After realising he was an out-of-shape Firefighter who couldn’t “hang” anymore, Neilson decided to give CrossFit a shot. He hasn’t looked back and in his first year of competing he’s been hitting podiums and finished 91st in the world after the AGOQs!
How old are you, Neilson?
Currently 40 (will be 41 On December 27th)
How long have you been doing CrossFit and where do you train?
Roughly 2.5 to 3 years. I train at CrossFit 28 in Pineville Louisiana.
What are the other commitments in your life?
Family, Firefighter of 20 years. Enjoying watching my 9-year-old play baseball.
What keeps you coming back for more?
I started CrossFit at our Fire Department gym which is called Smoke Eaters Crossfit. The only reason this was even thought of was mainly just to lose the weight. I was a firefighter roughly 8 years, then I became a Fire Equipment Operator (which is a fancy word for driving the fire truck) and drove for 8-10 years. I was promoted to Captain at an early age of 37 which meant I had to start going back into fires.
I was 185lbs and overweight for my 5’6″ish frame. I was out of shape and FAT.
The reason I started CrossFit is that I found out one night how out of shape I was. See, I used to play competitive softball travelling with my wife. We were both very good at the game. Before we had our son, that was our hobby, passion, and was definitely a way to stay in shape. But honestly, we ate terribly. Fast food, cakes, desserts etc… which leads us back to the captain story. I went into my first fire as a captain, I had been in many many fires over the years and was younger of course and could last a long time. I noticed after not playing softball for 5 years and eating like basic shit, I couldn’t hang any longer. I was out of breath, weak, and basically, I just pooped out.
After that fire, I called my fellow firefighting buddy which had been trying to convince me to start CrossFit, so I finally took him up on his offer. He started me out light, almost boot camp style, KB swings, box jumps, running, pull-ups, pushups, the occasional weightlifting. After 3 months, I loved it. Stayed going every morning of my shifts at 5am in the mornings. After going for about 6 months, he got me to join CrossFit 28 which was on the other side of the river from where we lived.
I soon found out that I had friends I hadn’t seen in years that were members, so it made it easy to start. My wife joined CrossFit 28 at the same time and of course was OUR new hobby. My son was even doing CrossFit kids. Crossfit 28’s “motto” is #morethanagym. This place is definitely family oriented which is why I saw so many everyday hardworking moms and dads. Teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, etc… Awesome environment.
I began my journey of Olympic lifting techniques, lots of strength training along with metcons in the class. I soon began going every day I could and then started going to an open gym/competition class at 3:30 pm. This was geared toward members wanting to work on extra stuff so to speak. Basically, this was definitely the way to go if you wanted to get ready for competitions or the Open. Before I knew it, I was doing two to three workouts a day and strength training before. I was working out with guys in their 20s and getting my ass kicked the first year. I was definitely getting stronger and faster in the process.
In 2015 I started competing. I started out doing competitions scaled but soon progressed into RX. As I moved into 2016, I was getting better and better, still not where I wanted. I stayed grinding and into 2017 is where I started to see progress. My 2017 competitive year started with the CrossFit Open. I finished 91st overall in the world and 4th in my region. Making it to the CrossFit Age Group Online Qualifier lit a competitive fire. I won my first big competition in October of 2017 called the Ragin Games as a Masters individual.
What achievements are you most proud of?
My 2017 open finish, winning the Ragin Games as an individual. “Diane” time of 3:12. Fran time of 2:50.
How was the Open for you this year?
I came in 91st in the world, I finished 4th in the south central regional right behind a games athlete.
What are your strengths?
Gymnastics movements, squatting, muscle ups rings and bar, handstand walking and handstand pushups, toes to bar, PRs include: 300lb squat clean, 250 clean and jerk, 335 front squat, 360 back squat, 405 deadlift, 210 snatch. Sitting at about 155lbs bodyweight.
What are your weaknesses?
Rowing sorta, assault bike, running, grip strength
What are your current goals?
Mainly to be better than I was yesterday. If I do that, I’ll get better and hopefully make it further as a master athlete and possibly make it to the games.
Who does your programming?
I still follow CompTrain built by Ben Bergeron, but mainly Coach Troy Folse and the CrossFit 28 classes.
Can we find you on social media? Who do you follow on social media that you’d recommend to others?
Yes. Neilson Eznack on Facebook, and nezff on Instagram.Definitely need followers. I follow Jared Enderton on instagram. He is an unbelievable Olympic lifter. Pamela Gagnon with her awesome gymnastics work.
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What supplements do you swear by?
Protein, protein, protein. I do take BCAAS and creatine. I take fish oil mainly for cholesterol and inflammation.
What’s always in your kit bag?
Bear Komplex grips, rehband knee sleeves, rogue belt, and NIKE METCONS!
What advice would you give to a Master just starting out in CrossFit?
Take it slow, the strength will come, the engine building will come. work on technique first and foremost. Sit down and decide your goals and go after them. Eating right definitely helps.
What’s the key to effective recovery for you?
Rest days. You gain more muscle and strength by resting. Active recovery helps. light jogs, romwod etc.
What would you advise CrossFitters to stop doing? What should they start (if they aren’t already!)?
Learn the technique for lifts before going too heavy. I see a lot of people trying to lift way too much weight without the proper technique. Getting better at CrossFit isn’t an overnight thing. it takes patience. Weight loss takes patience. Stay away from the damn scale. It’s the devil.
Thanks for a great interview, Neilson!
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