Behind every great team is a great coach who guides and leads their way to success.
Duke University has Mike Krzyzewski, and UCLA basketball had John Wooden.
The NFL’s Oakland Raiders had John Madden.
The 1996 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team had Béla Károlyi.
And Team CrossFit Central has Coach Mike Winchester.
While Coach Mike Winchester is pretty much confined to coaching up those competitive CrossFitters in our GGRX program and, of course, our first-place 2014 Regional champs and Games athletes, he has a passion for all aspects of coaching and CrossFit.
He’s been a part of our community since 2009, and served as both a coach and competitor himself on our 2012 Games team and 2013 South Central Regional team. This year, due to a nagging injury and his belief in Central’s capability to send a top team to the ‘big show’ (the CrossFit Games) in California this summer.
You can check out Coach Mike’s daily programming here: http://coachwinchester.wordpress.com
And, here, exclusively, Coach Mike ‘tells all’ about his athletic background, his passions for coaching and what he really wanted to be when he ‘grew up:
Q. What is your CrossFit story?
A. I found CrossFit in 2008 while working for Lululemon Athletica. We were trying all kinds of different fitness classes all over Austin, and one day we went to CrossFit Central for a class. I was (almost) immediately hooked! I enjoyed the challenge (it exposed just how weak and out of shape I was at the time), even though I didn’t really know at that time what CrossFit was or what it could be. I knew that I wanted to do more of it, and after about a month of classes, I knew I wanted to make it a part of my life. I got my CrossFit L1 and started shadowing and assisting in September of 2009. I’ve worked at CC ever since and have enjoyed so many great experiences, both coaching and competing.
Q. What is your athletic background?
A. Growing up I played lots of sports – baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field, soccer and even practiced martial arts when I was younger. By high school I narrowed my focus to the things I really excelled at – running and playing soccer. I played soccer and ran track in high school, and played soccer through college at Stetson University.
Q. How did you get into coaching?
A. I got into coaching CrossFit because 1) I love teaching and 2) I love CrossFit. The two go together very well, and once I found CrossFit Central, they offered me the opportunity to learn and grow with them.
Q. What is your coaching philosophy?
A. If I had to sum up my coaching philosophy, I would say that to become the best version of yourself (athletically) it all comes down to becoming the best “mover” that you can be. A person that knows how to move safely and efficiently will be able to do more using less energy. This will eventually lead to more weight lifted, faster times in training and competition, greater all-around athletic development and longevity in strength and conditioning.
For me, a person that wants to increase their fitness needs to lay a strong foundation of proper movement. Along with proper movement, they need to be strong. Strength development is one area that I believe most, if not all, people can greatly improve. Developing aerobic capacity is “relatively” easier in my mind, though both take years of proper training and high-level coaching to earn.
This year we have also placed a high premium on proper recovery. It is well known (but not often put into practice) that you do not actually get stronger or fitter in the gym. You get stronger and fitter when you recover from your training in the gym. For anyone involved in strength and conditioning, the best thing you can do for yourself to improve in these areas is recover more and recover better. The recovery has to be equal to or greater than the amount of training you put in.
To sum up: recovery, strength and movement!
Q. Any mottos or rituals you do as a coach?
A. A motto I have had for my classes is: “Less talk, more do”. In other words, stop talking about how fit you want to be — just do the work. For our competitive athletes, I like the expression: “Sweat more in training so you bleed less in battle.” For our Games athletes, the competition should be the easiest part of their season. The training is where the hurt should be. The competitions are where the fun and enjoyment should be!
Q. Best part and what you’ve learned through working with this year’s team?
A. The best part has to be developing a program and a team from the ground up. It is extremely gratifying seeing all the hard work and sacrifice of our athletes pay of in such a big way. It is a real testament to those athletes and the athletes working with them and around them in the classes to see them succeed so well at such a high level. It’s very different being “just a coach” like this year from trying to be a “coach/athlete” like in years past. I’ve had so much help from so many different people, both inside and outside CrossFit Central that I honestly don’t think we would be where we are without that help.
When you have a coach who is allowed to just be a coach and athletes who are dedicated to just being athletes, great things can happen.
Q. Current life goals?
A. My current goal within CF is to return to full health and be free from nagging knee issues with the intention of competing again. But to train for competition, I’ve got to go back to square one and rebuild and reinvent myself as an athlete.
Outside of CF, I want to start a family with my finance, Ingrid Kantola!
Q. What do you like to do outside CrossFit?
A. Haha… What’s that?
The reality is that between coaching, programming and trying to stay on top of the game, there is not much time to do things outside the scope of preparing my athletes for their training. But I do enjoy eating good food and reading a good book. I try to make my down time relaxing — spending time outside with Ingrid and Cora (our dog) and hanging out at Barton Springs really bring me back to homeostasis.
Q. Fav workout?
Karen. Simple, but not easy. It’s all about who wants it more.
Q. Fav healthy food?
A. My staple breakfast is bacon, eggs and kale or spinach!
Q. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. As a kid, I wanted to play professional soccer and play in the World Cup! As I grew older, I considered becoming a lawyer like my dad. After college, I really was unsure of what I wanted to do, until I found CrossFit that is.
Q. If you could workout/eat dinner with anyone-dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A. My family. I get to train my dad once a week at the gym, and my mom and sisters don’t do too much working out anymore (at least not CrossFit-style), but I would choose to spend time with them over anyone else, dead or alive!
Q. What inspires you?
A. I get really inspired by some of the ancient cultures that have existed around the world. The lifestyle of the Samurai, the Native Americans and of the Spartans, in particular, are three groups of people that I wish I could have been a part of. For them, life was much more simple than our current way of living.
For them, life was centered around self-sacrifice for the greater good of their communities – they had a reverent and stoic sense of what it meant to be a man, a warrior and connected to their environment through nature and their gods. Honor and respect were large parts of their cultures – something that I feel we lack in many ways today.
Q. Fav workout music?
A. When I train, I like my music to be loud and hard — that’s what gets me going for a hard session or a big lift!
Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you have to have?
A. A good knife, an unending supply of bacon, and a good bottle of Scotch.
Q. 3 quirky facts we probably don’t know about you?
1) I played the saxophone in middle school – I was first chair!
2) I love yoga — it calms me, centers me and helps my recovery.
3) I taught English in an elementary school in Spain for 3 years after college – one of the best times in my life!