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Athlete of The Month


Chris Artis!

July brings us a new athlete to honor and we couldn’t be happier to have chosen Chris. He’s a super cool cat with an interesting past, and a great work ethic. He’s been really proactive about his weaknesses and in doing so has gone from not being able to put a barbell overhead to being able to go overhead in WODs, and from not being able to squat without pain to squatting a 1 rep PR of 300. Chris’ extra effort in making himself a better athlete is what brought him to the forefront of the AOM discussion. He didn’t believe me when I told him he was the AOM. Here’s what I found out about him when we sat down.

Fox - Hey man, thanks for meeting up with me. I’m looking forward to hearing about your sordid past.

CA - Wow. Are you sure you guys mean me? This Chris A? The one without the sub 6 minute 2k time?

Fox - Yes Sir, you. We’ve been really impressed with how you’ve improved over your time here and especially since getting injured. On to the first stock question. How did you wind up at CFSBK?

CA - My brother-in-law George had visited friends in Northern California and they’d been ranting and raving about CrossFit. He really wanted to start doing it but my wife Elizabeth (George’s sister) eventually did the
research and found out that there was one right here in Brooklyn. One day she told me, “George is signed up to start CrossFit, and so are you.” I guess she figured we should do something together. We did a private
Foundations with Shane and that’s how I started. That was September of ‘09. If it were me I never would have done the private cycle, I’m somewhat of a cheapskate. But, Elizabeth paid and all so I went. I did the
Foundations and then didn’t come in for a week or two until Shane started sending George and I emails badgering us. I’m a pretty shy person so I might not have gone otherwise. It was all in my own head really. I saw all these fit people with these crazy athletic abilities and was intimidated. I started with drop-ins but after a month or so I was in. Once I started coming in I realized that everyone was so nice. I’m glad I wound up going.

Fox - We’re glad you did too! So, what had you been doing fitness-wise before CrossFit?

CA - Right before I had been just going to the gym across from my house and running and doing some other stuff, no routine really. I had done some boxing before that and enjoyed it but wasn’t really going to be a boxer so that faded out. When I came to CrossFit I had thought of myself as pretty fit. I always was active, ran track in high school and stuff. The first few classes were a shock. I remember Shane asking me how many pull ups I could do and I was like “five or so”, thinking that I could probably do ten but not wanting to look weak. Shane told me to get up on the bar and if I did one, I was lucky. I then realized I had grown out of shape and wanted my fitness back.

Fox - What made you stick with CrossFit? And why did you become someone who does all this mobility work before classes?

CA - Seeing everyone do all the stuff I wanted to do! Pull Ups, cleans, snatches. Also everyone is really supportive of each other. No one argues, at least not that I know of. If that happens I don’t want to know (it doesn’t). It was just what I needed to help me to push harder. The mobility stuff came partly at coaches behest, and partly because I really want to be able to do everything here. Handstands, the O lifts, all that stuff. Also, if I don’t then my sciatica can be really painful. So, not being in pain is a pretty good motivator as well. I learned a few tricks in the Mobility and Recovery Intensive and continue to use them.

Fox - Tell me a bit about your life outside of the gym. Work, hobbies?

CA - Well, first work. For nearly two decades I worked at book publishers doing publicity and PR. I now do the same thing, but on a freelance basis out of my home. It pays the bills and it’s pretty neat. I’ve worked with novelists ranging from Dean Koontz and George R.R. Martin, of Game of Thrones fame, as well as serious non fiction writers such as the physicist Stephen Hawking. Basically my job is to and drum up interest among members of the press for upcoming books and their authors. As far as hobbies I have two that I’m pretty passionate about. First is diving. I’ve been diving for about 12 years now. I started down in Belize and have been hooked ever since. There’s so much to see underwater. My wife dives also, though she’s not as crazy into it as I am. I’ll go in 4-5 times a day when we’re away. We’ve been on some pretty amazing trips to dive but the best has to have been Asia. I did some diving in Indonesia that just doesn’t compare to anywhere else that I’ve been. In this hemisphere though Bonaire is good as are a few of the less populated islands. If you get me started on development and the s**t it does to the underwater ecosystems I’ll be off to the races. I’ve got to bite my tongue. (Chris is pretty passionate about this subject and lots of adult themed language ensued. Ask him in person and I’m sure he’ll fill you in).

I also play Petanque (pay-tonk), which I love. (I ask if it’s just like French bacci and Chris indulges my comparison). I started 7 years ago with a free lesson in Bryant Park from La Boule Newyorkaise and now I
teach for that same organization. It’s a great game, it’s really a good drinking and smoking game. There’s skill but not a lot of athleticism required. It’s kind of my anti-CrossFit (he says and smiles).

Fox - I smell a CFSBK field trip! Now tell me about the sordid rock and roll past.

CA - I wanted to be a rock star, you see. I moved to New York for that very reason. I played in a few bands and it was a great time but it didn’t pan out in terms of making a living. I did have a few brushes with other people’s fame. One was when I tried out for The Meatmen. Brian Baker had left the band and I auditioned to be his replacement. Let’s just say it was humbling. I also had a stint in a band, called Puppet Show. Always hated that name. And when they asked me to join I almost said no, but the drummer, Matt
Stelluto, had played in the 80s hair metal band Smashed Gladys and I was a big fan of his so I joined up. My first show with them was opening for Johnny Thunders about a month before he died. That was one weird
scene. If any of the bands I played in had a shot, it was that one. But it was not to be, and I eventually tired of lugging gear and playing for peanuts, if that.

Fox - Chris, you’ve led and continue to lead a storied life. We need to get a CFSBK house band going! So, where are you at now with things? What do you still want to improve? Any recent accomplishments you’re proud of?

CA - I want to continue to improve my mobility, and to be able to clean and snatch properly. I know those two things are very related. I’m having fun getting better at stuff and 300 certainly was a nice round number to hit on the back squat. I also recently did 21 unbroken pull ups in a WOD and that was a great feeling. Going from 0 (first class with Shane) to 21 isn’t that bad. I remember back at the Lyceum, John McCann Doyle doing a double under/pull up WOD unbroken and it seeming so effortless. I’d like to do that workout and have it be so effortless.

Fox - Those are some great accomplishments. I’m sure that with continued hard work the rest will come also. Alright, last question. What should we look for in a future AOM?

CA - I’ve been thinking about this question since you seem to ask it of everyone. I’ve really appreciated the people who continue to support and cheer me on even when they’ve finished their own workout and
are wrecked but I’m still struggling on. That says a lot to me about their character. I know it’s helped me to continue and made it even just a bit easier to finish. I think that quality should be part of the recipe for a future Athlete of the Month.

Thanks again to Chris for meeting up with me and for being a fun nterview. We look each month for a member of our community who contains within them some qualities that we think are worthy of imitation,
and Chris certainly demonstrates a few. We coaches look forward to seeing you improve with us. And SBKers, do ask Chris about diving and Petanque...he is a wealth of spunk on both!

Reader Comments (24)

Great work, Chris.

Morning CFT training with Katie M.

2-2-2-2-1 Deadlifts

3-3-3-3-1 Presses

So with some great advice from Katie I already surpassed my anticipated deadlift 1rm. New sites set on 300lbs.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBilly K

Oops, "sights set!"

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBilly K

Congrats Chris!

Made up Wednesday's wod:
4x2 Front Squats 155-175-195-205 PR, ended up doing an extra set with less weight to focus on driving my knees out

amrap10 (30 wallballs, 20 2pd swings 10 handrelease push ups)
2 rounds + 2 push ups, should've never put that bell down ...Thanks for the push Shane

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

awesome picture! congratulations chris!

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterSarah H

congrats chris!

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMcGrath

Congrats Chris A.! Great Job!

OK, down to business. I left my workout book in the bin. I don't have a NEW workout book due to circumstances beyond my control. If possible it would be nice if both the new and the old workout books could be sent to me.
Peter Hoppmann
8931 Rockford Avenue
Milton, WI 53563

On a more immediate note--I need the details on the Filthy Fifty. Today is the day. The big 5 Oh. And I want to celebrate in style. I'll be checking the blog. You can email me or just gimme a call 718-923-9009.

If anyone is in southern Wisconsin this summer and needs a WoD, come on by! I have a nearly fully stocked box in my garage.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Congrats Chris! Love these write-ups, always nice to get to know someone new in the gym.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

Yay, Chris!

"Wow. Are you sure you guys mean me? This Chris A? The one without the sub 6 minute 2k time?"

Brilliant. Humbly brilliant.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

Congratulations Chris!

Rest Day!

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShawnS

congratulations, sir.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Congrats, Chris A! Glad to hear you are well endowed with... spunk. Um. Yes.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelon

Congrats Chris, well deserved.

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterDH3

Nevermind about the filthy 50. I got the scoop.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Woohoo, Congrats Chris! Really fun interview to read. Excellent work on improving your mobility...definitely a great example to all.

Billy, nice numbers! It'll be fun to see what you all pull at the Total!

Lastly, happy birthday Peter!!!

July 1, 2011 | Registered Commenterlady fox

Congratulations Chris!

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterariel

Great fun to interview Chris. And well deserved was he of this month.

Happy birthday, Peter! You crazy sonofabitch!

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterFox

Filthy 50 on my 50th Birthday

50 Box Jumps 20" (scaling down from 24")
50 Jumping pullups
50 1 pood kettlebell swings
50 Walking lunges
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push presses @45lbs
50 situps (subbed for back extensions)
50 Wall ball shots 18lb ball (scaled from 20# because I don't have a 20)
50 Burpees
50 Double-unders for time...

Under 50 minutes! 42:24

Chippered the DUs and Bupees in the interest in seeing 51.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Chris is always a pleasure to have in the gym, a really humble and good guy all around. A great example for all with his consistent mobility work, intelligent scaling and steady progress.

Posting from Virgina right now at a cool indy coffee shop called lamplighters. I've got a few hours to catch up on work while Sam is working herself.

Hopps, Happy birthday, we'll get you your book! I was just telling someone how the last time I did Filthy 50 I really threw myself at it and wasn't right for about half an hour afterwards.

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Great profile, Chris. Congrats!

Made up Wednesday's WOD:
FS 2-2-2-2 got up to 230. 235 x 1..should've fought for that 2nd rep.

30 WB 20#
20 KBS 2 pood
10 hand release push-ups

2 rounds + 9 KBS

I put down the KB and WB way too much. Thanks for the encouragement Avery, Chris, and Nick!

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterRickke

Big congrats to Chris, my "squat buddy."

Being at about the exact same working weight in our front and back squat, I have had the pleasure of sharing a bunch of bar time with Mr. Artis in the last few months.

He is incredibly friendly, humble, dedicated, and very, very coachable. He wants to know how every set of every rep looked, and takes steps to make the wrong stuff right. If anything, I think he underestimates his strength, hes got more than 300 in him, I think next Back Squat cycle will put him solidly in the 3 and a Third arena.

Couldn't ask for a better bar partner.

That being said, its always funny how much I learn about people during the AOTM write ups. Chris, I need to pick your brain about some literary things, no doubt.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

325x5x1 (PR)


390x5x1 (PR)

AMRAP 10 min
30 Wall Ball 20#
20 KB Swings 32kg
10 Push Ups (CF Games Standard)

2rnds + 28 WB
I was pretty spent after lifting and didn't really have any 'go' for this. Wall Ball always is a suck-fest for me and I rested a lot on the KB.

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterFox

Well deserved, Chris, congrats!

Peter, awesome job! Filthy Fifty was my first WOD out of foundations -- couldn't see straight for half an hour.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Mak

Made up yesterday's 3 clean/1 jerk complex:
(drills @ 33# then the complex at 63, 83)
work: 93, 103, 113, 123, 123x2+f
-I'm having a hard time getting my head through in my split jerk. The bar is way out in front and I'm having to chase it. Did 2 sets at 123 because I wanted to clean up my technique but ended up failing the 3rd clean of the second set. Just wasn't dropping down far and fast enough. Got angry and dropped 10# off just to work the drop, then went back to 123 and was able to drop down much better. Apparently getting angry at the bar really does help. ;)

July 1, 2011 | Registered Commenterlady fox

Thank you guys all for the lovely posts and shout outs! I wish I could write something smart, but it's friday and I'm just a touch loaded. So thanks to all. special shout out to noah for the help in achieving squats. that's what she said? geez! but seriously! :-)

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris A.

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