FitHAUS Featured Athlete ... Chris Sternhagen

Our Friday FitHAUS Featured Athlete this week is Chris Sternhagen! If you haven't noticed (and it's hard NOT to), Chris is very dedicated to his fitness and to improving himself day after day. He's up for any monthly challenge we throw at him (and has won most of the recent months), up for throwing down in local competitions, and most weeks you'll see him and his kiddos at Open Gym on Sunday ... even if it's just to work on mobility and recovery! He's run Ragnar Trail in Wisconsin with our FitHAUS teams for the last three years and joins us at most FitHAUS events! When he's traveling for work, he drops into CrossFit boxes across the country to keep his fitness going strong! When he's not traveling, you'll usually see him in the 6:30am classes! We love having Chris (and the whole Sternhagen crew) as part of our community at FitHAUS!

We asked Chris a couple random questions so we can all get to know him a little better! Here's what he had to say:

Q:  Tell us a little about you (things that we might not all know)??

CS: A few things people may not know about me..hmmm. Well, I enjoy being outdoors, especially upland bird hunting and fishing – in fact I’m trained in the Silent Command System for bird dog training. I love snowboarding and in my younger years I actually used to compete in “Big Air” events but I’ve since lost my nerve for that. I’ve been scuba certified since I was 15. I have a BS in Electrical Engineering & Technology and have worked in the grid scale renewable energy field for over 13 years! I am married with 4 kids, 1 dog, and 3 goldfish. I read a lot and prefer American Literature – Hemingway, Faulkner & Thomas McGuane are some of my favorites. My wife and I are avid fans of Big Brother (sorry to out us like this babe but I guess its time people knew). I spent time in my youth acting with the Prairie Wind Players Community Theatre. I played in a remake of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Peter Pan! It was actually fun as hell. I cook a lot but am terrible at baking. I have had more concussions than I can count (so please don’t take it personally if I don’t recall your name). I’m hard of hearing. I meditate [almost] every morning for 20 minutes, I love Jesus (real men do) and my family.

Q:  What made you decide to try CrossFit at FitHAUS (and what were you doing prior to coming in)?

CS: Prior to giving Crossfit and FitHaus a try I was in a lengthy on again, off again relationship with Lifetime Fitness. As my family and professional responsibilities grew I became very inconsistent in both my attendance and approach to fitness and the results were showing. In hindsight, I was struggling to maintain a healthy balance in my life and more often than not my fitness was usually the first area I would ignore or push aside for other things. Thankfully Matt and Chad were able to stir up my interest and I decided to give it a try with very little understanding of Crossfit or functional fitness in general. My previous approach to fitness had generally revolved around standard strength training and steady state cardio approaches with some specialization around sports I was or had been involved in. The approach I found at FitHAUS included a lot of familiar strength training components but there was so much more that was completely foreign to me. Metcon?....AMRAP?....HSPU?...BMU?...and why are there rings hanging everywhere? I was certainly intimidated but I was also warmly welcomed with open [and chalky] arms. I was pleasantly surprised to find a gym that was almost completely devoid of ego, a very workman like approach and NO MIRRORS! After my first Metcon, I remember laying in a pool of my own sweat, staring at the ceiling and wondering what in the hell just happened to me. It was a spiritual moment and once my heart rate normalized a few hours later I wanted more..

Q: What is your favorite part of FitHAUS?

CS: The people and fellowship – programming – focus on overall wellness. Due to travel I tend to drop into a lot of different Crossfit affiliates and from my experience the programming at FitHAUS is generally more complete. Meaning there’s a focus on lift progression, accessory work, mobility and active recovery, not just the big lifts and metcons. The class sizes and group events/comps are a positive for me as well. They help me connect with other members and the coaches which in turn helps me maintain my commitment to a healthy lifestyle. For me, FitHAUS has grown to be much more than a gym.

Q: What are some of the accomplishments you're most proud of, and what are your goals going forward?

CS: My baseline fitness level is substantially higher now than when I first joined. I’m stronger and much more mobile and recently I’ve seen a sizable increase in my V02max which is great going into the Open soon. I have so much I want to work on but over the winter months I want to gain muscle mass, improve my core and gymnastics skills.

Q: How has working out at FitHAUS bettered your life outside the gym?

CS: I’m more connected to my community than I was prior to joining FitHAUS and I have more time for other things in my life. At FitHAUS I can be in and out the door in 60 minutes and get a far superior workout than at a more traditional style gym.

Q: What advice you you give to someone considering joining FitHAUS?

CS: Don’t let stereotypes or fear influence your decision. CrossFit and functional fitness works for everyone, regardless of age and fitness level. You’ll find a caring, supportive community at FitHAUS.

Q: Favorite movement/lift/skill:

CS: This varies. I haven’t found a Hero WOD I didn’t like. As for lifting, I enjoy the overhead squat and sled work.

Q: Least favorite movement/lift/skill:

CS: This does not vary. Box jumps and double unders suck. God did not see fit to bless me with any vertical skills and I inevitably end up with banged up shins and jump rope lashes anytime I do these.

Thanks for being here, Chris! You make FitHAUS and this community better!