CFLA Athlete Profile – Bryan Muehlberger
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Occupation: CIO & Head of Information Technology at Red Bull North America
When did you first start CrossFitting?: February 2013
When did you first start training at CFLA?: February 2013
Favorite WOD: Cindy – given that my wife’s name is Cindy 😉
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with dumbbell thrusters
Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I was a small skinny kid most of my life and wasn’t very good at sports. In grade school I played soccer, mostly sitting on the bench. In high school I tried out for soccer, baseball and track & field. I sucked at soccer and baseball, but I made the track & field team – though everyone that signed up made the team. I was supposed to be a pole vaulter, but had no upper body strength, so I wasn’t very good. My coach made me run the 400m thinking it would make me faster and better at pole vaulting. During my first track meet running the 400m, I sprinted the first 200m and about died…so I walked the rest of the way around the track, my coached yelled the entire time at me. In my 20’s I started traditional weightlifting. I eventually had a max bench press of 315 and a max squat of 405. I weighed 205 at my peak, but was around 22% BF. After getting married and having kids, I stopped lifting as often due to Life getting in the way. I ended up getting a little complacent . I stayed somewhat strong, but I was definitely not fit.
At the ripe young age of 36 I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Team Vaghi in St. Louis (run by Rodrigo Vaghi – a 5th degree black belt under the legendary Rickson Gracie). This was a changing point in my life. The first time I did it, I fell in love with the sport…and also realized how out of shape I was. I got better and better at BJJ, and started competing. My highlight was in August of 2012 at the age of 40 when I competed at the IBJJF Open in Atlanta and won Gold in in the white belt division and my weight (170) and age group (31-40). I had to fight 5 guys in 5 minute competitions. It was awesome.
I eventually tested and received my Blue Belt on January 5th 2012, and it was basically an in-school hazing event. We had to be physically tested for 3 hours. By the time we were done, I was almost in tears. I was in such pain and physically depleted. They then brought in all of the higher belts, and I had to defend yourself the entire time. Their objective was to make me miserable, but they were also doing it in a way that was very respectful – it’s hard to describe. They wanted to make you hurt, but they also were excited that you were going to the next level. After all of this torture, we received our blue belts. The ceremony was kind of a blur and I remember barely being able to drive home that day. It was kind of a euphoria that I never experienced before. I’m sure elite athletes experience this too.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel?Upon arriving to LA in January 2013, I started researching gyms for both CrossFit and BJJ. I found CrossFit LA in February after first trying SandBox in Santa Monica. Not to rip on another school – as it was only 1 class, but the coaching at SandBox was non-existent. However, when I arrived at CrossFit LA to try my first class, Shirley was my coach. I remember thinking “Wow, this coach knows her shit!” I was immediately hooked! It was challenging, physically enduring, and one of the best workouts I had ever received. I don’t even recall my first couple of CF workouts. They were all a blur.
However, as luck would have it, I let my ego get in the way and after doing some overhead squats (with non-existent flexibility needed for the movement) I tore my meniscus in my right knee – again. This time, I decided to avoid surgery and just take time off. I took March – June 2013 off, and rehabbed my knee. I even did a PRP injection. These 2 things (rest and PRP) allowed me to return in July 2013 at about 90%. After a couple of months, I was excelling at CrossFit and achieving many PR’s. I was hooked for life.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? I have had some BF reduction, and my cardio endurance has skyrocketed. My physical capabilities have all improved. I couldn’t do more than a few pull-ups when I joined, nor could I do double-unders. Both of which have improved, and I can now do 100+ unbroken DU’s, and 10-20 kipping pull-ups in a row. I’m now working on butterfly pull-ups…and slowly figuring it out.
What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? I think the biggest change is meeting such great people. I don’t think I realized that I would meet so many great people. I was doing this for the physical component, but the social component is what keeps me coming back. The 7am class is one of the best groups of people I have ever met. I have made so many new friends because of CF.
Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: My favorite moment was getting my first Muscle-Up. I also enjoyed doing the CrossFit Open this year. It was so much fun, and the workouts were insane! I now have a new sense of respect for those that make it to the Games…they are truly unbelievable!
Any advice for people just getting started? Leave your ego at the door, listen to your coach, and start slow. Form over speed and/or weight. This reminds me of something Andy Petranek said. After I recently hurt my back, I started to feel depressed because I couldn’t go as hard as I like. In telling him what was going on in my head, he made a great comment to me that has since stuck with me. He said, “We are in this for the long-haul. It’s not about what you can do today, it’s about being able to do this stuff next year, and the year after.” It really gave me a new perspective and has put me back on track to full potential.
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with my wife and kids. My wife Cindy and I have been married for 16 years – and have been together since 1994 (20 years)! We have 3 kids – Riley (13), Brady (11) and Gracie (10). Having 2 boys and a little girl help keep me well-rounded as a father. My wife and kids are the reason I exist. My boys and I also did our first mission trip with our church and went down to Ensenada Mexico and helped a very poor family by rebuilding their roof on their house. It really made us feel truly blessed about everything we have, and was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life.
We also love to do outdoor things like hiking (which we don’t do as much as I would like) and going to the beach. There are so many things to do in CA and we love to find new things to do. We still have so many things to visit and do.
My kids are all in sports too, so I love watching them play too. My son Riley plays flag football (where he plays center and is a beast) and basketball too. My son Brady is on a club soccer team and is a defender (with some phenomenal foot skills). My daughter Gracie is into gymnastics and is already doing back handsprings and things like that – which just blows my mind – and she is really good. She might be a future CrossFitter ;).
When we aren’t running the kids around everywhere, my wife and I also enjoy just hanging out by our pool and just chilling with a few Mai Tai’s (purely natural and 100% organic of course).
“Retro Turbo Booty Blaster – Wear Your Leg Warmers & Headbands”
10 Lateral shuffles over box
10 Alternating knee to chest plank holds (hands on floor, feet on box)
10 Box jumps (step down)
1 Trip around the box on your hands (inverted)
10 Right leg power jumps
10 Left leg power jumps
And Coming Monday
Playtime Mini Cycle – Practice
A) Rope climb skill practice (10-15min)
B) “Jack Bauer”
Odd: 10 Hang clean thrusters
Even: 10 Close-grip pushups
**Courtesy of DBWOD**