Matt Beals, one of our Masters 50-54 athletes, took second overall in his division at this year’s Granite Games. A lifelong athlete, Matt’s done some pretty amazing things in his lifetime, including setting a world record for canoeing across the Molokai Channel in 2010. He also spent 24 years in the United States Air Force, retiring in 2012. Matt told us that when he found out about the Granite Games and the Online Qualifier, it was an hour before the first week’s deadline, at which point he proceeded to run to the gym, in jeans, to complete workout number one. We just had to hear more, so we sat down with him over the Granite Games weekend to chat!
GG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
MB: Well, being in the Air Force, I have a couple of call signs, so I can tell where people know me from. They’ll call me Boz, and I’ll be like, “Oh, I must have met you in the Air Force.” And then in CrossFit of all things, they nicknamed me Captain America. But I understand there’s another younger Captain America, so I’m kind of the geriatric version there. So a lot of times I can tell where I know you from by what moniker you use for me.
GG: And you’re coming to us from Hawaii?
MB: Yes, I work out at CrossFit 808 in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was originally from Phoenix, Arizona, where I grew up, and then went off to the Air Force Academy and was stationed in different places all over the world. I found myself back in Hawaii about 20 years ago, flying F15’s for the Hawaii Air National Guard. Once I got to Hawaii, I planted the flag and have been there—basically since 1999.
GG: As a retired military member, what about competing and fitness has appealed to you in your retirement?
MB: Well, I’ll tell you that what got me into CrossFit were some military guys for sure. I’m a lifelong athlete. I’ve played Division 1 football, I was an All-American. I went on to play some rugby in Europe, just whatever the sport was where I moved. When I was stationed in Florida, I did a bunch of triathlons, when I was stationed in Virginia, I got into cycling, when I got to Hawaii, it was outrigger canoe paddling.
But hitting the weight room, I just got sick of it. I couldn’t go in there and throw steel anymore, you know? Mondays, chest and triceps. Tuesdays, shoulders and back. Wednesdays, legs. It put a gun to my head, so to speak. And then a couple of Special Forces guys about half my age said, “Hey, you want to come work out with us? We’re doing this functional fitness thing.” And I was hooked. Just not knowing what the workout was going to be, and from there it took off. That was probably about 5-6 years ago. It’s been an honor to be a part of the community, first and foremost.
GG: So what do you get out of all of this?
MB: As a Masters athlete, I think the biggest thrill for me is not in winning competitions, but in inspiring other people—especially young people. I can show them that, if you have a competitive urge, this will fill it, even at age 50.