This page is dedicated to athletes of all disciplines. Athletes who deserve exposure and recognition for their dedication, drive, commitment and hunger to be their best. The athletes I shoot and feature in this space may not, in some instances, be a household name; yet they just might be in the near future…
FEATURE ATHLETE (24 Aug 13): Lily Cosgrove
Here’s a post for the ladies out there who are curious about the protocols around training during and post pregnancy, and an insight into the life of a true athlete, genetically gifted glam-azon, proud wife and doting mum… Lily Cosgrove.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m 29 years old. I come from hippy routes, having grown up a flower child in the Northen NSW town of Nimbin. It was a wonderful place to be a kid. When I was a 12 my mum and I moved to Cooroy in the Noosa hinterland where I went to high school. I moved to Brisbane to study law at UQ when I was 17. I met my now hubby Phil when I was 18, living in Paddington and working at the Paddo tavern (yep, sported a cowboy hat). I practiced law for one year before I traded it all in to live the dream as a CrossFit Trainer. We had our son Max in September last year and now we are juggling our own gym and family life.
You have achieved quite a bit (as has your husband) in the world of CrossFit… Tell us about your CrossFit journey…
Phil introduced me to CrossFit in 2009. He found it on the internet and was geeking out on the CrossFit journal, reading articles and watching videos for almost a year before he tried it. We both became hooked pretty quickly. I started my coaching career at CrossFit Brisbane where I was taught by the best. This lead me to make some connections with CrossFit HQ and now I am very privileged to work as Seminar Trainer and a sometimes media person for HQ. Phil started CrossFit Mitchelton at the start of 2012 and he has let me come along for the ride. He and our friend Jimmy along with many other awesome friends along the way have put so much time and thought into CrossFit Mitchelton. It is a really amazing place.
It just makes sense. Greg Glassman, CrossFit’s founder, has brought a clinical approach to training. He has defined fitness, what are we actually trying to achieve in a GPP (general physical preparedness) program. He has consulted the best minds in specialist fields to put together a program that will help regular people achieve world-class fitness. Putting the stopwatch on people allows us to measure our power output, our intensity. Working out with and competing against our friends pushes us to a place we wouldn’t otherwise go. There will always be something we’re good at and something we equally suck at. This allows us to know our weaknesses and target them to make ourselves better. CrossFit will turn your soccer mum, your retired footy player, your tradie, your accountant, into athletes. It encourages change; people actually become better at life. They become more confident, they make friends easier; they don’t sweat the small stuff quite as much. It’s hard to explain, but it is truly amazing. Yes, it’s also considered a bit of a cult, ha ha. I drank the Kool-Aid a really long time ago.
You recently (10mths ago) had a bub, Max. And, have better abs than most male athletes I know. Can you give the ladies out there a few of your secrets or experiences that have led you to the health (and condition) you are in post baby?
Aww, thanks Trav! It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. I did train throughout my pregnancy, though the movements were a little different and the intensity was much lower towards the end. Staying fit throughout the pregnancy definitely helped me during the birth and afterwards. I took my time initially, for the first 6 weeks postpartum I really only walked for exercise and did some core-strengthening drills each day. Once I felt I was regaining midline stability (or core control) I began to slowly lift weights again. I stayed away from explosive and plyometric movements until about 20 weeks postpartum. It took me till about 5-6 months postpartum to be approaching the same weights and workout times as I had recorded pre-baby. Now 10 months on I can safely say I am fitter than before. Having a baby makes you tougher too, we call it the mummy power.
What is your take/philosophy on nutrition?
I whole-heartedly endorse CrossFit’s prescription which is to eat meat, vegetables, nut and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar and to keep intake to levels that support exercise, but not body fat. What does this mean to me? I try to eat real food and avoid processed foods. I’ve played around with measuring my intake to find a balance that works for me to support my busy life and hard training.
Are you training for anything at present?
Training hard makes me happy, but it’s definitely easier to drag myself to the gym each day if I have a goal in mind. I have signed up for a few local CrossFit comps coming up this year. I’m also competing with the Again Faster team at the Immortals event in November. I competed at the Regionals in 2010 and 2011, I would love to do that again! The competition is much fiercer now though so I have my work cut out for me if I want to do that again.
If you could give any piece/s of advice to those wanting to create a better version of themselves, what would it be?
Find something that isn’t focused on the aesthetic. For me, CrossFit created goals like, “I want 10 strict pull-ups in a row”, “I want a 120kg deadlift”, “I want a sub-4 Fran time”. These goals drive me everyday. As a happy side-effect I’m happier in my skin than I have ever been. Find people who push you to be better because they want you to succeed and you want them to succeed. This makes a happy place to go everyday.
FEATURE ATHLETE (05 May 13): Zack Williams
Zack is an impressive guy, both as a person and an athlete. He is as humble as he is lethal, and practices what he preaches every second of every day. Zack is about to embark on his second journey to the CrossFit Games Regionals after destroying the field in the Opens, placing 23rd in the region. Zack is my feature athlete because of his unique story and defiant quest to make the World CrossFit Games. So, without further ado, I hereby introduce you to the man of the moment; Zack Williams…
Tell us a little about yourself…
Just turned 30 this year. Born and raised in Moranbah, a small mining town west of Mackay. For the last 8 years I have owned and operated my own electrical contracting company along side a personal training business. One year ago I started my own Paleo Food company with a friend and just this year had the opportunity to start a venture with a great mate of mine and open our own gym – Gym Cartel.
My hobbies and passions would be the businesses I’m involved in. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing people and could honestly say I’ve barely “worked” a day in the last 3 years.
Where do you train?
With work I’m bounced around bit. I have some great coaches/friends in Craig Weggert – an amazing olympic lifting coach and Ben Fuller – my Crossfit strategy man. I venture out to catch up and train with them in their gyms quite often. But the majority of my training is done at Gym Cartel. It being our gym, its catered to everything we do and there isn’t anything we don’t have in the way of training. I’ve gone into business with Simon Colley from Pride Kettlebell and Crosstraining, whom I consider to be one of the best Personal Trainers in Brisbane. My arsenal is loaded.
What is your training/sporting history/experience?
I have played Rugby League from the age of 6yrs old but decided to stop when I was 25.
With Rugby League I played A-grade for my club, represented Central Qld and North Qld and even have a few international caps with Malta.
I have been lucky enough to train with some fantastic strength and conditioning, sprint, olympic weightlifting and old school body building coaches over the years. I think that’s why I have found my transition into Crossfit over the last 12 months to be a little easier than most.
I have always tailored my training to improve my sporting performance. I started with Rugby League wanting to be the biggest, strongest and fastest on the field. My training was calisthenic, functional and a little bit of old school strength. Hypertrophy training creeped its way in also. I find the training that I do now to be very much the same only with Olympic weightlifting and Gymnastics thrown in there – something I wish I would have been shown when I was at a much younger age.
What is your training philosophy?
Train for something – train with an objective. I’ve never understood those that do things for the sake of just doing it. If your not out to be the best that you can be.
What is your tale on nutrition for optimal health and performance?
I lived for years and years following body builders diets, mens health meal plans, high protein low carb diets, high carb low fat diets … the list is endless. With my experience I could never work out why these expert nutritional plans only worked for a small percentage of my clients, friends and family.
4 years ago I was told about Paleo. It intrigued me. Paleo made so much sense but also seemed so basic that I didn’t know how in the world it would work. I started following the guidelines and have never looked back. My head is clearer, my recovery is amazing and my energy levels are well above what they use to be. A lot of people think Paleo is just another fad weight loss diet – its far from it. Eating Paleo fuels your body with the BEST possible fuel so it runs at its absolute peak.
I have started a Paleo based food company, Mammoth Kitchen. We’ve been in operation for close to 2 years now. Developing a great reputation as being the “go to” supplier for many athletes, families and most importantly our clients at Gym Cartel – clients who want to eat Paleo but don’t have the time to research if the suppliers are actually legit. We’ve done all the ground work, found the best and we’ve put it all in one place. Mammoth have also just released our own “Pre Made Paleo Meals” of Spag Bol, Rogan Josh (plain and spicy) and Lamb Curry (two different veggie packs and two sweet potato packs). We’ve had a really positive response to all the meals.
What is your experience with CrossFit?
After a football injury forced me out of the sport, I was missing competition – that battle, struggle and foe you get when playing and without Rugby League, I was going a bit stir crazy. My brother Simon introduced me to Crossfit at Sassoms Gym. Matt Swift ran Crossfit from there at the time. We participated in a session, really enjoyed it but never thought of it as something we could compete in as regularly as what I did with League, so I swept it under the rug.
It wasn’t until years later that Crossfit really took off in Brisbane and I had guys coming to me at the gym and saying “Yeah sure you can lift that…. But whats your Fran time?” Fran?! Who the F#ck is Fran?? I was midway through a workout of my own when my mate Jackson walked in and told me he had just done Fran, told me what to do and that his time was 6 minutes. I scoffed, stopped the gym workout I was doing and proceeded to get to know Fran a little better…. I didn’t even come close to finishing – I walked outside and felt sick for 20 minutes.
The fact that I had lost and I HATE losing, drove me to look into the Crossfit scene a little more. I found out the open was on in 6 months. Once again it was Simon who said “You know Zack, I think you should do it. I think you will do well”….so I started to train for it.
What is your take on CrossFit’s training methodology?
Crossfit is definitely its own world. You either hear of people who love it or hate it. I think Crossfit has done some amazing things in introducing people to working outside their comfort zone. Everywhere you look there is a new Crossfit opening which I think is great. But like any Aus fitness industry, I believe they need to regulate the levels you need to achieve to become a coach. I know of some amazing coaches who are incredibly strict on form, periodization of training and the variety of training – all of what I consider TRUE Crossfit coaches. If every Crossfit had coaches like this, I think Crossfit would be more easily received.
What led you to compete in the CrossFit Games Opens?
A little of this I explained above. I read about the Open and thought I could easily compete and make regionals. With 5-6 months of training I placed in the top 150 and was pretty disappointed. I set out to go bigger and better this year and work on all the aspects that let me down – mainly Gymnastics and O’lifts.
The lead up to this open has been far more structured. I found a great O’lift coach in Craig Weggert who’s programming has enabled me to hit targets quickly. An amazing strength and conditioning coach in Matt Wichlinski who’s achievements speak for themselves. Everything else I learn and improve on I owe thanks to my team at Gym Cartel – Simon, Jules and Lisa.
How are you training in preparation for Regionals and are you doing anything differently this time (if so, why)?
Besides knuckling down on the O’lift training for the past few months, we have had the guys from Urban Gymnastics – Brisbane, running weekly 2 hour gymnastics classes at Cartel which have been an amazing insight into the strength aspect of Gymnastics.
What are your biggest goals in training, business and life?
In training ….. Like any competitive person, I just want to be the top of my game. If I’m not training to be the absolute best, then I don’t understand the point in doing it.
You may never reach the top of whatever game your playing in BUT, if at the end of it when your lying on your back dying and you know you could not have given anymore, then you can walk away with your head up.
In business…. To be successful doing what I love and success for me isn’t measured by how much money you make. If you can honestly say (and I mean honestly) that the product or service you deliver is the absolute best you can put out and your not just doing it to make a quick buck, then your already a success and in my eyes a genuine person.
In life…. I’d like to look back when I’m older – and much like I do now – I’d like to think that I did everything I could for those who are a big part of mine.
If you could give any piece/s of advice to those wanting to create better version of themselves, what would it be?
Number One….. Surround yourself with people who are like minded and goal orientated. Positivity is infectious. Training with someone or at a gym that is encouraging of you reaching your goals and pushing you to step outside your comfort zone is going to speak for itself in the way of results in your fitness and general being.
Number Two…. Do what works for you.
If your going to do something – DO IT! – don’t talk about it. Get it done and do it to the absolute best of your ability.
Let your actions speak louder than your words!
Thank you Zack, and best of luck at Regionals!!!
FEATURE ATHLETE (05 Apr 13): Scott Cooper
This feature athlete has been chosen as someone who is the most influential, educational and inspirational in my life for many reasons. He is my Dad. He is an athlete. Here is the interview to prove why:
What is your chosen sport / discipline, and why?
Motor racing, in particular hillclimbs, is my passion. My discipline is constructing my life and understanding enough about the universe to do exactly that.
How do you prepare mentally and physically for competition?
Life is competition. Preparing for a Hillclimb, when you are sitting on the dummy grid waiting your turn to go… You drive the course mentally. You tell yourself not to overdrive the car and what happens? The green light goes, the red mist descends, and you are driving like a madman. So much for preparation.
What is your philosophy on health and happiness?
Your health is your happiness. Without health your life will go downhill in all aspects. The human body will stand a lot of abuse but it thrives on balance. What bothers me about modern fitness regimes is that they forget we all have a reserve button and too many people ignore when they are pushing their bodies too far. I played high level competitive squash for the first 45 years of my life and paid the penalty many times for pushing through the pain barrier and ignoring the warning signs my body was trying to tell me. I now have 29 stress fractures in my right shoulder blade and no one to blame except myself. Spent my formative years in the army and learned to ignore the pain barrier in some gung ho bullshit reasoning to be superman. Learn the limitations of your body and work with it, not past those limitations.
Who are your biggest inspirations / influences and why?
If you choose a human being to be your inspiration, sooner or later that person will fuck up and destroy your beliefs. My inspiration is the simple wonder of the universe. Life is like walking down a corridoor with murals on the wall. That mural is the many possibilities of your life. Somehow you centre on some part of it that you think is correct for you and your life goes down that road. Dont forget that any time you wish to change the mural and indeed your life..change your perspective.
What are some words of advice to anyone reading this, on sport (recreational activity or professional), and competition?
There is a myth out there that someday, you will grow old and your body will cease functioning as it did when you were younger. Thats when you are supposed to give up and put your future in the hands of the medicos who will fill you full of pills. Dont fall for the bullshit of magazines, fashion trends and other human beings who are lazy by nature and do not have the discipline to mould their body into a lasting testament to health and strength. Call it arrogant but when I see someone I have known for a while who tends to abuse their body without doing the hard yards needed to get you through into the myth known as ‘old age’ without all the ailments that abuse attracts, I walk away from that person. Modern civilisation and medical practices have a lot to answer for. Man was never meant to be a computer oriented softcock who thinks the smartest person in the room wins. That is pure fiction and the mental methodology employed by people who are going to die young because they would not know the meaning of excercise and hard yards. Your younger life sets you up for your older life and simply pumping iron is not going to guarantee a long life. Steroid filled gym jockeys are only kidding themselves. For backup to that statement, look up how may heroes like Schwarrenegger etc who have had heart surgery in their late 40’s and early 50’s. CrossFit is the first to get my vote in sculpting and exercising the human body the way it was meant to be. Lean fighting muscle will serve you well and it will also instill a mental discipline that serves you for life. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight… it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Never, ever give up on anything, that is the secret to life.
My feature athlete in pictures:
*Photo courtesy of The Best Man Photography.