REMINDER: Paleo Challengers- Make sure to visit todays challenge post (Sunday Oct. 2) to post the information provided in the directions.

CrossFit: My Story- Jen R.

I initially became aware of CrossFit through everyone’s preferred voyeuristic medium, Facebook.  A childhood friend of mine started CrossFitting at her local affiliate, and I became intrigued by her constant status updates and the pictures she posted. The more I Facebook-stalked her CrossFitting experiences, the more I wanted to know about it; the workouts looked like they were fun, challenging, and never boring, her fellow teammates were always posting words of encouragement, and it looked like the people at her gym often came together outside of the gym to do things socially as well. It was also impossible to ignore the changes in her appearance and attitude: she lost 75 pounds in one year, and went from being barely mobile to running a 5K. The athlete in me wanted to learn more about it, so in late December 2010, I turned to Google, and found the link to Hoosier CrossFit. As fate would have it, a free WOD and informational session was scheduled for early January, so I decided to sign up – a decision I wish I would have made much earlier.

My life had spun a bit out-of-control; in some ways, things were going great: I had a fantastic, supportive husband, a beautiful two-year-old son, and a great new house. But beneath the surface, I was unhappy with one thing in particular – myself. After the birth of our son in May 2008, I became very ill when my Crohn’s disease suddenly ceased to be in remission. My weight went up and down (at one point, I lost thirty pounds in about ten days, only to gain it all back in  just a couple of weeks), I was chronically exhausted, and in constant pain. It was difficult to leave the house, because I never knew when an attack would suddenly hit me, and the attacks were coming often. I had to resign from my job as a middle school English teacher, because my health prohibited me from being able to successfully balance working full time with being the mom that my little boy needed and deserved.By the time the doctors got my disease back into remission and under control in November of 2010, my body was ravaged; it had been a couple of years since I was able to seriously exercise on a regular basis, I was bloated from large doses of prednisone, and overweight as a result of both of those conditions. Hence, the need for change and my decision to enroll in On-Ramp at Hoosier CrossFit.

Upon my arrival at the gym, my initial reaction was one of shock and slight intimidation. Well, ok, that’s not true – I was very intimidated! I had never seen a gym like a CrossFit box. For one thing, it seemed so…sparse – no Nautilus machines, no Stairmasters, no television sets. The fanciest thing around were the rowers. And that cage – what the heck was that, and how on EARTH was I ever going to be able to do a pull-up again?

And then the WOD started: a 200m run, 15-12-9 pushups, ring pulls, and squats, capped by a 200m run. No biggie, right? I thought I would kill it. Little did I know that it would nearly do me in – I could barely finish, and put up a class-worst time of 16:26.The toll of the previous three years on my body had become painfully (both emotionally and physically) clear. As a former competitive athlete, I was humiliated.I went home and cried – something I rarely do.

It was hard to go back to my second on-ramp class, but I swallowed my pride and did it, and I quickly began to realize what a good decision it would be to stick with the program. Shaun and Jenna welcomed me back with many words of encouragement, and they helped me pace myself better during the WOD. As on-ramp continued, I felt myself growing stronger and more confident. I was also discovering another awesome aspect of CrossFit – the social element. Everyone was so friendly, encouraging, and kind. Efforts were made by Shaun and Jenna to get to know us all as people. Chances to hang out outside of class started to arise. I felt myself getting sucked in by the CrossFit lifestyle, and I was loving it. When I repeated the initial WOD on the twelfth day of on-ramp, I knocked over ten minutes off of my original time (6:06!).

Things only got better after on-ramp ended. My body was getting fitter and stronger, and I was feeling better about myself. After discovering that I am gluten-intolerant, I began to make more positive changes to my diet. I started going to classes four times every week rather than just three.  I was on a roll…until I fractured my left tibia.

I was SO disappointed. I was really getting into the flow of CrossFit, and I didn’t want an injury to keep me from the gym. That’s when I really discovered the beauty of CrossFit – it truly is scaleable for anyone in any situation. Jenna and Shaun worked with me to modify the WODs around my injury. They encouraged me to stick with it and work through the injury, but they also made sure that I did everything that I needed to do in order for my leg to heal properly. Everyone at the gym encouraged me to keep going, and because of that, I didn’t miss a beat.

A true CrossFitter does not tolerate excuses, and I am so glad that is the case. At the same time, it is impossible to find a more supportive, caring place to workout and improve your overall well-being than Hoosier CrossFit. If you are willing to show up and work, everyone will be there to cheer you on to your wellness goals. At HCF, members receive personal training during every group WOD (thanks to extremely small class sizes and awesome coaches) for just a fraction of what a globo gym would charge for similar (yet less effective, in my opinion) services.  Not to mention the fact that all of your teammates will encourage you to push through every challenge, unlike the typical isolation of a more traditional gym. CrossFit will push you to the edge of your capabilities, but you will become fitter, more confident, and stronger (both physically and mentally) as a result. When left to my own devices at the globo gym, I gravitated toward the exercises and movements that I enjoyed and ignored those that took me out of my comfort zone. At CrossFit, I am attempting handstands, conquering higher and higher box jumps, using lower and lower resistance on my pull-ups, completing hundreds of pushups and sit-ups (sometimes in just one workout – thanks, “Angie”!), starting to master double-unders, lifting heavier and heavier weights, and rowing thousands of meters for new PRs. At the globo gym, I was on my own, but at HCF, I’m surrounded by friends who care about me and want to see me succeed and push through challenges. CrossFit has changed my life and given me the outlet that I needed to be a stronger and fitter woman. As a result, I like to think thatI’ve also become abetter wife, mother, friend, and family member. By taking care of myself, I am healthier and better able to take care of others and do the things that I enjoy, and that’s why I will be a Cross Fitter for life. When I’m at HCF, I can honestly say that I put everything I have into my workout, yet I ALWAYS seem to receive even more that I give in return. Thanks, Hoosier CrossFit, for changing my life for the better – you are the best little gym on the planet!

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