» Briefly describe your daily/weekly workout routine.

Part of today’s CrossFit schedule: Five rounds of 10 handstand pushups and five (triceps-oriented) muscle-ups (done suspended on the rings). It took me a year to be able to do muscle-ups.

» What inspired you to begin a regular fitness routine?

My wife and I had done some at-home stuff to get in shape, and then we had gone to a gym to work out on our own. But we got bored. A high school friend who is running a CrossFit gym in Colorado had told my wife and I several years ago about CrossFit.

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» What were you like before you began this routine nearly two years ago?

I loved Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. And I liked to party and sometimes go to bars and drink beer.

» Since wife Jessica works out with you, who’s more fit?

Well, she definitely can outrun me. In the Mill Race Half-Marathon, she beat me by 12 minutes.

» Why is it something you have stuck with?

Basically because I know how good I feel when I do my workout. And I know how bad I can feel if I don’t do it for a couple of days. It has become a hobby. But it’s also like a little community here (at the gym), and a great learning experience. Through all this, you begin to learn about who you really are.

»What was your first CrossFit workout like?

My first visit was free, but it wasn’t easy at all. In fact, it was very tough. I threw up three times, and quickly realized how out of shape I was. But I told myself I was not going to allow myself to go out like that.

»What obstacles have you overcome to work out and stay healthy?

I have a rare blood disorder, pyruvate kinase deficiency, marked by low red blood cells and iron overload. It’s hard for my muscles to get the oxygen they need. At first, when I was a kid, they told me I couldn’t play sports. But nowadays, my hematologist tells me that if it makes me feel better, go ahead and do it. I frequently remind myself that a lot of other people would love to have my worst day.

»Have you lost weight or gained muscle mass through working out? How much?

I began losing some weight before I began working out, but have lost 43 pounds in all (on a now-lean, 5-foot-7 frame).

»Do you listen to music during your workout?

I listen to whatever’s played here (throughout the facility). I like the older rap (from Snoop Dog to Tupac Shakur).

»Do you follow any special diet or eating plan? If so, describe briefly. Do you “cheat” much?

I follow the Paleo diet. That basically means if you can kill it, pick it or grow it, you can eat it. I cheat maybe once a week with things like pizza.

»What elements have kept you motivated and progressing physically?

I recently participated in my first CrossFit team competition in March. My four-member team finished only in the middle of the pack. But things like that help give you something to drive toward.

»What do you do to motivate yourself when you just don’t want to work out?

I just tell myself that I will feel better if I go to the gym.

»Why use a gym like this instead of working out at home?

If you’re the last one finishing a workout, you’ll find that almost everyone else left here is standing around literally cheering you on. I can’t push myself at home the way others can push me here.

»What advice would you give someone who wants to begin working out?

Start small. Set small goals. When you meet and reach those, gradually set other ones for yourself.

»What is a little-known fitness fact about you?

I was a 150-pound offensive guard in high school football. The good thing about that is that we ran a lot of sweeps to the outside, and I was good at being quick and getting out to block.

—Compiled by staff writer Brian Blair

Ryan Downs

Age: 32.

City: Columbus since 2008 after moving from Louisville. Originally from Bardstown, Kentucky.

Occupation: Ex-veteran electrician now studying at Ivy Tech Community College to be a physical therapy assistant. Currently working with some patients, dealing with everything from knee replacements to strokes, at Seymour’s Scheck Medical Center as part of classes.

Family: Wife Jessica, and 75-pound female Labrador named Beans. Jessica works out with Ryan at CrossFit.

Where you work out: Columbus’ 812 CrossFit.

Hours per week: Six or more.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.