Testimonial Week: Michael “Mikey” Muna

About two years ago, I decided to leave my profession as an orchestral musician in Houston in order to pursue a longtime dream of attending law school. I upended my life, deposited my two dogs with my parents in California, and moved to Austin to begin anew. Law school was a jump into an abyss that I had to do on my own (my partner of 7 years is still in Houston), and the consequences were a disastrous lack of sleep, an abundance of stress, and a diet that was almost laughable had it not been so dire. By the end of my first semester, I was a mess. “New Year’s resolution time,” I said to myself, which led to my researching CrossFit gyms in the Austin area. With the thought that hopefully this time I would stick with the workout program (unlike every other one prior), I signed up for my first class.

In my lifetime struggle to attain that elusive state of “being in shape,” I couldn’t seem to make that permanent “lifestyle change” that diet gurus and television personalities spoke of that would lead to the mystical land of fitness and washboard abs. My whole life I had enjoyed being active, and I kept trying my hand at different sports and regimens. In junior high school I played volleyball. In high school I joined the swim team. In college I became a runner and trained for—and completed—the San Francisco Marathon. In grad school, I joined up with a boot camp run by the SWAT team of Houston. Post-grad school I did P90X. The common thread running through my attempts at fitness is that there was no common thread; I would go through a period of fascination with something that would last anywhere between one to two years, followed by a reversion to old lifestyles and habits (which included lots of wine, pizza and television). I had pretty much given up completely on being able to commit to becoming fit, partially because I didn’t really have a real sense what being fit meant.

My first on-ramp (now Level 1) experience at CrossFit Austin was quite a shock to my system. At the apex of my various athletic endeavors, I considered myself in pretty good shape. In this new gym, though, I struggled with a single pushup. I was winded after a 400 m run. I couldn’t get into a full squat position. I had let my fitness go down the tubes in just a few months of law school, and my bruised ego urged me to quit. Thank God I didn’t listen. With the support of the coaches at CFA, I pushed through that initial difficult period, and I started seeing some changes pretty rapidly.

Fast-forward to the South Central CrossFit Regionals in 2010. By that time, I had been CrossFitting for five months and begun to see some significant and positive changes. Watching these athletes, though, was an eye-opening experience and exposed me to the possibilities of CrossFit. Here were some of the fittest people I had ever witnessed, all performing feats of strength and athleticism that would be described by anyone (except maybe other CrossFitters) as either impossible or insane. This was pure fitness in a visceral form, and I knew I had finally found the way (or at least the metric and vocabulary) to define my own fitness level. Even more, I felt the love and respect rippling through the crowd as I cheered not just for the hot-pink awesomeness that was the CrossFit Austin team, but for all the athletes doing things that I knew—from experience—were excruciatingly difficult. On that day, something clicked. I pulled together my diet and upped my workout attendance and forgot about trying to get those washboard abs. I decided that I wanted to be the strongest I could be. That’s when the changes in my body and my attitude kicked into high gear.

Almost akin to the feng shui belief that if you clean and clear your living space, good energy begins to flow, when I cleaned and cleared my body by strengthening and taking care of it, good things began to happen. After just one year, my performance has improved, not just in the gym but also in law school. I have lost about 35 pounds, and I dropped an entire suit size. Jeans that were tight on me (and by tight, I mean I couldn’t fit in them) are now loose. My tailor LOVES me. A year ago, I couldn’t do a single pullup, and I would have laughed at the notion of doing more than two at a given time. Now I can do “Fran” (which requires a series of 21, then 15, then 9 pullups) without any assistance. Now, when I get my butt handed to me by the WOD, instead of letting my ego chatter away, I push forward. Struggle, I have come to realize, is not a talisman of weakness or failure, it is just a reminder that there is plenty of room to grow. I am proud of today, but I will always push for more tomorrow.

I wake up every morning ready and excited for the day because I know CrossFit Austin will be a part of it. All the coaches bring their personalities and expertise to every workout, and I know I can count on them to push me when I need it, to kick my butt when I deserve it, and to be encouraging when I’m down. The members of CrossFit Austin are supportive, friendly, loving, and dang competitive. Most of all, every single person who steps into that gym is a true inspiration. Awesomeness.

I get asked all the time, “is there an endpoint in sight for this? Are you training for anything?” For the first time in my life I can honestly say, “No. I’ve just made a lifestyle change.”