“Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Triathlons. Fitness boxing. Ironmans. Marathons. No hill is too high to climb for athlete and trainer Max Karp–and he’s just getting started.
The New Jersey-born fitness enthusiast spent much of his life playing sports for school until he eventually narrowed his focus on baseball. After high school, Max earned a spot on the Tulane University baseball team and saw a bright career in professional sports ahead of him. But when the young athlete suffered a critical career-shifting injury, Max transferred to Indiana University where he graduated.
Taking his active experience and passion for health and wellness, Max refused to remain removed from the fitness world. The dedicated athlete has since competed in countless races, dozens of triathlons and multiple half-Ironman competitions. He is also a founding trainer at a boxing gym, GRIT BXNG, where he trains and teaches classes. We caught up with the inspiring competitor to hear about how he has forged his own path in the fitness world.
When did your passion for fitness begin?
I’ve always been active, but an actual passion for health and wellness didn’t develop until I was 19 or 20 years old. Growing up, I was the “big kid” who happened to be athletic and skilled at baseball too. As I got older, however, I started to understand and appreciate more about health and wellness. I found resolve in maintaining an active lifestyle after the end of my baseball career. My hobby has now become my career.
What inspired you to want to help others with their wellness goals?
Like I mentioned before, I was the big kid growing up. Athletic, yes... but fit and in shape, not quite. My personal journey with health and wellness included a major physical transformation.I understand the struggle that comes with trying to achieve any fitness goal—I’ve been there. I love being able to serve as a pillar of encouragement and support to my clients. The reality is that we’re all capable of achieving incredible things. The challenge is tapping into that mental space that aligns our level of confidence with our ability, allowing us to execute when the time comes.
Tell me about GRIT BXNG.
GRIT Boxing is just over one year old, having opened its doors in August 2019. I’m not an owner nor the one to credit with the idea, but I am fortunate to be one of the studio’s founding trainers.
What makes GRIT different from other gyms?
GRIT is a one-of-a-kind fitness studio, with both a high-intensity group fitness class and a full liquor bar under one roof. The workout is an experience: 50 minutes of boxing, running and strength training amidst concert-caliber music and lighting to set the ideal atmosphere. After class, clients can hang out, have a drink and maybe even meet someone new. We’ve managed to create a “third space” in an NYC fitness studio, which I think is pretty amazing.
You are also a triathlete. How did you first get into competing?
Triathlon is actually still very new to me. I fell in love with running when I stopped playing baseball, but at the time I knew very little about running. Over the years, I found myself constantly dealing with small injuries as a result of overtraining. I knew nothing about triathlons at the start of 2019, but I had friends who raced that got me doing my research. After running the 2019 NYC Half Marathon (injured, of course), I signed up for my first triathlon and haven’t looked back since! I love everything about the sport, but, my favorite thing about triathlon has to be the feeling I get on race day. As a former collegiate athlete, I crave competition—being at a triathlon is nostalgic.
What do you love most about being a trainer?
Being a trainer and coach is really special. I get to help people achieve their goals and live happier, healthier lives! It may sound cheesy, but that’s the reality of it. There really is no better feeling than celebrating a client’s win with them.
Do you like playing the role of coach or athlete more?
There is definitely an equal love there! Nothing can replace the feeling I get when competing; it’s the craziest thrill that I’ve ever experienced as an athlete. But, there’s a sense of fulfillment that I get as a trainer and coach that is unique to the role.
What has your path to promoting health and wellness taught you?
My journey to promoting health and fitness has taught me so much about myself. One of the greatest takeaways though has been my resilience and strength. There have been plenty of highs and plenty of lows along this path, but I have always been one to persist.
Health and fitness has been so much more than I could have imagined, both as a profession and a passion. It’s an industry and topic that is constantly changing and adapting, now more than ever. It keeps you on your toes!
You are also a fan of CBD as part of your practice. What first inspired you to try CBD?
My first encounter with CBD was late 2018 when I saw friends and coworkers working with various CBD companies. I was skeptical to try it at first and not entirely convinced it would help. However, after suffering a running injury, I bought my first topical and tincture, and I’ve been using CBD since.
What are your favorite Bloom Farms CBD products?
I usually have a pretty high training load (15+ hours each week) in addition to what I do for work, so my body endures a lot of stress each day. I always take a tincture at night to help with total body relaxation and recovery—my absolutely favorite is the 1200 mg Dream 1:5 CBN/CBD tincture.
When you aren't competing, training and working on fitness, what else do you enjoy?
When I’m not doing anything fitness-related, you can find me hanging with my dog, Dax! He’s a mini labradoodle and is my best friend, hands down. I also love to draw and cook—I cook just about every night.
What's on the horizon for you?
Well, I hope that the end of quarantine is on the horizon for all of us! The only project I’m currently working on is recovery. I was hit by a car while cycling in early August and recently had surgery to repair my shoulder, so the next few months are all about battling adversity and coming back stronger than before.
Born and raised by the beach in Southern California, Valeri Spiwak lives and breathes West Coast culture and its surrounding artistic charm. Valeri, with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Minor in French, continuously seeks to explore the beautiful and obscure, and shares her adventures through captivating wordplay, clever writing and skillful copy.