CFLA Athlete Profile – Julio Rivera
Hometown: West Babylon, NY
Occupation: Tennis teaching pro
When did you first start CrossFitting?: Sept 2011
When did you first start training at CFLA?: Sept 2011
Favorite WOD: Anything with box jumps and deadlifts.
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with GHD’s. And Franklin Hill.
Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I played organized sports my whole life, for 33 years. I played basketball in high school though at that age I was a mere 5’4″ and 130lbs. I was a very late bloomer. I started playing tennis at the age of 11 when I moved to Long Island. I begged my best friend’s dad — who coached tennis to my friend — to play with them. He said no. I kept begging. I promised him I’d be a good player if he just gave me a chance. I had never really played before, but I loved watching Martina Navratilova who was a lefty like me. I would practice by myself against a wall — until my friend’s dad broke down and finally said I could play. It turned out I did have natural ability. I played in high school, in junior tournaments; I played in college, and eventually was ranked top 50 on the East Coast Tour. Tennis to this day is my favorite sport — and my livelihood.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? Danette had asked me for a year to come join CrossFit Los Angeles already. I didn’t want to come initially because I was already on my feet on the tennis courts all day and I thought doing CrossFit would make it worse. She tried to convince me it would only make it better. I finally caved when my tennis game was stagnating and I wanted to start competing again. My first WOD was ten rowing sprints, a minute on, a minute off. I nearly puked because I hit myself in the solar plex with the handle during the second sprint. That workout was rough.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? My overall health has improved tremendously, in every aspect. I have more stamina to teach on the court all day (Danette was right) which gives me peace of mind, frankly. I use to worry a lot about how long I’d be able to withstand such a physically demanding job. Now, I don’t have that worry. A year after starting CF, I went to the tennis nationals in the Open League division – I would have never been able to do this without CF. I did a triathlon last year, which, again, I would have never done without CF. In general my quality of life has improved since I started CrossFitting, and that’s really important to me because as you probably know my family and I lead a very active life.
What sort of changes in your life have you experienced that were totally unexpected because of CrossFit? I never expected to enjoy the CF Open as much as I did, especially this last season. I watched Danette compete and wanted to be very supportive of her and I knew how much she got out it and loved it, but I didn’t know I would personally feel the same. I didn’t expect everyone to be so supportive of me. The community really is amazing. There is something about going through pain and suffering with a group people that brings you closer to them. Like a band of brothers — and sisters.
Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: The 2014 CFLA Open experience was a favorite for sure, but in particular 14.3, the heavy deadlift and box jump workout. I scored a lot better than I thought I would. One of my first favorite moments was when I watched Danette get her first heavy snatch in the 2012 CF Open. Watching Maya and Danette compete together at Femme Royale was a highlight. This recent Cycle 5 has been a breakthrough cycle for me in terms of my squats.
Any advice for people just getting started? Listen to your body. Do your best to mobilize as often as you can. Don’t be a hero – you’ll get there.
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I like to mountain bike. I like to hang out and play tennis with my friends. I love hanging out with my girls. And I take great pug pictures.
“Da Tiny Hoppa!”
And Coming Monday
3×3 Broad Jump
5 DL (275/185)