June Athlete of the Month, Jen!

  1. What was life like before you became a member?

When I quit my job in May 2011 to be a stay-at-home mom, I joined a local gym because I wanted to get into shape.  My very first class was a group fitness kettlebell class.  I used a 5-lb kettlebell during the 60-min class and for the next five days I could not walk up or down the stairs in my home.  My body hurt in places I never knew existed.  Did I mention I used a 5-lb kettlebell?  That will tell you the kind of shape I was in then.  Once I was able to move again, I went back to the gym and started exploring different types of group fitness classes that didn’t involve kettlebells.  I was never someone who enjoyed working out on machines at the gym, mainly because I never knew how to set them up or use them.  I also found free weights and the people who congregated around them at the gym intimidating.  And the treadmill was for people who loved running, and that was clearly not me. However, group fitness seemed to be a perfect fit for me – there was an instructor to tell you what to do and other people (mostly stay-at-home moms like myself) around you.  

  1. At the time you enrolled, were you already exercising? What was your previous background in fitness? 

Prior to starting CrossFit, I mainly took group fitness classes.  I especially liked HIIT, Boxmaster, Performance Athletic Conditioning (PAC), and the Les Mills program Body Attack.  When COVID hit and gyms closed, I continued to work out in my home gym but I found it tough to stay motivated without having a coach to kick my ass everyday.  When places finally opened back up, I signed up for a fitness challenge at a small local gym.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find the workouts much of a challenge and I began to think about what I could do to push myself in a way I hadn’t before.  That’s when the idea of CrossFit popped into my head.  I didn’t know much about CrossFit at all, except that it was intense and there seemed to be a requirement to post pictures of yourself on Facebook every single day doing the WOD and letting everyone know your results.  Truthfully, CrossFit scared the shit out of me.  But I signed up anyway.

  1. What originally prompted you to seek us out?  

Keystone CrossFit is my third CrossFit gym. I started my CrossFit journey at Three Ships Collective in Chesapeake, VA in November 2020.  When I moved back to Scranton in May 2021, I joined Steamtown CrossFit.  In June 2022, Steamtown CrossFit closed its doors and its members had to look for a new gym.  I tried out three local gyms that summer; one was too big, one gave me too much anxiety, and one was perfect.  That gym was Keystone CrossFit.  

  1. What was your goal when you originally signed up? 

I suppose I had three goals when I signed up with KCF…1) I wanted to learn how to lift properly, 2) I wanted to be motivated to push myself each day, and 3) I wanted to be part of a supportive fitness community.                     

5. What have you liked best about working with us? 

I absolutely love the community here at Keystone CrossFit. I love the way everyone supports each other and cheers each other on.  I love that we high five each other at the end of each class.  I love that there are others who are crazy enough to come workout at 5:30 am.  I also love the 5 pm workout group; they are the best!  They make class fun even when the WOD is hell. 

6. What are you most proud of achieving since you started?  

I can think of two things…

1) I was proud of myself for completing the last nutrition challenge and sticking to my daily calorie and protein goal each day.  It really sucked at the beginning because I was eating a lot less than what I was used to.  But after a while I got used to it and enjoyed counting my macros each day.  Some days I even had enough calories left to eat a spoonful of peanut butter.  That was a treat! I lost 9 pounds during that challenge and achieved my goal of toning up my mid section which previously looked like a marshmallow.  It’s funny how eating less and being mindful of what you eat actually works.  ☺   

2) I am also proud of myself for embracing the snatch.  At my old gym, whenever there were snatches programmed into the WOD I would find an excuse not to go.  This past year I have begun to embrace the snatch and always try to be present when it is programmed.  The only way to get better at it is to keep practicing and I need all the practice I can get with that one.  

7. With everything that you have accomplished, has your view of yourself changed?  

I used to think CrossFit workouts were so hard that I would never be able to do them or keep up.  But now I know I CAN do them and keep up – sometimes RX’d and sometimes scaled.  Either way I will get the WOD done. However, there is a constant mental battle that goes on in my head where I must tell myself to keep going even though my body wants to quit and I feel like I have to puke, pass out, or die.  

8. What would you say to anyone else who might be dealing with any similar struggles you did?   

It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other people at the gym.  I’m guilty of it myself. But there will always be those who can run faster, lift heavier, and have the endurance to get through a WOD without seemingly struggling at all.  Instead of seeing them as competition, use them as inspiration to get through a day’s WOD and to get better in general.  

9. Do you have any special moments/memories?

“The Seven” is a workout I will never forget.  It was the absolute toughest WOD I have ever done.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is 7 rounds of 7 Handstand Push-Ups, 7 Thrusters, 7 Knees-to-Elbows, 7 Deadlifts, 7 Burpees, 7 Kettlebell Swings, and 7 Pull-Ups.  Doesn’t sound too bad, right?  Scaling it should help, right? I think I may have died 7 times during it.  I’m happy to say I completed a scaled version of it, and I never want to do it again.   

10. What is your favorite movement/lift?

I had ZERO lifting experience before I started CrossFit, which meant every lift was new to me.  And every lift was intimidating.  However, I have gotten to a point where I actually enjoy lifting, even though it is not one of my strengths.  If I had to pick a favorite lift, I would say the power clean.  I have been making some steady gains there.  My least favorite lift is the snatch.  I watch videos on this lift all the time and one of these days it’s going to click for me – it just hasn’t happened yet.  Deadlifts give me anxiety, not because I don’t like them, but because for some reason I have regressed with that lift. 

I also smile when I see box jumps, handstands, hollow holds/rocks, wall climbs, and pistol squats programmed in a WOD, and I cringe when I see running or the assault bike.

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