August Member of the Month: Nick Houlahan

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Why Nick:

Nick is always supportive and humble. Consistency-Humility-Community. He’s a great example for the rest of us!

Day Job:

Nick works for EBSCO Information Services, which serves the library markets with databases of aggregated and proprietary content, search services, and collection development tools. My job is Team Leader in the Taxonomy division of the Content Management department. I coordinate projects and daily work for 10 taxonomists who maintain the controlled vocabularies that make searching for content more successful. Controlled vocabularies cut down on the information overload and get you right to the things you’re looking for. I sort of fell into this after leaving a PhD in Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin, not classic works such as Dickens!) at U. Chicago . . . that’s a whole other story!

 

Hobbies & Other Activities:
When I have time, I love getting out and hiking, kayaking, reading, and spending time with my wife, Jenny, and daughter, Sophie. I’m also enrolled in a Master’s of Library and Information Science at Simmons College and take classical guitar lessons. Although, I recently found an old 8 bit Nintendo system I had as a kid. So I’m sure I’ll be spending more time catching up!

 

Proudest Life Achievement:
This might sound odd, but my proudest achievement is sort of a lack of achievement. It’s leaving graduate school and coming to the East coast to work and set down roots. I had been wrapped up in the idea that a PhD was the pinnacle achievement of my life, so much so that I was blind to the fact I was miserable doing humanities research. Don’t get me wrong — I love reading interesting analyses on literature, etc. But it was a clarifying moment when I felt comfortable and right leaving my PhD to pursue something a little more grounded. It’s funny — Jenny says I want to be a permanent student, but aren’t we all students of life!!?

 

Previous Fitness:
Before CrossFit, I ran/biked and did some Beach Body workouts, P90X in particular. But that got old really quickly and the support I get at CFFP now was entirely lacking.

 

Why CFFP:
My wife Jenny turned me on to CFFP, and I’m so glad she did. I was reluctant because I thought it was a lot of money compared to the cost of other memberships. But once I started, I realized you get what you pay for, and so much more! The community environment at CFFP rocks and keeps me wanting to come every week. It’s one of the high points of my day, and the fact that I can meet up with other people who feel the same way and strive to overcome the same challenges I do makes me wanting more.
The coaching is also fantastic at CFFP. Just when I think I have something down, there’s Danny, Geoff, Rich, Wendy, Clark, or another trainer to point out some area for improvement. And when I take that in and implement it, it’s amazing how spot on they were! It’s almost like when I’m visualizing the movement, they’re catching my blind spots.

 

First Memorable WOD:
The first work out I remember feeling utterly gassed at was Fran. Not only that, but I remember thinking how big the gap was between the people who could complete the workout by being consistent and me. I’ve closed the distance, but not much!

 

Favorite CrossFit Movement:
I love practicing things like the squat snatch or the squat clean because it really brings together strength, balance, and centeredness all on one movement. When these movements click and I can do 5 touch-and-goes in a row, it’s the best feeling in the world. I feel strong, centered, and in control all at once.

 

What Motivates Him:
What motivates me is the idea that I can do better in each movement or workout than I did before. Whether it’s the warm-up or the endurance activities, there’s always the challenge of perfecting form or mentally pushing through the challenges. Every workout is an opportunity to discover more about your abilities and improve. I’ve been at CFFP for over two and a half years and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can achieve. It’s a great feeling know there is so much to do and so many ways to get better at doing it.

Biggest Goal:

My biggest goal at the moment is to get a muscle-up. I can do a ring dip and a chest-to-bar. But it’s that in-between bit that’s got me puzzled. I was bummed to miss the session on the muscle-up! But I know I’ll get it if I keep on doing what I’m doing.

 

Biggest Challenge:
My biggest challenge is to improve my endurance capacity. A lot of this is mental, but there are moments where I have to physically take breaks when I wish I could power through. Overall I think my biggest challenge, and area for improvement, is increasing my endurance. It’s really hard to keep your form when you do endurance workouts!!

 

Biggest Improvement:
I’m really proud that I can do a snatch. When I first started, this movement was so foreign. The squatting, the powering through the heals, and the flinging of a bar over your head just at the point you can duck under it to balance all this weight over your head! It’s kind of amazing to break down all the finer points of technique and realize they are part of this one fluid motion. I’m just glad that I can do one and it feels connected, let alone 5-10 as part of a WOD that has 5 rounds!

 

Advice for New Members:
When you start working out at CFFP, it’s hard to know how to pace yourself. My advice is that you’re always capable of more than you think you are. The only way to get better is to keep pushing those boundaries and comfort levels (within safety), and then you’ll feel and know the improvement.

Who is Your Superhero?

This is a hard question. My hero isn’t just one person. It’s all of the good parts I see in all of the people I know and meet lumped up as one thing. I meet people who overcome so many challenges and do so much good, both to themselves and others, that I can’t pick one person. But I think if I take all of these positive factors, piece them together or consider them separately, it certainly makes something to strive for.

Fun Fact:
I’ve got an identical twin — we got married a month apart and had a kid a month apart. It’s a bit weird, like I can live vicariously through him and the path he’s chosen, but it’s really cool at the same time.
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