New Coach: Nick R.

Sometimes people stumble into your life or your gym and it just seems like it was meant to be. This is what happened when Nick moved into a house that shared a fence with the Cróga parking lot. Being an avid CrossFitter, it was only a matter of time before he made his way over to introduce himself. He turned out to be an awesome guy who fit right in with our community, which made it a very easy decision to hire him as a coach when he expressed interest. We are very lucky to have Nick and his family as part of the Cróga family and we hope you all get a chance to meet him and take one of his Thursday morning classes soon. Now, let’s get to know a little more about our new Coach!1

Tell us a little bit about your family, job, and interests:

I was born in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. My parents wanted to live abroad so they picked the place that would be the most impossible for a 2nd grader to explain on the first day of school. To quantify it in terms of obscurity, I’d just say it’s where Garfield always tried to mail Odie. We moved to the Los Altos Hills when I was in preschool. I’m a graduate of St. Nicholas and St. Francis High School.

I’m married to a gorgeous woman, Julia, who grew up less than a mile from Cróga and who is expecting our 2nd baby boy in July. Our first boy, Will, turns 2 in April and he is the funniest person I’ve ever met. He is way too handsome for a child or human and he has a picture perfect squat position so I’ve already stopped saving for his college tuition.

I have like 4 jobs. By day, I work for Google on the Security and Resilience team where we keep Google safe from natural and manmade crises. I’m also the President of Google’s Veterans Network. By weekend, I’m a Major in the Marine Corps Reserves. And now I coach CrossFit! Life is certainly busy but I don’t really consider much of it “work” because it’s all so fun.

Aside from my 4 jobs, my kid, my lovely wife, and my friends, I enjoy writing (or as Julia calls it on her blog, “vandalizing”), triathlons, and mountaineering. I’m also a guitarist in a garage band. Someday I’d like to find time to read a book.

What was your athletic background before you started CrossFit?

I played all of the obvious team sports as a kid except water polo (which is just drowning) and hockey. Then I was cursed with a hockey star college roommate from Boston who loved that I couldn’t hit a slap shot without spinning around and falling down. My dad is a great athlete and he played semi-pro rugby in Scotland so when I was in high school and the first club rugby team was established in Palo Alto, I quit football and soccer and never looked back.

The Naval Academy has an awesome rugby team. Half of the college teams in the country treat rugby as an excuse to drink beer while wearing mud but, at Navy, it was the best, sanctioned outlet for a bunch of motivated military guys who were imprisoned in a stress-factory for 6 days a week and enjoyed bruises, so we were pretty good. We made it to the NCAA Final Four all four years and were ranked #2 at our best. The highlights of my rugby career were touring South Africa and being invited to play for the US Military’s Combined Services team (a sort of All-Star team).

After college, I joined the Marines and my professional fitness revolved around my role as a hand-to-hand combat instructor and combat conditioning coach. This is where the idea of “functional fitness” started to make sense in my brain. I began pursuing it far beyond my working hours so this translated into lots of CrossFit and MMA. The highlight of my MMA career was being a punching bag for my squad leader and former UFC fighter Brian Stann.

Why/how did you get started with CrossFit?

I was introduced to CrossFit in 2006 when I was going through my initial Marine Officer training. I was killing time as an instructor at the Marines’ Martial Arts Center when these two Captains (CrossFit-famous guys Todd Widman and Brian Chontosh) asked if I wanted to do a “weird internet workout” with them. That sounded like something I’d be into. I was used to fitness tests with names like the “House of Pain” and the “Last of the Mohicans Trail Run Massacre” so when they said the workout was called “Helen” I figured I’d knock it out on my way to lunch without breaking a sweat. Oh man. Welcome to CrossFit. I puked violently and deservingly.

What made you decide to become a CrossFit Coach?

A kickass workout is the greatest gift one person can give to another. Endorphins, adrenaline, and a sick bicep pump feel amazing but, more importantly, it’s empowering to look a physical challenge in the face and stomp it into the dirt in front of a group of like-minded people. In a world of chaos and unpredictability, an awesome workout can be that one controllable thing that sets the tone each day and that daily output of power and sweat makes everything else feel like a breeze. And if you do it enough days in a row, you live a healthy and happy life. I want to share that feeling with as many people as possible. CrossFit is a place where you can rip off your shirt, lift heavy things above your head and slam them into the ground until you feel like Wolverine and the witnesses will clap for you. Try doing that anywhere else and people will call the police.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have fantastic parents but nobody ever sat me down and said, “Hey, Nick, those things you see in all of those Arnold Schwarzenegger movies that you love? You can’t do that for a living. Grow up.” So I went to the Naval Academy and joined the Marine Corps. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be Rambo or Guile from Street Fighter II Turbo. I wanted to beat up bad guys and have big biceps.

What do you love about Cróga?

The community. There’s no ego or hierarchy. Dave created something noble, wholesome, and effective and it attracted a wonderful, diverse group of awesome, motivated people who are passionate and hard-working. I’m absolutely honored to be able to serve within it. Equally, I love that Cróga is 25 feet (as the crow flies) from my house so it’s nearly impossible to be late.

What’s your favorite quote or saying?

“Be brave, my heart. Plant your feet and square your shoulders to the enemy. Meet him among the man-killing spears. Hold your ground. In victory, do not brag; in defeat, do not weep.”  —  Archilochus, greek poet

“Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.”  —  Lil Wayne