25 Apr Member of the Month: Sebastien Puiatti
When and why did you start CrossFit?
I started Crossfit in 2016, together with my wife. We were looking for a high intensity sport we could enjoy together; turns out the scalable nature of CrossFit made it a perfect match for us.
What is your profession?
I currently work at “Service de relève de parents de personnes handicapées», a non-profit providing day care to families with children who are atypical or have a cognitive disability. I mostly work with teenagers. It is a new field of work for me; I used to be a professional photographer and motion graphics artist.
How old are you?
Had my 40th birthday in March.
Where are you from? How long have you been living in Geneva? Why did you come to Geneva?
Born and bred in Geneva! My parents are from Spain and Italy.
Why did you take the CrossFit Adaptive Training seminar?
I was losing motivation in my job and wanted to do something new. Then I saw a video of a woman who had cerebral palsy ( https://www.facebook.com/CrossFitGames/videos/1907570195951496/ ) doing an adapted version of the 2018 Open and it stunned me. She was doing the WOD in her box and was just another athlete in the community, and not part of a “handicap” or “special” division or class, which was a revelation. I started following some adaptive athletes on social media and dig into the matter.
One of my customers at the time was Insieme, a non-profit which provides support services to families of people living with disabilities, a work environment I felt very comfortable in. Putting 1 and 1 together, I decided to re-orient myself professionally into Adaptive Sport. I am now doing continuous education courses in both sport and disabled people care, and the CrossFit Adaptive Training seminar is one of the many steps I’m taking for this reorientation.
What did you learn?
“Adaptive Training” is about decreasing limitations and increasing work capacity for athletes with a disability or impairment. You will notice it’s a general statement, not limited to the performance in the gym, and applicable to everyday life. This is where the “functional” aspect of CrossFit training gets its full meaning, I think.
“Adapted” doesn’t mean “Scaled”. A single arm Wall ball or a 2K row from a wheelchair become completely different exercises and require different Rx, Points of Performance and Standards. The course is also very practical: you do WODs with simulated impairments, advanced skills like single arm split snatches, as well as some tricks to adapt the gym equipment to Adaptive Athletes.
Most importantly, the course emphasizes how and why Adaptive Athletes should be fully integrated to your regular classes, be an integral part of the community, and not be a niche of their own in your box. I think this last point is something CrossFit is in a unique position to provide compared to other sports.
Tell us about William and your work with him
William is a 14-year-old teenager, he loves to move and is very active, is into super heroes, and like most teenagers wants to be part of a community, become autonomous, increase his self-confidence and get a sense of accomplishment. He is born with Down Syndrome. His parents wanted him to do a fitness activity out of his usual environment which mainly consist of therapists, and activities with other kids who also have cognitive impairments.
I thought we should try CrossFit. We organized an introduction session with Titouan, and now William comes to 1227 every Wednesday to train with me, and is coached in turn by Tristan, Mary and Jon. While we are improving his overall fitness with a bespoke training program, the goal is for him to be fit, focused and autonomous enough to attend a regular class, even if still with a training partner. We are taking baby steps and this is a long term goal.
The help and support we received from CrossFit GVA athletes and staff has been just amazing; everybody I talked to about this just said “Yeah let’s do this” and made it happen. From my work experience, this is exceptional.
Other than training, what else do you do with your free time?
I am a super geek; games, movies, vintage action figures, you name it. Seriously, I am one PhD away from being a character from the “Big Bang Theory” show.
I am also a musician who toured a lot but got home sick and put this on hold. I have been touring in Europe, US and Asia between 2014 and 2017, playing guitar for The Erkonauts, a metal band from Geneva with whom I released two studio albums, and spent a lot of time on the road. One of my best memory was when we played at the Spring Scream festival in 2015, which is kind of the Taiwanese Woodstock; we went from Geneva to Taiwan over the Easter Weekend just to play one show. It was totally worth it, the festival was incredible. But that kind of life takes a toll on you, and I needed a break.
I also volunteer with AGIS, a non-profit organizing activities for people with cognitive impairments, and am currently revamping their Urban Fitness program, as well as building a running team for the next Course de l’Escalade. I also participate in a University study called “Bougez Ensemble”, which aims to develop a sport program for both able-bodied and adaptive athletes.
Could you add a couple of words on music? What are you listening to when working out?
My music library is pretty hectic and all over the place, although it’s mainly stuff released before between 1960 and 2000 (sorry, kids) with hip-hop and metal definitively having a larger place. My current heavy rotation is mainly Cypress Hill “Elephants on Acid”, Suicide Silence “The Cleansing”, Terrorizer “World Downfall” and Ice Cube “The Predator” so it’s pretty angry and brutal. If I had to shrink my library to five artists, it would probably be down to Jefferson Airplane (60s psychedelic rock), Morbid Angel (death metal), Iron Maiden (80s metal), Michael Jackson (the king of pop!) and Public Enemy (90s hip-hop).
The only music I like when working out is the sound of barbells hitting the rack, the impact of heavy weights along with grunts of exhaustion. I like to train in silence.
When it comes to training, which achievement are you most proud of?
During William’s introduction session to CrossFit, together with Titouan, we got him to do his first strict pullup. Everybody in the box just stopped what they were doing and applauded. It was just magical.
On a personal level, we had a gruelling 20RM deadlift cycle in the 1227 Competitors class. I ended the cycle with a 20 unbroken, touch and go, deadlift set at 120Kg. That’s 1.5x my bodyweight; I will remember the last three reps forever, as will the people in the class who heard me scream.
What are your training goals for 2019?
Get out of my comfort zone. I am decent on strength work but terrible on everything else. Schwarzenegger said that to get rid of your weaknesses, you need to expose them, and that’s what I’m doing now. This year I am going to competitions I know I will be terrible at, with just the objective to survive – planning to return the next time with enough motivation and training to not just survive but perform.
Any “Adaptive Athlete” people should check out?
- Jon Stoklosa, a powerlift who compete in both Special Olympics and non-special divisions
- Kevin Ogar, a CrossFit Invictus athlete and CrossFit Adaptive Training instructor
- The Adaptive CrossFit page and Instagram, of course
- Natalia Ryzhova, a CrossFit athlete
- Chelsea Werner, two times special Olympics gymnastic world champion and model
- Smiles Taylor, 44Kgs of powerlifter, strongman and determination
- Tate Barber, CrossFit athlete
- Be Humble Gym, a powerlifting gym