Athlete Feature: Jeff Lester

By February 13, 2017Athlete Feature

Jeff Lester is a long-time member of the Fast Factory, who found us just as our membership base was really taking off and we had to pause bringing new faces in the door due to capacity. Even though he had to wait a few months to get in, we’re sure glad Jeff stuck it out. Now, nearly 4 years later, he’s still here and still crushing workouts. Jeff and his wife Meriel are both a part of the Factorite family, and we can’t imagine it any other way. Learn more about this long-time member, what drives him and even what his favorite lifting music is in our February Athlete Feature!

You’ve been doing this for how many years now?

Since early spring 2013, so we’re coming up on four years.

Four years is a long time. If you had to name one driving factor, what would you say is your biggest motivation to keep going?

Honestly? I want to be able to be active with my kids. I don’t want to not be up to it if my son asks me if I want to go play football, play catch, rollerblade, go for a bike ride, whatever. I don’t care about dead lifting 450 lbs. That would be awesome, but that’s not my motivating factor as far as getting PRs or continuing to come back and to stay in shape. Staying in shape translates, too, into all the work stuff as far as the demands on my body I get there, but really I just want to be able to be healthy and play with my kids and just live longer in general.

That’s a fantastic goal. How did you get your start in CrossFit? Did you start here, at the Factory, or were you exposed to it before?

I started at the Fast Factory. I was at a bigger gym doing the whole “chest day, bi’s and tri’s day” thing and it just wasn’t really working for me. And then I heard about Fast Factory through some coworkers and wanted to get in. But at that time, it was full, membership was capped.

That’s right! You found us during that crazy membership surge.

Yep! So I couldn’t get in, and what the Coaches told me was I’d either need to wait for someone to leave or they’d have to somehow open up more memberships. So I had to wait, I think it was a month or two, not too long. And then finally I was able to do my intro workout with Abby.

Well we’re certainly glad you were willing to be patient! What about CrossFit or the Factory appealed to you and made you want to shake up the routine you were familiar with?

I wasn’t disciplined enough to map out my reps and sets and the movements I’d be doing that day. I’d just go in there and do something and I’d end up doing the same movements and the same reps and I wasn’t sore anymore. My body wasn’t changing, I wasn’t getting any results. It was boring. It was just the same ole same ole. But CrossFit is different every day. Plus you don’t sit there with headphones in every day and not talk to anybody. There’s structure. Someone’s always there to tell you, “Here’s what you’re going to do and here’s how you’re going to do it. And here’s how you’re going to do it the right way.” That’s all the stuff that I need.

Although on your own, you did get to pick your own music.

Extremely true!! If there’s any downside at all here, it’s the fact that this is a female-dominated gym and girls tend not to like my music. So I kinda have to suffer through Justin Bieber and the like.

Haha Justin Bieber wouldn’t be my ideal lifting music, either. So what would be your perfect music for say, strength training?

If you’re doing strength training, it would be heavy metal. Which I guess most people don’t really get into.

I get it, though. You need that angry undertone to get mad at the bar.

Yes!! Exactly. It gets you angry and then you just release it onto the barbell, and then if we really have to, we can change it to Bieber for the metcon.

Hahaha makes sense! Let’s talk about life outside the gym. Has this helped you in your work at all? You’re in law enforcement, do you feel that CrossFit has helped with the demands of the job?

I don’t think I was in bad shape coming into the Fast Factory, but I’m in much better shape now than when I started 4 years ago. It’s one of those things where you basically sit there and do really mundane things for 99% of your day—it’s not as glamorous as sometimes people think it is. We don’t chase people every day, we don’t even get donuts every day. We don’t get into wild fights every day, but that stuff happens, and when it does, you go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye. So the constantly varied aspect of CrossFit helps me to be in the best condition possible for those situations when they arise.

Right. That whole bit about prepping for the unknown and unknowable, there’s a lot of truth to it! So since we’re on the topic of what keeps you busy outside the gym, you’re also a family man. Your wife, Meriel, is also a member. And you have 2 little ones, don’t you?

Yes, there’s Ada (6) and Ronin (8). They keep me pretty busy. It’s funny, way back when they were babies I thought I was busy then, and other parents told me, you haven’t seen anything yet. Now that they’re older, it’s pretty constant running to and from appointments, swimming lessons, baseball, tennis, gymnastics, dance… Ronan also was part of the Youth CrossFit program this past summer. Now Ada has said she wants to do it, too, and I’m sure Ronan will want to do it again.

So basically they’ll be kicking your butt in workouts before you know it.

I’m sure they will!

Do you feel like your involvement and dedication to a fitter lifestyle through CrossFit is important for your children to see?

I think so, yes. Obviously they come in every once in a while when they’re not in school or on the weekends. In the summer they’re here with me all the time and they’re able to see me working out. And sometimes they’re able to come out on the floor and do the same things they see me doing, using a PVC pipe or the like. They ask about exercise a lot, they like to get outside a lot. They’re constantly asking about it. For instance, we were at Coborn’s the other day picking up groceries. Ronan has seen me hit up the salad bar I don’t know how many times, and he randomly asked, “Daddy, are you going to get a salad today?” So I think that’s important, teaching them not just fitness, but healthy habits, too.

Yeah, it’s all intertwined for sure. I also wanted to ask you about working out with your wife. Did you and Meriel start at the same time?

As soon as I got back in my car after Abby destroyed me in my intro, I sent Meriel a text saying, “You need to sign up.” I knew she would love it, too. I just knew. She was kind of shy and didn’t want to call, so she jumped online and thought she’d found the right CrossFit gym, and she hadn’t. She wound up making an introductory appointment at a different CrossFit gym. When she sent me the confirmation, I had to explain that was the wrong address and she needed to fix it! Which she did. So we both got in the door for our intros within 2 weeks of each other.

It’s always so cool when couples can share this place and the experience. I think it’s really helpful when your partner knows what you’re talking about when you get home from a workout, or they’ve already done it themselves. And for those tough workouts, it can be nice to commiserate together.

Well, it kind of sucks for me because I’ll usually be getting up and ready for the day, and she’ll be getting home from the gym at 5 AM. She’ll walk in and say something to the effect of, “Good luck with that one.” Haha that doesn’t exactly motivate me!

LOL! Hard to fault you there. So do you guys ever do any partner workouts together? Or are you the sort of couple that goes your separate ways once you enter the gym?

We have done workouts together, sure. Sometimes Meriel gets a little mad at me because I’ll be yelling at her to go faster or to do more, so whether we’ll work out together really depends on the workout. It’s always up to her. She’ll look at the workout and say, “Yeah, ok.” Or it might be a flat “no” and she’ll go grab one of her friends.

Wise choice leaving it up to her! Let’s talk FNL for a minute. It’s coming up so soon! Are you signed up this year?

I am.

You sound so resolute. I can tell you’re a veteran. LOL

Haha it’s honestly a lot of fun. When you’re going through a rough one, that moment itself is maybe not a lot of fun, but overall it’s a really great experience. The party and the energy are great, all you gotta do is (hopefully) get through that 15 minutes or so on the workout floor. I didn’t do it last year; I think I had a nagging injury of some sort. But I still showed up a couple times to watch and support the members. I promised a few people I’d sign up this year, so here I am.

What are the odds you’re going to have to dance around in a tutu this year? That’s your favorite part, right?

*sighs* I’m not wearing a bleepin’ bleepin’ tutu again! That’s just not gonna happen. I remember being on Amber’s team a few years ago, and I walked in one Friday night, and Jenelle told me I was wearing a tutu. And I was like, “No. I’m not.” And it just appeared and… Now there’s pictures out there and they show up on my Facebook feed every year.

Well, to be fair, you didn’t get put into a cheerleader costume.

Haha that is true, I never had to do that!