John Michel

Strong Fitness - Athletes of the Month

John Michel


How long have you been at Strong? 

  • CrossFit since August 29 th , 2018 – 8 months (1 Open). Been training in some
    capacity for 20+ years.

What is your occupation? 

  • I manage Capital Markets for a transportation company. Fancy way of saying I
    tell stories, mostly to investors, using numbers. Basically I get paid to read and

Where are you from? 

  • Grew up in New Braunsfels (outside of San Antonio) went to high school here in
    Dallas (JJ Pearce), then school at the Harvard of West Texas (Texas Tech).

How did you hear about Strong? 

  • I am a research guy so I looked at all the box’s within a 10 mile radius of my
    house and gym. Built a pro/cons, ranking model and reached out to them to
    schedule visits. First response was a phone call from a guy named Gale. He was
    just so dang excited that I had filled out the form and was stopping by. I never
    visited anywhere else.

How have you seen yourself change – mentally or physically – since being a part of Strong?

  • Sept 2018 – 21%; Feb 2019 – 13.9%. those are my DEXA body fat % numbers.
    Between Sept and Feb (during the holidays no less). I lost 16 pounds of fat and
    gained 5 pounds of muscle. Prior to CrossFit – I meditate, I manage stress well, I
    track my sleep, I get out in the sun, don’t work too hard etc. but CrossFit
    provided the shift in my eating that I never had. Before it was eating “to look
    good” – with CrossFit I started eating for performance and to fuel my body. It
    went from “I can’t (or shouldn’t) eat XZY” to I need to eat meat and vegetables,
    nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar to FUEL my training. The
    aesthetic results were a byproduct not the goal.

What is your favorite move?

  • Strict HSPUs, Snatches, Burpees (the mental side of burpees, not the standing up

What is your least favorite move?

  • 200m runs (says the guy who did the last dri-tri)

What has been your favorite WOD so far?

  • “El Jefe, Part B” - Gale’s birthday WOD on New Years Eve. Day after I woke up
    stiff and decided to roll out my back. Grabbed my triggerpoint and lacrosse ball
    and flipped on the college bowl coverage and laid on the floor. And couldn’t get
    up. Like no way. I rolled left, then rolled right, then out of breath and in pain just
    laid there contemplating the world of hurt I would be in when the dogs got up
    and pounced on me. 10 minutes of accepting my fate of living on the floor.
    Finally was able to roll my legs over my head and use the fireplace to wiggle into
    a crouch. Iced my back the rest of the day and finally felt better the next day.Which was good since then my legs wouldn’t function form the DOMS(see you
    all on 12/31 again!).

What has been your least favorite WOD ?

  • Thursday’s WODs. Thursday is my rest day and I get WOD FOMO bad around 7
    o’clock on Wednesday knowing I cant check the WOD since I need to give my
    body a rest. Also 19.2 – I had not learned how to do double unders yet – it
    showed. In typical CrossFit Strong fashion though, my judge spent a couple of
    minutes after showing me how to do double unders and gave me a couple of
    drills and pointers that took me from 2 or 3 in a row to 10 in a row with just
    some form modifications.

What are some of your goals that you have for yourself in the next year?

  • Pass Athlete level 2. Biggest things I need to work on a sub 6:30 min mile..

How do you see CrossFit as different from other programs? 

  • Longevity and balance – Longevity - CF teaches people proper body movement
    and is Infinitely scalable – meaning that there is always a progression up and
    down. Balance – the programming insures you cannot hide or avoid your
    weaknesses. There’s a saying “I cant” usually means “so I probably should.” It’s a
    good thought pattern. I cannot go a day without wine or coffee – well you
    probably should go without for a bit. Or I cannot run a mile or squat down to the
    ground – well you should probably work on that.

Did you think a sport of elite fitness would ever be for you?

  • No. I get the marketing to special forces/military then the games. Elon Musk did
    similar with Tesla – make it cool and exclusive, build a base then open to the
    masses. But it kept me out of it. I looked at the sport of CrossFit and not the
    training methodology. Anyways – found it now and that’s what matters.

How can other people relate to your story?

  • a. I was an athlete growing up – everything from soccer to gymnastics, baseball to
    triathlons, then golf and football in high school, got my bench up to 305 in
    college. Graduated and put everything in my career. Finance rewards hard work
    and lots of hours. No balance at all. Went to the gym or worked out at the
    house. But I wasn’t intentional about it – I was going through motions. Finally
    realized I wasn’t a gym rat. I was an athlete. And I needed to train like one.
    i. Coaching – if you want to learn to play the violin – you hire a teacher.
    Anything that matters in life – get a coach or a mentor. Coaching is one of
    the most important things in any endeavor.
    ii. Discipline – for me discipline creates freedom and leads to a more fuller
    iii. Competition/comraderie – I missed that environment that I
    always had growing up and you need to put yourself in those positions
    where you are forced to get uncomfortable. Life begins at the end of your
    comfort zone.

    iv. Learning/improving – there is so much in CrossFit that can take
    years to master – Olympic lifts, muscle ups, pistols, etc. I have spent the
    last several months in a gymnastics program learning to walk on my
    hands. It is so much fun! Think of all the things that CrossFit lets you do
    that you haven’t since you were a kid. Peg boards, walking on your hands,
    playing on rings and bars, running around with awkward objects over
    your head – not just another set of 5x10. I am looking forward to the
    lifelong pursuit.

    b. And recently there was supposed to be a massive hail storm. It was Wednesday
    and I had to travel the rest of the week. No way I was going to miss my workout,
    it was rope climbs and I wanted the practice. So I took an Uber - The addiction is
    real. Ask me if it actually hailed or not…


What is the dumbest thing you have heard at CFS?

  • Nothing comes to mind. But coolest. Went to a 9:00 class where a mother put
    her baby down and did sets of power cleans, then picked her back up while the
    rest of the class did some rows or something and then she put here baby down
    and went back to power cleans. I thought that was awesome.

What is the funniest thing you have seen done at CFS?

  • Recently there was partner WOD where one person did a 400m run while the
    other did a 1 min front rack hold. So you had 30 seconds of rest while the other
    partner finished the run. Matt and Quan (spelling?) had a dance off mid WOD.
    And would pick it up each round. I am not qualified to say who won but they
    gave Zoolander a run for the money.

What is your most memorable moment here?

  • 19.1 – Matt pushing me harder than I have ever been pushed in over a decade.
    My first open – no clue about strategy and how different the WODs can be from
    a normal day, add in the Friday night light environment, and when the clock
    starts and I am rowing like 1900/cal a hour pace – completely unsustainable.
    Round 4 and I have tunnel vision and pretty sure I saw John Wayne beckoning
    me from the great beyond and Matt and Nathan are yelling at me to push harder
    like I am giving birth or something. And I am completely gassed just praying that
    John Wayne will take me now since I cannot make it to the end. I left it all out
    there. it was completely awesome experience. The picture of me on the floor – I
    had it framed.