RealGrrrls

A Fitness Whim Reaps Big Benefits

Tess_bioA British Columbia native, Tess – by her own admission – is an “all-or-nothing kind of girl”. Most people are intimidated or nervous to start CrossFit, but not Tess. “I first became involved with CrossFit on a whim […] And was hooked from day one,” she admits. “I don’t find it difficult to wake up early and hit a WOD [Workout of the Day] at the box. I love it.” Still, she faces other kinds of challenges on her CrossFit journey. Busy schedules, a broken ankle, moving to a new city, and trying to stay connected with her two children are real life priorities that sometimes make CrossFit take a back seat.

Why/how did you first become involved with CrossFit?

I first became involved with CrossFit on a whim—my neighbor across the street from me owned a CrossFit box and dropped off a flyer with the promise of workouts to boost my self-image. It was a good sell, I started that Monday at the age of 39(!). But before that, I had never even heard of CrossFit, or workouts named after girls, and I certainly didn’t know there was another use of the word “Snatch” or “Clean.” I have been an on-and-off CrossFitter since then. Mostly on, but sometimes off due to schedules, a broken ankle, and a move to a town that did not have a box.

In what ways has CrossFit challenged you?

I didn’t know that a work out could challenge me emotionally. Mentally and physically, yes, but not emotionally. The one thing I love the most about CrossFit is the emotional aspect of it. And not just for your own accomplishments, but for those around you. CrossFit is all about community. It’s about applauding for the last one to finish a WOD, it’s about suffering together and loving it, and doing it all over again the next day. It’s finishing those last 10 burpees while everyone around you cheers and encourages you. I lost my father to cancer five years ago and sometimes, when I’m in the middle of the WOD and I feel like I just can’t finish it and I just want to quit, I zone out, I exhale my exhaustion, and I say, I do this for you, Dad, because you can’t. This emotion ensures I get at it, puts me in the moment and brings me right back to my most basic level and makes me want to fight through whatever is blocking me.

How has CrossFit benefited other areas of your life besides your fitness level?

I CrossFit, but if you see me walking down the street, you wouldn’t look at me and say, hey, there goes a CrossFitter. I’m not one of those girls. I have post baby weight that I’ve never been able to lose completely. I broke my ankle, gained a number of pounds and still haven’t lost them yet. There are a lot of exercises at the box that I can do well, and quite a few that I can’t do at all. But CrossFit has given me confidence about the way I look and the way I feel. It allows me to interact with others and remain actively engaged and not shy away or adjust my clothing and try to cover parts of me. I don’t care what my body looks like to others, I only care about what it can do. When I look in the mirror I see a strong, confident person looking back at me that is capable of many things and that makes me feel good about who I am, and what I can do. And it is a perfect example for my daughter and what I need to teach her about her own self image. I don’t want her to go through what I’ve been through. She will come to CrossFit with me too one day, she just needs a few more years…

Is CrossFit a cult? How do you respond to people who claim it is?

Maybe it is [a cult], but one thing CrossFit has taught me is: who am I to judge? All I know is, I want to be part of it, because if CrossFit can bring me a positive body image coupled with the strength to carry my children anywhere they need to go, then yes, I want in! I want to cheer on others, I want to finish strong and work hard. I want that discipline in my life. I want my son and my daughter to look at me and be proud of who they see. I want to sweat. I want to achieve. I want to push myself… Hard. So yeah, if that’s what the CrossFit cult is, I want to be part of it!

What would you tell women who are afraid or nervous to start a challenging physical fitness activity like CrossFit?

There’s nothing to be afraid of. The beauty of CrossFit is that no one judges you. We all start somewhere, and we all NEED to start somewhere, even if you’re the last one to finish a [Workout of the Day] at every workout, no one will think less of you. They will cheer you on until you finish, and then high five you for your hard work when you’re done. The other side of CrossFit is that there is a modification for pretty much everything that is prescribed for you. Every movement can be scaled for you whether you’re a beginner, eight months pregnant, unable to do the movement properly without getting hurt, or maybe you’re just not feeling it that day and need to take it a bit easy on yourself. That’s the beauty of it, you show up ready to challenge yourself, not others. You are not at the box to show up super fit and knock out an impossibly intense workout. Don’t hold back on yourself, challenge yourself and the results will come. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it!

About the author

Nicole R

Nicole R

Nicole is a freelance writer, editor and fitness enthusiast in the Toronto area. She's been a long distance runner since second grade, when her dad decided that jogging two miles everyday day was a more effective cure for her hyperactivity than medication. The hyperactivity is gone, but luckily the running has stayed! (She says 'Thanks, Dad!')
In recent years, she's branched out to incorporate weight lifting, high intensity interval training (HIIT), cycling and pilates into her fitness routine. In addition to fitness, she's currently finishing her PhD in History from the University of Cincinnati.

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