I may be a bit biased to want to talk about one of the athletes that hails from my box, partially because he claims I am an inspiration to him and partially because he once confided in me that reading my blog is a guilty pleasure of his. With my personal bias or not, this Crossfit Games Masters athlete has so much determination and drive that many others can learn from his experiences.
Standing at 5’9″ and 195#, 52-years-young Robert Boshoven (“Bob”), looks just like your average high school sports coach. But aside from his day-to-day life of being a high school teacher for the past 18 years at Northville High School in the Metro-Detroit area, wrestling coach, and mentor, underneath Coach Bob’s average-Joe exterior resides a well-sculpted, fit, determined body, headed to the Crossfit Games after only a year of participating in the sport.
Ranking 11th overall in the world in his division, holding a 3:46 Fran, and a closet banjo player, Bob is one of the most humble and down to earth guys you will ever meet. Inspired by watching one of his former students, Julie Foucher, compete in the Games, Bob originally first discovered Hines Park Crossfit as a way to get his team of high school wrestlers involved in off-season strength and conditioning via a young athletes’ Crossfit Club. It was through coaching wrestling that Bob developed an interest to wrestle himself, going on to place in the USA Wrestling Veterans National Championships. It was no surprise then when Bob started conditioning his athletes in Crossfit that it was a sport he would participate in, inevitably ending up competing at a national level. With his eye on placing at the Crossfit Games, Bob’s wrestling streak has been put on hold as his focus shifted away from wrestling to fully focused on Crossfit.
Bob’s daily routine has not changed much since he heard the news that he was going to be a Games competitor; he wakes at 4:15am, after about 6 hours of sleep (depending on when his ever-so-supportive wife drags him off the couch and into bed), fueling his 5:30am workouts with a nutrient-rich protein smoothie, a Larabar (currently digging Blueberry Muffin and Cherry Tort Chocolate Chip) and some almond butter. Pre-workout involves about twenty minutes of stretching as it “takes longer to stretch and warm up [his] body than the young guys.” Post-workout, he spends about 10 minutes working on a skill from his “suck bucket,” showers, sips a protein shake, and heads to work. No summers off for this guy.
Like many Crossfitters, Bob tries to maintain a semi-strict paleo diet, which he started when he started training and continues as it has made him feel better the rest of the day, plus he has been surprised at the amount of endless delicious paleo recipes. He fills his shopping cart with staples like bananas, Larabars, bacon, eggs, and coconut water, yet admits that his favorite Friday night splurge is bacon, onion, and tomato pizza.
Prior to the Open, the training plan was a ‘modest’ 4-5x classes a week, a team or Hero WOD on Saturday, with active recovery yoga on Sundays. Bob stresses the importance of mobility, including yoga, as one of the most undervalued external factors that affect an athlete’s performance. Our box hosts weekly yoga sessions which have helped to “force” an hour of active stretching, but also provide movements to take home to incorporate in additional mobility work. Alongside yoga, frequent FST (Fascial Stretching Therapy) visits with Becky Wilson at Tri-Covery Massage have improved his hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility, allowing him to perform lifts much more efficiently than months prior.
As the pre-Games qualifier round commenced, the volume and intensity increased, with an additional competitive skills session run by Box owner and Coach, Dave Finlay, and accompanied by Jeff Hrubiak (another Top-200 Master’s qualifier). Dubbed the “Geriatric Crossfit Club”, Dave sought to prime our elder athletes with a focus on linking movements, breaking up skills, and when you need to overcome the physical struggles and push through without redlining.
Through Dave, one of the mantras Bob has picked up that shaped his training philosophy is, “it’s not what you are good at that will win it for you, it’s what you suck at that will lose it. Anyone can go in and do what they are good at. It takes some courage to let your peers see you struggling with what you do worst, but that is the only way to get better.”
With the Games fast approaching, former Central East Regionals athlete, Ted Barker, has taken Bob, 10 years his senior, under his wing as both a training partner and a coach. Under Ted’s direction, warm-ups and WODs are scaled up, with Bob measuring his progress against the younger Ted. “If I can keep close to Ted, I know I am doing well.” He jokes, “I still think the couple of times I have beaten him were because he let me build my confidence.”
With a crazy week ahead, Bob is staying on top of his mobility and mentally prepping for the games. He will be pleased to see deadlifts or handstand push-ups, but hoping that double-unders or muscle-ups will not slow him down. Post-Games, the biggest priority is REST, followed by re-addressing the “suck bucket” and improving upon what he has learned in the last year to re-qualify for the top 200 Masters in 2015. With only a year of Crossfit behind him, there is so much more potential for growth and skill development, yielding an even larger determination to make this a reality next year.
Bob has had an amazing first year of Crossfit and would not have done a thing differently if he could go back to his first three months. He walked into the box closest to his house and ended up finding a family, welcoming with open arms who have pushed him to be the global athlete he is today. To anyone that has any reservation about starting Crossfit, Bob encourages you to try as, “it can be scaled to any body type or fitness level. There is no better way to start getting in shape, and more importantly, there is no better way to stay motivated to constantly work on improving your conditioning. The variety, the coaches, your classmates (teammates); all those factors keep you moving forward on your journey.”
As someone who started the sport many years older than the athletes he is surrounded by daily, Bob enthusiastically suggests that anyone sign up. “You can have fun, meet great people who become like extended family and completely change your confidence and fitness level… the people who are there are the most helpful and least judgmental people you will ever meet.”
Here’s to wishing Bob an amazing experience at the Crossfit Games and plenty of luck as he advances in his Crossfit training!