Member Spotlight: Mike Heniken

Some of you may simply know me as the “old dude in class” or more recently as “Magic Mike”. I guess the reality is perhaps a little bit of both. My journey to CFB has been a long time in coming. Although I played football in high school, I never was really an athlete. I fooled around a little my 20’s with some weight work and jogging, but nothing really interested me enough to keep at it. When we turned 30 my wife Debbie started doing a group fitness aerobic class at the YMCA. After a short while I decided to give it a try and found I really liked the class. Of course being the only guy in the class made for some interesting dynamics.

Having my wife there too helped allay most of the suspicions regarding my attendance.After a couple of years, a new male instructor came to the Y and brought a more basic calisthenic style class with him. It immediately had a following. Shortly thereafter I was asked if I would be willing to substitute for him when he couldn’t be there. That started my life as an aerobics instructor at the Y. I actually taught classes for over 27 years as a volunteer. Throughout that time, I taught my classes by myself because the other instructors simply didn’t like or want to teach that style.

I kept going year after year even though I had knee issues cropping up. One knee kept getting worse. I just kept powering through and compensating for it. Literally, one day my body just said enough and I could barely get out of bed or stand up straight. That suddenly ended my career as an instructor. To make a long story short, I healed up the back and hip issues over several months, but the knee did not. I ended up with a knee replacement about 2 years ago.

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All of that lead me to search for some sort of a new exercise program. I knew I needed some type of a group activity in order to keep me motivated. Fortunately a little over a year ago, I decided to check out CFB.

I have to admit that I was leery as to whether or not I would be able to even do the work outs. Even though the coaches encouraged me to work at my own level, it was still intimidating to see everyone else doing way more than I could even imagine. I did feel guilty for several weeks and had to deal with my ego too. Finally, I came to accept “scaling” of most moves as a necessary and acceptable way to go. At my place in life, I am conscious that if I injure myself, I may be out of commission for a good while and so I choose to be sensible about my work outs, but there is still a little guilt.

Last fall, I offered to teach one of my old style classes as just something different for everyone and to give back to CFB for all they were doing for me. Well that sort of took off and became the first costume party, held last November. I was totally shocked at the reaction to the whole event. Of course making it a party and having some adult beverages help loosen everyone up for something different. As you may know they wanted to do another session, so we had our latin night party recently to wish Kelsey off to her graduate studies. Once again it was a grand success.

I bring all of this history up to emphasize that people can and do come to CrossFit from different backgrounds and desires. CrossFit does have a reputation for being extremely challenging and demanding. There is nothing wrong with that. Most of you all have come from athletic and competitive experiences. I applaud those of you who have that will power and drive to push yourselves to ever higher levels. If you are lucky and were granted good genetics, then you may be able to do that all of your lives. However, life can throw many things in your path that may cause you to change your focus. Adapt as needed, but do continue exercising at whatever level you can manage. It is important!

After all of my years of teaching, counseling, or just talking to folks, I came to realize that there is no totally right or wrong way to be active. It is all about personal motivations, likes, abilities, etc. You can have the greatest piece of equipment or program that only requires 15 minutes, 3 times a week, but if you don’t like the workout, you will eventually quit doing it. Everyone has some level of exercise they can do, whether it is simply walking, or doing triathlons. We should all be ambassadors for fitness and encourage our friends and families.

CFB has been the right place and workout for me. I would encourage everyone to reach out to new members and make sure they are comfortable operating at whatever level they can achieve. The coaches have been very supportive of me, but it feels more like the “fitfam” when the members help each other too.

I am extremely grateful for my journey with you all. I spent my 65th and 66th birthdays with a CFB WOD as my party. It has been that important to me. Unfortunately, I will be moving very soon and will only be here on occasions. I am deeply concerned about my own future exercise plans. I hope I can find a place as fun, friendly, supportive, and family as CFB has been to me. My fingers are firmly crossed. Thank you all.