Male Athlete of the Month – March

Ben Sweeney is always putting in overtime at CFNH.  Whether it's working on various gymnastics movements or accessory work, you can always find him at CFNH after 6:30am classes working to take his CrossFit performance to the next level:


1.  How did you get started with CrossFit, and then with CFNH?

I was actually the third member of my family to try CrossFit, following my younger brother and my mom.  I’d played a lot of sports growing up (hockey and baseball mostly) and had been continuing to work out on my own at the Yale gym—doing some mix of cardio and free weights.  When I moved to DC for a summer job, I needed something efficient that I could squeeze in before work.  Finally caving to the advice of my family, I gave CrossFit a try and was hooked.  When I came back to New Haven in fall of 2014 for my second year of law school, I signed up at CFNH.  The community of coaches and athletes (along with Aaron’s awesome programming) here has sucked me in even deeper, to the point where I’ve occasionally had to be shooed out of the gym after class.

2.  What are some of your recent accomplishments of which you're most proud?

I’m pretty psyched about having recently hit the 400 lb mark for my deadlift.  Also jazzed about my performances on Cindy and Jackie (though I ended up missing both the re-tests).

3.  You're always putting in extra time and work, especially on heavier weights and more technical movements.  What has been the motivation/inspiration?  What are some of your short-term and long-term goals for 2016?

The motivation bit is pretty easy—I just really enjoy pushing myself and tracking improvements over time.  The gym is also a great place when I want to get away from work, school, or anything else that’s stressing me out.  It also helps to be surrounded by such great athletes and people.  Whether it’s Aaron lifting the entire gym, Poz working out 23 times per week, or Annie casually doing a WOD twice because she finished early, there’s always someone around to push you.  As far as goals, I actually have a whole list taped to my fridge (which has led to some raised eyebrows from non-CrossFitters).  Short term, I’d like to snatch my body weight and am almost there.  Longer term, I’d like to clean and jerk 225 lb and be able to connect 10 pretty ring muscle-ups in a row.

4.  Do you follow any specific diet or regimen to fuel your Athlete of the Month-level CrossFit performance?  What does your dream cheat meal/day look like?

Nothing super specific in terms of diet.  I am obsessive about getting three square meals (and plenty of snacks) though, and usually go heavy on protein and vegetables with some carbs on the side.  One of the things I love about CrossFit is that it’s pushed me to eat healthy as a way to improve my performance, as opposed to just focusing on calorie restriction or avoiding carbs or fats.  In terms of dream cheat meal, I’d definitely have to go the savory route—probably a decked out California Burrito.  For those who haven’t had the chance to sample this SoCal delicacy, it’s carne asada, french fries (!!), salsa, and guacamole, all wrapped in a hot flour tortilla with plenty of hot sauce on the side.

5. Design 2 WODs:  1 that is your bread & butter, filled with your movement strengths; 1 that is all goats (movement weaknesses you feel you need to improve).

Bread and Butter WOD
25 min AMRAP:
5 overhead squats [115/75] 10 box jump overs [24/20] 15 pull ups
200 m run

Goat WOD
For Time:
Clean and Jerks [135/95] Cal row
(I want to puke a little just writing that)

6. How do you spend your time when you're away from CFNH?

I’m a third-year law student at Yale, so that takes up a lot of my time.  In addition to my normal courses, I’m also leading a reading group on Beer Law this semester.  That’s given me a great excuse to read about (and drink) lots of craft beer, which I highly recommend as a way to spend one’s time.

7. What is one fun fact people may not know about you?

Hmmm….I’m always bad at these, but here goes:  I have my mom’s last name (Sweeney), while my brother has my dad’s (Brink).  We also each have the other’s last name as a middle name.  We’re full brothers and our parents have been and continued to be married, just got a little creative with the naming conventions is all.  Growing up, this was a continuous source of confusion for teachers and coaches who knew both of us.

8.  Do you have any motivational thoughts or suggestions to folks just getting started at CFNH?

Yes!  Something that I’ve been working on is not being so hard on myself when I miss a lift (or five) or just have an off day at the gym.  With all the Whiteboard stats and leaderboards (which I do love!), I find that it can be easy to lose track of the fact that, no matter how my workout goes, I’m surrounded by so many awesome, positive people and doing something that’s good for me.  Even though I’ve definitely had days where I was frustrated or felt like I could have pushed myself harder, I don’t think I’ve ever left the gym regretting having come in.

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