Greetings Relentless Family! For the third quarter, we’re highlighting Coach Derek McDermott! A former collegiate skier, Derek now competes in both CrossFit and Weightlifting. He’s the only full-time coach at CFR besides me, and he heads up our weightlifting program. Keep reading to learn more about him!

Coach Spotlight: Derek McDermott

  1. What was your athletic background prior to CrossFit?
    1. I grew up a 3-sport athlete all the way through high school, and I played soccer year-round. After high school, I raced downhill skiing (slalom and giant slalom) for UConn, however, I didn’t touch a barbell until I was a sophomore in college.
  2. How were you introduced to CrossFit, and how long have you been doing it?
    1. I was introduced to CrossFit in June of 2008 by my grad school roommate, Doug Larson and Mike Bledsoe, who would go on to start Barbell Shrugged. Back then, it was almost counter-culture and explaining it people was interesting. We just knew it worked, and we spent all day at the gym; morning to night.
  1. What made you want to be a coach?
    1. To be honest, I struggled with this decision a lot. My undergrad degree is in Kinesiology with a focus on strength and conditioning where you either go into research, or you work for a college athletic team. I passed on both options and went to grad school instead. During my first 3 years in CrossFit, I didn’t coach a single class. After moving back to Connecticut in 2011, I saw there was a big gap between a coach and a good coach. Back then, CrossFit was still so new and was growing so fast. Gyms were popping up everywhere and the lack of quality coaching was very apparent. I knew I’d be able to do things in a better/safer way to some degree.
  1. What are your favorite/least favorite movements?
    1. Ah shit… I HATE Thrusters with a burning passion that is hard to describe. I’ll leave it at that. However, I’m even more frustrated by pullups and the fact I have yet to figure out the butterfly kip… especially after all these years, dammit!
      As for my favorite movements, I like highly technical stuff. I really like Snatch Balance and Pistols. They both require strength, mobility and athleticism. You can’t fake those two movements. They tell the truth, every rep… there is no place to hide in either of those.
  1. What are your hobbies outside of CrossFit?
    1. Whitetail Deer hunting, Fantasy Football and Traveling with my wife. I hunt all three seasons and come September to the end of the calendar year, if I’m not at the gym, I’m usually in the woods. As for fantasy football, I’ve been playing since the mid 90’s and haven’t missed a year since.  But it’s hard to beat seeing new places. Neeti and I try to take two vacations a year, one relaxation, one more adventurous. We’re in the planning stages for 2018 now!
  1. What is something that very few people know about you?
    1. Hmm… if it wasn’t for getting laid off by ESPN in 2015, I’d likely be in my other dream job. Ever since I was a kid, sports have been my entire life. After 5 years at ESPN, I was working on transferring into the Fantasy Sports department and writing for their football and baseball folks. My guess is another 3-6 months and I would have been in. But it’s funny how life works. Back then, that’s all I wanted to do. Sports is still my life and my career, however, now I’m doing something I love equally. It’s surreal telling people I’m a fulltime CrossFit coach. Sometimes get funny looks… but I love every minute of it.
  1. What is the greatest advice you can give members?
    1. I would say that you should to care about the details. The devil is in the details. For example, let’s look at rowing during a workout. Do you know when/how you’re breathing? On the way in, or the way out? Or do you breathe without even considering it? If rowing is included in a workout with deadlifts or air squats, do you change your stroke rate to maximize efficiency? If the rowing is 250m or 1000m how does that change your strategy? Do you strap in for efficient pulls or do you keep them loose to minimize transition time? Every detail matters, regardless of your goal. They allow you to tailor your approach so you can achieve it.
  1. What do you see as the “next step” in the CrossFit world?
    1. First let me say that whenever you are in pursuit of bettering yourself from an athletic standpoint, injuries are likely to occur to some extent. In my opinion, I think the health industry, not just CrossFit, has a HUGE hole that needs fixing. Once a person gets injured and “completes” physical therapy, they usually go about business as usual. However, the requirements for someone to resume normal daily life and the requirements to resume CrossFit vary in degree, not type. The entire industry needs to be better at going above and beyond, and I think Physical Therapists and CrossFit coaches need to work together more often.
  1. What inspires you, as a coach and/or athlete?
    1. As a coach, making CrossFit a family endeavor inspires me. I look at what CrossFit has done for my wife and I, and I’d love to see more of that. It took some convincing to get her involved in CrossFit, however over the years she has found her own niche in Olympic Weightlifting. Add in the great friends we’ve met through the gym and how it truly has become a lifestyle choice and it’s something I’d like to see more.
    2. As an athlete, longevity inspires me. When I started CrossFit I wanted to maximize my own athleticism, however, that has really shifted over the years. At our gym, I see fantastic athletes in their 40’s and 50’s and I use that as fuel for my own goals.
  2. What is your proudest coaching moment?
    1. I’ve been coaching too long to name just one, but I love seeing people overcome things they perceive as too difficult. For example, I see a lot of folks scared of box jumps. Over the years I found a way to coach people through it and they tend to far exceed their own expectations. Muscle-ups too, some folks view them as some shiny unicorn that’s impossible… getting people out of their own heads is usually the key to the puzzle.