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Art Pruneda, Staying Fit, Healthy and Sane during COVID-19
Episode 330th March 2020 • The Alamo Hour • Justin Hill
00:00:00 00:46:57

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Art Pruneda and his wife were some of the earliest disciples of Crossfit in San Antonio. They have owned and operated Crossfit Unchained in the Eastside of San Antonio for over seven years. He joined us to talk about how to stay health when the gyms are closed, how to find information for at home workouts, and some general thoughts on staying healthy and sane.


Justin Hill: Hello and Bienvenido, San Antonio. Welcome to The Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonioan, and keeper of chickens and bees. On The Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique, and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here. Welcome to today's episode of The Alamo Hour. My guest today is Art Pruneda. Did I say that right?

Art Pruneda: Pruneda, but close enough.

Justin: Close enough. Art is one of my good friends. Art is also one of the original CrossFit aficionados in this city. He has owned CrossFit Unchained since when? Seven years.

Art: Seven years. Yes. Well, we got our affiliate with CrossFit in December of 2012.

Justin: Also, a small business owner who had the guts to be one of the first early movers into the Eastside, I think it would be fair to say.

Art: Yes, fair to say. When we first started looking in that area to open our gym, there was one CrossFit downtown, and then by the time we did get our lease and get open, we were the third one there.

Justin: The city has had a hard time getting people to move into the Eastside, so it's great that you did. You're still in the Eastside. You're in the near Eastside, I guess, would be the best way to put it but pretty close to Sunset Station.

Art: Yes, very close. About half a mile from Sunset Station, so not too far.

Justin: Art is one of my good friends, and Art helped me right the ship when I had let health issues go the wrong direction. I didn't have any diagnosis at that point, but I just knew I was eating and drinking and being a slob. Art helped me get everything righted, and I was pretty consistent for about three years, and then took about six to nine months off, and now I'm back dipping my toe in the water.

I've got Art on here today to talk about a few things. One of the more important things is staying fit, staying sane, staying calm during our impending shutdown which starts tomorrow. We're going to talk a little bit about that. Before we get started, I want to run through some things with Art. I'm doing top 10 lists with everybody. That's going to change a little bit, but a few things stand the test of time. For one, I have my dog in here right now as we're doing this, so it's really two guests and a dog which was the lesser-known canceled NBC show. Art, do you have any pets?

Art: Yes. We have a dog. Her name is Aspen. She is a golden retriever. She is five years old. We recently got her less than six months ago from a breeder. Our 18-year-old daughter has pretty much coined that we saved her from sex slavery, so she had four litters, and now she's ours. She's an awesome dog. Before her, we did have Abner who was a Basset hound. We had him for 14 years. We got him when he was about six or eight months old and had him for his entire life, and we miss him a lot. Aspen has been really good. She's a really good dog.

Justin: A golden retriever named Aspen. I feel like the picture needs to be like an American flag flying in the background. I tried a case against a defense lawyer and he got up and he started and he goes, "I have two dogs, a golden retriever and a black lab, General and Scout." I just knew it was all bullshit. None of that was true. He was just trying to like paint this picture. Next question. What's your favorite spot to eat at in town right now?

Art: Favorite spot to eat at in town right now? Gosh. Right now, at the moment, I would have to say favorite spot go-to is usually Sweet Yams downtown. It's not too far from the gym. I usually hit them up for lunch. I really don't go out to eat too much. We do a lot of eating at home. The last few times we have gone out to eat together, my wife and I, the last two times, we've been to Marisol or Marisol.

Justin: Marisol.

Art: Marisol, yes. I went there the last two times.

Justin: Because it's delicious.

Art: Other than that-- It is delicious and the drinks are good. That's about it. We really don't have--

Justin: The new one or the old one?

Art: The one that's over there at a lawn.

Justin: The fancy one.

Art: The fancy one, yes. It's closer to our house, I guess.

Justin: All right, fair enough. I always tell people that come to San Antonio, "Okay, you should go do these things or you should do those if you have kids," but if you really want a PhD in San Antonio, you need to check out these hidden gems. What is your San Antonio hidden gem that you recommend to people?

Art: Being in the Eastside, very close to downtown, we get a lot of traveling CrossFitters. What we usually recommend for them, depending on how many times they've been in San Antonio, once or twice or even how long, we always recommend heading to The Pearl. There's just so much down there now in regards to restaurants, little bars, they got that food court now, they've got shops. It's a really good spot for people who are visiting to go and hit.

Even if you have lived in San Antonio all your life, maybe you live outside 1604 somewhere or out by SeaWorld, if you are going to hit downtown, definitely go check out The Pearl. That's usually where I'll tell people to go. After that, any of the missions, there's a lot of history involved not only in the Alamo but even the other missions that are a little bit further south.

Justin: I lived here five years before I knew what the other ones even were. I got there and thought, "What in the hell have I been doing this whole time?" They're beautiful.

Art: Yes. They're really nice and a lot of history. We'll usually recommend people go and do that. For us at the gym or me personally just talking to people that are visiting us, it's always, "You got to go hit The Pearl." Sometimes, we have families coming in with kids, "So got to go hit the children's-- the new Doozium down off of Broadway."

Justin: Yes, that's great.

Art: Yes, go hit that. Then, definitely, of course, walk the river just once. Don't spend all three days there. It's like just go walk at once, you'll see everything, and then venture out.

Justin: Your wife is a San Antonio police department officer. I think you all are pretty involved with church, but what outside of your professions, activities, nonprofits, church, any other groups, what do you all do outside of that?

Art: We used to be involved in a lot, but recently with our kids, we've got two high schoolers, we've got one in college, we've got one on his own, our youngest, they're seniors, we've put a lot of any extra stuff on hold for at least these last four years since Alicia started on with PD and our kids got into high school. Before that, yes, we were involved with our church. With the church, they would do things with the food bank.

We were at Bandera Road Community Church which then went to City Church Downtown, and now they recently changed the name to The Tribe or something like that. I don't know for sure because it's probably been about a year or two since we've been to that church.

Justin: Now, kids, that's your hobby right now.

Art: Yes, kids are our hobby and our last two are seniors. Now with the shutdown, they're doing school from home, so they're home all day.

Justin: Fun.

Art: It's been fun. I had a talk with them just recently, last night actually about, "This is a taste of what it's going to be like when they finish school, so don't get used to just sitting around and doing nothing. You better start getting out there looking for work, getting things done. No more sitting, playing video games until 2:30 in the morning or going and hanging out with friends. Your mom and I, we go to bed early because we both have to get up early. You all got to be in the house by 7:00. You got to be quiet by 10:00. If you don't like it, you can move out." That was a good talk yesterday.

Justin: Do you have any odd hobbies?

Art: Gosh, odd hobbies. Computers. I've always been involved with computers at some point. My college degree, I got a degree in information systems. I started doing software development. The first year that I was doing software development, my coworkers, they got me into online gaming.

Justin: Counter-Strike.

Art: Counter-Strike. That was back then. Condition Zero now. It's changed over the years. I started building computers. Since then, man, I was going through my garage recently and just throwing out a bunch of old computer stuff that has been sitting there and it's pretty obsolete. My son, he's doing a lot of online gaming, so I recently built a new computer and started doing some gaming with him online which the computer got put away probably about a month ago because I hadn't been on it for about six months, but there was a time for probably about a good six to eight months that he and I were doing some gaming together. It was fun.

Justin: We're going to get into this more. What is your recommended shelter in place activity? Mine is going to be Netflix.

Art: Right now, mine is probably playing with Aspen. Being a rescue dog, she's just been very timid. She lived in a kennel all her life being with the breeder. We're trying to slowly get her out of her shell, and so just spending time with her and having her feel comfortable around us enough to where she won't just go lay on her bed all the time. She'll actually come up, she'll engage and talk. That has been my favorite, favorite thing to do right now.

Justin: Winning over your dog's love.

Art: Winning over my dog's love. You know what? The funny thing is this, that when we talk about her, is we went out and we bought her a bunch of toys and she does not want anything to do with any of the toys that we bought her. I took an old towel and I cut it in strips, tied a knot in it, gave it to her, she will tear that thing up. She's funny. She won't touch toys, but an old towel or something, she just goes to town on it.

Justin: All right. I and most people in their youth followed some terrible trends. I had a mullet. During the Kriss Kross days, I wore overalls. I was probably in third grade then, so it's excusable, I think. What terrible trend did you follow?

Art: Gosh, Girbaud jeans.

Justin: No, that wasn't a terrible trend.

Art: How was that not? No.

Justin: That was a sign of status. I couldn't afford Girbaud. What are you talking about?

Art: Dude, I got all mine from Solo Serve. They were the irregulars.

Justin: Solo Serve is a cup, I thought.

Art: Is a what?

Justin: A cup.

Art: No. See, that wasn't until after YouTube.

Justin: Okay. Well, let's not do the humblebrag because, honestly, you saying your terrible trend was how much money you had, because I couldn't afford Girbaud. I wore Arizona jeans back then.

Art: It was all a facade, man.

Justin: Anything else?

Art: I would get them at-- No.

Justin: JNCOs?

Art: No. K-Swiss? Again.

Justin: Oh my God.

Art: No, I was that prep. Yes.

Justin: Okay, so you were a jerk back then, obviously.

Art: Pretty much, yes.

Justin: All right. When did you move to San Antonio?

Art: When I was three years old. All my family is from San Antonio. My dad was in the Navy, so he was actually stationed out in California in Twentynine Palms. I was born in Twentynine Palms. When I was about two or three, it was whenever he was done, so that's when we moved back to San Antonio. People ask me if I'm from here, and I'll tell them, "Yes, I've lived here all my life, but I wasn't born here."

Justin: I think since three is long enough to be your whole life, yes.

Art: 45 years out of my 47. Yes.

Justin: Favorite fiesta event?

Art: Gosh, favorite fiesta event, it has got to be NIOSA, but like on the Tuesday, not Thursday. The first day it opens when it's not crowded, you go early. You can walk around, you can get food. That would probably be my favorite thing. Because you can see a lot and taste a lot when it comes to the different cultures that are out there.

Justin: I've got three King William Fairs. I've got one guy that said NIOSA. He doesn't really do that stuff. You're the first NIOSA because it's usually just a cluster. All right. Last question. What is the best excuse you've heard in a CrossFit class?

Art: Gosh, the best excuse?

Justin: "I can't do that coach, I--" blah, blah.

Art: I don't have time.

Justin: You don't have time?

Art: People say they don't have time or too busy.

Justin: I feel like there's a better one, like I got bursitis or something, these made-up things.

Art: No, not in CrossFit class. We don't get too many excuses.

Justin: I tried everyone.

Art: You've tried but--

Justin: When I was in CrossFit, I would go up in front of drop-ins who would take my space in front of a fan, I would tell them I had a medical condition. I had to have the fan in it. It never did not work. Every single time, it worked.

Art: It was your gym, so they would move. They didn't know you.

Justin: You do what you can. If they had challenged me, I wasn't going to fight them about it. I'm a sweater. I needed it. Okay, I got Art on here today. I want to talk about a few things. Every gym in town teams is doing a how to stay in shape during the lock-in. For a lot of people, it's not about staying in shape. It's more about maintaining some semblance of routine and mental health, and just getting out and sweating and getting that stress out of your body.

Let's talk about a few things. One, is there any place you're posting information for the general public about workouts or anything like that, or do you have any recommendations where they could go and look?

Art: Right now, there's a lot out there, especially with this nationwide shutdown, lots of gym including mine. If you go to our website,, we have an at home page, which is our blog that we are putting workouts, daily workouts on. These workouts, they can easily be done with somebody using a backpack. Inside the backpack, you can put a couple of objects to change the weight. A lot of gyms right now are doing stuff like that.

Anybody, even if you've never had a gym membership, you've never had guidance, now's the time to get online, find a gym that's doing this and just start moving around. Follow the videos. Some gyms are doing zoom classes. It's like a virtual meeting, everybody signs in, everybody does their workout together and then you're done. Some will pre-record an hour-long class and you can watch that. Some just do little tips of movements and stuff so that you can see what the movement is supposed to be like.

Justin: For people that don't know, what is CrossFit? It's a scary, nutty, weird world of people for the people that don't know. What is CrossFit?

Art: CrossFit, it's a strength and conditioning program. Have you heard of Zumba?

Justin: [chuckles] Have I heard of Zumba?

Art: Yes. Everybody has heard of Zumba. Zumba is more conditioning than strength. They don't use weights. Have you heard of boot camp classes?

Justin: I have.