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Featured Member – June 2019 – Richard Lonsdorf

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Training Yard is located on the cusp of the North Hollywood Arts District, so it’s no wonder we have so many talented people in our community, and our Featured Member for June, Richard Lonsdorf, is no exception!

Richard is relatively new to not only Training Yard, but LA in general, and is making great strides both as an athlete and in his career. From the little bit that these interviews let me learn about our members, his story is yet another that leaves me feeling inspired and encouraged.

If you’ve been reading these articles for a while, by now you might have caught on that my favorite ice-breaker question has been something along the lines of “how did you get started in CrossFit?” So let’s start there!!

“I tried CrossFit for the first time at the end of 2017, when I was invited by a few of my business school classmates to join their CrossFit gym in Palo Alto at a student discount. I had basically been wandering the wilderness for my fitness in the past couple of years, so I was eager to try almost anything as long as I had friends to keep me accountable. I will admit I was a little terrified, but I was surprised that I was able to just start with the empty bar and learn the movements right along with everyone without feeling like a hopeless novice.” I think we can all relate to THAT statement, and even now there are some days when we’re still reminded that we’re always learning.

He continues, “It was very different from my experience swimming US Masters, for instance, where occasionally I’d been made to feel like driftwood in the slow lane, or wandering around by myself in the Globo gyms of the world, spending most of my time stretching and on the elliptical with not much of a clue. I loved having a plan for every time I showed up, and people around me to reinforce getting through it in those difficult moments.

Speaking of difficult moments, last year he made a huge leap of faith in terms of his career, and this is where we start to see an overlap in successes at the gym with successes outside of the gym.

I’ve worked for over 10 years as a performing arts administrator, primarily producing concerts for symphony orchestras like New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. I was starting to feel a little dispirited in San Francisco, and I thought it would be good to shake things up and branch out into other areas of entertainment. It’s also worth mentioning that I had to be at the office many nights and nearly every weekend for shows, and I was getting so bedraggled and unhappy… I gained 40 pounds! Enough was enough. I quit my job and enrolled at Stanford’s business school for a one year masters program, and it really cracked open my sense of what was possible. A few months after school, I decided to move down to LA because there was a lot more opportunity to try new things and collaborate on interesting projects.” I was on the edge of my seat reading that he quit his job in the pursuit of happiness and health. In addition to that, out of all the boxes in LA, he landed at CFTY?

When I moved to LA in November of last year, I landed in Toluca Lake almost by accident, and I thought ‘Let me give CrossFit one last chance and try this gym down the street’ and I’m so glad I did! I didn’t talk much about this at the time, but when I started at CFTY, I didn’t have a lot going on in my life! I was so grateful for having a place to go and a chance to challenge myself… especially after days of pitching my services to uninterested clients and wondering if I’d have a paycheck ever again in my future.”

Let me interject here and just say to Richard that WE are so glad that you’re here! I can say with confidence that there are certainly other members who are probably reading your story thus far and thinking of that time in their life when they felt the same way you did. We got you.

It became instantly clear that the CFTY coaching team had my back and was willing to meet me where I was and push me in manageable steps towards new skills. The first few months felt slow because I had to unlearn bad habits from other gyms and start to build up some strength, but especially in the last few weeks I feel like I can start to see the results! I am hitting new PRs and [I’m] able to tackle new skills with more confidence. I mean, just yesterday [at the time of the interview] I CLIMBED A ROPE! THREE TIMES! For the first time in my life! And what I love about this gym is that everyone’s achievements are celebrated, no matter what level they’re at.

PRs ALL OVER THE PLACE! I’m saying.. I’m pretty sure I was there for both a back squat PR and the rope climbs, and they were AWESOME!

I didn’t expect this gym to become such a huge part of my building confidence in a new life in LA, but I think it’s been critical. I basically hit the eject button on my career in SF, went off to business school, and moved down here with a pile of debt and a dream, and especially when I’m hitting professional stumbling blocks on a regular basis, I can always point to the upward trajectory I’m having at CFTY, and that means a lot to me. I’m working at the LA Phil part-time producing shows at Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, and with other arts clients in San Francisco and San Diego as an independent creative producer. And just as I’d hoped, I’m starting to get my foot in the door with other types of entertainment companies who do things like theme park design, festivals and virtual reality entertainment!

You’re doing it, Richard!! You’re doing things you’ve never done before – at CFTY and in this crazy industry out here in Los Angeles. You’re sticking with it through thick and thin, and that determination will absolutely get you far, and we’ll be cheering you on in every way. If you ever need a little extra cheer… you know where to look! Go Richard!!!