Inspiration, Sport

Many Faces Profile: David Charbonneau, CrossFit Athlete and Coach

David Charbonneau for Armitron Watches

By Jordan Chapman

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A couple days before David Charbonneau shipped out to California to compete in the 2016 CrossFit Games, he went in to work at CrossFit Greenpoint like it were any other day. Upon walking through the door, he was surprised to see the Box empty, save for one other coach. “Hey, where’s everyone at?” Dave asked. It was a Saturday. Something was up. That’s when the Rocky music started.

Not far behind the recognizable beginning to Eye of the Tiger was a crowd of 50 cheering gym members, all sporting shirts printed with the saying: Forged by Zeus. “They were carrying one of those giant cardboard checks,” Dave remembered, noting that his nickname, Zeus Boulder, is a product of the playfulness he likes to bring to his work. “They had raised $1,600 for me to enjoy my trip out to the Games.”

You Get What You Give

For Dave, community is everything. Whether they are clients, colleagues, teammates or friends, the people he’s built relationships with through his last six years of competitive CrossFit and CrossFit coaching have been strengthened by a common goal, improving the self. The transformation that takes place in those around him — and that he gets to bear witness to — is merely the product of a process he loves so much. It ties everyone in the box closer together. It makes them a family.

David Charbonneau for Armitron Watches

“We’ve seen people accomplish things, physically, that they never thought they could do,” Dave said.

“For example, a girl who has been trying to hit a 200-pound back squat for months and she finally hits it. She gets amped up, everyone’s giving her high fives, that’s what it’s all about. That’s more gratifying than my own personal bests.”

But it isn’t just physical achievement.

David Charbonneau on Goals and Mental Discipline

“The mental side is incredible,” Dave said. “Some of the people that come in are real shy, they have anxiety about social situations or whatever it may be. A month or two in, they’re the life of the class,” he said, because participants are quick to learn that the CrossFit family is an extremely positive and social environment. “It’s one of my favorite things to see. To watch them blossom, it’s cool.”

How to get started? Or better yet, how to stay motivated? Goals. As a CrossFit coach for competitive athletes and beginners alike, Dave explained that, sure, the volume and level of training will be different at such ends of the spectrum, but the feeling of accomplishment is often on the same plane of satisfaction.

David Charbonneau for Armitron Watches

“In any aspect of life, if you set a goal for yourself, it makes working hard easier,” he said, using himself as an example by admitting that in 2015 he gave himself a break. He blames his lack of goals to the 30 pounds he gained and since lost. “Just by adding my goal this year, to compete in the CrossFit games with my team, that motivated me to be better,” he said, and it helped.

What’s Next?

Team Dynamix finished fourth overall in the world at the 2016 CrossFit Games, but that wasn’t it. One achieved goal is another goal’s inception. Almost immediately following the Games, Dave was in Utah acting as assistant coach for his National Pro Grid League team, the D.C. Brawlers. And in January he’ll be traveling to Florida to participate in the Wodapalooza Fitness Festival, noting that smaller competitions throughout the year keep his momentum on the up and up.

“I have a job that enables me to travel,” Dave said. “The guys at (CrossFit) Greenpoint… We’re like brothers now. We hang out every day, and when it’s time to support another person if they are going out of town, without a question, we’re here for one another.”

David Charbonneau for Armitron Watches

At the same time, David Charbonneau looks to his childhood when he thinks about his constant travels, as they echo his upbringing in a military family. Born in Italy, Dave also spent time in Texas and Germany before landing in Virginia, where he earned his degree — a B.S. in Computer Science from Virginia Commonwealth University — and first stepped into The Octagon (MMA). Following his graduation, he spent a year or so wondering what was next. He finally decided to follow a roommate’s suggestion to take up something solely dedicated to fitness.

“I wanted to find something that I’m passionate about,” Dave said. He took a chance on New York, became a personal trainer and started using CrossFit techniques with his clients. In 2011, his friends convinced him to sign up for CrossFit Game’s “The Open” as an individual competitor. This started him on the path that would lead him to Justin Cotler, head coach of Team Dynamix.

Give, Give…. Give Some More

The rest could be said to be history, but it isn’t. There’s too much story left to tell. “I wake up every morning excited about what I’m doing,” Dave said. “I’m excited to see people and help them achieve their fitness goals. It’s like, I’m on all levels, right?

…For an hour out of their day, I can help them leave all their stress from work or home at the front door, come in and sweat a little bit. I think that really helps a lot. Doing this kind of thing just helps.”

One thing is clear: Whether the goal is to become involved in a passionate community, earn championships, attain a healthy fitness or all of the above, when it comes to the CrossFit world, you get what you give. That makes David Charbonneau a wealthy man, and you can be, too.

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