November Athlete of the Month, Laureen!

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

Prior to Keystone CrossFit, my passion was running so I ran both for fun and then to compete in some local races like the Scranton Half Marathon.  I was introduced to the Peloton a few months prior to joining KCF.  The Peloton is actually a killer workout so I began substituting running with rides since I was always suffering from running injuries.  I attended small group training classes at a local gym about four days per week.  The class schedule there was limited and since my work schedule is all over the place, I probably attended two classes per week with the group and the others I would do on my own.  I can say that what I was not doing that I am now was spending a considerable amount of time on a Facebook site called Makewodsgreatagain.     

Briefly, I grew up and went to school in the area.  After college, I joined the Air Force and attended medical school in Bethesda, MD.  After residency in San Antonio, TX, I served seven years on active duty as an anesthesiologist.  I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 to a forward operating base in Ghazni Province.  I separated from the Air Force in May 2018 and moved back to the area to be closer to my parents.  

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

Prior to enrollment, I was running, riding the Peloton and taking small group training classes at a local gym where the focus was on weight training.  The gym was essentially a power lifting facility so the workouts primarily focused on that but included things like sled pulls and pushes, tire flips, battle ropes strikes, rowing and riding the assault bike.  I started those classes in 2019 and continued until I joined KCF.  On Saturday mornings, I was taking an inferno hot pilates class which I still attend.  I had run six half marathons and one full marathon.  Prior to adult life, in college I ran one year of cross country and played one year of rugby but quit both because I really wasn’t good enough at either to justify taking time away from studying.  For the last two years of high school, I ran track and cross country.  From sixth grade through senior year of high school, my dedicated sport was riding horses.  I rode English style and loved jumping and going to horse shows.  

  1. What originally prompted you to seek us out?  

The small group classes in which I was participating got cancelled suddenly.  Weight training is something I cannot do on my own, so I went online to find another gym with structured classes.      

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

My goals when I started CrossFit was to be toned and to build muscle groups that would help me run faster.  Additionally, since running primarily involves posterior chain muscle groups, I kept getting injured because muscles such as my quadriceps were weak.  I was hoping CrossFit would help me build opposing muscle groups to lessen injury.  What I was least expecting was that within a few weeks of CrossFit, I would learn new things I didn’t even know existed and I would develop a totally different set of goals that would have nothing to do with running.  What I didn’t expect after that was how much CrossFit would help my running in this year’s Steamtown Marathon so now I’ve circled back to having another running goal…. Tim, next year we qualify for the NYC Marathon ☺  

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

As opposed to more traditional weight lifting programs, I like how CrossFit workouts are different every day.  Every Monday isn’t “upper body day” and every Tuesday isn’t “deadlift day.”  This unpredictability eliminates boredom.  Additionally, there is a strategy to this method of training.  Each workout is carefully constructed and builds on the previous.  There is a bigger picture and an ultimate goal.  I also believe that workout variability helps prevent injury as certain lifts or exercises are performed and then not seen again in a workout sometimes for a couple of weeks. Within these workouts, I like how the muscles are exercised in nontraditional ways.  Long gone is the bicep curl.  In CrossFit, instead of a dumbbell shoulder press, pike handstand pushups off of a box are done.  Instead of traditional abdominal work, maybe wall walks are on the agenda.  Sometimes I don’t even know what we’re targeting because it’s concealed in some form of torture and it’s not until the next day when body parts are sore and barely mobile that I realize what muscles we worked.  I love the coaches.  Tim truly has a gift.  Nikki, and Jess are top notch.  They’ve all helped me individually on specific lifts and maneuvers and they are genuinely good people.  I appreciate Nikki also as my unofficial mental health therapist. It’s cliché, but I do like the friends I’ve made and the sense of community.  I’m either talking about CrossFit at work with Rose and Danielle, suffering through marathon training with Patti, strategizing the daily WOD with Mike or channeling my inner Jen Adamski and it’s really great! I’m going to say it.  I like the Rx.  It sets apart the elite athletes and they have earned their time in the spotlight.  I believe improvement is minimal when everyone receives a participation trophy.  I work toward the Rx and I think I’ve improved because of it. Lastly, I like the hours.  There are so many class times that I am able to attend every day despite my work schedule (which sometimes includes 24 hour shifts.)  I love getting the workout DONE and OVER with at the 5:30 am class- I mean, I love starting my day with the 5:30 am class ☺  

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

I’m most proud of doing things (or almost doing things) that I never imagined I’d be able to do and would never even attempt in my life prior to CrossFit.  I can now rope climb and wall walk.  Those things are easy to the seasoned CrossFitter but I feared falling from the rope, and I’m scared to be on my head!  I can now do single repetitions of toes-to-bar and I can alternate double-unders with single-unders.  I can’t string two repetitions together of either exercise but I never thought I’d be able to do them in the first place so I’m proud.  Before CrossFit, I would always keep a flexed bicep at the bottom of my pull-ups, but now I can do them from a dead hang which I never thought I could do.  I’m proud of something even as simple as push-ups.  When I first joined, my arms were wide, my elbows were pointed out and my chest didn’t touch the floor- it wasn’t good.  Lastly, granted it’s always been with a spotter, I can now get into a handstand against the wall.  I’m not sure I’ll ever do a handstand push-up, but the fact that I’m even thinking about it is a good thing. 

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

There is a Makewodsgreatagain reel with the caption “What your body feels like pulling up to CrossFit after 40” and a clunker car drives up and the hood, fender and three of the doors fall off.  That is hilarious and I agree but the reel gets me thinking more about the over 40 part.  At my very first class, Kim Rainey did a long free-standing handstand and I thought that at my age and with no background or skills of that sort, I would never be able to do that.  Eight months later, I no longer view myself as an incapable 43-year-old or an old dog who can’t learn new tricks.  I view myself now as someone who has the potential to do these things.  I don’t know about a free-standing handstand, but maybe someday I’ll be able to do just one handstand push-up against the wall?  

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

 I would tell that person to keep at it because you don’t know what you’re capable of and you just might surprise yourself.

9. Do you have any special moments/memories?

Last Saturday at a Halloween party, I did manage to demonstrate the kipping maneuver on my friend’s home gym system in a costume and wearing platform sneakers.  It turns out that just one small glass of red wine goes a long way with regards to toe-to-bar performance…..personal best for me that night.  A couple friends tried but dangled and fell.  On a serious note, that’s exactly where I was eight months ago!  I actually could barely dangle!  I’ve come a long way. 
It’s always the best when Coach Tim’s firearms are tucked into his waistband. Placing third in my age group at the Steamtown Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a special memory too!

10. What is your favorite movement/lift?

I can’t do them but I’m fascinated with the gymnastics maneuvers.  I have a love/hate relationship with kipping and anything based off that.  Essentially, I enjoy it but only on days when I’m doing well at it.  I grew up on a dairy farm so of course I like the farmer’s carries! 

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