“CrossFit has been a fantastic medium for me to test growth in physique and mindset,” says March’s Member of the Month, Lalit Kontham. He’s been doing CrossFit at the Box since 2016, but pushing himself has always been a part of Lalit’s mentality. “I spend most of my time working on improving my craft, [building] mental and physical strength.”
Lalit has lived, studied, and worked in the United States for several years, though he is originally from Southern India (where the animal lover tells us he still has seven cats!). Presently, he is a chemical engineer in a paper manufacturing facility close to downtown. Recently, his success as an engineer led Texas-based company Westrock to offer him a new position that Lalit says is a dream come true! Before he leaves this spring, we wanted to give you a chance to get to know Lalit better because, sure, you’ve probably seen his killer back squat, but did you know this athlete has a sweet-tooth for Indian and Mediterranean treats and loves to sing? Read on, then be sure to say hi to Lalit and wish him well in Texas when you see him at the Box.
How long have you been a member at the Box? Why did you start coming?
I joined The Box in September 2016 after a friend of mine told me that CrossFit is something I must do as it fits my mindset.
What do you like most about working out at the Box?
I love the supporting environment. All coaches are so humble and have individually contributed towards my improvements. The schedule is very wide that allows people to make it to the class from different shifts of work. Also, the Box has a huge space.
Is there anything you’d like to change about the Box or that you think could be improved (you can’t say “no more burpees”)?
I absolutely love this place, I think we have significantly increased the quality of our “On Ramp” program thanks to Bradley.
Do you have a favorite workout or movement? Least favorite?
I love back squat days and wall balls in the WOD’s. Least favorite are handstand push ups.
What does “success” look like to you (as an athlete or in your personal life)?
Success to me is dreaming and committing to something and then looking back after achieving it and saying to yourself, “Man you made it,” and then making it a normal part of life.
Do you have any long term goals? Is there anything you’re dying to cross off your bucket list?
I have always believed in keeping short term goals 2-3 years and converging my focus on those as I don’t know if I would continue to have the desire for a longer term goal halfway into it. I am changing as a person significantly every year.
If you could do any job in the world what would it be?
If I could go back 2 years, I would absolutely join the Indian army
You’ve talked to me before about moving to the US from India. How old were you when you moved? Was there anything you didn’t know about the U.S. that surprised you or which was different than you thought it would be?
I was 22 years old when I came to USA for studies in 2010, the only thing I was sure about was that the language here is English and opportunity is everywhere. So, everything is a surprise. But for sure realizing that people in USA are in a lot of ways the same as people in India was a huge surprise. In fact, after travelling to a few other countries I realized that deep down we just have different routines and cultures, but live in the same set of emotions.
I’ve never been to India but I’d love to go, what’s something I ought to know before I do?
India is one country but many cultures, fantastic amalgamation of peace in chaos, wellness with wealth, more colorful than a crayon box and filled with aspirational eyes. You will have the experience of a lifetime guaranteed.
Also, I read once that there are more than 20 languages spoken across the country–is that true? If so, how many languages/dialects are you able to speak?
Yes there are 23 official languages and many others in smaller parts of India, I grew up with friends from different cultures so I learned six of them.
If you won the lottery–$10 million dollars–what’s the first thing you would do with the money?
Add 50% of that to a trust that generates income for animal care forever. Take the next 50% for myself and have community investments like authentic restaurants and gyms.
What has been your favorite workout of the 2018 CrossFit Open so far?
18.2 has been a suffering experience, but has made a deep impact on me like a very hard struggle. I will remember and keep repeating this one for a while every quarter.
Do you have a diet you stick to? How about a favorite cheat day meal?
No diet as such, I eat mostly Indian food with a slight increase in the protein content. I absolutely love cooking.
Favorite cheat food is for sure Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy.
Tell us about a mentor or role model who has made a difference in your life–what made you look up to them?
Did not realize this when I was younger but my father spent all his life taking care of the family and only invested in me and my brother, nothing for himself. Now he walks even taller. Nothing can make a man more successful than that.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When given a great opportunity say yes and then figure out how to do it. It may not come again.
I know you are leaving soon for a job in Texas–congratulations! Tell us more about your new position.
I will be going back to Beaumont with Westrock as a Lead Engineer. It is the same place I went to my university, my first home in USA. My two best friends live there. I love Texas.
What will you miss most about Memphis?
Two things, The Box and my colleagues here. I have had a fantastic stay here.
What should someone do to cheer you up on a bad day?
I always find something to cheer me back up. Just a thought of something to be grateful about is all I need. Can’t be grateful and sad at the same time.
What would you say to someone hesitant about trying CrossFit?
CrossFit will most probably change your outlook of life
What do you think? If you know someone who should be featured as The Box’s next member of the month, let us know at amanda@TheBoxMemphis.com