Jurassic Pak

Jurassic Pak

There aren’t very many men in the Venn diagram overlap of “hot Instagram Crossfitters” and “guys who bring a Homo ergaster skull to dinner”. In fact, there’s probably just my friend, Dr Francesc Gascó – aka Pakozoic.

His transformation has been incredible, not only his physical one but also his online transformation into an influencer. I caught up with him in Madrid, and discussed how he juggles training, palaeontology and shirtless photoshoots. And he tricked me into eating octopus. Plus, some lovely photos by Lee Faircloth.

Gay Times featured you earlier this year in January as you’ve broken the scientist mould – by being a beastly Crossfitter! What has the response been since that article?

It has been crazy. Although I had previously been featured in Men’s Health, I wasn’t in this physical shape. Appearing in GT last January was huge for me. I got lots of messages, even from work colleagues. And from a social media point of view, it was a huge follower boost!

How do you find time to be a doctor of palaeontology and also a Crossfit athlete, and also be in a relationship? I envy your time management skills!

Hahaha! I don’t think I have any time management skills. In fact, to be honest, I feel overwhelmed most of the time by amount of things to do. After I got my PhD, research became something I did in my free time. I love researching, I feel like I need to spend a few hours every week in the lab with my colleagues working on our projects, even if I don’t get a penny for it. On the other hand, my main job is as a palaeontology communicator and consultant. Sometimes we visit schools to give lectures or to offer other kinds of activities, but most of the work can be done from home. My palaeontology videos are also shot from home. And this gives me a lot of freedom to manage my own time. So I manage to train as many times as I can every week. Not as many as a professional athlete, not as many as I would like, but hey, that’s something!

Do you have a gym membership anymore? Or is Crossfit your sole exercise regime?

For a while I had both, but now my Crossfit Box is the only place where I train. I’ve come to enjoy it so much, not only the training methodology, but the place itself, and the people there. So sometimes we just meet there and work on some strength exercises, like you could probably do in a regular gym, but surrounded by other similar people and in the same place where you test yourself during workouts. So now I don’t have the need for a gym membership anymore.

And how many times a week do you train?

Hahahaha! I’ve been asked that so, so many times. And I don’t have a perfect answer. As I told you, I work from home, and sometimes we visit schools, sometimes I attend conferences, so each week is different from me. On an ideal week I’d say I train five to six times, depending on how I feel. Recovery is as important as training, so I just listen to my body, and I rest, or I train more, depending on that. Sometimes weeks are so chaotic, that I only can afford to train three or four times. So I just go harder on those days. You know what they say, ‘go hard or go home’, right?

You’re all across social media platforms, but your Instagram account has over 130,000 followers! When did your following start to increase?

I remember when I hit 10k, because I even celebrated it with a special thank you post! From that moment, it felt like followers started to come to me. As if you had achieved a milestone, and suddenly they couldn’t stop growing. It’s funny. You feel like you don’t know why they’re coming to you, you don’t know what are you posting that’s so interesting, but somehow it’s working.

I think we all know why they’re coming! Would you say that you are an influencer? What does that word mean to you?

Hahaha! I’ve been told it. And since I’m partially working using my social media, we could say I’m officially an influencer. But it’s hard to tell if I REALLY am one. For me an influencer is someone that really makes a difference, touches others. So the number of followers are just a number. But if you get feed back from your followers, if they really are inspired by you, then you are a true influencer.

Due to your big following, do you find there’s a lot of pressure to keep in shape?

Sometimes. I’m not a fitness model, so somehow this pressure is lower. But it’s there. Although I try to share all my lifestyle, what gets more attention is my life as a Crossfit enthusiast, the amateur part-time Crossfit athlete. So it’s more like I have to keep on sharing my workouts and my feelings after a workout. That part of my life has to be present. Keeping myself in shape is just a consequence of this. But since I got to love Crossfit, and I really enjoy training with my friends at our Box, it doesn’t feel like a proper pressure.

Are you ever nervous about the response to a post? Or negative feedback? Have you ever had any?

Of course! You know, it’s the internet, there’s a lot of people with a handful of opinions and the need of telling! I’ve had lots of negative feedback. People who just don’t get your point. People who just got to your profile and start judging. If you expose yourself in the social media, you have to be aware of this. You just need to focus on the feedback from people who really read what you say. Those who had been following you for some time and interact or comment without judging.

And one last question, is Crossfit really a cult?!

I get why it’s seen that way. But more than a cult, I’d say it’s a way of living. And a way of living within a community. You train with other people with different jobs and different physical shape. You’re all there to get better at this, and you start sharing your experiences, you begin to eat healthier. And you start helping and cheering for each other, sometimes you meet to train together. And you become friends, friends who have a similar lifestyle. That’s all!

Cult, then.

Haha! JOIN US.


Picture credits: Lee Faircloth. Get more of Pak on Instagram.