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Jeff Sawulski-Athlete Spotlight

November Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Jeff Sawulski on being our November Athlete of the
Month!  Check out Jeff’s interview below and learn more about Jeff’s
passion for exercise and zest for his dedication to his fitness despite
his near death experience in May of 2006.  This near death experience
fuels Jeff’s fire for CrossFit and makes him appreciate his body’s
wellness even more.  We appreciate Jeff and what he brings to our
community, enjoy his story…

Tell us about the day you walked in to Stockyard CrossFit.

Winter Swolsitice 2015. My wife Nikki had been a drop in for a few months and asked me to compete.

What’s your athletic/fitness background?

Collegiate Athlete. Siena College Football 1993-1996.

What was your first Crossfit workout like and what did you think about it? 

A WOD from Rob Orlando’s Strongman WOD site.  All I remember was it
was heavy and horrible. I really like Rob’s programming as a transition
from traditional power lifting/standard gym movements to traditional
Crossfit training.

What’s been your biggest change since tyou I started Crossfit?
How does this differ (if at all) from any previous fitness experiences
in your life? 

The biggest change physically is my midline stability and
position/body awareness. I still struggle with this in just about every
workout. The biggest change mentally is for me to constantly stay in a
zone at is extremely uncomfortable. I have never been so challenged in a
fitness training environment. That includes my time training in

What do you like about Stockyard Crossfit (or do you? Haha!) 

I like the brutal yet elegant programming. I am a closet Crossfit
nerd and look at a lot of programming online. Ryan and Lindsey program
as well as any affiliate in the world.  The art of Crossfit is the
programming and I feel that is one piece that separates Stockyard from
many gyms locally and nationally.

How did you know you were hooked? 

I was hooked before I started at Stockyard. I had been following the
home site and other affiliates WODs at work and in my basement for over a
year and a half before I joined. To put yourself through a Crossfit by
yourself in your basement I knew I had a problem. Like they say
“Crossfit it’s better than Crack”

What or who got you started in Crossfit or how did you learn about Crossfit? 

I learned about Crossfit through the Fire Department. I can honestly
say I thought it was total bullshit. Another fitness fad. It really took
me doing it for a while and reading the Crossfit Journal to truly
appreciate the totality of the Crossfit program. It was not just a bunch
a jokers exercising on YouTube. I will suggest everyone look at the
articles at Crossfit home site to see how much it has to offer

What is your most noted Crossfit/fitness accommplishment or achievement to date?

I completed my Crossfit Level 1 certification.

What’s your best advice you have ever received, as it relates to Crossfit or your life?

Crossfit – You come to the gym not to be better in the gym but to be better out of it.

Life – Speak softly and carry a big stick : Theodore Roosevelt.

What’s in your gym bag? 

Wrist wraps, knee sleeve, jump rope, 4 rolls of tape.

What’s on your IPod?

Nothing. I only stream music on Slacker.

What’s your favorite cheat meal? 

I don’t eat that clean so I cheat a lot. I have a donut addiction. Cake not dough.

What motivates you?

Ryan. I don’t ever want to disappoint my main man. Also my accelerated age.

What’s your best piece of advice for folks new to Crossfit and/or Stockyard Crossfit? 

You will not be sore forever. It just feels like you will be. And
what you feel is impossible today will probably not be impossible
forever if you work at it.


Nikki my wife and my kids Cooper (6) and Cade (4).

Role models? 

Other than Ryan Bauer?

Favorite book or movie?

I have a very dark sense of humor.

Book – Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)

Movie- Inglorious Bastards/The Departed/American Psycho.

Favorite restaurant?

Starlite. Nothing healthy and good beer selection.

Here ya go, the mic is yours…anything else you wanna say? 
Please feel free to tell us anything more about yourself and/or your
Crossfit experience that you would like to share!

For those that have not heard the
story about the scar on my chest I thought I would share it with you.
This a story that I rarely tell people when I first meet them,
especially when I am doing something that is physically demanding. I
choose to keep it to myself for the simple fact that I do not want to
worry or alarm people. I feel most of you have worked out with me enough
and have figured out I can perform the workouts that are prescribed for
us here at Stockyard CF without incident.

On May 1, 2006 I had an exercised
induced cardiac arrest while on duty as a firefighter.  I was hypoxic,
without oxygen, and in Ventricular Tachycardia, a non sustainable heart
rate, for approximately five to seven minutes. In a clinical sense I
died that day for a period of time. I was defibrillated and intibated in
the field by other members of my fire department and regained a
pulse. I was then transported to the emergency department and was in a
medical induced coma for three days.  On day three I was taken off of
sedation and experienced no mental or physical deficits.  Then after
going through all of the normal cardiac testing protocols including
cardiac catheterization, no structural damage or abnormalities were
found.  I am believed to have a condition called cardiac channelopathy.
This is a condition in the cellular level of my heart that causes a
direct line electrical path in my heart’s nervous system. As a safety
precaution I have an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) implanted in
my chest. This device has three wires that screw into my heart and a
small computer that monitors my heart rate. If my rate becomes too fast
or is non sustainable it will pace my heart rate or defibrillate me. I
have had my ICD for almost 10 years and it has never had to be used to
adjust my heart rate.

Before my cardiac arrest I
exercised regularly and was was in very good physical shape. My
cardiologist attributed my condition presenting it self because of
physical and mental stressors that I were in place in my work and
personal environment at that time. He also stated that the only reason I
was able to survive the cardiac event and sustained lack of oxygen to
my brain was the physical shape I was in.  My body had been prepared for
the extreme that this event placed on it.  So for anyone who wonders
why we come into the gym and punish ourselves with all this Crossfit I
hope my story can serve as a good example.

For those who have talked to me I
hope you have gathered that I have a defined sense of enjoying life.  I
cherish my wife and kids, my vocation and my overall place in the
universe to the highest degree.  I had this sense before my cardiac
arrest, it is just more enhanced now.  I have come to realize that after
really studying Crossfit that one of the major underlying parts of the
program is that maximization of enjoying life.  Alot of people have that
sense in them it just takes a catalyst to bring it to the surface.
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