CFSBK November Athlete of the Month: David Makowski
We’re more than a year into the Athlete of the Month articles and I can’t believe this cat hasn’t been in one yet. David (D-Mak) Makowski has been a presence at CrossFit South Brooklyn for well over 2 years now and if you’ve had the chance to WOD with or along-side him I bet you’ve been happy for it. Whether through the encouragement he shouts to fellow athletes or by his total domination of some workouts, he’s a great guy to be near when shit starts to get real. He is also a great example of doing your best to train smart for you, and not for the white board. It was my pleasure to sit with him for an hour and find out a few things (aside from our common love of 80s and 90s metal), I hope you enjoy as well.
FOX - Hey man, congrats! Let’s start at the beginning...when and how did you start with CFSBK?
DMAK - Blame it on the internet! I was searching around for something new and came across CrossFit. It was like an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I was like, “now THAT is what I want to be doing!”. I had been in a regular gym and doing the back-and-bis, chest-and-tris thing for a while with little to no success. In fact I was on the road to hurting myself. I was constantly tweaking my back or a shoulder or something. I had once been in great shape and wasn’t anymore and I wanted to be fit again, hence my seeking out CrossFit. When it turned out there was one here in Brooklyn I was in. I took the fact that a Foundations cycle started on the exact date of my 40th birthday as a sign from the universe and signed up immediately. My son Josh also started with me at the same time, I was hooked immediately.
FOX - What hooked you?
DMAK - The energy of the gym and athletes, and the commitment of the coaches. I was (and still am) so impressed with David and his attention to detail. I had intended to do Foundations to learn some stuff then go back to the Fort Hamilton gym and continue on my own. That was not to be. I remember my first WOD out of Foundations, the Filthy 50. It was challenging and surreal in a way fitness had never been for me. I remember Gabrus and McGrath on the side as I was struggling to finish. They were going back and forth between shouting encouragement and whispering quiet jokes about my “circumstance”. I met Malcolm and Laurel that day and we shared a really genuine conversation, IN A GYM. The community and motivation I get, and get to give, keep me coming back. I knew CrossFit was for me.
FOX - Awesome stuff! You mentioned not being in shape any more, what had you done previously fitness-wise to be in shape?
DMAK - I was in the Army for 13 years and during that time was in the best shape of my life, there were a few special teams that I was on where the physical requirements were demanding so I had to be. We did lots of PT in the Army and I loved it. Once I didn’t have to do that anymore though I didn’t. I went to the gym tried to do what other guys were doing and continually became nagged by injuries.
FOX - What were your goals when you first started CrossFit, and how have they evolved?
DMAK - Pre-CrossFit the concept of training goals was a nebulous one for me, it didn’t enter my mind. When I first started CFing I wanted to be ‘that guy’. I wanted to be the baddest ass of them all, the upper echelon of the gym, and I ran at that goal for a while too. It was frustrating to not always be there, but I’ve changed my goals from heavier and faster to smarter and better. I was running into injuries again and didn’t want to go there. My focus now is on mobility, nutrition, and recovery. I still hit lifts and WODs hard but I am OK with scaling load and volume to what’s appropriate for me. I realize that my overall health over the long term is far more important than my Elizabeth time.
FOX - That’s a great transformation, and a big reason that we chose you for AOM. How have you attacked your mobility and nutrition goals?
DMAK - My man Kelly Starrett and the MobilityWOD have been great for me. The MWODs gave me focus, and Kelly is engaging so it made me keep tuning in. The CrossFit Mobility Cert last year was pretty great and it energized me to do even more. I spend 45 minutes a day on this stuff, so it hasn’t come easy but it’s a journey that’s worth it. My nutrition is an ongoing path as well. The Army wrecked my digestive system with all the antibiotics they pumped into me for 13 years so that’s an issue. Last year when we did the Paleo Challenge I discovered that I have a problem with a high animal protein diet. I have RH factor (an indicator of risk of rheumatoid arthriritis) and all the meat I was eating caused bad joint pain for about 6 months or so. I’m still working on finding what’s exactly right for me but I’ve discovered that plenty of veggies along with some rice, beans, and clean animal protein work well. I stay away from any gluten as that also seems to aggravate my symptoms. It takes planning, sacrifice, and work but it’s worth it.
FOX - 45 minutes a day, nice! I get kickback from folks when I tell them to spend 10 minutes a day...Tell me about some non-fitness stuff, what comes to mind?
DMAK - I grew up in Gowanda, NY. It’s a small farming community upstate, and I was the immigrant kid. I’m first generation Polish-American and was hazed a lot for it as a kid. My parents basically tried to turn our home into a 19th century Polish countryside farm-house. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I went to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) for a year and then decided to stop wasting my parents money. I joined the Army and was in for 13 years, and currently work for the Navy. The Army was good and bad. Good in that I got to travel, was physically fit, and I did work I was good at. The bad I won’t get into so much except to say that when Josh told me he joined the Marines I told him the only thing that would have upset me more was if he’d joined the Army. I do have a lot of pride in our soldiers, I just know what they do to you. I’ve got another son, Aiden, who is in high school and hopefully going to college.
FOX - Any hobbies outside the gym?
DMAK - Actually, Tracy (David’s wife) and I are into re-upholstering furniture and reclaiming old pieces. I’m taking an upholstery class, the guy who teaches it is a d*ck, but that’s been great. We go to auctions and hunt out good finds. The thrill of the hunt is where it’s at. Tracy and I also cook together at home a lot. We recently bought a place in Carroll Gardens and couldn't be happier there. I like TV, movies and reading. With Tracy I get my art-house and reality TV fix, and with Aiden I get my sci-fi fix. I’m a lover of all kinds of music except for new-age, I hate that stuff. I’m into 80s and 90s metal, industrial, Brazilian jazz, 70’s pop, and yes, some Polish rap.
FOX - The Polish rap I can kind of see, but the upholstery class blind sided me! Any thing else that would surprise us?
DMAK - Well, I strongly considered becoming a sex therapist. I’m fascinated by human sexuality!
FOX - HA! Alright David, last question. What should we look for in a future athlete of the month?
DMAK - I think I feel the same as everyone else who’s answered this question, and I don’t envy you guys who have to make this decision. Someone who’s dedicated and is part of the community. Someone who’s not selfish and supports fellow athletes, and who trains smart themselves.
Thanks and congratulations again to David. He’s a real solid guy and someone who’d I’d take in my corner in any situation, and I have to admit I’d be a little afraid if he was in the opposite corner. We coaches look forward to being a part of your growth as an athlete and are thankful to have to as a part of the community.