Austin, TX - While many of us are still asleep, or still clinging to the facsimile of lucidity with our morning coffee, there are those men and women who rise before the sun and form a somber cavalcade toward the gym. Some seek repentance for the night before- chance to burn off their sins and resume life from neutral ground. For others, it's a chance for self transformation. They seek to build upon stable ground a mountainous mass of moulded muscle. Here, in a bare bones gym dimly lit by fluorescent bulbs, Nick Hanley, 26, leads a class of thirty in a whirlwind of limbs towards their fitness goals with CrossFit, a sport characterized by a militant focus on form and precision. For Hanley, however, another intangible goals lies on the horizon.
"It's about finding your best self," Hanley says, on his personal philosophy behind the sport. While he's never had a problem staying fit, with a vast background in baseball, soccer, and swimming, Hanley says that CrossFit brings another cathartic element into his active life. For him, it's about that intangible connection between mind a body. It's about imposing your will on the physical world by using your mind as a catalyst. By incorporating a principle used by yogis worldwide, alongside the raw, animalistic physicality of high intensity interval training (or HIIT), Hanley hopes to nurture and grow the intrinsic bond between mind a body for his clients- and, with his background, who better to provide the missing link?
A graduate of Texas Tech, Hanley has a masters in Kinesiology, or the study of human or non-human body motions. This includes the physiological, biomechanical, and psychological mechanisms of movement. Originally, Hanley went to college in Wisconsin on a swimming scholarship, with plans to major in psychology. However, he found the stress of college combined with the rigorous physical demands of aquatics difficult to rectify. His mind and his body were not connected, and both activities suffered.
Enter CrossFitt. Hanley was introduced to the sport in 2012 by a friend. While more physically demanding, he found it also therapeutic. Six months later, he'd coach his first class as a L1 trainer.
Six years later, Hanley is an L3 trainer- one of less than 700 worldwide, certified to advise on CrossFit as it affects every part of a persons life. CrossFit, he says, has allowed him to be more extroverted and gregarious. "People find it more endearing to let yourself show," says Hanley, smiling beside his girlfriend, Elaine. "He's usually a hermit. Really attentive and curious," she says, "but he's also really goofy and fun." CrossFit, for Nick, has created a bridge between his inward experience and the external pressures of life- and it's this ideal that he hopes to incorporate into his own life and the life of his clients. "You keep going towards what you want to do," Hanley says, "Nothing is more important."