What part of town do you live in?
I live in South Miami – in the Dadeland area.
How long have you lived in that area?
I’ve been in my house here for a year, but I’ve lived in Miami for the last nine years.
What brought you to town?
I grew up in Pembroke Pines. I went away to Clemson for my freshman year and I came back to University of Miami for my sophomore year through my master’s.
What did you study at school?
Kinesiology. Exercise physiology.
Would you share a little bit about what you do during the week? What do you do for a livelihood?
I am a professional CrossFit athlete, so I get to train all day every day of the week, which is fun. Every young boy’s dream to live in the gym!
How does CrossFit differ from just working out in the gym?
If you go by the name CrossFit, it is ‘crossing’ a bunch of different types of ‘fitness’. There is running, rowing, biking and all the cardiovascular elements. And then there’s also weightlifting. You’re doing anything from dead lifts to back squats, to clean and jerks, snatches – anything with a barbell. And then there’s also gymnastics – learning to walk on your hands and do pull ups and muscle ups, rope climbs, and all that fun stuff.
What is a clean and jerk?
Clean and jerk is where you take the barbell from the ground, catch it on your shoulders and then put it up over your head. The ‘clean’ is the portion of the lift where you’re taking the barbell from the ground to your shoulders. And then the ‘jerk’ portion of the lift is taking it from your shoulders to overhead.
How did you get into CrossFit?
I had been doing the traditional bodybuilding and cardio thing for a long time. When I found CrossFit, it was such a change from what I was doing in the way that it’s structured and all the new movements that I had never done before and had to learn. I just loved the variety and the ability to compete within your training.
What keeps you motivated?
A lot of things. I would say being able to motivate other people is a big thing for me. I’ve had people that have watched me grow from being a non-athlete into a professional athlete over a handful of years. For them to tell me that it’s inspiring, inspires me to continue to work harder on myself to earn their respect and be able to motivate them even more.
Are there any defining moments in your career that changed the way you approach your sport?
In 2013 I had the opportunity to qualify for the CrossFit games – it’s like the Superbowl of our sport – ‘the world championships.’ I wasn’t really expecting to be able to do so just yet. But in the middle of the competition I found myself sitting in first place. I was going to earn that qualifying spot and I had one bad workout, with the dead lift, and it took me out of contention. After being able to taste the lead for a little while and then have that taken away made me work really, really hard to not experience that feeling again.
Are there days when you get to the gym and you’re not feeling it and then how do you get through it?
Yeah, I was talking about that with Joann last night. Growing up, I played sports, but I was never an all-star. I didn’t have the confidence in myself. There are some workouts where I would see other athletes and think, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do that or be able to beat that guy. I just went forward anyway. And when the clock started, I’d transform into another athlete and exceed my expectations. But, there are definitely days where I get to the gym and I’m not feeling good. As soon as I get moving and shake off the funk of the day then I’ll usually be okay and end up surprising myself with a pretty good performance.
From the outside, CrossFit looks like an individual sport, but you talk about the people around you. Do you see it as a team?
Yeah, there definitely is more of a team element even though it is an individual sport. If I were to do what I did everyday all by myself, I would not enjoy it and not want to continue doing it. Being able to share the experiences with my friends and family and have people support and believe in me helps keep me going for sure.
I’ve read that you use mantras to stay motivated and focused. How do these come about?
Sometimes, I think they just kind of occur naturally and sometimes it takes a little bit of conscious effort and thought. One that I really latched onto, when I first started CrossFit, was ‘nothing replaces hard work’. I always played sports and had done relatively well, but never really knew the definition of working hard to achieve a goal. In CrossFit you really must spend time learning your technique and lifting weights to build up your strength to compete at the level that I wanted to.
Another is ‘this is tough, but I’m tougher.’ It is something you can call on during periods of your life when you’re going through a tough time. Just reminding yourself that you’re tougher, and it’s not going to last but you are.
And then the last one is ‘happy but hungry.’ And that for me is just a reminder to always be happy and love what you’re doing – but never be satisfied and always continue striving to get better.
Is there a specific moment in your competitive history that you’re most proud of?
There have been a handful. But this year, at the CrossFit Games, finishing second was really big for me.
How often do you come to the market?
Every single weekend that we’re here. I do a decent amount of travel for competing and stuff, but if I’m home, we’re probably getting Rainbow Smoothies on Sunday.
And when you come to the market, what’s your ritual?
I’m not blowing smoke, literally our guaranteed go-to is to get a Rainbow Smoothie and then just cruise around the rest of the market and see if anything interests us.
Which is your favorite color in the Rainbow smoothie?
We were just talking about that yesterday. The orange (Sapodelicious) and yellow (Jackson) are probably my favorites.
What are your favorite things from other stands?
We love the arepas that used to be there. We will usually get vegetables in the far back left corner. And then Eat da Bone is a good stop if you’re craving some meat. I’ll usually do that a little bit later in the afternoon, it’s not a morning snack for me.
What is our market missing?
Entertainment – a little bit of live music.
What restaurants do you go to?
My favorite in South Miami is Whisk for the crispy brussels sprouts, fried green tomatoes, bacon wrapped dates, the burritos, the barbecue chicken salad, pretty much everything there is good. Joanna’s marketplace is our go- to breakfast, cold brew and lunch sandwich spot. And, we’ve started going to Raw South.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
Peak 360. I don’t know if it’s a secret anymore, but I think it’s the best gym in the world. It’s where I spend the majority of my time. I think everybody that walks in the doors ends up leaving a happier person. It’s a family environment. Everybody’s incredibly friendly and welcoming whether you’ve done CrossFit a million times or never tried it before.
What’s a worthy splurge for you?
If I need some extra calories, ice cream is going to be my go- to.
What’s a good rainy-day activity?
Cuddling on the couch with Joann and Max watching a movie. Max is my big six-year-old golden retriever. He is my best friend in the world.
Where’s the most romantic spot in Miami?
Joann and I drove to Key Biscayne last night and pulled over just before the bridge to watch the sunset in the sand. It was nice and romantic.
Do you participate in any community or philanthropic groups that you might like to share?
We’re working on getting a little bit more involved. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear.
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
I would be curious, as growers and farm owners, what your take is on being able to maintain performance and physique if you were to try a vegan or vegetarian diet. There’s a documentary called Game Changers that a lot of people are talking about.
(A+W) If you are focusing on plant based, find out where everything is grown. There is a great free ‘tear out’ calendar of what’s available in Miami – in the newest issue of Edible South Florida. Keep that so you can eat what’s grown locally. The fruits we sell are also very nutrient dense and have a variety of vitamins. For example, Jackfruit is rich in B-complex vitamins.
How can we follow what you’re doing?
I update Instagram with what I’m doing on a day to day basis. My handle is @NOHLSEN
Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you might like to add?
I think we’ve covered the things that matter. Thank you for the distinct honor of being interviewed.