Shaun, Zee, Jaden + 1 “Fantastic 4” Selha
1. Tell us a little about yourself?
Shaun: I was born and raised in Mattapoisett, MA and still have a lot of family in that area. I am Portuguese and Cape Verdean, though most people can never guess my ethnicity. Grew up in the same house until I left for college. I received my undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees from Boston University, which is where Zee and I met. After graduate school I moved down to NYC to work for a utility company. After finishing business school in NYC at NYU I left the utility company and starting working for an energy consulting firm, which transferred me up to its Boston office 2.5 years ago. That is when Zee and I moved to the South Shore (Cohasset).
Zeehan (aka Zee): I am originally from Malaysia, but I was born in Washington DC and spent most of my childhood moving around every 2-3 years because my dad was a Malaysian diplomat. I went to Boston University for my undergrad, which is where I met Shaun in my final year. The story of how we met is quite funny but I’ll save it for another time. After college I wanted to be in NY where Shaun was, but it wasn’t in the cards then. I moved around for work, all with the same company, from Kuala Lumpur, Dallas, Cincinnati, and finally after several years I had my chance to take a job in NY, which I did. Then Shaun and I got married and lived and worked in the NY area until 2.5 years ago when we moved here to the South Shore.
2. Tell us your CrossFit story (where were you before RCFBC and where are you now?)
Shaun: I started working out and weight lifting in Junior High School. I was motivated to get in shape and stronger due to some self-esteem issues as well as some bullying that took place at my Junior High School. Suffice it to say, Junior High School is probably the worse years in a child’s life. Especially any child that is “different” in some way from the masses. I started working out in a shed/barn in our backyard using some plastic sand-filled weights I found in my Aunt’s basement. I used a pipe my dad cut as a barbell. It was pretty rudimentary in terms of the exercises, but it set me on the right path in terms of making fitness an integral part of my life. In High School I bought a nicer “home-gym” apparatus and weights and started utilizing that during my late night workouts. In college I really started working out seriously (6-7 days a week) and joined the Boston University Rugby Team as well as innumerable intramural teams. Sports and working out were an integral part of who I was and I was able to achieve some impressive fitness goals. After college I continued to workout like 6-7 days a week at local sports clubs in NYC and played in community sports leagues. After Zee and I got married and Jaden was born, however, our schedules really changed as he became the center of our attention and focus. Zee and I decided to buy a “home-gym” and cancel our sports club memberships and went into a “maintain” mode in terms of our workouts. Once we got bored with that we tried P-90X and got good results but after the third round of doing the program started to get bored with that. Around that time we moved to the South Shore and decided to join a local sports club. We did that for a year but still felt like we were not getting great results and we missed working out with each other and other people since we had to split up our work out times (me in the morning and her in the evening) so we could maximize the time we got to spend with Jaden. Zee got us an introductory training session at CrossFit Cohasset in December 2012. Our friend Chris had told us about it and said that he was really enjoying the workouts and could feel the difference. I was hooked after the first class because I enjoyed the intensity of the workout and group dynamics, which I had been missing in my workouts the past few years. The next week I signed up for a 6-month membership and started going 5-days a week and loved it. Zee was not convinced it was for her though so she kept going to the local sports club. After CrossFit Cohasset closed down unexpectedly I did not know what to do so I rejoined the local sports club…….that lasted a day…….after my first day back I knew I could not go back to that. Our friend Chris told us about RCFBC and invited me to join. I showed up on a Saturday and saw a bunch of people standing around in a circle drinking beers and watching this short, stocky, blond guy bang out a bunch of pull-ups and thrusters. I was like “Okay….interesting…I can get used to this”. I joined the next day and was happy to find out that a lot of my fellow CrossFit Cohasset friends were there. Now I am pretty much a staple at the 5:30 a.m. class and cannot imagine doing anything else.
Zee: I started working out consistently in college where I committed 1-2 hours a day 5-7 times a week. I did various things to get a good work out and incorporated yoga and Pilates into my routine. Some days were more intense than others, but I loved working up a sweat. I also loved seeing the results and the correlation it had with my effort, discipline, time, and effort. I was very active, loved trying new things, classes and most importantly had the time for it. This continued for years until our son, Jaden, was born. After he was born my priorities and time commitments changed. Like Shaun said, we decided to work out in our basement to have more time at home and then we tried P90X for variety. It worked for a short while, but it wasn’t the same. I knew that I was in a work-out rut. When we moved to the South Shore I promised to get the excitement and intensity back, but it was hard. I was bored, not challenged, and not seeing the results post-baby because I couldn’t devote the same amount of time as I did pre-baby. Then I took Shaun to a CrossFit trial class in Cohasset to break that rut. Immediately I could tell it was for him. For me, I wasn’t sure. However, after 3-4 months of doing my own thing at the gym, I saw a remarkable change in Shaun. He dropped in size, carried himself differently, had a different gait, was always happy and energetic and I knew it had to be CrossFit. So I said I had to try it and be part of this. I have to admit that I was still apprehensive at first, but I remember my first timed WOD of 6 rounds of 400m sprints, where I felt that adrenaline I had been missing for years. After that, I never looked back because CrossFit allows me to push myself beyond what I think is possible. The best part is I am not bored, I am always surprised, I get an amazing work out within a 60 minute window, and I am always challenged! To top it off, my son loves coming to the WODs with me.
3. What does being part of RCFBC community mean to you?
Shaun: Within a few weeks of joining RCFBC, I started to develop great friendships with a lot of people in the 5:30 a.m. class as well as other classes. I started going to the social events and weekend activities. We were and still are fairly new to the area so we left many of our friends in NYC and had to start all over again up here. Meeting so many other like-minded and intelligent people who enjoyed fitness and were so humble despite other successes in their lives was great. It was an instant bond. I also think RCFBC is unique in that we have such a diverse composition of members. We have younger members and older members and people of all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds. In the box, however, everyone is the same….there is no class separation….we are all united in our fitness goals. Zee really started to notice all of the improvements I was making in terms of weight loss and muscle tone as well as the fact that I was making a lot of new friends at the box. I encouraged her to join and she did in May 2013. In fact, two weeks after she joined we competed as a team in the first Internal Box Competition and had a blast. The RCFBC Community and Coaches are probably the biggest reasons why I love our box. In the past year I have visited a lot of boxes throughout the country as I have been traveling for work and honestly none of them compare.
Zee: At first, the community aspect of RCFBC was secondary to me. When I joined I was looking for a new place to work out where I could try new things and get the results I was not achieving at the local sports club. But within a few days after finishing On-Ramp I knew there was something special about RCFBC. The coaches were and still are to this day energetic, positive, and encouraging. They genuinely care about each member. I also noticed that the RCFBC members who barely knew me encouraged me throughout the WODs and took an interest in me and my progress. I wasn’t used to it, but I loved it, and still love it because it feels like we are all in this journey together to be healthier, better, and push ourselves beyond our perceived limits. We bleed, sweat, and sometimes heave together:) Honestly, I have made some amazing friends through RCFBC and the box has helped Shaun and I feel like we truly belong here in the South Shore. It has helped make this community “Home”.
4. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Shaun: I would have to say finally mastering double-unders and being able to string together seven (7) muscle ups were pretty proud moments for me. I struggled with double-unders for nine months. My 2-minute total went from 6 in June to 22 in September to 131 in February. All it took was 5-minutes a day for 9 months. 😉
Zee: I was never big into long distance running and always felt like I never had the stamina or tenacity for it. However, one day on a day off from work I did a 9:00 A.M. WOD and then decided to go for a run around the block when I returned home. The run around the block turned into to a 3.5 mile run. I was shocked! I had never done it before; I just kept going and going and when I got home I felt rejuvenated and surprised that I not only did it but completed it fairly quickly. It was a truly proud moment. I have to give credit to CrossFit and our RCFBC coaches who got me in shape and helped me improve my endurance, which made that run much easier than I thought it would be.
5. What are your challenges and goals going forward?
Shaun: I do not think it is a surprise to anyone who knows me that squats have been a challenge for quite some time. I developed knee tendinitis at a young age and broke my left ankle twice playing football and then rugby so my mobility has been an issue for the past few years. I also used to perform very heavy squats and lunges and leg presses with poor form which resulted in additional stress and damage to my knees. Within the first few weeks of joining RCFBC, the coaches noticed that my squat form was poor and resulting in too much stress on my patella tendons. Since then they have been working with me to improve my form and mobility. I had to leave my ego at the door and start all over again from scratch; starting with 95 lb back squats and a medicine ball underneath me. I am thankful for the coaches for their help. The end result is that my 1 RM back squat is back up to 295 lbs. Now, as for overhead squats……that is something to work on in 2014.
Zee: I am 22 weeks pregnant so my challenges and goals now are different than what they were just a few months ago. If you had asked me before it would be that my challenges were in upper body work-outs like snatches, cleans, pull-ups, hand stand push-ups with no mat, and mobility/posture due to the fact that I sit at a desk most of the day. I also hit a cardio plateau where I felt like I needed to take it up a notch. My goals were to master those movements, build strength, focus on my overall mobility, and take my cardio to another level. Now, I am not out to make any PRs. My focus is to maintain and stay active and healthy in a way that is safe for my baby and me. Once the baby is born, however, watch out 🙂
6. How has RCFBC had an impact on your family?
Shaun: RCFBC has helped unite our family in that we are able to work out together again on the weekends and bond over common fitness goals and PR’s. The Family WOD has been a great way to introduce Jaden to fitness and it also helps dissipate his endless supply of energy. We have made new life-long friends in the RCFBC community that we enjoy spending time with outside of the box. RCFBC has definitely had a positive impact on our family in every way.
Zee: I have to agree with Shaun here. He took the words right out of my mouth.
7. What is your favorite benchmark workout?
Shaun: I am going to have to go with the Filthy Fifty. It works every body part and has such a diverse grouping of movements. I am also pretty psyched about it because I just did it for the second time since starting CrossFit and reduced my time by 20 minutes. That was a significant accomplishment for me.
Zee: I have to agree with Shaun as well. Filthy Fifty!!! It is a great workout that challenges you in terms of strength, stamina, and maintaining proper form.
Shaun and Zee have quite the story. Their journey to fitness started way before joining RCFBC. They have so much dedication to the community and bring tons of positive energy to the gym. Baby #2 is on the way and we can not wait for her to make her arrival. Jaden and his baby sister have great parents to look up to. The support they give to everyone at the gym shows and we are grateful to have them apart of RCFBC!