Congratulations to our January Athlete of the Month, Brian Telpner!

Brian Telpner

The evening is a tough time to work out. When people thing about classes and times they'd rather not have to exercise most would say the morning, and sure it can be hard to get out of bed. But for my money, its just as hard if not harder to get yourself to the gym after a long hard day at work and when you probably havent eaten in 6 or 7 hours. There a mentality about it,a feeling of "Yes I've had a long day, yes I'm tired, yes Im hungry, but it doesnt matter Im going to come in and put in the work anyway. At Hierarchy our 8pm crew toughs it out each and every week and never ceases to impress me and the other evening coaches, and there is absolutely no better example of that grind it out mentality than our June Athlete of the Month, Brian Telpner.

Brian joined is September of 2015 and other than a 6 month stint in Ukraine for work has been a rock steady member of our 7 and 8pm crew. A hockey player in his free time, Brian has made immense improvements since he joined, particularly in regards to his conditioning and gymnastics. He can usually be found in the back left corner of the gym working hard without a single complaint. As Coach Justin described him: 

       "His eagerness to get better and constanly learn is my favorite part about coaching him. Something I try to model when I workout is his 'embrace the grind.' It doesnt          matter if its just him or 12 other people, he just puts his head down and goes to work."

On top of all that, Brian is a genuinely kind and caring person who is a pleasure to coach and be around. I always enjoy getting to catch up with him in class while coaching and he is unfailingly polite and supportive of the classmates around him. We are so proud of Brian and cant think of a better example of what the CrossFit Hierarchy community has to offer. Read on for our interview below and make sure you say congrats when you see him in person! 


When did you start CrossFit?

October 2015, but with holidays and travel, it took a few months before I made it a regular thing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, sports, interests, etc.).

I grew up outside Chicago, and my family is still there.  I came to DC for law school in the mid 1990s, and with a couple of minor detours along the way, I’ve lived here ever since.  I’m a Caps fan still basking in last year’s triumph. Please don’t tell me it’s over.

What were you doing before CrossFit?

I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up, and I didn’t start exercising regularly until after I started a sedentary grown-up job.  By the time I started CrossFit, I was mostly doing cardio at a large local gym chain, and I was playing beer league ice hockey a couple of times per week (still do).

How did you find CrossFit?

I found CrossFit on the internet, and I found Hierarchy on my way to Harris Teeter.  You can’t miss it.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

I don’t remember exactly, but I suspect it involved heavily scaled handstand push-ups and a significant loss of oxygen to the brain.  I guess I liked it?

What were your goals when joining CrossFit?

I had very modest goals.  Mostly, I wanted to stay active and healthy, in a way that I found a little challenging and that I could easily work into my schedule.  Any ancillary benefit to my hockey game would be a plus, too. “Athlete of the Month” definitely wasn’t on my radar.

Have you achieved any of those goals?

Absolutely, and I'm having a lot more fun doing it than I would've thought.  And besides generally feeling pretty good (no small thing), over time I’ve improved in most movements, although I still have tons of room to grow.  I can even do a few new things too (like strict pull-ups and the occasional double-under), which is a very satisfying feeling for someone of my vintage.

Has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?

Sure.  The general health benefits carry over in a million ways beyond the gym, in everything from reducing stress to improving sleep.  Plus, working on functional strength, balance, and overall hustle has made playing hockey even more enjoyable (although, sadly, there’s a lot about my game that no amount of gym time can fix).

What does Crossfit Hierarchy mean to you?

I don’t have room enough to say all the nice things about Hierarchy.  It’s become an important part of my everyday routine, and I’m hugely grateful that the coaches never make me feel guilty about making them work through the 8 pm hour.  Hierarchy is an incredibly friendly and supportive place, which makes it easier to motivate myself when I don’t feel much like going to the gym. All credit goes to the wonderful coaches and the community as a whole for making it such a positive experience.

Do you have any other special memories/achievements during your time here?

This is more of an abstract comment, but I never felt as thankful for being a Hierarchy member as I did during the government shutdown, when my work schedule became erratic and unpredictable.  It made for a frustrating and unpleasant few weeks, but the gym provided me with much-needed stability and a safe place to vent a little stress. (I also received a lot of encouragement during that time to keep growing out my beard, which perhaps I took a little too much to heart.)

What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Hierarchy?

I honestly believe that if I can do it, anyone can.  Put in the effort, and trust that the process will yield results.  Checking your ego helps too, as does talking to the coaches about scaling workouts to make sure you get the right stimulus.  There’s no reason to feel intimidated (even though I certainly did, for a long time). Just show up, work hard, and try to push yourself a bit beyond your comfort zone.  Then do it again. And again. And again. . . .

Favorite WOD (Girl, Hero, or just a type of workout)?

I like chippers and long grinds – anything with simple movements but a high number of reps or long EMOTMs.  Finishing is such a great feeling, assuming I can still feel anything at that point.

Least Favorite WOD?

Not a fan of workouts with lots of gratuitous pull-ups thrown in just for kicks.

Favorite Lift?

Deadlifts.  Weight goes up, weight goes down.       

Least favorite lift?

Cleans still feel a little weird to me.

Something you might not know about me is…

When I was a kid, I once rode in a hotel elevator with the Harlem Globetrotters.  Any current resemblance to Curly Neal’s hairstyle is entirely coincidental, however.

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