Many Faces Profile: Justin Cotler, CrossFit Coach
Justin Cotler: “Change Your Fitness, Change Your Life”
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Superhero: A fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also an exceptionally skillful or successful person.
Step into the box and become something great. You won’t find glamor or comfort in the exercise room of a CrossFit athlete. It’s filled with what you need, and it’s bare because it’s what you make it. It’s your own personal origin story; the tale of a regular person who comes to a crossroads to ultimately rise up to achieve great things.
Justin Cotler is often referred to as Professor X. Not because he has a vision. Not because he has a passion for leadership and can guide and mentor teams toward success in the arenas of competition, no. The name stuck because they say all the athletes he trains are mutants. He’s decided to make his super group unstoppable. But it wasn’t always this way.
I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming. It was affecting my health and my habits. I was leading a dysfunctional life”
The CrossFit Dynamix owner and Team Dynamix head coach said he’s spent half of his adult life as a full-time musician. Following his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania and the split of his first band—a funk-soul group that went by the name of Gravy—Justin and his former-band’s guitarist came to New York and got signed as a duo by Decades Records. After two years, Justin went solo and found success as a recording artist under the name Justyn Matthew. One of his EP’s, which made it to European music charts and the Top 10 music charts in Austria, Germany and France, can still be found on Spotify. On top of his solo work, an event band brought him on to play large events, including opening for names like Joe Cocker and Diana Ross.
So, why the switch? Every person’s crossroads are oftentimes a do or die decision.
Making The Switch
“I was starting to become a tortured and bitter artist. I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming. It was affecting my health and my habits. I was leading a dysfunctional life,” Justin said, revealing that he has ulcerative colitis, a condition that contributed to a severe illness in 2007. “I wasn’t living the right way,” he admitted.
He made the decision to leave music while in the hospital, and though his departure was understandably gradual, he eventually took all of those years of stage experience and focused the influence as a singer into coaching Team Dynamix, all-star CrossFit team, and the D.C. Brawlers, a National Pro Grid League team, to huge success.
I love the idea of accomplishing things and getting better at things I’m not good at.”
Since his decision, Justin has gone from a chart-making musician to a well-known name in the CrossFit community. But he didn’t just come by his own gym and head coach status of an elite team of veteran cross fitters. Like everyone else, he had to find his way.
“I love this kind of fitness; where it’s performance based, as opposed to aesthetic based,” Justin said. Even better, it was fun. For Justin, CrossFit canceled out a workout’s usual suspects: fighting the clock and boredom.
Change Your Fitness, Change Your Life
Justin had discovered something worthwhile for himself and—like any great leader—wanted to share it. “Change your fitness, change your life,” he said, quoting the gym’s motto, which opened in 2010 as an 800 square foot space in Astoria, New York, right around the corner from their current location. “We developed a reputation and started to get bigger,” Justin said, noting that he and his wife, Ashley, general manager, opened their larger location in 2012.
Extra space aside, it was about the community within. “What we do at Dynamix, ultimately speaking, we can affect anyone in a positive way,” Justin said. “You feel a sense of fulfillment and pride from this. To be able to help people and change their lives in such a positive manner, it’s incredible.” And it breeds motivation at every level.
At Dynamix, inspiration is a free-flowing entity, and it manifests from the mix of people making up the environment. Beginners can see what’s possible by simply looking around at the elite athletes training next to them. An inclusive environment of all skill levels, it’s exactly what Justin wanted.
It doesn’t hurt that they won the Northeast Regional in 2013 and 2014 and finished 5th and 16th respectively at the CrossFit Games. They recently dominated the Reebok CrossFit Open and are preparing to compete in the East Regional in May.
Comprised of six of the best individual CrossFit athletes from around the country and world, each with their own stories of physical and personal achievement, Team Dynamix is made of regular individuals who have sacrificed much to achieve great things. “It’s super human. They can do things that 15 or 20 years ago, you just couldn’t do. These are people who have athletic ability, who have worked their asses off to become what they’ve become. It takes an incredible amount of discipline, patience and hard work,” Justin Cotler said.
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