Athlete of the MonthJune

Nick Fish

Career: Engineer

Years at FireTower Athletics: 1

How hard is it to free up an hour a day? Turns out not very. I’m getting more done with work, family and playing outside than I did before starting CrossFit.

I was born in Austin, TX, grew up in Wyoming, and moved to Bozeman after high school for the mountains and the skiing. I relocated to Helena a few years ago for a girl and married her soon after.  My wife and I have two kids together: a two-year old boy and a four-month-old girl. I work as a professional land surveyor for Stahly Engineering.  I also make time to volunteer with the Exchange Club of Helena. These days most of my time is split between family and work, but I still make time for skiing, mountain biking, fishing, and now I also make time for CrossFit.

I started CrossFit in September 2019 because I needed to make some positive life changes. I was almost 40, out-of-shape, overweight, stressed out and negative full-time. I didn’t like how felt about myself, my performance and enjoyment of skiing and biking were diminishing.   I started to wonder if I would even be physically able to share those passions with my kids in the years to come. While I’d been active with outdoor recreation since I was a teenager, my background was more band nerd than athletics… so I really didn’t know how to work out effectively or safely.  The little effort I was putting into making change wasn’t working. After watching all the gains my buddy Dave had realized working out at FireTower, I followed him over to meet Jay and signed up for an OnRamp class. It was super intimidating showing up to the first class and seeing people walking on their hands, busting out countless pullups and throwing weights around.  During OnRamp with Judy I learned about how CrossFit was scalable to me and my abilities and, even though I was far from fit and had no idea what I was doing, it would work for me too. After the first class I was as optimistic as I was sore. That soreness made me feel alive, it motivated me, and I started to set goals toward getting better and not just dreaming about it. I was hooked on CrossFit from day one.

For me, the workouts have been as effective as they are efficient. I just had to pick a class that worked for my day, change clothes, walk next door, and do the work. I like the new 24-7 access as it provides even more flexibility for me to get a workout in when I have the time.  I’ve enjoyed learning the movements and the stretches and liked that I could feel, see, and measure the results.  Whether it was progressing in reps, weight, or stepping up to a new movement, there were little goals everywhere and I could see how putting in the work was worth it. I was happier and had a better attitude.  I got back to skiing first chair to last again, am pacing myself better on bike rides and get virtually no arm pump on the downhills when mountain biking. I was proud to start keeping up with my friends again and even set the pace sometimes. The barbell was new to me and I’ve found that I really enjoy weightlifting, especially the technical Olympic lifts. Learning the snatch and clean reminds me of learning to swing a golf club, cast a fly rod, and link telemark turns. They’re all technically challenging pursuits that take years to learn but most will never master.

I honestly didn’t expect CrossFit to actually work for me and definitely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have.   I think the reason that it really works is the people. Everyone has a positive no-BS attitude and they’re all there to work hard toward being better – not to judge. During the recent COVID shutdowns, I think FireTower stepped up and showed commitment to its member’s fitness by loaning out their equipment and keeping the programming coming. While it was great to stay active and keep some of the momentum going at home, I never experienced anything close to the same intensity at home that I do in the gym. I had all the equipment, but without the support and encouragement of coaches and classmates it just wasn’t the same. It’s the people that make the difference.

A typical day for me starts with the alarm going off at 5am. I’m up to make the coffee, walk the dog, and from there it can be a juggling act of helping with the kids and getting to work. I work out with the afternoon classes a couple times a week while still trying to go biking or skiing as well. I like the afternoon classes because I feel good about getting my work done and then getting to work out before going home to be with the fam. The workouts are a good opportunity to clear my mind from the day and by the time I get home I feel more present with my family. CrossFit has helped define a new life balance in ways that I wasn’t expecting. In prioritizing getting the workouts in, I started to cut out the junk that wasted my time and energy.  I am now more focused on what I really need to get done every day. How hard is it to free up an hour a day to work out? Turns out not very difficult at all and I’m getting more done with work, family and playing outside than I did before starting CrossFit. On the weekends I like to catch up on quality time with the family by getting them outside or traveling if we can.

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