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Featured (Past) Member – September 2019 – Mitch Elson

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A friendly face we’re used to seeing around the gym won’t be popping in as much anymore, seeing as he’s moved to Albuquerque! So, what better time to highlight him than as our Featured Member for September, and remind him that he’ll always have a home here with us.

Beard or no beard, Mitch has always been a supportive friend in class. He always pushes himself to the max in workouts, and personally, I loved being near him after any particularly grueling workout to figure out which movement was worse. Now, let’s find out a little more about him –

“[I started CrossFit because of] my brother, Cal. Like most things I do, I copy my brother, even though he is my younger brother, he is the person I most look up to. [He] started CrossFit many years ago, back in the day when the way to spot a CrossFitter by their white tee-shirt and Chucks, but it was probably 3 years after he had started that I did my first CF workout.

What was his first workout, you ask? KAREN. I can hear you saying noooooo from here, Reader, because that’s what I said! Ouch. If you haven’t heard of or done this workout yet, it’s 150 Wall Balls for time. “My first workout was Karen. That was a big mistake! I don’t think the wall ball I had was actually 20 lbs. if I recall, but that doesn’t matter, I was thoroughly thrashed. But, I was also hooked and was becoming a believer [in CrossFit the more I did it. I would do whatever WODs my brother came up with for me with the limited equipment I had access to.” When he eventually joined a gym, he committed himself to helping build the place up, since it was a new box that was just getting started. “We laid down 2000sq ft of horse mats, put in plywood [lifting] platforms, and I built their box jump boxes. I went back to that gym a month or so ago and they are still using those boxes. It has been 6+ years… maybe I have a future in carpentry!

Considering all that work he put in at his first gym, it’s not surprising that outside the gym, he’s passionate about Art and Design – specifically product and industrial design. I wish I had enough space to copy and paste his entire answer to this question, because when I read it, I hear it in his voice, imagine the light in his eyes, and can truly understand how he sees the things most of us glance right over. He’s a problem solver, and is always thinking how he could make it better. Here’s a quote from his answer: “Design is about solving a problem. Designers have to really get to the root of the problem, and sometimes those aren’t just straight forward, they are heavily nuanced and non-intuitive. Then, a solution must be found and that solution must solve the problem, obviously, but it must designed so it can be manufactured/produced, be cost effective… you need to think of how it will be disposed of, what materials work best, and will people use it. If people use it and solves the problem, well, that is a huge win. But, now this is where the art comes in. I believe it must look and feel great. Sure, a pipe wrench does a great job of turning pipes, but it is not a thing of beauty. The iPhone is an example of beauty. It looks great, it is simple and clean. It also functions great, it is easy to understand how to operate it and it integrates with so many other items we use daily. The iPhone (and other smart phones that have followed) have truly been the greatest advance in technology in our daily lives that touch billions of people. I think the next big game changer like that will be with autonomous vehicles, so how we solve that problem excites me everyday.” From there, we both agreed that people driving cars cause unnecessary traffic – like when you’re in crawling, bumper to bumper traffic for an hour just to find out it’s bc someone was pulled over on the side of the road and everyone just wanted a look-see. I mean, COME ON!

One of Mitch’s favorite CrossFit related memories is doing a competition called the Mountain Meltdown in Park City, Utah with his family. “This is a really cool event because it is at the Olympic ski jump and bobsledding facility. That ski jump is hell to run up, your calves feel like they’re busted out of the skin when you get to the top! But, I get to hang out with my family and some cheer us on and others join in. My niece and nephew are now grown up and have competed in it as well. One year it even snowed! So much fun to be there with them and amazing to see them all grown up. Time flies…

Another was when he finally got to see his name on the board with THE DOT next to it! Granted, he took the 6am class… and was the only one there that day, “but man that dot next to my name was so freaking cool!!!

One thing I loved about being able to digitally interview Mitch was that he writes how he talks. I just can’t edit it, because it just IS his personality!! That being said… Hey Mitch, what’s something on your bucket list that you’ve always wanted to cross off?

Hike the PCT, ride the Continental Divide Trail, trek from Katmandu to Everest base camp and ride motorcycles from Tierra de Fuega to Alaska. So that is not just one thing, but all very similar things using different modes of transportation. I like the idea of being out there and miles and miles from a destination. I think the trip to wherever it is one is going is as good or better than the destination. Except the part where you are on an airplane over the Atlantic with a bunch of people crammed into a flying sausage. But the other parts, those are great. In the items I listed, these are just long trips amongst the most beautiful mountains on this planet filled with solitude. Well, mostly solitude, every asshole now goes to the Himalayas, so I guess what’s one more. I have wanted to do that since I was 9 years old and read a book my dad had on the team that first climbed Everest’s West Ridge. I have no desire to climb Everest and lose an appendage to frostbite  but I would love to go to the Himalayas. And I would love to be there for like a year and study with the monks and really learn how to meditate and clear all the junk from ones mind.”

Now that he’s based in New Mexico, Mitch is starting up an engineering firm with his business partners, and plans to be the designer. He’s continuing to improve his skills through classes at ArtCenter, and courses with MIT and IDEO, and really understanding in real time what it takes to build a business and be an entrepreneur. “What I am looking most forward to is being able to have a home again, live in the woods, ski and ride my bikes. I am pretty simple that way. Oh, and get a dog! I miss Tucker – I miss Turbo as well, I think Turbo actually liked me as I only got growled at like 1% of the time, which says a lot!

And lastly, I had asked Mitch if there was anything I had not asked that he wanted to share, and he said, “Thank you to Becca, Eric, Dot, David, Ted, and Dustin for such a great experience and always looking out for each individual. And of course all the athletes and friends, I miss you all!”

We miss you too!! We’ll surely be keeping up with you and your adventures online and hope to catch you on a drop in someday when you come back and visit. I’m sure I speak on our community’s behalf when I say that we wish you all the best and can’t wait to see how you leave your mark on the world!!