1. How did you hear about the Academy of Lions and why did you decide to join our community?
Very simple, living in the Ossington neighbourhood, I would always walk by Academy of Lions with the big open garage doors and it enticed me. When I found out that it was a CrossFit gym, I rolled my eyes and moved on. CrossFit had been stored in the “LOL” category of my brain after having watched every CrossFit Fail video on Youtube. I thought that every CrossFitter was breaking their back and tearing biceps left, right and centre. What I didn’t know was that, like every sport, there were good coaches/programs and bad ones. I finally gave AoL a chance and I loved it.
2. What was your athletic background prior to joining us?
I grew up playing competitive soccer for the York, Waterloo and Toronto rep. teams. I developed tendinitis on both knees at the age of 14 and was unable to continue playing. I’m pretty sure I was born with a soccer ball in my hands - plus with Chilean parents and a heavy cultural influence supporting soccer, I was crushed. After several years of physio and bicep curls, I found Muay Thai Boxing.
3. Could you tell us about your previous Muay Thai training in Thailand?
I had always had a ridiculously competitive spirit (which got me into a lot of trouble with team sports and life in general growing up) and I needed an outlet in an individual-athlete’s sport. At first I had no idea what I was doing and couldn’t even do a single-under skip, never mind trying to punch, kick, elbow and not get hit. Being competitive and super stubborn, I showed up to Muay Thai classes every day, twice a day until I landed my first amateur fight and won. A few years at the amateur level led me to move to Chiang Mai, Thailand to train and fight professionally. Training there consisted of two sessions per day at 5:30am-10:30am and 4pm-8pm. Each session (both morning and night) would start with a 5km run through the neighborhood, except on Wednesdays when we would run 6km up what seemed like a 45 degree incline in the woods and Saturdays which was a 12km run to the top of Doi Suthep mountain (20 degree incline). Back at the camp we would start skipping five 3 minute rounds and shadowboxing five 3 minute rounds. Between every single round the entire gym would drop down for ten push-ups for good measure. Then you would work one-on-one pad-work with a trainer for five 3 minute rounds (or if you had a big fight coming up, for ten rounds or until you dropped). I always stayed at the end of training to clinch (stand-up wrestling while trying to knee or elbow your opponent or throw them on the ground with a sweep) with the champion fighters. My attitude towards training was always push, push, push until I couldn’t push anymore. Staying late after training to clinch with the pros is what put me at the top of my game.
4. Do you have any 2017 goals you are looking to achieve at the Academy?
I just got a single strict ring muscle-up, 4 consecutive chest-to-bar pull-ups, a 385 lbs. deadlift, 270 lbs. back-squat and a 95 lbs. snatch. I’ve been working on my powerlifting for the last 6 years so my numbers are there but I’ll need to work on my Olympic lifts with the coaches at Academy of Lions. I’ve only been with the gym for 3 months starting from scratch and I have to say that there’s no way I could have achieved all of these goals anywhere else. For real for real. No joke. My goals now are to keep working with Richmond Lo on my gymnastics and nailing consecutive bar muscle-ups, working with Justin Santos on my overhead-squat and snatch, and to hit a 400 lbs. deadlift and a 300 lbs. back-squat. I have never focused too much on long term goals, always short, attainable goals. I have ADD and I’m very impatient. This way I get self-gratification more often. If I didn’t set these micro goals every day and every week, I would definitely move on to something else. CrossFit gives me these small-scale goals to hit every single day. So satisfying!
5. Are you interested becoming a more competitive athlete?
I’m always down to compete in any kind of sport. It’s up to the coaches to notice if I’m ready or not, not me. I don’t like asking for things. In Muay Thai gyms it’s common to find beginners asking to sign up for fights within their first month. Excitement overwhelms them and they don’t use their brains. These are the people that need to be humbled but better that it happens at the gym and not in a competition where someone is trying to knock you out. I never asked for fights, I trained hard and waited until my coaches asked me to sign up for a competition. I’m the same with CrossFit. I’m only a few months into this sport so all I can do is train hard, get my numbers up, and wait for the coaches to notice me.
6. What does your nutritional lifestyle look like?
Oh man! Nutritional lifestyle! Well, as a Thai Boxer I would always have to keep my wait around 165 lbs. so that I could easily cut down to 155 lbs (lightweight) for competitions. I would follow a ridiculous diet that was definitely super unhealthy. Once I lost 17 lbs. in a week for a competition, the last 5 lbs. was lost skipping in a sweatsuit right beside the weigh-in scale at the event. Now I’ve been gaining lbs. to support all the weight I’ll be lifting at Crossfit. I want to hit the prescribed weights for every workout so I need it. Three months ago I was 170 lbs., I am now 195 lbs. My nutritional lifestyle is eat two of everything. Two scoops of protein, two slices of pizza, a double portion of meat and vermicelli noodles at Pho Tien Thanh and an avocado milkshake, is one meal for me. Outside of these weight goals that I’ve set, I like to enjoy myself and not stress too much about what I eat. If I get to the point where I’m stressed reading a menu at a restaurant, I’ll have to talk to my therapist (haha).
7. How was your first CrossFit Open experience? Are you excited for next season?
My first open experience was very humbling. I’ve had a weak shoulder after a dislocation in a fight 6 years ago and I haven’t done any work with my shoulder strength. This year 17.3 asked for squat snatches and I didn’t give myself enough time to warm up my shoulder so I backed out of the event. I was super bummed. Later that week I went to work with Justin Santos and hit my snatches and overhead squats (after a long warm-up) without any problem. Next year I hope to hit every single open workout at the prescribed weights and the year after that I hope to make it to Regionals.
8. Could you please tell us a random fun fact about you?
When I was about 6 years old I drank my own pee because I was curious. I almost threw up and ran crying to my mom because I thought I had done something terrible that I couldn’t come back from. WEIRD KID!
9. Congrats on achieving a 1 year milestone in sobriety this past March! Could you tell us your journey of where it all started, how you overcame your addiction, and what kept you on a sober path for the last year?
I have always been a people-pleaser. I want to make everyone around me happy and I want them to remember me for it. When I don’t have a healthy outlet for it or I’m not consciously thinking about staying grounded, things can get a little crazy - for instance: running a nightclub that has nothing to offer other than a blackout night of drugs and alcohol. I had lost sight of why I was in the hospitality industry and what it really meant to be hospitable. I had lost sight of my background in fine/casual fine dining where I was constantly growing and learning about food, wine and cocktails. At the nightclub all I was doing was offering vodka sodas and bumps of cocaine. All the paperwork would be finished by 4pm and then it was my job to make sure everybody partied as hard as possible and came back to my apartment for music, drinks and more drugs after we closed the club down. It was a terrible lifestyle that really wasn’t my style. It led me to attempt suicide by force-overdosing and later having heart failure. The doctors at Western Hospital brought me back to life over several days. The in-house psychiatrist gave me a couple pamphlets on the Narcotics Anonymous program and where to find meetings and that was the start of a new life for me. I think being the super competitive person that I am keeps me clean, sober and ultimately happy. I mean, the program keeps me clean and happy, therapy keeps me clean and happy, my family keeps me clean and happy. But I set a goal to be a happy, clearheaded, mindful person and that meant going drug-free. And nothing will stop me from achieving that goal.
10. What advice would you give to a beginner athlete?
For the beginner athlete, whether you have an athletic background or not, stay calm and smile. It’s going to be frustrating. That’s for sure. Prepare for it to be ridiculously frustrating. Because if it is, you’ll be composed because you saw it coming, and if it’s easy, you’ll be flying! Nothing brings you closer to failing than anger. Stay calm and smile. Something else, people ask to come box or train with me but they always say, “I’m going to start working out at home little by little so I’m prepared.” This is where you get prepared! Not at home. You’re not going to look stupid. Everyone starts somewhere. The workouts are meant to be challenging, not impossible. You come here and you work with the coaches to achieve your goals little by little. You don’t prep to go to a gym to prep to go to a gym. Shake out those nerves and get in there now! Real talk! Also, stay calm and smile. It works.