Sleepy Hollow, Illinois
How long have you been doing CrossFit?
It will be two years this coming June since I stepped foot in Enclave and got my first taste of CrossFit.
Prior to Crossfit, I had two main athletic passions: tennis and running. I played tennis at the collegiate level at St. Ambrose University. I ran cross country in high school, and have since completed a handful of marathons
What brought you to try CrossFit Enclave?
I always want to be better than I was yesterday. I had found myself stuck in a rut, no longer improving the way I wanted to, and not working on weakness because, well, they were hard to work on alone. I had heard about Crossfit, but didn’t know a single person who did it. I decided I’d give it a shot one day, and never looked back.
What were your thoughts after your first WOD?
My first ever WOD was the benchmark girl’s workout “Helen”: three rounds for time of 400 meter runs, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull-ups.
I did not know how to kip, I didn’t even know what butterfly pull-ups were, and my pseudo-strict pull-ups went out the window as soon as I found myself breathing heavy from the kettlebell swings. I was embarrassed.
After all, what kind of collegiate athlete can’t do pull-ups? I figured I had two options: I could let my embarrassment deter me from Crossfit, or I could roll with the punches and get over myself. And in that moment, I chose the latter.
What are your training/fitness goals?
I love a good challenge. I feel that facing challenges helps me grow and develop as an athlete, coach, and individual inside and outside the gym. As a result, my training goals are simply to push myself to get better each and every day. Crossfit is unique in many aspects, including the fact that it challenges not only physical ability, but also mental toughness. I know there will be sessions and workouts that force me to dig deeper, to find an extra gear, to push a little harder than I think I can. Those are the workouts I live for.
How has your motivation changed since you started CrossFit?
When I first started CrossFit my intent was to get better at my sport, which at the time was tennis. My sole priority was to be quicker and more explosive on the court. Initially, my motivations were very self-centered. Since then, however, I have done a whole lot of growing.
I have become far more knowledgeable about CrossFit and how beneficial it is to people of all varieties and circumstances.
I have also been fortunate enough to get to know a one-of-a-kind community at CrossFit Enclave. I know what it was like when I first started, and I know just how far I’ve come. I wouldn’t be half the athlete I am today if it weren’t for the incredible coaching I received from day one, and the unparalleled camaraderie I felt from complete strangers during my first WODs. I want everyone to experience that because CrossFit is for everybody and every body.
What results have you seen from CrossFit, inside and outside the gym?
Many athletes in our gym have known me since Day 1. And for those that don’t, I’ll describe it this way: my first week I could not back squat 135 lbs. below parallel. When I tried, my back rounded so much that the three coaches present that day all gathered around to collectively say, “WTF is going on here??”. If you know me now, you might think I’ve progressed a little. And if you don’t, let’s partner up on a Saturday WOD and you can tell me if you think I’ve gotten any better!
A side effect of CrossFit I’ve grown to love is the confidence I find translating outside of the gym. There is something about cycling a heavy barbell, tugging hard on that rower to finish up the last couple calories, and hanging onto the rig for that last set of chest to bar, that makes me feel like I can do anything that’s thrown my way.
What is your favorite CrossFit WOD and/or movement?
I really like burpees. Regular, bar facing, burpee box jumps, 100 for time, you name it. Drop to the floor and pick yourself back up. It’s simple, effective, and oh so painful in the best way possible!
What is your least favorite CrossFit WOD and/or movement?
I don’t have a least favorite movement. There are challenging, technical, and difficult movements, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them. Most people dislike movements because they aren’t good at them- but do you know what it means when you aren’t good at something? You practice. A lot. Turn your weaknesses into your strengths.
What is your favorite thing about CrossFit?
My absolute favorite aspect about CrossFit is scalability. Everyone gets to work alongside one another, doing an appropriate variation of the same workout. Very seldom is that seen anywhere else.
What is your favorite CrossFit moment or achievement?
Week 1 of the 2019 Crossfit Open featured the WOD 19.1, a 15 minute AMRAP of 19 wallballs and 19 calorie row. In that workout, I placed 60th in the United States, and 120th in the entire world. Out of 200,000 males that completed that workout, I placed 120th.
Tell us something no one knows about you:
My sophomore year of high school, I was one of the starting cornerbacks on my school's varsity football team. In the first game of the season we played the Elgin Maroons. On one play in the first quarter, their running back breaks outside, and the only thing standing between him and the end zone is me. I get leverage, arms out, chopping my feet- everything I’d been taught to do- ready and braced for impact as he comes barrelling down the field toward me.
We collide, and his momentum carried him right through me. I wrapped him up, but he ran me right over and dragged me at least 15 yards before he tripped over me and finally went down. It was in that moment that I decided I didn’t want to play football anymore, and at the end of the season I transitioned into Cross Country as my fall sport. As it turns out, that kid that made me look like a clown was DMo, a former member of Enclave!
Any advice for people just beginning with CrossFit?
My biggest piece of advice for people getting started with CrossFit is to be okay with being uncomfortable. Especially being brand new, there is so much to learn, and it’s impossible to learn everything in one day.
I like to tell people in their first class to find one piece of information they find interesting, and hold onto it. Just remember one thing, and don’t forget it. Then next class, pick another. It can be as small as remembering the hand placement on a clean vs. a snatch, or remembering how to select an appropriately sized jump rope. Keep building on that knowledge base each time you come in, and before you know it, you’ll have a solid foundation.
What is one piece of equipment you swear by? (shoes, rope, tape etc) Name your favorites.
As silly as it sounds, one piece of equipment I use for almost every workout is a beach towel. I tend to do a lot of sweating at Enclave, and I use my towel in an effort to reduce the size of the sweat puddle beneath me from a sea to a small pond. And in the summer when it is hot and humid, hands tend to get slippery. I never want to slow down in the middle of a workout because I can’t grip the barbell or the rig. I grab my towel, throw it by my barbell, and I’m ready to roll!
Pro tip**: I have also learned that t-shirts increase wind drag significantly. Who wants to move slower due to an article of clothing, after all? Therefore, for the purposes of moving efficiently through space, I do not like to wear shirts.
**As a disclaimer, that statement is not scientifically supported.
Predictions for CrossFit Open WOD 19.5
We have one more week left of this years Open, and we have yet to see one Crossfit Open staple: thrusters. We will definitely see both of that movement in some capacity.
I really hope 19.5 is “strict Cindy”, a 20 minute AMRAP of 5 strict pull-ups, 10 pushups, and 15 air squats. I have been predicting that workout since week one, and I’m going to stick to it with two weeks left!
Do you have a favorite elite CrossFit Athlete you follow? Who & why?
I look up to four games athletes in particular- Colin Cartee, Joe Piersanti, Taylor Williamson, and Andrea Nisler from Team OC3 Black.
I was fortunate enough to see what training looked like for these four on a daily basis while at school and training at Crossfit OC3, and learned valuable lessons in work ethic and persistence the summer before they placed 3rd at the 2018 Crossfit Games. These individuals are capable of many physical skills and attributes that feel very distant to me right now, but there are many traits I saw from them that I try to emulate in my training and in my life.
I have never seen a group of athletes work with so much intensity, grit, and determination, and those are traits I try to find within myself.