CFLA Athlete Profile – Charlie Windisch-Graetz

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Hometown: Weikersheim, Germany
Age: 51
Occupation: Co-founder of C4 Global, a marketing and communications firm
When did you first start CrossFitting?: 2007
When did you first start training at CFLA?: 2007
Favorite WOD: Filthy 50 if I have to name just one. I love the variety and sheer determination it takes to get through it.
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with heavy thrusters or wall balls. They just kill me.

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I grew up in Europe and the US, so I had two different sports experiences. Soccer, tennis and skiing were my main sports in Europe and then ice hockey and lacrosse were added to the mix here in the US. I ski raced as a kid in Europe and then realized how much more I enjoyed the back country over competing for time on the hill. Skiing is still a big part of my family life. In college I played lacrosse and loved every minute of it. That’s when I began to train off the field and started running and joined the local Nautilus gym near USC. Mostly for the girls, but it kept me in shape. Post college is where it all fell apart. Business travel and a desk job took over and I lost my focus on fitness. Every few years I’d join a gym and wander around cherry-picking the workout. Waste of time. It was friends who pulled me into mountain biking about 15 years ago that got me off the couch.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? My good friend Matt Doss had been doing this new thing called Crossfit and we talked a lot about what a great experience it was for him. The old Petranek Fitness Gym was ½ a block from my office in Santa Monica so Matt arranged for a baseline session with Andy. I was soft, out of shape and my back was killing me. I think my time was 6:40. But I was ready for a change and signed up on the spot. Three days later I walk into my first noon class and the WOD was Filthy 50! I would have walked out the door but our coach was this 6 foot supermodel named Dawn who could deadlift a car. She would have none of it. And so I fought through the entire workout trying to impress her and not throw up. Afterwards, lying on the floor drenched in sweat, I realized what I had been missing all those years.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? As I mentioned, I was soft and my back ached all the time. I had spasms and trouble getting out of bed in the morning. First thing I regained was flexibility along with strength and muscle tone which led to my back pain going away. I lost about 15 lbs. in the first two months and had to give away my pants and tailor all my suits! But on top of that, I felt athletic again and enjoyed doing all kinds of sports. I was quicker and more agile. And of course it was a game changer for long days on the ski hill.
What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? It reignited my competitive spirit for one. It also introduced me to a community of like-minded people who I look forward to spending time with. Along with fitness came a better awareness of my nutrition choices. It realigned my priorities. I also felt a sense of pride, especially when I looked at my colleagues and friends who were falling apart physically.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: The first day will always be that a-ha moment. As I walked back to my office sweating like a broken fire hydrant with a smile on my face, I was so fired up at what lay ahead. It was amazing. Beyond that, it has to be the friendships I have formed. Some of the kindest, warmest people I’ve ever met. And some of the fittest too.

Any advice for people just getting started? In the old days we did a lot of rushing through heavy weights and Andy and the other coaches had their hands full trying to get us to slow down and do it properly. Form is king. And every time I tried to rush or curved my back, I got hurt. If you stick to great form and don’t rush, you will stay healthy and build up to those killer weights and endurance you see in others around you. But mainly, the best advice comes from my good friend and Crossfit LA legend Alex Bentley. He would always say to me, no matter what was going on in my life the past nine years, “Charlie, just show up. Just show up.” Nothing could be more true. Show up, work hard, and the results will come.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I have two incredible kids, Maxi 12 and Augie 9. They are my pride and joy and have been with Shirley and her incredible Crossfit kids program since they were little. We play basketball, wall ball, biking, skateboarding and other fun stuff together on weekends. CFLA got me hooked on triathlons about 4 years ago and now I can’t get enough races in. So weekends are early morning training to prepare. I also love to mountain bike and spend time in the water and at the beach with the kids. But my other great passion would have to be watches, classic cars and motorbikes. Building, driving and just thinking about them is a full time hobby.

Friday’s Workout

“Anne of Denmark”

100 Double unders
50 Situps

Monday’s Workout

Jerk Skill Practice
Tall jerks (light)

Front squats (60-65% FS or +3-5)
Back squats
–5min Cap–

3 RFQR (30s:30s)
Thrusters (30-35% 1RM snatch)
Power snatches
Toes to bar




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