Arturo looking awesome doing a bad ass muscle up!

I’ve been doing Crossfit for about a year now. I first heard about the sport back in 2008 but didn’t pay much attention — thinking it was just another version of P90X. Wrong. After I started crossfitting, I fell in love with the sport and it’s been cool meeting others who totally understand that love.

One of those people is my fiance’s friend, Arturo. We’ve actually  never met in person but I have seen his crossfit awesomeness on Facebook and was intrigued by the fact that he became a Crossfit coach and competitor. I knew I had to interview this guy and so…I did! Check out the powerful and inspiring things Arturo has to say about crossfit and life!

Interview with a Crossfit Junkie
Name: Arturo Castellanos (Box bio)
Status: Married with two kids
Box: River City Crossfit in San Antonio, TX.

1. How long have you been doing crossfit & how did you first get into it?

Since November of 2008.

I was interested in trying out for the San Antonio Police Department SWAT team. I spoke to an Officer who was currently a member of the SWAT team and he quickly recommended me to go to his gym and he would help get me ready. I was clueless about how many gyms there could possibly be in the area, so I did an Internet search and quickly realized that there were numerous gyms in the area. I then did an internet search on the Officer’s name, which lead me to numerous links for his running competitions. I also found a link about a gym he had recently opened. Turned out he was the owner of a gym named Lone Star Crossfit. A gym that specialized in a full body workout called Crossfit. I had no idea what this thing called Crossfit was, so once again I did another search. I was in total disbelief at what I saw in every single video. I saw people running, lifting heavy weights, doing pull ups, throwing huge medicine balls high up against a wall, flipping huge tires, and at the end of every video every individual laid flat on their back with every ounce of energy gone. I was immediately interested and intimidated at the same time.

2. What do you love about it? What got you hooked?

I love that no matter who you are or what experience level of fitness you are it will be a challenge. I love that you can walk into any box and be told exactly what you will be doing for the workout. It will be explained and demonstrated. I love that no matter how difficult the workout everyone that is participating or waiting for their workout to start will continue to motivate you to complete the workout.

I believe that besides my physical improvements, I was hooked by the community that surrounds every single aspect of Crossfit. We participate in fundraisers; we have family functions like barbeques, tubing on the river, recreational sports, weddings, and baby showers.

3. When you decide to become a coach? Why did you do it?

I became a Crossfit Level-1 Certified Trainer on May 15, 2011. So, in 2011 Eric & Erica Villarreal, the owners of River City Crossfit allowed me opportunity to become a coach. I believed it would help me in my own personal growth and my career goals within the San Antonio Police Department. Even as a Police Officer I have never been the type of individual to feel comfortable providing instruction to my peers. Everything I knew about physical fitness, I learned from Crossfit. In addition, I believed that I could help someone achieve a goal. I would constantly remind each individual that it was because of their dedication that they succeeded and I only assisted in making their journey a little easier than it was for me.

4. How is being a coach different?

I would say it is definitely a position that demands patience, attention to detail and constant progression in finding ways to allow an athlete to learn. With a busy family and work schedule, I have limited my own workouts in order to coach. Being a coach has taught me more about myself. I have learned that I love to teach and I love to see the excitement in someone that has learned or understood a movement from my explanation. I would not trade this for the world.

5. What is your favorite WOD or move?

My favorite WOD is the one that year after year seems to have a larger following. It is known as the Crossfit Hero WOD named MURPH. Every year on Memorial Day weekend the Crossfit community honors Navy Lt Michael Murphy by completing this workout:

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

Crossfit boxes around the world will do this workout on Memorial Day weekend.

My favorite lift is any lift that I have the most difficulty completing. So my list is long. Usually the lifts deal with an over head positioning of a bar. The Snatch and Over Head Squat lifts are some lifts that are in the top of my love-hate relationship.

6. What moves do you hate doing?

Any lift that I fail to make time to practice. If there is anything I regret more is not making the time to practice lifts. With that being said I will tell someone that the only way to get better at anything in life is by practicing.

7. What has been your proudest moment in Crossfit?

There have been a few proud moments during my journey in Crossfit. The one that stands out the most is when I was able to raise $,1000.00 for the fundraiser called “Fight Gone Bad.”

Other proud moments involved personal goals that I achieved in my career. I have excelled amongst my co-workers in tryouts that have involved a physical test, obstacle course, and at the shooting range. For these reasons my confidence has soared.

8. Talk about the community aspect of crossfit. How is it different from other sports you’ve seen?

Like I said previously, the Crossfit community is amazing. It thrives on making sure that everyone is successful. My experience has always been that a Crossfit workout is done in a group atmosphere and no one leaves until the last person is done. Everyone encourages the last person to do their best.  I feel that it encompasses what team sports are all about when it comes to teamwork and sportsmanship. The difference is that you will never be told that you are not good enough for the team. You will be encouraged to do what you are capable of with all your intensity.

9. What would you say to someone who is scared to get started — or nervous about it being too intense?

What I usually say is that Crossfit is not for everyone, but it can be for anyone. We will cater to your ability and we will challenge you to your limits. Your life will change only if you allow it to and if you allow us to show you the way. The proof is in the unsolicited results of members of River City Crossfit and any other box that cares as much about their members as much as we do. Crossfit has all shapes, sizes, abled and disabled. The only types we don’t have are the people that have not yet decided to let excuses, laziness and fear stop them from achieving their goals.

10. Do you help create the WODs? How do you decide?

I do not. The owner of River City Crossfit Eric Villarreal programs our workouts. I believe his programming is top notch and have recently seen numerous individuals that have either relocated from another city and or box and through their research of local Crossfit locations have chosen River City Crossfit for its programming. The beauty of a Crossfit box is that it comes with its own persona and various locations provide the member to choose the one that is right for them.

11. Have you competed in the Open? How was it?

The cool thing about the Crossfit Open is that everyone can participate. Almost like a so called walk-on to a collegiate sport. In order to get to the Crossfit games you must first compete against the people in your box, then your region and then move on to the Crossfit Games held in California. Last year was my first attempt at the open. What it taught me was that I had come along way from when I first began Crossfit, that I had a lot to learn, and I in no way shape or form measured up to the elite of Crossfit; let alone the people at River City Crossfit. I did realize that in my reality there is only one person that I could ever beat in this competition and that is the person I was last year, last month, yesterday, the last hour, the last round, the last minute, the last rep, and the last second.

12. Do you have a favorite crossfit athlete?

One of my favorite athletes is my personal friend Bryan Diaz, who I believe began Crossfit in the early part of 2008. He is from San Antonio, TX and qualified last year for the Crossfit Games.  I have been able to witness his transition into an elite competitor and he is the most humble person I know.

As a fan, I also like Chris Spealler, Matt Chan, and Rob Orlando for their age defying abilities. In the women’s category I like Elisabeth Akinwale, Lindsey Smith, Annie Thorisdottir, Katie Hogan, and Kristan Clever for various reasons that are a combination of their strength & beauty. My all time favorite will always be my wife Christina who recently decided to join me in my obsession. I feel that her competitiveness has allowed her to overcome her initial fear of Crossfit. I also believe in something Erica Villarreal (owner of River City Crossfit) always says “The couple that plays together stays together.”

Art and his wife, Christina

13. What makes you keep going back every day?

The camaraderie, there is nothing like it. It will never get old. It’s like walking into the fountain of youth with people that were once in your shoes. CF allows me to challenge myself amongst my Crossfit peers and has allowed me to excel among my peers outside of crossfit. I am considered a very fit person in my profession, if they only knew that I am nowhere near the level of my favorite people just within my box. 

14. Anything I’ve missed?

The key for success is to always continue to evolve, learn new things, accept criticism in all it’s forms, do not oust the hater of CF. Instead learn what makes them hate it so much and make an attempt to communicate your intention. Greatness comes from exploring new things, not placing everything into a cookie cutter format with regulations. We learn better from experience and an environment that allows for free thinking.

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