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Member of the Month March 2021: Algis Gasperas

March's member of the month is the wonderful Algis. Al has epitomised the TIO spirit throughout lockdown by doing every single zoom class outside - even on those darkest, coldest winter days. Al is an utter pleasure to have in class, he always listens and brings a positive approach to every workout. A year ago, he set a 2020 goal to be able to skip again, having suffered a long-term achilles injury which caused him pain after even a 100m jog or a few jumps. That seemed like a tough challenge but he took it slowly, always listening to his body (even when that meant going back a couple of steps), and he was back doing double unders by the end of the year. Goal achieved!

Here’s what Al had to say when I asked him about his TIO experience to date:

How did you first get involved with TIO? Holly was a coach at the CrossFit gym I was a member at previously (which coach Ben used to part-own) and I always thought her classes were awesome because of her great combo of being unwaveringly jovial and easy-going, yet being able to get you to push yourself out of that comfort zone where the magic happens. I actually remember randomly asking her before one class whether she coaches anywhere else and that's when she told me she was setting up TIO in Barnes and it just stuck that I really should join: it's Hols, it's close to East Sheen where I live and it's in the great outdoors. I joined in Jan 2020 and have not actually worked out indoors since! What’s your most memorable CrossFit moment so far? Finding that such a thing as CrossFit exists. Where fun and varied fitness meets community. There is no better motivation to go to a gym, when you really enjoy the place, the people and the coaching. That and getting my first bar muscle-up, oh and finishing my first Murph. What’s your favourite workout/movement? I'm going totally against the grain here and will say the burpee. It's low skill and high intensity, which is perfect for me. I can just lose myself when there's loads of them to do. My favourite big workout is The Chapel, which has a total of 240 burpees. I love that workout, the sense of achievement when it's done is way up there. ...and your least favourite? I wouldn't be able to choose between wall-balls and thrusters. I'm sure I can have both as the movements are virtually the same. Having long skinny limbs is not the most advantageous body shape for a lot of CrossFit movements, although Ben once told me I should be good at wall-balls because of that, but I am yet to see the evidence. What’s your number one CrossFit goal this year? To do another bar muscle-up. Having just one in my entire CrossFit career means it is looking very lonely now. It's about time it had a friend or two. What do you do when you’re not at the gym? I run my family businesses with my wife (pro makeup/hairstyling training) - it's all-consuming and intense but so worth it. Creating something from scratch, watching it grow, knowing that the sky's the limit and constantly reaching for it. I'm sure a lot of you who run your own gigs know exactly what I mean. We also love spending time in Richmond Park. All of us who live around the area are very fortunate to have such a huge natural sanctuary on our doorstep in one of the biggest cities in the world. We have had so many inspirational ideas and thoughts there, as well as quiet reflective moments when the need arises, but every time we go we're grateful for how our lives have led us to be able to live here and how we need to enjoy every second. One thing people might not know about you is... All of my family are Lithuanian. My parents were refugees who came to the UK after WWII having escaped with their families from Lithuania before it became part of the Soviet Union and my mum (who is now 81) spent her infant years in a refugee camp in Germany. My wife grew up in the Soviet Union but escaped to go live in the UK at age 18, she is also Lithuanian. Because I can speak the language fluently that's all we speak at home and have also made sure that our son, who is now 13, can speak it, so has that connection to his roots and family. If you could give a new member one piece of advice, what would it be? It does not matter what your fitness level is right now and it matters even less what the fitness levels are of all the people around you. If you come to every session with the simple goal of enjoying yourself, the fitness will just happen. We've all had our first session, or first attempt at a seemingly scary movement and plenty of fails along the way. There's no better place to go on your fitness journey than here, your fails will be turned into motivation, your successes will be shared, and as a bonus you'll make tons of new local friends along the way. You're in the right place! Al, you are amazing! Two things that will definitely be happening at TIO in the not too distant future are your next BMU and that Blitz classic WOD "The Chapel"... watch out members!

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