CFLA Athlete Profile – Jim Cirigliano

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“Wild in the Streets”
With a partner, 1 person working at a time:

Run 800m
Max Pullups

Run 800m
Max Pushups

Run 800m
Max Situps

Run 800m
Max Squats


“April 12 2011”

For time:
24 Kettlebell swings (32/20)
800 m Run
24 Deadlifts (body weight)
50 Burpees
24 Pistols
250 Double Unders

We were in the middle of doing the 2011 Open, where we later went on to Regionals and then the Games!
Read the blog from 4/12/11 HERE. Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Age: 53
Documentary television producer and writer. I have spent last 7 years (matching my CrossFit career) as the show runner of the prison documentary series, “Lockup” on MSNBC

When did you first start CrossFitting?:
April 2007

When did you first start training at CFLA?: April 2007
Favorite WOD: Nancy, or anything else with overhead squats. I also like Fight Gone Bad, Murph (Cindy-style) or anything else where the movements frequently change. Finally, anything with situps – it’s the one place where I can still give others a run for their money.
Least Favorite WOD: Karen. 150 wall balls. That’s a lot of wall balls.

Tell us about your sports & fitness background: Played a couple of years of little league baseball and various softball leagues in college and a few years after, so very little. Though I also grew up during a time where we played tons of pickup baseball, football, basketball games among ourselves so I was still an active kid. In college, at the University of Houston, I picked up running and really enjoyed it – primarily because where I ran near campus was a good place to meet women and Houston’s intense heat and humidity really fired up your endorphins during a workout. I still love working out on really hot days.

My only other background in sports was being asked to be an RA in the athletic dorms at the University of Houston. At the time, it was a huge national sports school, most famously for their basketball team nicknamed, Phi Slamma Jamma. Many of the jocks routinely tore up the dorms. Having other athletes in charge was not working. So the housing department decided to take some of the most non-athletic RAs, but make sure they have a good sense of humor, and put them in charge. Then if we had to break up a loud party/riot, the jocks would just laugh so hard at us, they might forget about throwing more furniture out the window, tire themselves out and go to sleep. It worked, sort of. One of the real highlights though was the summer that I had two great athletes and really terrific human beings in my building – Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? My wife discovered a tiny gym that you had to enter from a back alley, named Petranek Fitness. The guy who ran it, Andy, was doing something that in 2007, hardly anybody had ever heard of – CrossFit. My wife, Erica, was a member for about a month and convinced me to join her. She had no athletic background, but really got into great shape and loved all the Olympic weightlifting. Unfortunately she eventually tore labrums on both hips so her crossfitting career was cut short as she focused on other forms of fitness. I don’t recall my first workout, but I vividly remember my first baseline with Andy. It took me over 10 minutes. I was about 25 pounds heavier than I am today. I probably still never exerted myself like that at any prior point in my life. It was brutal but kind of fun. I could barely walk for the next week. But I had a lot of faith that Andy knew what he was talking about and signed up.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)?
Admittedly, due to not getting to the gym as much as I used to, and a recently discovered health issue that is now being treated, I have slowed down a lot. That said, I joined CFLA as an out of shape, 183 pound, 46-year-old guy, seven years ago. At my peak (after the first whole life challenge) I was 150 and could keep up with many much younger students at the gym. Today I’m still really pleased to be at 160 and am still able to “finish” most of the workouts. Finishing is my new standard. I’m in half-way decent shape. I’m active. I look okay in my clothes. My wife still finds me attractive. I can do a lot of stuff. I eat fairly well. If it were not for CFLA, I really dread to think what I would be like today. I would most likely be feeling miserable and probably be a little clueless about how to fix it. As it is, I may not be the poster child for seven years of CrossFit, but grateful that I got to spend seven years here.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? CFLA coaches and community have taught me to endure high levels of discomfort, overcome a pending sense of defeat and not give up. In fact, they did so more effectively than any other person or thing in my life. And I apply that experience to all aspects of my life. Now, when I have a big, daunting, task ahead of me in either my personal or professional life, I think about all the times I completed something like “Murph.” And then I think about Murph himself and what he had to endure and gave his life for. And then I get a new perspective and I get through whatever I have to get through.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: I have always loved the Memorial Day Murph workouts. I have many fond memories of Fight Gone Bad, particularly when the event was held only with our gym – before it became a really massive CrossFit event and eventually went away. The first Whole Life Challenge changed my life and was a great deal of fun. Working out alongside my wife back in the old days was a lot of fun, too. And finally, every time I accomplished something that I never thought I could like climbing a rope, doing unassisted pullups or double unders, and a thousand other small moments of camaraderie, laughter and fun.

Any advice for people just getting started? Past profiles here in the past have offered excellent advice. But here’s my take. Don’t worry about coming in last. That doesn’t make you a loser. CrossFit has changed a lot in my seven years. More gyms are focused on turning out super-human athletes than ever before. They can be intimidating (and dangerous) if you not are already a fit athlete. Thankfully, CFLA is still about improving ordinary people and not just about winning the CrossFit Games. And as such, being last is okay. It’s an unavoidable fact that somebody is always going to be last and it might as well be you once in a while – especially if you’re new. Take it in. Then be willing to try again. If you are coming into this as a life-long, non-athlete or as a middle-aged, out of shape person as I was, you will be last in most workouts. But you will notice that being last doesn’t mean everyone thinks you’re lame. They’ll stick around and cheer you on as you drag yourself to the end. Many of them will actually kind of admire that you had the fortitude to finish rather than give up when that seems like such a good idea. Eventually, you’ll get better and not be last anymore. That will be a good feeling and you’ll have a lot of empathy for the last-place finisher who takes your place. That’s what happened with me. As I get older and the gym gets younger, last is once again becoming my wheelhouse. These days the reward for me is in the finishing – not the winning. I’m okay with that.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?A lot of the usual – seeing new places, hiking, biking, etc. Though I can come across as a quiet person, I actually love an audience. I’ve performed improve comedy, love public speaking and have doing more of it as of late and having a great time.

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