Happy Belated Birthday to Katie Mo. & Liese Merry! Happy Birthday to Kristin H.!
Underneath the Hoodie: David Osorio, aka El Oso
By Margie Lempert
Born: Bogota, Columbia
Grew up: Roxbury, NJ
Place of Higher Learning: West Chester University, Kinesiology Major, Nutrition minor
After a long and unintended hiatus, I am pleased to present the next subject in our series.
Imagine an outline of David. Just the black borders tracing a small legged boy, a widow’s peak, and a baseball cap, filled in with the barely discernible vision of tight pants, Horror T du jour and constant stubble. This is David as a child: an approximation of himself. Nondescript, unremarkable, mediocre, even in his own estimation. He was vaguely pained by it, but unable to address it, assuming that once he left for college, he would begin to fill in his frame.
Today he stands in stark contrast to the child that floated along, generally amiable, playing video games during the summer and ice hockey in the winter, but with no real commitment to anything. It’s as though he materialized at age 18, quickly burned through his youth and became an adult, which perhaps begins to explain the precocious success this 27 year old has found already. A year for David is like 5 years for the rest of us, making his true age somewhere around 45.
As he predicted, at college david suddenly became David; 0 to 100%. Despite any real indications in his youth, he knew he wanted to major in Exercise Physiology. He was a good student, president of the Karate Club, and frequent volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He was the guy programming workouts for his friends. He wasn’t a natural athlete, and so “primal movements” compelled him: they were special and fun and anyone could learn them. He dreamed of a system of exercise that would push regular folks to play hard. Through Karate (for which he earned a brown belt), he organized tournaments and taught classes. As is still the case, his interest in the physical straddled sport and rehabilitation, and he helped the Exercise Phys department start a 4 year specialization in Physical Therapy.
One of his most formative moments in college happened at a YMCA: a cop who worked out there introduced him to CrossFit.com and that was it. That was the system David had been dreaming of and knew it would have to play a major role in his future career.
One of his degree requirements was to complete a practical internship. He would often drive by Chuck Mound’s Performance Training which focused on power, speed and agility development for high school and collegiate athletes. That would be his spot. Suited up, he impressed at the interview and made all the students think he was a recruiter. The internship was a mixed blessing. There was no real mentor or structure to his role there, but by then David had a confidence and persistence that allowed him to take control of his experience. He worked with a range of athletes and developed his ability to systematize, lead groups and create curriculum. He taught himself how to teach.
My first day at CF South Brooklyn was preceded by a lengthy email correspondence with David. Because of the way he handled our surprisingly personal exchange, I imagined he was at least my age, if not older. I arrived at the Lyceum a CFNYC member eager to see whether the neighborhood gym could be a viable supplement. As I came down the stairs, I was immediately greeted with “Margie?” and there was David: much younger than I expected, sporting a handkerchief around his neck, possibly a hipster, but actually too nice to be that. I was one of three people in class that day (John Ciambriello and Erik Kelly were the other two, for those of you who know them). I dug it and decided to start going to the two classes per week that were on offer.
Soon I met Mike, David’s former roommate and childhood best friend. He was part of the reason David was even in New York. Back in high school, they’d decided to come here together after college. Holding true to their youthful promise, they found a place in Brooklyn and David put his resume on Craigslist. Equinox called him for an interview where he made such a good impression that they offered him a salaried job as a trainer - a very unusual position in the commercial gym industry. The job was great; as was now characteristic, he became a leader there and was given a lot of autonomy. But he was still entranced by CrossFit and new he had to start an affiliate of his own.
David’s parents were pleasantly befuddled by all this. After all, their picture of young David didn’t really look like this hard working, goal oriented person passionate about health and fitness. But suddenly their son was aiming to be a business owner. At that time, one could affiliate before being Level 1 certified, so David paid his dues and started pedaling his wares.
Each class, David would gather up his kettlebells, jump ropes, a sandbag and walk himself over to St Mary’s park underneath the BQE to sit and wait for people to show up. He’d hang around, and then after no one came, he’d gather up his equipment and walk himself home. This happened for a while until one day Jaime (now a long time client) showed up! But they were locked out of the park and couldn’t train. Finally, someone called. And then another person. And then another. At last, he was training 4 or 5 people on a semi-consistent basis in the park, all the while continuing to earn a living at Equinox.
At some point, it started to get cold. He would have to find a place indoors. David hit up every physical establishment he could find, but no one would rent him space. And then he stumbled across the Lyceum. It didn’t really seem appropriate, but he figured why not. The Lyceum being the Lyceum, they said sure and David was in business!
Intuition and personality have been David’s guiding business principles. He doesn’t see himself as a talented entrepreneur, but rather a persistent person able to use his vision of the ideal training facility to affect everyday decisions. In other words, he can translate his dream into something functional. I distinctly remember David coming over to me in one of the early classes to whisper in my ear about cheering someone on. It made me feel special that he thought my support would matter to someone, and I was happy to be empowered to give it. Inclusiveness has always been a strong theme at CFSBK. Likewise, pursuing excellence. David believes that everyone can recognize excellence and chasing it, rather than money, has been key to the gym’s success.
David still considers himself a student, though now he is learning how to be a manager and business owner, rather than trainer. The humbled and earnest position of learner is pervasive throughout the gym. As he says, a business is a reflection of the person who owns it. He is learning that his vision must become more specific, quantifiable and systematic in order to take CFSBK to the next level, which will hopefully entrench it as a highly respected health and fitness facility irrespective of CrossFit.
Certainly his preoccupation with cleanliness is a major boon. Mama Osorio rubbed off on him hard. For David, cleanliness means order and order means you can manipulate and predict your environment to get what you want. This is the physicalization of David’s life philosophy which draws heavily on quantum psychology. Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and The Illuminatus! Trilogy were formative books. Ask him about his tattoos sometime.
It is hard to capture David in just a few pages. There is something unbelievably uncomplicated about him which makes him eminently approachable, yet he is not as forthcoming about himself as his manner invites. His maturity and wisdom often belie is age, until he admits to something like his obsession with watching dachshund videos on YouTube. But these charming idiosyncracies have positioned him well and allowed him to build a unique, welcoming and successful community that we’re all proud to be part of.
Horror Movie fanatic. Favs incude Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead.
Loves soulful girl music.
Played bass in high school ska band.
3 Top Movements: Midhang powerclean, Inversions, Kipping pullups
Favorite Way to Eat Eggs: Fried, whites burnt and crunchy OR 4 egg omelette with tomato, onion and bacon
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