If you’ve ever seen Brian Strezze in class, you probably assumed he was athletic most of his life. He can snatch 200lbs and bang out handstand push ups with the best of them. And squats? He’s been known to make a barbell bend. But Brian never really played sports nor went to the gym much before joining YCF and is living proof that you don’t have to be a fitness superstar to start CrossFit.
Brian didn’t do any sports growing up, only really interested in martial arts from about 15 years old until he graduated from high school. He liked to bike but was pretty inactive through his college years as well. Around 2001, a doctor said he’d get diabetes if he didn’t start focusing on his health. He was about 250lb at the time and decided it was time to finally join a gym, a place he’d never stepped foot in.
Brian started going to various globo gyms in Massachusetts and then, after moving, Connecticut. “That got boring pretty quickly with on and off results,” he says. “When I started working with a personal trainer, I was able to lose weight but when she got a different job and left, I gained it all back.”
When his weight continued to fluctuate, Brian wanted something else to try. Because he was always pretty flexible, he decided to give yoga a shot. He got into power yoga and hot yoga and really started to like it. He was practicing 4 days a week but it wasn’t helping with his weight loss. Then a co-worker of his mentioned he wanted to try CrossFit. Brian thought CrossFit sounded interesting and started doing some research. After looking into a few different boxes close to his house, he came across YCF. He and his wife Anthea both signed up for a free class to check it out.
“I wasn’t really doing anything fitness-wise at this point—hardest was an hour and a half of power yoga which is rough but a totally different kind of round. Seeing Coach Brendan all jacked was definitely intimidating but motivating at the same time,” says Brian. After the free class, both he and Anthea made the decision to do the beginner’s On-Ramp classes. This was 4 years ago and the Strezze’s are now two of the most dedicated, long-term members at YCF.
So how is CrossFit different than then other exercise programs Brian tried? “Having my wife and all the people here keeps me going. That’s why this type of thing works,” says Brian. “The workouts are hard and great but what keeps you coming is the people. Everyone here is trying to live a healthy life so it helps to get that constant reinforcement from your friends. We’re all trying to be healthier, do better in terms of our fitness so it helps so much to have that constant focus on ‘healthy’. If I don’t feel like going and skip a class, I know I’ll hear about it the next day from my friends. It keeps me motivated.”
Brian continues to be the constant, friendly face in the 6:30pm class, always pushing himself to new limits in his signature bandana. When he looks back at how far he’s come, it sometimes still surprises him. “I was always overweight. My family is overweight. Most of my friends aren’t healthy. I’m just not from a healthy background,” he says. “Even the thought of doing a pull up, let alone most of the shit we do here, seemed impossible.” But Brian does it all and we know with him, nothing is impossible.