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Tuesday
Aug232011

Underneath the Hoodie: Chris Fox

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Vitals
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 165-170
DOB: 12/12/72
Born: Astoria, Queens
Grew up: Queens and Jersey
Places of Higher Learning: Natural Gourmet Institute and CUNY Kingsborough (Exercise Science)

Chris on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“I had always been kind of a "dreamer" and not a "doer". The author tries to reconcile between romantic notions of quality (or, what is "good") and pragmatic notions of quality and develop a view point and way of living that includes both. I became focused on being less "romantic" than I had been in the past after reading it. It was kind of like...I wanted to still see the world as a beautiful, sometimes mysterious place, but also learn how to function in it and achieve goals in a way that was as productive and useful as possible. I became more goal oriented and action based than I had been. Also I stopped throwing away old stuff and started repairing or learning how to repair it.”

On the surface, Chris’ life is all zig zags, but when you look closer, you find that his ability to turn his instincts into opportunities is the thru line that creates cohesion.

Raised in a milieau of broken homes and rooftop play, Chris’ family was no exception. Early on, his parents split, and he and his brother were raised by his Mom and Stepdad. A pudgy kid, Chris was into oreo cookies, his bmx mongoose, punch ball, imitating WWF with his friends and Manhunt - a game that involved chasing each other from roof to roof around the neighborhood, parkour style. It was a chaotic youth of parent/child clashes, family alcoholism and book report avoidance.

Late in his childhood, Chris’ Mom and Stepdad moved the family to Jersey, which resulted in serious culture shock. People in Jersey were friendly. They, like, smiled and said hi. It creeped Chris out. Maybe that’s why he fled back to Yonkers after a final bout with Mom, who’d really had enough of Chris’ affinity for stirring the pot. (Don’t worry, they patched things up later.)

At that point, Chris made the decision to earn a living rather than get into debt over school loans. He was living with a girl, making good money working with his Dad in retail and growing up. The girl didn’t last too long and he ended up back in Jersey with another girl who became his wife and eventually birthed his two kids. Wife, job, then kids... yeah, a lot was happening in his early 20’s. But the growing up thing was taking place on an interior level as well.

On the Road was the first novel Chris picked up, read and enjoyed. It was a revelatory experience for him - enjoying a book. He started reading more, studying eastern philosophy and exploring his definition of health. Finally, the pudgy kid who was always a little uncomfortable with is shirt off began to prioritize how he ate; it was vegetarianism that first took hold. For Chris, vegetarianism was primarily about health. He was quickly shedding his youthful attachments to candy and wrestling in favor of yogurt smoothies and yoga. He started cooking, developing compassion, and he let everybody know about it. Yeah, he got a little grandiose about the whole thing, but he’s toned it down since then.

So Chris was doing his hippy, veg, yogic thing with his wife, the food network was starting to boom and he was working retail. Cool, but the retail thing was getting old. Maybe it was time to do something else. Why not build on what he had going in his personal life and go to culinary school? He could go to school, become a chef and then get a show on the Food Network. Perfect. So he enrolled in the Natural Gourmet Institute. Step one, check. Next, internship and then job at Candle Cafe, the dream restaurant. Step two, in progress. Except... life in the restaurant biz was damned hard with little financial reward. Rude awakening number one. But he was happy, so he kept going.

On the personal front, Chris was starting to feel unwell as a vegetarian. His sleep was bad, he was losing too much weight and he realized if he wanted to be healthy, he needed some animal protein. He started with eggs and dairy, expanded to fish and so on. Once gain, the personal influenced professional: Chris decided it was time to learn how to cook animals. He left Candle Cafe, did a brief, overwhelming stint at a BBQ place, and landed at Cafe O, an organic cafe uptown.

The kitchen at Cafe O was crazy. Chef Michael was slinging booze, everything was all over the place and Chris absolutely loved it. He proved himself worthy by working his way up the stations to Chef’s side. Things were going great - Step two totally in the bag. Until the chicken incident. See, Chris had On Principle skipped the butchering classes at Natural Gourmet, so when he had to halve a chicken for the first time at Cafe O, he nearly halved his left hand in the process. He fled in a bundle of bloody napkins, skipped the emergency room and nursed his wounds at home, too embarrassed to go back to the restaurant. A few days later, the Chef called and told him to get his butt back in there, all was ok.

Except that it wasn’t. Weird stuff was going down at Cafe O that lead to Chef Michael’s departure with Chris on deck to be chef (finally, Step two!). Then one day the kitchen was mysteriously on fire, the place closed down and Chris had to steal back his knives before they were sold on auction. He found a payphone, called Candle Cafe and asked if they were hiring. It turned out the head chef was getting ready to leave, so back he went to train up for the job. Step two was finally going to happen.

Life at home, however, was not so good. His marriage was ending and he was pretty depressed.

Enter Jess.

At the restaurant, she was a hardass to everyone else, but all smiles with Chris, always asking him to hang out. Chris didn’t know what “hanging out” meant. He was married and a dad barely out of his teens; he never really had the chance to “hang out.” The idea weirded him out. Plus, he was too depressed, so he kept saying no. One night, he said no as usual, got in his car and was driving home when he suddenly thought “What am I doing? What am I going home to? I should just go and meet people, what the hell.” So he turned around, went back to the restaurant and waited for Jess to get off work. They went to Bull McCabe’s, immediately fell into hours of conversation and that was that. A latina girl with mid-western sensibilities. Chris was in.

Now the restaurant gig wasn’t really jiving with single Dad life. It’s tough to see kids on the weekend when you’ve got to work the brunch shift; it was time to find something new. Chris tried other options in the food world, but it just wasn’t for him. Step three - off the table. Instead, he did what anyone would do: collected unemployment. He had lots of time, so he joined a gym (the infamous Urban Total Fitness) and started working out. Characteristically, he got so interested in working out that he thought, why not try to earn a living at it? He went back to school for Exercise Science and figured he’d be a trainer. Just as with cooking, it was a rough start financially and he nearly threw in the towel. Rude awakening number two. But he kept at it (with Jess’ support) and finally started to earn something of a living.

He heard about CrossFit through T-Nation and started playing around with it. He and his buddy Izzy (now an owner of CF 718) used to do WODs together at NYSC until Chris found out about CFSBK. He stalked us for a while and finally came in for a teaser, where Jacinto kicked his ass. Again, he totally loved it. He and David kept up an email correspondence as Chris tried to figure his way into the place. His persistence yet again paid off, and now he’s a permanent fixture.

Parting shots:

Almost went to school for engineering.
Owns two motorcycles, one that works and one that doesn’t.
Recently took up surfing.
Metallica and Slayer are some of his fav bands
Plays guitar and was in some punk bands as a kid.
One of the original b-boys.

Favorite way to eat eggs:
Poached so the yolks are thick and unctuous with rye bread to sop it up. Or else fried easy.

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Reader Comments (45)

oy vey, sorry about the delayed post. No internet at my house which threw me for a loop.

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Another great write up on a coach!

Cheers to fox and I think thats Margie on the pen!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShawnS

great write up on a great chap.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMcGrath

Props to Margie for excellent use of the word "unctuous"!

Fox was super patient with me as a CrossFit noob and I can't think of a better person to have gotten me through Foundations. Also his ink includes physics equations, which is awesome.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Okay sooo this message is for Dan.. The PVC's are in and ready to be picked up. please email me at Just0Josh8@aol.com

I lost your email

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJoshua Martinez

god I love this photo of C-Fox.

on a funny side note, I have inherited most of C-Fox's vegetarian cooking cookbooks.. equally ironic is now that I have them i've started eating meat again. ;)

much love for chris (&jess!)

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterasta

A lot going on under the hoodie! Love the books, two must-read classics. Good stuff. Margie, milieu. Love it. Silky smooth!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Who?

(Just kidding Foxy!)

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJoe

This was great. These are great.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoel W

you weight 165-170!? o_O dang

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJoshua Martinez

wait, two motorcycles???

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

Great write up!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Awesome story. Mighty proud of you, Fox.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob N

FOX!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryosh

Even tho he yells at me for dancing, I love me some fox. What fun. Great write-up, Margie.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris A.

@Jenna C. think I lost your email as well.. please email me at just0josh8@aol.com

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJoshua Martinez

Awesome article! Yeahhh Fox!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

and speaking of foxes, big thanks to jess for her help this morning. and to marcos and jackie (nice to see you so early in the morning!) and josi and annie and whoever else was standing around after the 6am screaming at me, helping me get that last rep at 225. much appreciated. good lord I love this gym.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryosh

Great write-up (as always) about a fascinating guy. I still scratch my head long after learning of Fox's dietary background—he was a vegetarian??? Wha'?

Fox is a great coach's coach. He's always there to help and gives great guidance. He coaches Sundays at 9:00 and 10:00, and I coach at 11:00 and noon. His hand-off to me each week is very helpful—he provides good observations about cues and logistics of which I make heavy use in my classes. Thanks Fox!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Peterson

Did y'all just experience a mini earthquake?? I was sitting in Court Street Grocers and the room started wobbling, all the tables were moving back and forth. Everyone else in here felt it and then I got an email from Sam in virgina asking if I just felt an earthquake!


!!!

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Yes earthquake! It was a 5.8 in Virginia and we felt it all the way up here. That was nuts.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMargie

my building reverberated, very freaky

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterSarah H

"hands on the bar, fox!"

great write up, great coach, great guy

August 23, 2011 | Registered Commentersteph paddock

Awesome write up on an awesome dude.

That earthquake in NY caused by all you fine people bailing heavy weights? Bail softer next time.

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterDH3

Chris is da man. Nice write-up.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Quake felt bigger than 5.9 on the 28th floor. But it was a nice excuse for a coffee break.

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterMalcolm

long shot from baseline:
anyone know an in-network GHI-taking semi-reputable physical therapy place in Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hilly area?
1 love,
baz

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbaz

That was a great read. I especially like the part where you didn't mention those damn sports teams he loves. Nice story, nice guy, well done.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErik K.

Thanks for the posi-words. I'm glad David finally yielded to my pressure (I always tell Foundations crews that I gave DO noogies until he hired me), I am inspired each day by wotking with such great people. I'm lucky that I finally accepted one of Jess' invitations, and that they kept coming. My life is infinitely better because of it. Love you, babe.

--------------

Holy-quake! http://jmckinley.posterous.com/dc-earthquake-devastation

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFox

What, no pun yet about reading Chris's write up shaking their world?

Chris, thanks for being so persistent, I feel very lucky that our paths are sharing some space and time. You are a great coach and a cool dude.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Mak

Hooray for Coach Fox!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Mohr

Just wanted to weigh in about what a quality coach Fox is. Fantastic guy, knows his stuff and cares enough to give you the tools to fix/improve yourself. People like Fox are what make CFSBK a great place.

On a separate note: What's the schedule for the Subway Series festivities on Saturday? I'm not competing because I'm watching the little one (and I suck at pullups, but we won't talk about that) but I'd love to come down with her and cheer everyone on. When is everything going down?

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNino

1. Yay Coach Fox! He always pushes me to put on more weight, except when it would be stupid to do so, and knowing the difference is, in my mind, what makes a great coach. Love my nooners with the tattooed man.

2. Subway Series is already sold out!!! WTF?!?!? Nick and I were all set to sign up. WAAH.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

PS "Put on more weight" is obviously in reference to the bar, not my midsection.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

Squat
Warmup: 45x5 95x5 135x5 155x1
Work: 160x5x3

Focused on bar speed, that seemed to help get things moving.

Bench Press
Warmup: 45x5 95x5 135x5
Work: 145x5

First and third set felt a little heavy, but no problems.

Clean
Warmup: 65x3 95x3 135x1
Work: 140x3x5

Felt reckless. Crushed it.

Chins 10 9 7

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterJoe

left shoulder and elbow of death.

doctor's orders: burger and milkshake as Rx'd.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Nice write-up. Enjoyed learning about Chris.

Back from an awesome sea kayaking and camping trip in Maine, a beautiful beautiful state. Some guys on the trip were doing pull-ups so I gave it a shot and a got PR of 5 (tying the guys). Pretty stoked since I had 0 pull-ups in June. Hope to hit up the Ann Arbor CF 2-3x per week once school starts next month...a very lofty goal.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle L

Mobility class: found out my right shoulder feels rusty and my split is actually not so bad, who would've thought? Another solid class Fox!

Grace @ comp wod, 2:50..missed my PR by about 15 seconds, was looking to go sub 2:30 but just didn't have it today... Failed a rep around #24, lost my footing.

It was great seeing everyone crush tonight's wod and stick it through!!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

Great to learn so much about Coach Fox-- awesome! Great write-up.

fox-- lets hang out!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob Is

What can I say, I married an amazing guy. Lovely write up about the truly Fantastic Mr. Fox. In the 10 years that we've been together, this man has taught me so much...personally, physically and professionally. So glad I'm his Mrs.

Comp class tonight:
"Grace"
3:37 rx'd.
-this was my first time doing this rx'd and ended up about a minute PR from when I last did it at 85#. Really good energy in the comp class!

sbk rules. that is all.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

Jess, that is a ridiculous Grace time for your first time Rx'd

August 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mishik

The Fox....Great fella who has it seems lived a little more than anyone knew...which may be why he is such a good guy.

August 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAsh

Awesome read on Fox!

Fox has always been a great coach from day one when I walked in interested in checking out the gym. Encouraging and helpful he always is there with a hello or a good job.

Definitely someone that makes CFSBK what it is.

August 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeith W

I was always a big fan of Coach Fox and now that I know all about his personal shit I am an even bigger fan! Margie you are such a great writer - loved this!

August 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterradhika

On the Road, WWE, punk bands, and being a fat kid in Jersey?! It's like we were the same kid in different decades.

August 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrishnan

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