Next up on the member spotlight is Mark Szush! For the last challenge that we did, I had all the teams come up with a team hashtag. Mark and his twin brother Jeff’s hashtag was easily my favorite: #szushittothelimits. Mark is always a wonderful addition to the challenge Facebook group because this guy has some culinary chops! He’s always posting pictures of his mouth watering creations and making us all jealous that we didn’t get an invitation to dinner. We’re lucky to have Mark in our Roux Krewe!
1) Where are you from and why are you in NOLA now?
I am from Harahan, LA & currently live in Metairie. I’ve actually never left, I love the culture too much!
2) Why did you decide to start CrossFit?
I was overweight and was just becoming too stagnant in life. I would see people from my past who had let themselves go, and I came to the conclusion that they were probably saying the same thing about me. I didn’t want to be that guy anymore.
So I had some friends doing Crossfit who were constantly talking about it, and I really wanted to try it; however, I was a little intimidated by some of the bigger, more established gyms. When I noticed Crossfit Roux was starting from the ground up, and Bradley, who I had known from high school was the owner, I thought that would be a great opportunity to get my feet wet. It turned out to be a great decision, because I feel like I got a little extra attention because of the smaller classes early on. To see what it has grown into now is amazing.
3) What did you do for fitness before joining the Roux Krewe?
I occasionally “jogged”, usually around Crescent City Classic time, just to justify to myself that I was doing something. I wasn’t good at it, and frankly, it sucked. Before that, it had been 10 years before I picked up a weight, in which I would embarrassingly only do bench press.
4) What has been in the biggest change in your body that you’ve noticed since starting CrossFit?
Let’s see, as far as health, I had mild asthma from about age 15 (I turn 33 this week) until the time I started CF in May of 2013. That is now completely gone, along with bad heartburn & indigestion I often encountered after every meal. I haven’t had a flare up with either in about a year and a half.
Physically, I have dropped appox 30lbs, & have lost 9 inches & 4 pants sizes in my waistline. Oh, and I have muscles in my back that I didnt know existed previously.
5) How many challenges have you done and what advice would you give to a newbie?
I have done at least 3, but I want to say 4. For me, I had done CrossFit for about a year before doing a challenge, and it wasn’t until I finished my first challenge that I realized I had been doing it all wrong. I’d ruin the rigorous workouts with food that wasn’t the proper fuel for my body. At the time I didn’t know this, and my results were just OK, not great. But once I did the challenge, everything accelerated. I kicked myself for not seeing the light earlier in my journey. So I would advise to stop playing around if you aren’t sure of what to eat, or if you aren’t seeing the results you want, and join one. You could be wasting your workouts like I was! Get to know the other people at the gym, ask questions, and have fun with it. As far as cooking, just keep it simple at first until you learn what is best for your body.
6) What’s your favorite Roux memory?
I have many, but I think getting my brother Jeff involved in CrossFit & the eating challenges have been the most rewarding. Also, staying late and watching members get loose after the Thanksgiving & Christmas parties was quite entertaining.
7) What’s your favorite cheat meal?
If I’m having a cheat meal, I’m usually going to Bevi Seafood Co. & having The Peacemaker poboy(fried shrimp w/ roast beef gravy & swiss cheese), an order of gravy cheese fries, & a Barq’s. Company Burger followed by roasted Pistachio ice cream at Creole Creamery is also on my list.
8) What is your favorite and least favorite movements/lift?
My favorites would includ the back squat; I have seen great gains with Hatch program we are currently doing. Then I would say cleans, since I was so terrible with my mobility at first with them. Grace is my favorite benchmark WOD. I really enjoy the beauty & power of the lift.
Least favorite, I hate running, sit-ups, & snatches.
9) What 3 specific fitness goal are you next hoping to achieve?
1. Id like to clean up my jerk to where it comes closer to my 1 rep max clean. It’s sloppy, and not something i work on enough.
2. I also want to ramp up my intensity in some of the WODs & metcons. I had a heart scare(not CF related) last August, & I’ve had reservations about pushing too hard, but it’s been a year & its time to push myself harder.
3. Finally, I want to keep increasing my mobility. I didn’t realize how important that was, until I really started focusing on it. Then things began to open up for me, but I am still not even close to where I want to be. My hip, shoulder, & ankle flexibility are specifically terrible. It’s an ongoing battle that I hope to conquer.