- Due to the plowing on Degraw Street, our bike rack is currently buried under a mountain of snow. We can't offer bike storage inside the gym because it has the potential to create a fire hazard, so please make alternate plans until the snow melts and/or we're able to dig it out. Sorry for the inconvenience!
January Athlete of the Month: Asha Banker
By Chris Fox
You may know her as the gal who spends time on the mat before and after class, stretching and prepping or cooling down. Or as the gal getting after it when the WOD gets tough, throwing down hard while still encouraging her classmates. Or maybe just as the gal with the perennial smile on her face. Asha has been training regularly at CFSBK for a few years now but has really progressed in leaps and bounds lately. Let’s spend some time learning a bit more about her.
Fox: Hey Asha, congrats on being our next featured AOM! When and how did you first start CrossFit?
Asha: Thanks! I’m surprised and excited! In 2011, a co-worker first told me about CrossFit. Although he was really into it, I was hesitant, having heard stories of injuries and such. In July 2012, my mom broke her ankle in a bicycle accident in the Boston suburbs, where I grew up. I went home to help take care of her and it turned out that her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rockett, (who also happens to be part of the CrossFit Games Medical Team) did CrossFit! I was sold and signed up for Foundations at CFSBK before even returning to Brooklyn. I realized later how fortunate I was that CFSBK happened to be the box closest to me. I did Foundations and have been hooked since! Because I like to stick to our programming, when I travel, I try to change things up, getting in running, yoga and AR. I did go to CrossFit Original Addicts in Paris last March so I could do 15.5, and over Christmas, tried out classes a couple classes at boxes near my parents. I may convince them to start training!
Fox: What a great story. We’re fortunate that you found us, too! What was your first impression of CFSBK, and what made you stay?
Fox: Those are all such great compliments to the SBK staff and community alike! I’m glad we’re filling those roles for members. You were sort of coming in and flying under the radar for a while, but at some point you really kicked it up a notch. Was there something that changed?
Asha: I did 3x/week until the summer of 2014 when I took Coach Frank’s Next Level Olympic Weightlifting Cycle and added on the 2x/week CF option. The combination upped me to 4x/week, which was a good transition. After Frank’s class, I felt ready to become a 5-time-a-weeker. In 2014, I also started putting in additional time for skill work. Getting my first strict chin-ups that summer became a gateway to work on more bodyweight movements.
Fox: That’s great! I love to see people get their “firsts” in the gym. Can you tell us a bit about your life outside of the gym? Family and hobbies?
Asha: My family is Indian. My mom grew up in Mumbai and my father in Sri Lanka; they moved to the US right after they got married. I was born in Chicago, but we moved to the Boston area when I was two and a half. The year after we moved was the Blizzard of ‘78 - I remember seeing snow higher than me! Fun fact: CFSBK photog extraordinaire Thomas Hinton was in my fifth grade class. I also have an older sister who lives in Manhattan. Our parents always encouraged us to be active. We started skiing when I was three and my sister was six. My parents and sister were good role models for being active and healthy. I love cooking (and eating) good food and am fortunate to have friend groups in New York from different chapters in my life. I’m in a book club, and last summer, I took an improv class just for fun. And I am doing a ski trip to Italy in March, right around the Open.
Fox: Tell us about your work life. What do you do?
Asha: I studied economics in college and was always interested in social and economic development. I have been working in education since 2009, but my path there was not typical. After college, I worked in finance in New York and then London. It was tempting to stay but I wanted to channel my analytical and people skills to help build organizations. So after business school, I worked first as a product manager in open source software, and in 2005, volunteered in Gujarat in India, working with a women artisan non-profit. Being able to apply my different expertise towards truly tangible work was exhilarating. I moved to India for three years, transitioning to the education sector while there. I then came to Brooklyn to develop the K-12 school turnaround practice for Wireless Generation/Amplify. After subsequently working for Newark Public Schools, I started an organization last year, Verdant Learning. Having seen top-down approaches to school improvement fail, I wanted to support schools hungry for grassroots change. Verdant helps middle schools (as CFSBK parents know, they are in particularly high need in New York), make parent engagement a core driver of school improvement. We help schools link parent engagement to learning outcomes, make communication easier and more meaningful, and build capacity within their community. Quick plug to our highly talented CFSBK peeps: I am looking for a visual designer to help with my website and some marketing docs, and am always looking to brainstorm with interested educators and philanthropic investor folks.
Fox: Sounds like you’re doing worthwhile work. Can you tell us one odd thing about you?
Asha: Hah! Ask me in person about all the cities and apartments I’ve lived in. Until finding my apartment in Brooklyn five years ago, I had moved a lot!
Fox: Alright, last question. What should we look for in a future AOM?
Asha: Humility, perseverance, and someone who is quietly progressing while genuinely cheering for the success of others. Also, they should have a sense of humor. We’re in this for the long haul!
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