Thirty-two year-old Nick Urankar leads a busy life to say the least. When he’s not busy running his affiliate—he and wife Chelssie own CrossFit 061 in South Indiana—or competing on the National Pro GRID League’s Miami Surge team, Urankar has his hands full at home, with daughters Jada, 6, and Atley, 3.
We spoke with the two-time CrossFit Games athlete about what it means to be a strong dad and how he juggles family, fitness, and being in a house full of women.
Athlete Daily: With a 310 lb. snatch and a 400 lb. clean, it’s safe to say you’re a strong athlete. What does it mean to you to be a strong father?
Nick: “It means everything to me, especially because I have two girls. I don’t think I can be weak now, because I need to make sure I can intimidate every guy that walks into their lives.”
Athlete Daily: What adjustments did you have to make to your schedule and your life in general when your first daughter or both daughters were born?
Nick: “So one thing that kind of affected me a lot would be my dad. I didn’t grow up with my dad, so that’s kind of something that’s really big for me with my girls. The fact that I want to be there for them always, because I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a mentor, never had a father figure, [except for my step-dad, and there’s a whole other side to that]. But with my girls, my dad told me as soon as I had my first one that I would have to quit working out. [He said] ‘There’s no way you could do it, it’s too hard..’. And as soon as he said that to me, I was like ‘I’m going to prove you wrong.’
He said that to me when I got engaged, and then when I got married, bought a house, had a kid…all those times he said it to me, those were the things I remembered. So it was more or less why would I stop something I love? And if I love something—I told my wife before we got married and had kids I sat her down, right before we got married and I said to her ‘I want you to know that no matter what, I want my children to know that I loved stuff. I loved doing things. I loved—I was passionate about different things and I want them to see that and know it’s not just about them. And then one day when they have kids, that they’re allowed to love something as well’.
To me, I want them to see that, and [Chelssie’s] kind of caught on to that as well, and has this thing where she has her things that she loves and the girls know that she loves them and if you ask my three year-old right now ‘What does Daddy do?’ She would tell you ‘Daddy’s strong, and Daddy loves to help people.’ She sees what I do, and then she’d also say ‘he loves me and he plays with me and he wrestles with me.’ So for me its matter of them understanding that they are my number 1s but that also, I love to be happy and do the things I want and they should do always be able to do that as well.”
Athlete Daily: Do you still not have a good relationship with your Dad?
Nick: “Once we had our kids, my Dad kind of became what he wasn’t [when i was growing up]. And I kind of have a little resentment towards that. I tell [my wife] a lot ‘There’s a lot that’s happened that I can’t forget.’ I love the way that [my Dad] loves my kids, so I’m very happy for that. I’ve tried very hard to let the past go, but that’s something that, as a kid, it’s big.”
Athlete Daily: Switching gears a bit, let’s talk about the importance of being active, even as a parent when your needs typically come last. Do you have any advice or tips for parents who want to maintain their fitness level despite their schedules?
Nick: “I can probably talk about for a day…or longer. The biggest thing I’ve realized is obviously prioritizing, so knowing where that is, and then scheduling based off that. So just because let’s say you have kids, a job, and just a lot of stuff going on, and you say that exercising is at the bottom of your list. That doesn’t mean that you don’t do it. It just means that it takes up less of your time.
So I think for a lot of people they look and they think, ‘Well I’ve got my job, I’m married, I have kids and then we do XYZ so I have no time. [In reality] no, it’s just lower on your list. So, [instead] you only get 45 minutes, because you’re getting hours here, hours there, [throughout the day] but you always have to look at it as your health matters. It matters for your kids. So it has to at least be on the list. And that’s my big thing, is just scheduling. For me, it obviously a larger part of my life, so I devote a little more time to it. But I also give enough time for my wife to fly out to Florida [tonight] and for me stay home with our youngest.” [Laughs]
Athlete Daily: Basically, prioritize their needs and then find out how much time they are able to commit to working out and make the time for that. Is that right?
Nick: “Yeah, and you schedule it. You literally put down ‘This is when I’m doing it’ and what I always said was I’m going to give myself 4-5 hours a day [to work out] and if I miss an hour or two, then I lost that time, but it was scheduled out. So if I didn’t do it, it would be because I choose to do something else, not because I had something else scheduled. It was my decision to not do it.”
Athlete Daily: Do you and Chelssie have some sort of calendar mapped out with your days scheduled out, so you can kind of see who’s doing what and when?
Nick: Yeah, we’re back and forth a lot. It’s me handing off a kid here, and then her going and working out. Or it’s me coming in and taking care of something, it’s a lot of back and forth. Even though we both run a gym [CrossFit 061], I train, and we have two girls…you’d think we’d have a lot of time together. We don’t get as much time together. There’s always one of us with our kids, so our kids get a lot of time with somebody, but most of the time, it’s just one of us, and that’s kind of the negative. We’re both so busy, that a lot of times its not everything…
I would say you’d look at it [as if] we both had full time jobs, the amount of time a parent would spend with their kids together at the same time is about what we get. Even though we split that up pretty well, there’s always somebody with a kid.
Athlete Daily: With the whole shift toward more and more women lifting and wanting to be strong, do your daughters try to mimic you at all yet?
Nick: “They mimic my wife. They’ll do what I do, but they see her doing the same things and they think that’s cool. So, what I love is that my wife feels that new, strong women [movement]. So, obviously being a strong dad is something I want them to see in me, but it’s also kind of expected as a guy. It’s also awesome to see my wife as a strong woman and not just as a strong woman, but somebody who has lost 30 lbs. and she’s strong. You know, to have two strong parents is really cool for them and they definitely mimic what we do, but its probably more on her side.”
Athlete Daily: Are you going to encourage them to be strong and to lift weights, or do CrossFit when they’re older?
Nick: “I basically encourage them to do what they love. So my six-year-old right now loves ballet, and loves dance and singing. We have a CrossFit Kids program [at CrossFit 061] and if she wants to do it, she does it, and right now, she’s more into dancing.
My two-year old [Atley] says she wants to play sports, so she’s kind of my little boy, I call her.
Ultimately, as I grew up I always played sports, I was always into something, I loved doing stuff, and I just thought when I have kids, that’s what they’re going to do.
And my oldest one [Jada] is the complete opposite. She ran onto a field the first time and then cried her way off of it. And then she got back on the field and then cried her way off it. I kind of realized, I just want her to be happy, I’m fortunate enough to be doing what I’m doing right now, and her thing might be something completely different. And I just want her to find what that is. If it’s not in the realm of athletics then I’m OK with that.”