Once upon a time, February, 2012 to be exact, I began life in the globo gym. Months later, I later moved on to my own garage gym. I had followed New Rules of Lifting for Women and advanced to Stronglifts 5×5, falling deeper in love with the barbell. My support system was great, but was made up of just one person. Having no strength training prior to this, I embraced every gain that I made and was constantly pushing myself to be a little bit better than the week before.
But it wasn’t until I started Crossfit that my commitment and drive increased significantly, largely attributed to the coaching and athletes that I surrounded myself with. So many moments stand out that were defining moments in my fitness lifestyle, attributed to those around me. It was in working with multiple athletes and coaches who I could look up and aspire to be like, that gave me even more drive.
I think back to the Open last year, where there was a 7 minute time cap, starting with 3 95# clean and jerks. I had never done that weight before, but I had so much time to try. This was one of the first moments that I truly felt the total family-atmosphere within my Crossfit box. I wanted three reps so badly, and fought so hard through so many failed attempts, only to eke out two reps when time was exhausted. But with every single failed attempt, I had a section of cheerleaders screaming with excitement as I became closer to hitting my goal, athletes that were new like me, veteran athletes, and the coaches. Feeling like a failure at the end of the 7 minutes, I cried, so full of emotions of frustration, but also overwhelmed at how much pride and support with the community around me.
Another defining moment during the Open was when I was able to get my very first kipping pull-up. Coach Lynn (Regionals qualifier and team competitor), knew that I had it in me to do it, and talked me through my nerves. I knew there was no way I was going to get my first C2B at the time but I really wanted to at least manage the pull-up. How was I going to learn to kip a pull-up five minutes before the workout began? After much advice and tips, I was able to do one right before the clock went off. And then proceeded to do even more.
I remember one of the first times I hit a big PR on my deadlift; I was just a few months into Crossfit and where I first learned about the mental aspect of lifting. One of my good wod-buddies, a crazy strong 5’2″ gymnast (who happens to be headed to Regionals this weekend), was watching me perform my lifts, slowly increasing 5-10# at a time. As I rested in between a set, she looked at my bar, which probably had 155# on it, my recently established max from just a few weeks prior. Alexis glanced at my bar, looked at me as if she was sizing me up, shifted her eyes to her bar, and then said, “Jen. Come lift this.” I asked how much was on the bar, full knowing it had to be more than what I had on mine. She shrugged, said it’s a weight I can handle, and I went and lifted that bar up. For a 30# PR.
Fast-forward just over a month later, with some of my closest gym buddies and coach standing by watching, I PRed my deadlift again- this time by an additional 50#. It wasn’t the prettiest lift, but I never would have imagined going into the day to not only crush my goal of 200#, but to surpass it.
Last year I had the crazy idea to sign up for a half marathon. I despised running, and struggled so much with it, to the point of crying nearly anytime I went out for a training run. I started to train with our Crossfit Endurance group, where my Coach, Kate (a BQ, and national triathlon qualifier), not only taught me a more efficient running form, but also helped to push me out of my dark running place. When I had to run my longest run ever at the time of 7 miles, we started off as a group and as usual, I was the last in the pack. After about two miles into the run, Kate came back from up ahead to run with me, a babbling mess with tears streaming down my cheeks. She gave me a pep talk, reminding me how strong I am and to let the negative thoughts go.
Since I started working with her, I not only ended up finishing a half marathon 20 minutes faster than my goal, but also running my fastest mile and PRing my 10k time by 13 minutes. I won’t admit to liking running because of her, but her constant attention to me helped to make peace with running and have the strength to keep training.
I am just about at the end of a 10-week Olympic lifting program with Coach Matt, certified in Soviet Programming, among other credentials. With programming starting with a PVC pipe and empty barbell, focus is on form and movement efficiency, not just throwing heavy weights on the bar and seeing what happens. As our weeks went on and loads progressed, he dictated what weights were to be added onto the bar for various movements on top of the standard Oly lifts, such as jerk behind the neck, a movement I had never done before. When your coach suggests adding weight based on your performance, even without some self-doubt, there is an increased level of confidence. I ended up PRing both my Oly lifts, snatch, and clean and jerk, and have goals to max them at the end of the program again. Though a coach cannot physically move the weight for you, it is the mental push of feeling confident in you that helps establish even more self-confidence.
5# PR (90#) followed by two failed attempts at 92# . My end goal of this 10 week program is to hit a 95# snatch and today I was confident enough and gained the strength to snatch almost that! Just months ago 75# was extremely difficult and one time ever did I do 80# and 85#. Now I can comfortably do 75# multiple times! Very pleased with my progress so far working with @jekyllhyde_coach ! 😁💪 in three weeks I'll get that 95#!! @latgearrx
My latest super-goal is a muscle-up by July, so I have been working with my favorite coach (shh.. don’t tell the others), Morgan, to work on the strength and skills needed to achieve it. Through much pain and torture of ring rows and strict pull-ups and lots of work on the rings, he is confident that I will be able to reach this goal, even though most days it seems like it will forever be an impossible undertaking for me. Having that special one-on-one attention with someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses is so important to coming up with a plan to help reach your goals.
Even most recently while working on my own doing some Oly lifting and muscle-up progressions, each of the owners, both coaches, made comments about my progress from when I started. Both remember things I had done in the past that I struggled with that now come with much more ease. It is little comments such as those that make me want to strive to do even better, but also realize how far I have come.
I frequently run into a lot of self-doubt when it comes to my workouts. I have been much better recently, but so many times over the past year I have been full of, “I suck” moments. I was never an athlete. I never ran a mile up until 2011. I never touched even a dumbbell until 2012. And now it’s 2014. I have run a half marathon. I can deadlift 255# and squat 150#. I have done so many things I never would have even imagined I would be interested in doing just a few years ago, and it is the coaching and the community that has bred me into the athlete I am today.
#tbt little different perspective. Left, summer 2012, PRing deadlift 5×135. Right, March, 2014, Crossfit Open wod, completing 23 reps at 185 (after 95×10, 135×25, 155×20). #deadlift #crossfit #crossfitgirls #shelifts #progressnotperfection #sexyliftingfaces #strengthisbooty #amrap4life @harbingerfit @inov_8 @iamlntk @wodlove
For me to succeed, I need to be pushed. I need people that I look up to telling me that I can make a lift, or that I can do all those wall ball shots, or how to pace myself. I need direction on how to approach a workout or where I should focus my extra time.
Aside from being coached and gaining confidence from those I look up to, I love hearing when others tell me that they look up to me, or that I inspire someone. Having others recognize my efforts makes me want to be so much better, as I have something to prove. There is not much more rewarding then when you are putting it all out there and become someone else’s inspiration.
At our annual “Crossfit Prom” event, members of the box voted me for best transformation of the year. It is these people that push me to become better. Not only those that have been coaching me and helping me make progress, but also those that look up to me. More than one person, including a Master’s athlete that is headed to the Games (ranked 11th in the WORLD – BIG deal here), said there was no one more deserving. Talk about an ego boost!
Despite the outside motivators that have helped me get to where I am at today, I still haven’t become comfortable with self-motivation. I need constant feedback. I thrive on the support of others. I need direction and I need reassurance. I do best when others not only cheer me on and support me, but help to make me really believe that I can do these things.
There is something to be said about the community that comes along with Crossfit. It is so hard to explain to other people that you are getting so much more than a workout when you walk into the box. You are gaining strength, confidence, and a support system. Surround yourself with people that are better than you. Don’t be intimidated to workout with anyone that can lift more than you, or run faster than you, or that is in overall better physical shape than you.
Find those around you who will stand behind you, no matter what their physical ability or your own. Find those that embody the characteristics that you are lacking, whether it be confidence, strength, optimism, or determination. Find those that believe in you and your abilities and that will push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to do better than you think than you can yourself.
Sometimes it is pure confidence and reassurance coming from someone else that can push you to that next level. Train yourself not to suck by surrounding yourself with those who don’t.
Do you have a defining fitness moment that you can attribute to a coach or fellow athlete?
Are you a self-motivator or do better when others cheer you on?
Do you prefer being cheered on or yelled at during workouts?
Do you personally know any athletes that competed in Regionals or are going to the Games?