Nick Baaten

    Tell us about yourself. Having fun outdoors has always been how I kept fit. Whether it was mountain biking, front- and back- country skiing, or paddling, I always seemed to get enough exercise pursuing what I loved to do. This changed when I became a stay at home dad (16 years already!), as I couldn’t always get outdoors to move around. Shortly after my son was born I became a member of a traditional gym (CalFit) where child care was available. This environment never felt like home, but I learned the discipline required to do weighted movements carefully, allowing me to concentrate on core and stability exercises, which helped with my outdoor activities.

    When did you start training at Crossfit Echelon and what made you pick this box? I walked into CrossFit Echelon in January 2016 and found Adam teaching class. He had been one of the only trainers while I was at CalFit who had taken the time to get to know me and, knowing that our single income family didn’t have a lot of extra money, would give me pointers, corrections to my form, and new exercises as he walked by. He was always super supportive, even though he knew I would never be able to afford his services through CalFit. I knew right away that he’d be able to help me with the strength and mobility issues that have plagued me for the last few years. Ten months along, I have watched Adam, Katie, and Jason help and encourage the people at our gym to overcome their physical (and sometimes emotional) barriers on the way to a greater level of fitness.

    What do you feel has been the biggest impact our community of athletes has made in your life? I’d say this probably has been the biggest surprise of all. In a conventional gym you go about your routine and rarely speak with anyone while you’re on the floor. With CrossFit we all hit our personal barrier at some point. Because each workout can be scaled, we all become aware of what each other’s limitations are. It’s inspirational to watch someone push past their comfort zone and gut it out to finish the workout or get a new Personal Record when lifting. The respect you build for each other puts a more human face on a gym like ours, where encouragement and reaching out to help someone is common place.

    Your favorite movement/workout is: The aspect of CrossFit with which I have the greatest limitations and, thus, prefer to work on are any of the olympic lifting exercises. Cleans, jerks, snatches, etc.—none of these came naturally to a guy who was normally used to getting his exercise outdoors. Their integration into the metabolic conditioning that we do makes us stronger in a different, more whole-body kind of way. When you’re done with a workout, you’re DONE because the exercises we undertake tax the entire body, not just isolated parts of it.

    Your least favorite movement/workout is: Wall balls. They slay me. Not only do I have to do deep knee bend squats, activate my core, and use my arms to toss a heavy ball 10’ into the air, but I’ve got to be coordinated while doing all of this? Yeah . . . definitely wall balls.

    What are your personal and/or athletic goals in the next 3/6/12 months? I would like to increase my shoulder mobility and strength further, learn how to do the Olympic lifting movements more reliably and efficiently, build more endurance, learn to get the rhythm required to do double unders well, and maybe someday do a muscle-up on the rings.

    What advice would you give to a beginner just joining CrossFit Echelon? BE PATIENT, come regularly, test your limits, but stay safely enough within your boundaries and limitations to be able to fight and live another day. Be humble enough to know there are movements that you won’t be able to do at first—and that’s ok. There’s a lot to learn, but there are scaled movements and weighting that can help you get strong enough at the level you find yourself until you eventually switch them out for the prescribed ones, which shows just how far you’ve come.


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