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