Athlete of the MonthAugust

Matthew Bunke

Career: Gymnastics Coach and Software Engineer

Years at CrossFit Kennett Square: 2

"CrossFit has helped me continue my athletic journey, but from a place that I believe is more sustainable for the long term.

Favorite WOD: CrossFit Open 21.3 (for time)

15 front squats
30 toes-to-bars
15 thrusters
Then, rest 1 minute before continuing with:
15 front squats
30 chest-to-bar pull-ups
15 thrusters
Then, rest 1 minute before continuing with:
15 front squats
30 bar muscle-ups
15 thrusters

Least Favorite WOD:  Andi (For Time)

100 hang power snatches (65/45)
100 push presses
100 sumo deadlift high pulls
100 front squats

Tell us about your sports & fitness background: Prior to CrossFit I did gymnastics for 17 years. I qualified 6x to USA’s Junior National Championships, and then went on to do gymnastics at Penn State. I was on the Varsity team at Penn State my freshman year, and then competed with the Club program, where I was co-captain my Senior year. My best event was Pommel Horse, but I enjoyed competing All Around.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? In the Summer of 2020, I realized my time with competitive gymnastics had run out, but without something meaningful to train for I felt empty. I had a friend who made the switch from gymnastics to CrossFit and she had been pushing me to try it out for a while, which is why I joined CFKSQ. I honestly don’t remember my first WOD, but I remember early on how WOD’s would drastically improve my mood and clear up my mind space, despite how grindy they felt in the moment.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? With CrossFit, I really have been humbled by the endurance component of physical fitness. As a gymnast, most routines are under a minute long. So when I first started, the longer a workout was, the more disadvantaged I felt. As I’ve improved, I have realized the importance of building an engine and being able to perform high skill work under fatigue, aspects that can be improved with endurance. Almost two years in, and I definitely feel my capacity to move through long workouts has greatly improved.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? The best change I have since starting CrossFit has been in my mental health. The switch from gymnastics to CrossFit has helped me realize that my identity and values are not defined by what sport I do, or the success I have within it, but rather I can express myself in whichever sport I am doing. CrossFit has helped me continue my athletic journey, but from a place that I believe is more sustainable for the long term.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFKSQ moments: One of my favorite moments with CrossFit was competing the final workout in the sand at the Dewey Beach Championship in 2021. Between the workout and the location, I had never done a WOD even remotely like it before.

Similarly, Friday Night Lights during the CrossFit Open have all been amazing and each one I have done has been a fantastic memory.

Any advice for people just getting started? I believe that consistency really is key to improving. If you would like to build a habit, start smaller but keep consistent, and then let the habit compound and grow over time.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I enjoy Philadelphia sports, particularly the 76ers. I also enjoy playing video games and spending time at the beach.

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