Meet Josh L., Our October Athlete Of The Month!


CHCF: Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I grew up in Washington DC and I have lived in a number of different places as an adult, mostly related to school and jobs.

I live here in Brooklyn now with my partner Jonathan. He’s a massage therapist and has been giving massages at the gym. 


***To schedule time with Jonathan for a massage, call 646-330-7465. His schedule flexible and he has a table upstairs at the gym in the "yoga room" for convenience. His hourly rate is $80. 


CHCF: What do you do for work?

I’m a medical doctor. My field has been mostly Public Health, and the last big extended gig I had was as the Commissioner of Health for Westchester County. I ran the county health department when a lot was happening - it was when the twin towers came down, Anthrax and SARS, Smallpox and Bird Flu. We were involved in the county’s preparedness for all of that. 

CHCF: Can you tell me about your fitness background, and what brought you to CrossFit?

For many years I ran. I ran the New York City marathon in 1994 and I had goals of finishing and not being injured, and coming in under 5 hours. All of which I did. But I have a leg length discrepancy and that meant that over many years of running it was disproportionately jarring the longer leg. And I began having knee issues so I stopped that. 

I have done a variety of other things over the years - Masters Crew, swimming, weightlifting, yoga. I have worked out in the past with trainers, mostly by myself. I have been back in CrossFit classes for over a month, but for almost two years I was taking private coaching sessions with Steve, and he’s an amazing coach. I want to strongly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a coach. 

CHCF: What was your reason for doing private lessons?

I started CrossFit at the old box, then moved to the new location and I didn’t feel like I had the minimum level of fitness sometimes, even though I have worked out all my life. I was feeling discouraged in the classes. I felt like I wasn’t keeping up and even sometimes the lowest scale, I couldn’t do. I thought, “am I even getting the benefit of these workouts?” So I decided to try individual coaching, and I was very fortunate to begin working out with coach Steve. 

CHCF: What brought you back to the classes? 

So, it just kind of came to me - I asked Steve, “do you think I could keep up with the scaled workouts in the CrossFit classes?” and he said, “Damn straight!” 

I like the energy of the younger people in the class. And just the agility and mobility of younger people amazes me. I remember when I started to feel the physical effects of aging and one of the first things that goes is your sense of elasticity. That springy-ness. But it’s inspiring to be around it. 

And Steve had developed a tailored workout schedule weeks in advance, and now I just want to try it all. I don’t have the discouragement that prompted me to leave the classes before. And I think I have a little more wisdom than I did when I stopped classes a few years back. When you have an older body, there’s more of a risk of damage. I do what I can, but I don’t knock myself out. 

CHCF: Do you have any specific goals that you’re working on?

My goals are mobility, core strength, avoid injuries, joint flexibility, muscle tone…so I enjoy CrossFit because it allows the opportunity for all of those things. 

And I’m not here to disappoint myself by not being able to achieve things that are unrealistic. I’m here to affirm myself, by doing what I can to achieve my own fitness goals.

CHCF: Do you have any favorite lifts or skills?

As hard as they’ve been for me - squats. I remember when I first started I could barely lower down to a box set on high. 

I have mostly a desk job, so to improve - every hour I would get up and do a few squats and sink down into it. And I can get lower now. Steve has said that he wished there was video of me at the beginning because I have come far - and probably this is the thing I’ve come the farthest in. This movement which used to bedevil me, is now the one that I enjoy trying to get low in. 

One of the things that serves as inspiration for me, is I think of Asian countries where people can relax in a very deep squat, hanging out, eating their food, socializing with their friends. If a whole society can just squat naturally, I want to do that to. And I do believe it’s part of growing older healthfully, is to have that hip mobility. 

CHCF: What qualities do you think they should look for in Athlete of the Month?

That’s funny because I remember that you asked the August athlete that, and I thought - “what would I say?” 

I think commitment. Some folks are lucky and have talent, but for the rest of us it’s perseverance. And I think that perseverance demonstrates a certain kind of will power that’s necessary to do well. I think also, an affability - easy to get along with. I’m not sure I have that, I can be cranky sometimes. But a certain graciousness. Those are characteristics that I would recommend for athlete of the month or just person of the month.  They're good qualities.

CHCF: What advice would you give to someone who has just started?

Push yourself, but know yourself. Do what you can, but listen to that voice in the back of your head that says “too much.” It’s important to focus on form before weight, because if you injure yourself, that could be weeks before you get back. Achieve the best for you. 

CHCF: Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you?

I am involved with a group called Citizens Climate Lobby. This is a national and state-wide group with a Brooklyn chapter, and we are trying to get a law passed to put a tax on the production of energy and fuels that create carbon. All the money raised is given back to the public to pay for their increased costs. I’m working with my Brooklyn chapter, but also at the state level to try to get this passed in New York by November 2018.