BEN COHEN-Employee Benefits Consultant from New Hampshire
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I grew up in New Hampshire, moved to Boston after college and came to Baltimore over two years ago. For work I am a Healthcare/Employee Benefits Consultant. In plain English that means I work for large companies negotiating on their behalf with the insurance companies to keep costs down (think sports agent just for insurance).
Besides CrossFit my main hobbies are golf and skiing.
What has changed since starting CrossFit?
Back in 2009, I let myself get out of shape and herniated some discs in my lower back playing soccer. Eventually it got better but early this year I re-injured my back even worse. This caused my right foot to go numb on a regular basis. It got so bad that I couldn’t walk for more than a minute or two without having to stop and sit down. There were even times when I had to leave work because the pain was so severe that I couldn’t even sit in my chair.
I got spinal injections and then went to physical therapy to help with the numbness and pain. It helped for a month or two at a time but wasn’t really getting the job done. One day I went into physical therapy and they told me this would be my last visit and they couldn’t do anything else for me.
I thought ok…I guess I am just going to have to figure this out on my own (instead of the cycle of injections and then more therapy). I continued my rehab on my own at a regular gym but wasn’t really seeing any additional results.
I had been driving past CFH for a while and I had a general idea about CrossFit from the CrossFit Games. Initially I was drawn to the extreme level of fitness Crossfit can lead to. During physical therapy I learned that improvements in my flexibility and core strength could help resolve my back issues. After some additional research I found that CrossFit really focuses on improving both of those. My friends and family, not having any experience in CrossFit, thought I was crazy for joining as I was having trouble even walking. I thought what do I have to lose at this point and that I am either going to fix my back or not.
Fast forward seven months to today and now I barely have any back pain, I am in the best shape of my life and I am starting to do most workouts RX.
What do you enjoy about CrossFit Federal Hill?
Going to the gym used to be a chore that I did out of guilt/knowing it was the right thing to do. Now I can’t get to the gym fast enough. Being able to compete and push my body past any point that I thought was possible before multiple days a week is amazing.
I am a competitive person, but haven’t had a real outlet for years. With CrossFit I get to compete multiple times a week. Also getting beat on a regular basis has pushed my fitness to much higher levels than I ever expected.
Inside the gym is the one place where every single person is ultra-friendly and goes out of their way to help each other out. This really starts with the coaches who set this amazing tone. I wish the outside world was like inside CFH.
How has CrossFit effected your life outside the gym?
My job is very fast passed and high pressure (who’s isn’t these days though?) CrossFit really has decreased my stress level and increased my confidence at work. I am no longer limited by my past back injury.
Squats. Ironically even with my prior back issues they seem to come naturally.
Least favorite movement?
Toes to Bar. Always seem to end up last when they come up in a WOD.
Any advice for people who are just getting started at CFH?
Check the WOD the night before and any movements that you haven’t done yet search on YouTube “CrossFit how to Insert movement”. This way when the coaches are going through the movements in class it is your second time seeing them and you can concentrate on learning proper form.