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Rest Day

April Athlete of the Month: Matt Chmielecki

A new month and a new athlete to admire. The coaches here at SBK are fortunate to have so many of our members displaying qualities that we look for in an AOM. Training smart, open to coaching, helpful to others, and carrying themselves the right way. Matty fit the bill perfectly. His fact sheet was so similar to recent AOM Peter Mattis though that I was tempted to call him “Petey Light.” Known to many simply as “Chm” (pronounced like Chim, pretend there’s an extra i in his last name), I found out as you will below that he’s certainly a force of his own.

Fox: Hey Matty, tell us about when and how you first started CrossFit and came to be part of “The Best Foundations Ever.”

MC: CrossFit had been on my radar for a while. I’d wanted to try it but at the time all I’d read was that it was the perfect cult to join if you wanted to break your back, rip apart your shoulders and knees, and potentially die from rhabdo. One summer day in July 2012 though I happened to be driving down Degraw street and noticed a bunch of people hanging from the pull up bar, including a pregnant woman, smiling and talking. They seemed to be actually having a good time while exercising! This was in stark contrast to what I’d read. I came back and signed up for Foundations that day. I eventually got over my fear of every ache and pain being serious and have settled in to a happy training place. And obviously, yes, we were the best Foundations ever. All six of us joined and four of us still remain, though one moved away to Chicago.

Fox: Yeah I knew you guys were alright when you were going out for post-class beers by the fifth class. What about that sight at the pull up bar drew you in?

MC: I was looking for a social path to true fitness. I’d done the body part split thing, was a runner and triathlete, and had just done my first ultra marathon, the Rim to Rim to Rim. I spent countless hours training by myself and was getting a bit bored with it. Sure, some friends would meet me for a lap around Prospect Park but I was running six to eight laps. My training life mostly consisted of running hours upon hours by myself and consuming various gels and powders. I remember one time while on a long run in Connecticut by my parents house in the snow, this guy in a pickup truck stopped to ask me, “Didn’t I see you three hours ago running way back there? Are you ok?” I had endurance but I wasn’t really healthy. I wanted to become more athletic again and hanging out with people who spoke to each other and smiled while training sounded fantastic.

Fox: So here you are two years later still going strong, and only getting stronger. I’m always interested to hear what people have to say about why they stick with it. Tell me why you do.

MC: A large part of it is the social aspect. Even though it’s 6 am when I come and we’re all still trying to un-groggy ourselves while processing some caffeine, there’s small talk, there’s jokes, there’s smiles, we’re getting ready to give it our all. I also started to see results pretty quickly. I really enjoyed watching my body change as I put some muscle on and my body comp changed. I really like the blend of lifting and sprint/interval work at SBK. Of course in the beginning almost every day in the gym is a PR, but it was affirmative to be able to quantify progress and results. I also saw the carryover to my tri times. I was getting faster by getting stronger, all while training less. I still do a few races a year and I don’t have to train nearly as much as I used to for them. It wasn’t always easy though. Some of the positions were really tough, and I realized that I maybe wasn’t as fit as I thought. I’d long been used to being one of the fittest guys in any room I was in. Then I came here and the guys and gals seemed super human! I remember Foundations when on pull up day you asked me if I could do them. I said sure and started to do a few, and you told me “Higher. Nope, higher. Still no… how about we grab you a band.” It was a bit humbling to have to use a band but it made me want to get better. I’m happy with where I’m currently at. My progress has slowed but I’m in a place where I have a handle on most of the Rx’d movements so that now instead of learning them, I can focus on improving them. The Open was really helpful in pushing me to do some of those movements and weights. For my first year of training I don’t think I missed a lift at all, which was important I think. Now I’m comfortable pushing and testing a bit. On to the muscle up!

Fox: That’s awesome. Training efficiency is definitely what we’re after, and a slice of humble pie is good every now and then. I think a year without a miss is a great first training year and something people should aim for. Let’s hear about you outside of the gym.

MC: I’m from Colchester, CT, which is easily the prettiest part of CT. I went to Marymount Manhattan College where I met my wife and have been in NYC since, first on the Upper West Side and then Park Slope. I’m pretty consumed with work and family. I’m a retail commercial broker in Manhattan and work 12 hours most days. That’s why I’m a morning guy at the gym, it’s the only time I can get it in. I have some big clients like the Empire State Building and Shake Shack, as well as smaller ones. I’ve been doing this for nine years and really enjoy it. It’s cool to walk down the street and be able to see what your work has done. Once I’m done with work, it’s all family. My wife Cori and I have three kids—Tucker who’s six, and the twins Lacey and Lawson who are three. Three kids takes a lot of time-budgeting, especially as they get older and start activities. Tucker just had his first baseball game which was exciting, although I realized that I’ve been sorely lacking in teaching him the sport. He can hit and catch just fine but when he gets the ball he looks at the nearest adult and asks what to do with it. He had a hilarious one-liner about not wanting to wear a cup. He was disgusted with it and worried that everyone would think he had a gigantic penis! Cori and I keep a book of all the kids’ best one-liners like that. It’s fun to record that stuff and will be great to look back as the years go by. With how busy I am with work and family, the only hobby I really have time for is CrossFit. I used to do 10 or so races a year but Cori wisely advised me to pare that down so now I do two. Often the Fairfield Half Marathon is one because it’s the best half out there. The people in the town really get into it, hanging out in their yards and cheering. It starts on a beach and ends with a pizza party on the beach where people wade into the water with a slice and a lemonade. Good times.

Fox: I love the idea of keeping that book! Great family memories sometimes can’t be captured in photos. Last stock question. What should we look for in a future AOM?

MC: I thought about this since I knew you’d ask. I think there must be that type of person who when they walk in for a class the coaches say to themselves, “This is going to be a good class.” It could be that they lighten the vibe, or are great movers or bar mates, or whatever. They possess something intangible that contributes in a positive way to the experience. Also someone who’s passionate about working out and puts effort into even the simpler tasks. Who doesn’t sandbag the warm ups with sloppy movement and isn’t just going through the motions.

Fox: Thanks so much, Matty, for sitting down with me for the interview. You’ve been a great addition to the gym and possess many of the qualities that we look for in an Athlete of the Month, including the ones you mentioned. Now get that muscle up!
Stone Lifting as Sport in the Basque Country New York Times
The Science and Psychology of Motivation for Athletes Breaking Muscle
Meaningful Activities Protect the Brain From Depression The Atlantic

Reader Comments (36)


Fitness: Snatch Segment Deadlift + Snatch + OHS
If you have a hard time organizing the pull off the floor, perform snatch from the mid-hang.

Performance: Snatch 1-1-1, then 90% x 1 x 2
Work up to a heavy snatch in 3 attempts, then perform 2 singles at 90% of today's best snatch.

Back Squat

Fitness: 3x5 LP
Performance: 72.5% x 8 x 4

April 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

YEAH MATTY CHIM-CHIM!!! (i's added for pronunciation of course)

I mean Matt you're an ok guy, we met in foundations, whatever. I'm sure your book of children's quotes will be publishable some day, keep it up! Proud of you for reaching the AOM podium!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterginacatto

Team 6am continues to dominate the AOM for a reason--it is a seriously high-quality bunch of folks. Congrats Matt!

Monday's workout with lady fox this morning. My first time with the performance warmup, very much enjoying the practice with snatch movements. Bench is moving slow and heavy this cycle, frustrating but there it is. 115x5x3. Then hell with kettlebells. I started with the 24kg and quickly realized I couldn't even rack the fucker, so switched to 20kg. Even that I had to support w/ my opposite hand most of the time. A real grind. Nice to be outside, but the lack of an external soundtrack meant I reverted to my internal one, which as for all other toddler parents means "Frozen." That workout is even worse when performed to "Let it Go," I can assure you.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

Charlotte, I don't have a toddler, but Let It Go is often playing on my internal playlist anyway. I think it's unavoidable. Bench was 73# x 8 x 4, still moving very, very fast, feeling good. Hell with Kettlebells is a pretty accurate description of having to do 4 rounds of those movements. I also started with the 24kg bell, did one round, and was like "oh heeeeelllllll no" and switched to the 20kg. Squats were very hard but I actually found the farmer's carries to be the worst. I almost stopped after three rounds thinking no one would notice, but then remembered I had a partner - dammit! It doesn't help that I spent the last four days staying up until 2 in the morning eating queso and drinking tequila. Yay Texas!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKH a.k.a. Cage

Congrats Matt! I'm always happy when you stroll into the 6am class and we grunt our hellos while still waking up. Didn't know you had a triathlon background. We should compare notes sometime.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

congrats Matt! this past weekend, when a few of us including Matt were trying to make straight as possible legs (slash not at all like DO's demo) on strict toes to bar, i actually thought to myself, that guy should be AOM. I'm pretty sure i'm psychic.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren S

8am with McDowell.

Wonky snatch day.

50kgF (?!), 50, 60, 70, 74, 78F, 65, 65

Nothing like missing your opening warm up weight to start the day right. Didn't finish the lift at all. Much better the second time through. The attempt at 78 was too wild -- trying to rip it up instead of being intentionally aggressive.

HBBS at 230x8x4. No joke.

Cash out between 100-108 for each round.

Congrats to Matt! Only worked with him a few times, but they've been great experiences.

April 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterRyan

congrats Matt!


April 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterasta

My left knee is giving me problems after last week's squats. Rested it til today and it's feeling better but took it a little easy. Worked on forcing my left knee out at lower squat weights and will try to increase slowly in a LP for the rest of the cycle, only going up if I can do them with proper positioning.

Snatch - 40, 50x2, 60x2, 70, 75 - all felt pretty good. Then dropped back to 70 and missed the first one for some reason

HBBS - 185x5, 205x5x2. Will go up 5-10 each week as long as I can keep my knee out

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

6am - Monday's work with Jess. 135# on the bench. Because I misplaced the notebook I record these things in, I thought I had lifted 130# last week. Turns out, I was at 135# last week too. It's just as well, since this has been a "sleep 3 hours a night" kind of work week for me.

Then the kettlebell body smasher. Damn. Much harder than I expected. I felt every one of those 24kgs on every single rep.

Congrats, Matt! It's good to hear that 12 hour work days don't have to get in the way.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Matty Chim! Matt has been a great presence in the gym since day one. I love you all, but that Foundations cycle of Matt, Gina, Aileen, Jenn, Yuen (and a very nice Manhattan girl who's name I can't recall and who didn't stick) was a special and a whole lot of fun. Plus it got Dave Fung to start coming to the gym consistently! The two things that stick out most to me about your interview are that you didn't fail for a year (!) and that book that you guys keep of kiddie quotes. Great stuff. Well deserved AOM.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Congrats, Matt! So well deserved. You are always such a positive force at 6am.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca C

Congrats Matt! Well deserved! The 6 a.m. crew rocks!!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Congrats Matt! Always beasting it out at 6 AM.

I on the other hand learned that I have NOT been beasting it out. First on Sunday there was using too light of a DB because I thought I was supposed to divide by two, and then yesterday, those of us who did the accessory WOD in the morning did two rounds each instead of four. I can't say that I am sorry. :P

Snatch: I hit 88 again, but it was ugly as sin. Last week everything seemed to come together; this week everything fell apart. Oly lifting is a harsh mistress.

HBBSQ at 145. 72.5% would have been a little closer to 150 than 145, and in retrospect I wish I'd done that. Then again, sets of 8 at that weight are plenty hard.

We were given the illusion of a choice for the DIY cash-out. Since Foundations was using the equipment for the other choice, all of 7 AM "chose" to do burpees. :P I am slow, but at least I'm perfectly consistent. 5 per round, every time.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Congrats Matt. Nice to see a mention of the Fairfield Half, I grew up there.

First day back from a week of drinking and eating buckets of easter candy. The kettlebell work was not particularly fun. It was a grind. First couple of rounds at 32kg and then 28kg.

Still feeing sore from a Saturday WOD in Alexandria VA…
20 min AMRAP:
400m Run

Targeted for 12 C2B for each round and managed to get 84 C2B, total of 7 rounds.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBK

Congrats Matt! Go 6am 2Live crew. Great workout today - thanks to Jess, and to Brad for the inspiration. 210x5x3 on bench was a bit of a strain but worked out. THe WOD was a beast, but, as Dorothy Parker said, I hate writing but I love having written. Fun to do it @ Rx, though whoa, lugging those ketlebells I was not grace incarnate. Heard word on the wind of 5:30am classes - just to say that would be *great*.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Congratulations MATTY! So happy to be part of the Best Foundations Group Ever!
Lets grab some drinks and celebrate! :)

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteraileen

Congrats Matt!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Katz

I should've picked Wednesday's WOD.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Y

Congrats, Matt! Well deserved

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Congrats to Matt and great interview, Fox!

Between Instagram and all of your posts about yesterday's WOD, you're making me want to run for the hills (or bed) instead of coming to class tonight. :(

Also: Flex in the City this weekend was AWESOME! I was pretty nervous about it, mostly because I didn't want to be the weak link and hold my team back. But for the first two rounds, our team was in fifth (for the scaled division). Then we did the gnarly clean complex and didn't put up a competitive amount of weight so we dropped to 33rd. Heh. Cool things included PR-ing my push press at 115# and getting my first C2B pull-up! Overall, it was awesome to be there with such strong people from our gym and to push myself beyond what I was comfortable with... and to feel pretty proud of my form comparatively (at certain points) and about killing some of the other teams in the first two events. Big thanks to Nancy and Willie for coming to cheer for all of us.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Congrats Matt!!! Awesome dude.

Fox - I came back cause I missed you guys. #LetsBuildASnowman

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave Fung


Aaaaaaand I'm a jerk.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Matty C is a slam dunk of a choice for AOM. Good guy, very coachable, great energy and always a pleasure to have in class. He seems like someone who, as he said always comes into class with a positive attitude.

1. The details for the weekend schedule are in the "Class Schedule" link on the left.. I know the registration link isn't live yet but should be shortly.

2. Someone left a paper cutter thing.. like one of those boards with a big machete attached to it so you can cut long straight lines on paper.. No one claimed it yet... if no one claims it I'm taking it home!! I need one of these! Let me know!

April 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Congrats Matt, I know you from your blog posts!

Snuck in for a 10AM to do Wednesday's work before leaving town for a bit:

40x3 50x2 60x1 70x1 75x1 80xM,1 75x1,1

These felt pretty clean today, bar stayed close on all but the miss at 80, which I set up for differently and was all messed up for the second pull.

155x5 220x3 255x2x6

Hardest recovery set yet after Sunday's leg massacre.

Tabata Row cashout, kept all intervals near 100m, never less than 97.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Wow. Definitely feeling the love today. Thanks everyone. I promise that I will use my new role as AOTM to make some real positive changes around here.

Vending machines filled with Fritos and Funyuns.
Pizza Party Fridays.
Complete ban on muscle-ups.

More to come...

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMattyChm


And 5:30am classes.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMattyChm

Congrats Matt! Always one of my favorite people to share a bar with.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCP

How did someone lose a paper cutter? Isn't that something you'd usually remember you brought with you?

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKH a.k.a. Cage

Congrats Matt! Always nice to see another 6am'er selected for AOM.

6am with McDowell. Focusing on form last week and using less weight paid off. Worked up to 78# on the snatch and it felt smooth.
LBBS - 185 x 3 x 5, same as last week since I've been struggling to figure out how low to go now that I'm wearing weightlifting shoes when squatting. Fox called me out on the second set for not being low enough, so I adjusted for the last set. I'll probably stick with this weight again next week.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda


Gotta start somewhere...

Pull-up pyramid 1-1-1-1-1

My upper body was shot from Friday/Mondays reentry into CrossFit after 4 months off, so this pyramid didn't go nearly as well as I hoped. Was hoping for green & blue band tops, but my arms were smoked and had to use 2 green.

Trying to remain a positive "padawan" as Ro calls me

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGracie

Snatch-Max for the day, then 90%x1x2 of that
251x1x3 (Missed the first)
**Snatches finally felt back to normal. I was feeling fast and strong.

Front Squat+Jerk-Max for the day, 90%x1x2 of that
**was supposed to be CJ max, but my hand is torn up and I couldn't do cleans. Interestingly I find this way harder than clean and jerks.


Ab wheel rollouts 3x15

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

6am CREW!!! Congrats Matt...well deserved!!!

Monday workout: Hit 70# on the bench. Bar moved smoothly but the 2nd set was my best. Felt off on the 1st & 3rd with my foot position.

WOD: started with a 16kg KB but only got through 3 squats and was too unstable. Switched to 12 kg to finish it out. Needed to support the KB with my other hand though...

Already feeling it. Tomorrow should be fun!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNan

Congrats, Mattychm!! Great to put a face and story to the blog posts :)

3-position snatch (high, below the knee, floor)
WU@33, 53, 58, 63, 66x1x3
Failed the first one from the floor at 66, which is embarrassing because this is still light. Good cues from Jess on staying tight, so they got progressively better, but still not great.

HBBS (45x5, 95x3, 110x1) 120x5x5
Whew. 25 feels like a lot of volume, I can't imagine 32!!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKMo

@scott and @mattychm, not that anyone's asking me, but if they they were, I'd thumbs up a 530 class, too. Also, the part of me that's still 25 and living like I lived at 25 is screaming at me for having typed that.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

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