Justin Hykel: From Couch Potato to CrossFitter

Since I stopped play competitive football forever ago (I still had respectable hairline) I hadn’t really been able to find anything that filled that void in my life. Combine that with all the shoulder injuries/ surgeries I felt pretty limited in what I could do for fun/fitness. I  had a regular gym membership but it just wasn’t cutting it for me, having the gym membership was one thing but having the desire to go was another. I had become pretty content just being a couch potato, and helping coach (yell at) the Leafs/Colts from the comfort of my own home.  About summer 2013 a co-worker suggested trying out crossfit with him to see if maybe that was something that would perk my interest, and I immediately fell in love with the sport the intensity and the competitiveness was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately I was a little too intense for my own good and managed to throw out my shoulder putting myself on the sideline yet again, and I reverted back to being the couch coach. After spending most of 2014 mostly just rehabbing my shoulder I found myself getting back into the same rut where my workouts weren’t any fun and I was barely making an effort to go to the gym. Around the same time my girlfriend (Tianna) and one of my good friends (Bobby) started at Catalyst. I was always very interested in the workouts when Tianna came home from the gym and impressed with the massive progress Bobby was making, but I had a hard time committing (she asked me for the better part of 4 months, I’m totally not stubborn..) for fear of just hurting my shoulder again. Around February 2015  the gym was having a promo where if you squatted on video you got your OnRamp for free, Tianna took this opportunity to not only catch me on video squatting but squatting in jeans. I came in for my OnRamp at the end of February and Jess was really great about focusing in on my shoulder concerns (letting me know that there was always a modification was huge for my confidence) and they’ve been stuck with me ever since.
My first day when I walked in I was pretty intimidated I won’t lie, part of it was new gym anxiety and part of it was the mental block of “here I go again with my shoulder.”  But by the end of day one Jess had me sold that we could always work around my shoulder issues (so much that I may have attempted a handstand pushup or two recently shhhh.) But for the first time in a long time I’m excited to go to the gym everyday after work and some days I’m grumpy when I can’t make it (Tianna can attest to that missing deadlift day is frowned upon in our household.) I’m definitely comfortable in saying that at Catalyst I have found a home away from home, and with their coaching I have been able to improve my overall physical but also mental health. T here is nothing better than throwing around some big weight after a stressful day at work.

Honestly I have had so many improvements over the last 6 months it’s hard to just pick one to focus on, but I know that all of my improvements can be traced back to the great family aspect at the gym. It’s like we are all one big crazy group of friends that like to pick things up and put them down, flip tires, and do burpees just to name a few. But in all seriousness the atmosphere here at Catalyst is built for success no matter what your restrictions may be, Catalyst is truly a gym where everyone can feel welcome.

Short term I’m hoping to PR again this week on my deadlifts 😀 and continue to build of my progress there. Long term….I signed up for the Catalyst games so I want to just keep working to be in the best shape I can be leading up to them.