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Tuesday
Oct182011

Underneath the Hoodie: Noah Abbott

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Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180
DOB: 10/6/82
Born: Mt. Sinai Hospital, NYC
Grew Up: NYC and Jersey
Place of Higher Learning: University of Wisconsin - Madison; Political Science with Integrated Liberal Studies

He owns a lion suit, among other costumes. There’s a collection of motorcycles. He nearly published a book and is fascinated by the morality of war. According to his roommate, Noah is a vault when it comes to secrets; apparently his own as well.

I remember being gently suspicious of Noah when he arrived at SBK in the spring of 2010. A bright eyed guy, he jumped right into the community. It was Park Slope’s 5th Ave Fair and SBK had a booth. Noah the new guy volunteered to help set up early on a Sunday morning. Despite being bleary-eyed from a late night, he hung with us all day, squeezed in “Fran” at some point and demo’d cleans to the crowd. Who was this guy from Arizona? How come he was so... nice?

What I was witnessing, though, was Noah’s characteristic dedication. He’s not someone who explores an idea or activity partially. Once something takes hold of him, he makes it a point to go all the way down the road with it.

Take motorcycles. Not a vehicle Noah had had much exposure to until he decided he wanted to ride. He’d just graduated from UW and come back to NYC to help a friend open a bar while waiting to hear about a law enforcement job he’d applied for. Notorious for lengthy timelines with little communication, he still didn’t know about the job, so he bought a bike and road it across the country to Houston and then, almost inexorably, back to Madison. A month long, solo trip on a motorcycle. Kind of awesome, I know.

Noah wasn’t just in it for the Easy Rider cameo, though. In fact, one of the first things he did was buy a couple of retired bikes expressly to take them apart. It was important to him to understand the machine all the way through. He’s taken some mechanics classes since, but much of what he’s learned has come from his own tinkering. He relishes the type of problem solving fixing a bike has taught him: homing in on the problem through trial and error which forces flexibility and creative thinking. A process that has proved valuable to the rest of his life.

As a kid, Noah straddled the line between nerd and athlete; not surprisingly, he got along with most. He was “good enough at soccer to sit on the bench of the elite teams.” Chubby Noah always felt like he had to play catch up on the field, but he also had a rich intellectual life. How many teenagers are approached to author books, after all? A local writer had heard Noah give a speech for school and was impressed. She asked him to work on a nonfiction about adolescent boys; they sold the idea and a nearly finished manuscript, but unfortunately, the deal fell through. It was an exciting and disappointing experience - something he rarely talks about.

Political Science at UW was not an arbitrary decision. His interest in the US’s position in the world and public service nearly led him to join the army out of high school. Instead, he thought he might like to be in politics as a speech writer. But after an arduous turn as a New Hampshire organizer for John Edwards (post motorcycle ride), he realized that philosophy was far more compelling than the car salesmanship of real politics. Noah just isn’t a pushy guy.

Here’s a nugget: Noah’s description of organizing sounded awful: 14 hour days, 7 days a week for 6 or 7 months. When I asked him why he stuck it out, he likened it to a nasty workout: he just had to finish it. And, similar to the CF community, he was in the trenches with a diverse and vibrant group of colleagues to whom he ultimately felt more commitment than Edwards. If he left, they’d have to pick up his slack.

If not politics, then what? Noah had all but given up on the law enforcement gig and decided to go to law school. He was nearly ready to head to the University of Richmond when he got a call one day while at the gym with his Mom: the agency had an opening. They generously gave him 24 hours to decide whether to overhaul his law school plans for the job, which he did. Off he went to Academy.

Noah found CrossFit in college. It appealed to his love of endorphins and aesthetic goals. He did it badly for a while, which probably set the stage for blowing out his back while at the Academy. Keeper of secrets, Noah did not tell anyone for fear of losing his place. But, once he returned, he was out of commission for about 10 months. Sobered by the severity of the injury, he decided that when he was well, he would ease back into CrossFit intelligently. Work sent him to Arizona and, as it would happen, there was a quality affiliate nearby. When work brought him back to NYC, he went looking for a gym to replace the great community he’d found in AZ. Enter SBK.

Like fixing bikes, CrossFit has become more than just a way to look good in board shorts. For Noah, it is an externalization of his definition of self: committed, interested, unafraid, goal oriented. It’s all well and good to have a career in this and a collection of that, but Noah finds that what we express within the community of physical challenge is most compelling and truly who we are. That’s probably why he and SBK are such a good fit.

Parting Shots:

He’s got acting in his past, and he played bass in a couple of bands
He owns 4 bikes
He writes emails like we used to write letters
Top authors include: Tom Robbins, Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, Richard Russo

Favorite way to eat eggs: over medium
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  • Response
    Football is actually one of the biggest sports in America. It has a significant following.

Reader Comments (23)

Nice write up. i like the parting shot on Richard Russo. Def a favorite of mine as well.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdh3

Loove this series, nice to get to know Noah a bit better.

My very first ever 7 am class this morning! Lovely way to start the day. David helped me scale yesterday's workout for preggo by ditching the DUs:

5 rounds not really for time of:
10 deadlifts @ 135
15 wall ball shots @ 10lb
13:41

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

Didn't get to comment on yesterday's question yesterday as I was too busy (blah blah).

My biggest issue with it is the simplistic three toggles idea. My body responds to different protein sources differently, same for fats and carbs. My performance isn't the same eating cooked apples (paleo but pretty much fructose) as it is with simple starches (even cooked white potatoes or rice). It is no contest that the starches leave me feeling better and performing better. The silly protein, fat, carb universe had me caught up for so long that even though I was paleo I was missing the fact that not all foods are the same even within a macro nutrient group in the paleo world.

I don't do well if I have orange juice. It is paleo and great tasting, but it will ruin me. I run great on a curry with some white rice, or some tacos with a little corn, or sausage and potatoes.
Also note that I am also talking about process. I can eat oranges, or raw apples with no deleterious impact, but if I juice the oranges or cook the apples, the deal is off.

Glassman is simplifying things to a level that it is measurable. And while this is tempting as it makes "SCIENCE" possible. I think counting macro nutrients is foolish, they are just too many exceptions.

October 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterMalcolm

Uphill battle making coach noah look cool.
GREAT write-up margie, your best.
"all the other kids, with their pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, faster than my gun"
-richard russo, empire falls

baz

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbaz

what about noah's love life though?
baz

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbaz

Great write up on a great dude. It's been cool getting to know Noah over his time at SBK. He's always been approachable and coachable, which are just two qualities that made him a good choice to be invited to be a coach. On a personal level he's been very generous with his time and moto knowledge. Plus, his honk/laugh is pretty hilarious.

Cheers, sir!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFox

overall, i'm concerned about noah's 'taste' in music.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Nice write up on Noah! Keeping it real on the coaching front.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Forgot to post my results from yesterday:

5 Rounds For Time of:
10 Deadlifts 225/155 (63#)
15 Wall Ball 20/14 (6#)
30 Double Unders ( 15 10" Box Jumps)

16:16 - just slightly over 3 min per round consistently across all 5 rounds. Primary focus was on doing the movements correctly. Heavier loads will follow ... eventually - I assume.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca R

Noah also has many leather bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMoose Knuckle

Nice under the hoodie, as always!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJR

This was great as always. Constantly surprised in the best of ways by our coaches and the things I learn about them. CFSBK is too inclusive to have a no meatheads allowed sign hanging up, but the overall thoughtfulness and intelligence of the coaches--with Noah as just one example, makes CFSBK fun to show up to. Hoping to make it back in tomorrow for some Noah led classes, as I'm trying to rest my achey shoulder.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoel W

that coach noah is the bee's knees!! and coach margie's write up is the cat's pajamas!! doing angie at 6 am is whatever the opposite of those things are!! perhaps, with a nod to marc mess, it is the moose's knuckle...

27:57, 50 strict pullups (15 unassisted, 35 green band), 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 squats.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryosh

Consistency is king Rebecca! Keep up the good work. Things get heavy before you know it. :)

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Keefe

Either I'm starting to get pretty good at this stuff, or my round keeping skills are for shit. Sadly, scanning other people's times, I'm guessing it's the latter. 14:30 for yesterday's WOD - 135# on the deadlifts; wall balls rx; 20 super ugly double unders.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

Angie in 22:02 Rx’ed
Push ups kill me. Wonderful doing this with the Baz by my side.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Mak

Here in Pittsburgh, working with two born and raised Wisconsonites (Madison and "near Osh Kosh"). Somehow not surprised Noah is also a badger.

Worked out down here with good folks at CF Pittsburgh. Hang power cleans 125x5x3. Then a nice triplet: 4 hspus (I scaled to decline PUs); 8 kb swings @ 2pd (scaled to 1.6); 12 GHD sit-ups (I scaled to abmat). Six rounds in 10:52. Fun. Some badasses down here.

Oh oh, and there's a good chance my flight will be delayed and I'll miss my veggies tomorrow, grab 'em if you don't see me by 8:00.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJZ

Great night at the gym. Yesterday's workout:

5 Rounds For Time:
10 Deadlifts 255/155
15 Wall Ball 20/14
30 Double Unders

Scale:
DLs at 90#
WB at 10# (10 ft target)
20 DUs

Time: 11:56

Happy I went light on the DLs, as I haven't done this in a while nor really been lifting with any kind of consistency. Form was easy to keep throughout and all sets unbroken. WB was surprisingly my slowest of all these movements --legs so tired, maybe from a weekend of drinking and dancing in heels at a wedding? let's go with that. DUs are coming so much easier now -- probably could've just gone for 30, as I had a couple sets unbroken in there. next time! really happy i could keep clipping through this -- took short breathers between movements which keeps my mental game under control.

Stayed for Active Rec -- chest stretch against the wall outside was just what I needed!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWhit

Sigh. I'm being kind to a sore left foot. I kept working through it last week, but that was a mistake -- after the six miles I ran on Sunday, I was limping the rest of the day and that's when I knew I had to lay off. Hence no class yesterday or today.

But I did row 2K (8:49), which I knew I could do without putting more stress on my foot, and made up my missed Tough Titsday session. Press (all sets of 5) 45, 50, 55 (3 sets at last weight). It was great to work one on one with Margie and learn more about a lift I don't get to do very often.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I love me some Noah! Great write up Margie!

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

10 DLs @ 155
15 WBs @ 14
30 DUs

5 rounds for time: 21:09 a couple cigarette breaks really slowed me down.

Big thanks to Whit for packing up my bar and small thanks to Max for kicking my shoe over to me as I was cursing Crush Week, laying in a puddle of sweat. "What's Crush Week?" he smiled quizzically, fully recovered from the same WoD.

Russo was great, but he's gotten bitter in his old age. His last book had none of that gentle love of the humans that his earlier stuff had. Too bad. The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool are 2 of the best American books of the last 30 years.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Make up post:
"Angie" on Sunday in 25:55 Rx'ed. Puked. Weird though because I didn't get nauseous until 10 minutes after the WOD, and I clearly took my time finishing. Anyway, my lats and bi's are crazy sore.

Made up the deadlift/wall ball/double under triplet tonight. Finished in 17:27ish using 205 on the deads. Thanks Noah for encouraging me to put 20 more lbs on the bar. Wall balls were the worst for me.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDM

god i love bareburger. it's embarrassing.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichele

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