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Spotlight Athlete of the Month | DIRK GROTENHUIS

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Meet Dirk. He’s been training with us since October of 2019. Which means just a few short months into his CrossFit journey, like many of us, he had to overcome months of shutdowns and time away from CFE from knocking him off track. Then, just when things seemed to get back to normal, he was faced with the inevitable need for a hip replacement. But through consistent and routine hard work neither of those speed bumps derailed Dirk’s fitness. Now 65lbs down, his fitness is bigger and better than ever. 

With a quick wit and sense of humor that fits well in the CFE community, Dirk is an awesome addition to any class. He trusts the process and works the progressions which over time has led to some pretty impressive accomplishments. Then, just when you think you’ve got him pinned down, he’ll flip upside down and surprise you with a flawless handstand walk out of nowhere and say “I’ve never tried that before”…  

Read on to hear more about Dirk in his own words. 

What do you do outside of CrossFit?
I am a civil engineer and lead planning and design teams for development and infrastructure projects worldwide. Some local projects include the Encore Resort Casino in Boston, Off-Shore Wind Assembly facility in Salem MA, Mystic River Bike/Ped bridge (not yet built).

I like to ski, snowshoe, play ping pong, woodwork, maple syruping, and farm steading. My wife Pamela and 2 boys Thor (22) and Lars (18) have raised many livestock over the years. Chickens (meat+eggs), Turkeys (meat+ 2 pets Brownie and Sunday), Sheep (wool), Scottish Highland cattle (meat + pets). We currently only have bees for honey now and have enjoyed the reduction of chores in the past year or so. We are also restoring our 1794 farmhouse, carriage house, and barn (was a hobby, now a chore).

What did you do for fitness before CFE?
I was a high school and college athlete but that was a long time ago and previous to CFE I did intermittent fitness. Mostly sport fitness – playing something or jogging while my sons had a practice. I had gym memberships that I would stay committed to for a couple of months, then drop out. I did some bicycle races and sprint triathlons with limited pre-training.

What made you chose CFE?
The short version is my wife was going to the yoga place next door and wanted me to go for something to do together and also get into better shape. I resisted because I need more intensity to keep me interested. She arraigned and signed us both up for at CFE. So really, she chose it and I showed up for a “together thing”. We both went through fundamentals and a couple of months together. Life schedules started eroding our gym time and her pull was more towards mental meditation and she swapped back to yoga. I still am actively recruiting her to come back. She says I am too far advanced for her now and would not feel comfortable………. I keep saying CFE is not that kind of place. Someday soon I hope we can WOD together.  

Advice to someone who is hesitant to try CrossFit?
Do this for yourself! Show up for yourself! Set your own goals to achieve. Use your intimidation of the exercises as motivation to do them better. Challenge yourself to push just a little harder each time and understand that if you are consistent in attending classes, you will see results and feel more positive.

Use scale options to build muscle memory and strength to do more advance skills. Do not compare yourself to others – you are there to better yourself. If competition feeds you look to beat your last time/rep or have fun with someone else.

Proudest achievement?
It’s so much more than the 65lbs I lost in the first year after join. Crossfit, coupled with a nutrition plan, put me on a path to becoming more fit and heathier than I have been in the past 30 years. I have a lifelong battle of being/feeling overweight that stems from past criticism, mocking, and humiliation. My goals when joining were not as lofty loosing that much weight, they were smaller but over time and being consistent, the change made me feel so much better about myself and restores my confidence in myself – body and mind.

Greatest challenge?
The interruption of my fitness journey.

Due to the aging process, I needed a full hip replacement about a year after joining crossfit. With all of the unknowns and rehabilitation that come with surgeries, particularly knowing they will saw my leg bone in half, I was really feeling that it might end my fitness and go back to my fatness. The surgery went fine and was quickly back on my feet but not nearly pre-surgery level. I am very routine oriented and my fear was the gap for being away from the gym would be filled with something else making it that much harder to continue getting more fit. I decided to do my prescribed PT exercises in the backroom of the gym while class was going. That made me still feel part of the community and slowly I came back into doing workouts with scaled options.

Goals moving forward in life, at the gym?
Recognizing when you achieve something without there being a goal first. I couldn’t do a push up from the floor in a workout when I got to CFE. I did push ups off a box for months before getting one from the floor and then in a workout. After year 2 I did a rope climb, that was not ever a goal but after I did it, wow that was cool. (7-10 pulls to get there but I did it). I went through so many colors of bands before getting 1 strict pull up. Hand walks never did them before, double unders now a couple, muscle ups not yet.

My goal is to just make it through the next workout.

If you could design a workout what would it be?
10 rounds for time (maybe 5?):
10 cal bike
10 box jump overs
10 toes to bar
10 power cleans
10 bar facing burbees

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich – 42.2g total carbs, 39.3g net carbs, 14.2g fat, 10.3g protein, and 327 calories.

Favorite quote?
10 “attaboy”s get wiped out by 1 “oh-shit”  – former boss

Favorite Movie?
A Charlie Brown Christmas

You’re stuck in a Karaoke Bar and can’t leave till you sing a song, what song is it?
Eyes without a Face – Billy Idol

What’s a fun fact about you that we should know about you?
I restored a 1974 Triumph TR6, I jumped off Corbett’s Coulier, I raced on the Nuremberg ring, I bungee jumped from the top of Squaw Valley, I spent 2 weeks in the Boundary waters canoe area in Minnesota, I bought my first house in Idaho, I am a 3x All State linebacker, I drove a Levi’s edition AMC Gremlin in high school.