December Featured Athlete: Nick Johnson


nick   Lover of:

   – Back squats
   – Travel
   – Italian food
   – His niece and nephew

   Take a moment to get to know this quality guy and The Hill’s featured athlete!




  1. What’s your athletic background?

    My athletic background is limited to just the game of golf.  I have played since I was five years old and I spend a lot of time at the golf course during the spring and summer.  My dad is a PGA Master professional and manages a golf course near the Legends/Kansas Speedway (Sunflower Hills G.C.).  Other than golf, I was the kid that dreaded P.E. class, being picked last for kickball at recess and finishing last in the mile run!

  2. What was your first experience with CF?

    My first couple months at River Market CrossFit were hit and miss.  I was not sure I liked it or if I wanted to stick with it.  Then, in my third month we had a WOD of 21-15-9 burpees over boxes and thrusters with a time cap.  There were about 20 of us in the class that night and in that gym it was super cramped.  Anyway, I got to the set of 9 with two minutes left and really wanted to just stop, but everyone else in the class was done and they and the coach came over and cheered me on till I finished.  After I finished with five seconds to spare I felt amazing!  It felt so good to finish the workout and have everyone cheering me on till the end.  It was at this moment I felt the true effects of what CrossFit can do and that night is what got me hooked.

  3. When did you start CF?

    I started CrossFit the Tuesday after Labor Day in 2014, so just a little over two years ago.

  4. Why did you choose CrossFit Memorial Hill?

    Honestly, The Hill was the first gym on Erin (Matyak) Fajen and I’s list to check out after River Market CrossFit closed simply because it was the closest to work at the time.  I planned to go to a different gym each night that week, but after one class at The Hill I knew where I belonged!

  5. What keeps you coming back?

    Many of the same reasons that everyone else comes back:
    – The coaches and staff – they all know our name, take the time to understand who we are as individuals and really create a warm and inviting atmosphere
    – The programming and structure – it’s deliberate and scalable to all skill levels
    – My fellow athletes – I felt welcomed at The Hill from the very beginning and to this day I still get excited to leave work and come to the gym to see everyone, even if it’s just a passing “Hi” between classes.  We all come from different backgrounds but CrossFit is something common that brings us together!  It feels like this secret club that is not so secret!

  6. Why do you live in KC and how do you like to spend your free time?

    I was born and raised in KC (Wyandotte County to be exact – also known as “The Dotte”!).  What’s interesting is that as the years have passed what keeps me here is ever evolving.  Family is the foundation as they are all here.  Then there are several close friends (new and old) in town followed by my career at Cerner.  I work at Cerner so spare time comes at a premium!  When I do have it I spend it at the gym, time with family and friends (I have a niece and nephew who I adore!) and traveling.  I LOVE to travel!  I’m always on the lookout for where my next flight will take me!    

  7. What do you like about KC?

    Oddly enough, I’m rediscovering KC (the restaurants, nightlife, shops, shows, etc.) and have realized that it really is “sneaky cool” as Reed Erickson would say!  There is something going on every weekend; whether it’s a concert, festivals, beer tastings, sporting events or just sitting by the pool during the summer.  I also really love the restaurant scene.  I’m always looking for some place new to try and I love to “dine” (cocktail, starters, wine, salad, more wine, entrée, more wine, dessert, more wine – you get the idea)!  It’s never boring around this town and I love that!

  8. What are one or two improvements you have seen in your life since starting CF?

    First – My overall fitness, physique and health has greatly improved.  I definitely notice that my energy levels are up, my endurance is greater and I sleep better at night.
    Second – Life in general is great!  I have two close friends that I met in CrossFit (Reed and Erin), I have met many other great people, am much more confident in all aspects of my life and manage stress much better than I used to!

  9. What are your goals for 2016?

    Well, my main fitness goal for 2016 was to back squat 300 pounds – I hit 305!  As we start to turn and look forward to 2017 I would say from a technical standpoint I really want to nail pull-ups as any more than 5 still elude me.  But overall, I just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, continue to push myself in and outside of the gym and be a good friend and family man.  That is all!


  10. What would you say to someone thinking about starting CF?

    Give it a shot and come in with an open mind!  Try to not be concerned with your past athletic ability or non-ability and also really buy into the concept that CF movements are based on how the body was designed to move, not on the bad habits we have picked up over time.  The other day I was with my 3-year-old niece and I was watching her sit on the floor and pick things up off the ground.  You would think she has been in CrossFit her whole (albeit short) life!  Her back was straight and when she goes to pick something up off the floor she is performing a deadlift!

  11. What’s your favorite & least favorite CF movement?

    My favorite is a back squat – I know that surprises everyone!!
    My least favorite is a snatch.

  12. What’s your favorite cheat meal?

    Italian – preferably Cupini’s or Garozzo’s!

  13. Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family?

    A few things:
    – When faced with the decision of taking the elevators or the stairs…. always take the stairs!
    – Choose Your Attitude!  I learned that on my first day working at Worlds of Fun in college and I have lived by it ever since.
    – Sabbaticals are awesome!!
    – Thank you to all the coaches, staff and athletes at the gym who welcome me every class and encourage me to fight hard and make it count!  It is a blessing to share an hour (or more) of my day with all of you!

Next Post: