If you’ve been to any of the CFCU social events in the past two years, you certainly know these two party animals… but if not, here’s your chance to get to know them a little better! Today we’re excited to shine the Athlete Spotlight on Steve and Diane Downing!
When did you first start CrossFit and how were you introduced to it?
Diane: I think it was March of 2012. My husband introduced me to it.
Steve: I first became aware of CrossFit by watching the CrossFit Games on ESPN and thought it might be good for me if it didn’t kill me. After attending a free introductory session on a Saturday morning in Feb 2012, I was pretty sure it had. A week later, however, we signed up for On-Ramp and we’ve been coming ever since.
Can you tell us a little about your life outside the box?
Diane: Married in 1974 so 40 years next April. Steve knew that I came with baggage…an Arabian horse named Ra-Dahal. Love me, love my horse, I told him! Another Arabian that Steve actually picked out was Brut++/. I rode him to a National Top Ten English Pleasure Amateur Owner to Ride in Albuquerque, NM in 1981. Son Brian (a computer guy) born in 1978 lives in Champaign. Daughter Lauren was born in 1983 and now lives in Brooklyn, NY and works at NYU in New York City. Funny how I told you about the horse kids before the real kids. Current cat kids are Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brien.
Steve: What she said about family. I used to play in a band with my brothers and I still like to play guitar, banjo and blues harmonica. I hope to reconnect with a band after I retire.
Do you have a nickname?
Diane: Friends called me “Darb” in high school because my maiden name was Darby. My parents, 87 and 89, call me “Deed”
Steve: Everyone just calls me Steve except my brother, who sometimes calls me “Steverino”
What do you do to pay the bills?
Diane: I work as an assistant to an Attorney in a small law firm in downtown Champaign.
Steve: I teach Mechanical Engineering students at UIUC how to design machines and structures that don’t fail.
What was your fitness background before becoming a CrossFitter?
Diane: Cheerleading and tennis were the only women’s sports when I was in high school. I ran on a 4×100 relay team in park district and actually went to a State competition. I did ride horses starting when I was 6 years old.
Steve: I played basketball in High School and used to enter the occasional Gus Macker tournament with some of my older friends. I’ve always lifted weights (bodybuilding style) but never realized how those heavy bench presses were screwing up my shoulders. The mobility aspect of CrossFit has been really beneficial to me.
What is your favorite part of being an athlete at CrossFitCU?
Diane: Definitely the CrossFit community. I enjoy all the people I have met over the last year and a half.
Steve: The realization that, even at my age, I can continue to improve strength, endurance and mobility for a number of years to come.
You’ve got two sentences to tell someone in an elevator what CrossFit has done for you. What do you say?
Diane: It’s a confidence builder. I feel great being where I am physically at my age.
Steve: CrossFit is my “Fountain of Youth”. My friends at CFCU won’t let me think and act like an old man.
If you could walk into the gym tomorrow and be able to do one thing that you currently struggle with, what would it be?
Diane: Rowing! I think I need to grow another 6 to 8 inches.
Steve: Overhead squats. An immobile thoracic spine and stiff shoulders are another casualty of all those bench presses.
What is your favorite movement in CrossFit?
Diane: Jumping rope although I’d really like to be successful at double-unders.
Steve: CrossFit Total (back squat, shoulder press, dead lift)
What is your least favorite CrossFit movement?
Diane: Rope climbs
Steve: Overhead squats
What’s your favorite Paleo-friendly food?
Diane: Brussels sprouts and bacon.Yummm!
Steve: Spicy shrimp curry on cauliflower “rice”.
What is your favorite cheat food?
Steve: Spicy Cajun shrimp and chicken over real pasta!
Which CFCU athlete(s) do you admire most, and why?
Diane: Caryn Short for her endless enthusiasm and because she called me a “rock star”.
Steve: Sky Sanborn for creating a successful business that maintains its family feel. I know it’s not easy balancing a full-time job, a growing business, and a beautiful family. He does it very well.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Steve: The inability to stop and rest until a WOD is finished.
It’s Saturday night in CU and you’ve got a pocketful of cash. What would you do?
Diane: Bar crawl and/or what Steve says!
Steve: In the summer, sit outside at Alto Vinyards, drink wine, and listen to music.