Name: Ariel Fernandez
Hometown: Corona, Queens, NY
CrossFitting Since: I’ve known about CrossFit since 2010, but I joined Virtuosity about one year ago (in February 2011.)
Favorite WOD or Movement: My favorite movements have to be the Olympic lifts – the snatch, clean, and jerk. They are fast, explosive movements and a true test of strength and speed.
Least Favorite WOD or Movement: I’d have to say that I’m not very good at gymnastics and I can’t stand muscle ups. Gymnastics has always been a big struggle for me, mostly because I haven’t practiced enough. It’s about training your body to balance itself. Like I said, I never dedicated enough time to it which is why I struggle so much.
What is your fitness background? What were you doing before CrossFit? I guess you could say I was a big gym rat. I played D3 college baseball at Baruch College. I’ve always loved playing sports and being active – it gave me a reason to compete. Right out of college, I worked with a friend who introduced me to CrossFit. At the time, I stuck more to the powerlifting and strength aspects of CrossFit instead of the Metcons. It wasn’t until I joined CrossFit Virtuosity that I truly started CrossFitting.
How have you changed since starting CrossFit? I always thought I was pretty fit until I did my first CrossFit workout. It’s very humbling. Every day you come in, there’s always a new challenge, both mentally and physically. I love seeing my progress and how far I’ve come from when I first started. With Olympic lifting, you might go up small increments of a few pounds each month… half a year later you find yourself lifting 40lbs more than you’ve ever done before. In a way, it’s a true test of patience.
What made you want to become a part of the competition team? Last year, I went to the regional competition as a spectator. I told myself that I’d make it back to Regionals in 2013 – either as an individual or team competitor. I’ve been coming in 5 days a week, training for 3 hours a day to hopefully be a competitor the next time I head to Regionals.
I’ve always been a competitor. I love the rush you get from competing, pushing your body to its threshold and beyond. Whether it was basketball, baseball, or CrossFit, there’s always something to play for or play against. I’ve always liked that part about competition. I’m usually a quiet, laid back kind of person but when I’m competing, something clicks and I become very passionate.
What kind of workout you like to see in the Open? If the workout involves a barbell and weights, then I will absolutely crush it. If the workout involves gymnastics, then it will pose more of a challenge for me. That said, I’ve worked these last eight months or so leading up to the Open to be as prepared as possible. Whether I’d like to see a workout or not, I know that I’m as fit as I can possibly be.
Who inspires and/or motivates you? I joined CrossFit Virtuosity because of Keith. I saw that he was a Level 3 coach, and there are not many Level 3 coaches around. He’s really the reason why I made the trek from Jamaica to this gym. I really admire the quality of the coaches at CFV. It kind of led me to coaching myself. I’ve been doing the apprenticeship program at Virtuosity to try and become an Assistant Coach.
I look at CFV like a great farm system in baseball. Their minor league system really develops great talent. Any coach at Virtuosity can be a lead coach at any other gym, or the head coach of any team. That’s the quality that I notice and admire.
What advice do you have for other people considering trying CrossFit? You know what, there’s a huge intimidation factor when it comes to CrossFit. I’ve tried pitching it to my closest friends, but they see videos and think they’re not ready for it or not fit enough. You just have to get in there, go for it, and be fearless. Don’t fear the weights. You might not be great at the moment, but if you come in and work on things, you’ll get better. It’s really the same with anything in life. If you keep working on something, then you’ll find it becomes easier after a while.
For example, I used to hate snatching – I thought it was the worst movement ever. I started watching videos, reading up on technique and form, and it started to make sense after a while. I went from a 185lb snatch to a 230lb snatch in a matter of months. It was all technique that got me to the 230lb snatch.
Any best CFV stories? When I first started CrossFit, we were doing clean & jerks. It was my first time cleaning. I got up to 265lbs and I kind of deadlifted the bar and put it back down. Coach Gregg was like, “You know you can hit that.” I had already doubted myself and was about to strip the bar down, but Gregg made me try it again. Before I could think twice, I went up to the bar and cleaned 265lbs. Sometimes CrossFit is all mental. Sometimes you’re your own worst enemy. That was definitely an eye opener for me.
Any last words? Keep working on your weaknesses. Not just in CrossFit, but in life. You’ll see that the more you work on it, the easier it gets. Soon enough, you’re excelling and it’s no longer a weakness.