This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. When Ann Marie N dropped in to check out the new fitness studio near her home in August 2011, she never imagined that Coach Jim would put her to the test that very moment … a workout that would start Ann Marie on a journey to redefine her body composition, reduce her cholesterol by 30 points, and well-deservedly exclaim that “my arms look freakin’ amazing!” Ann Marie is a doting aunt, loving wife, giving friend, active community volunteer, culinary whiz, avid gardener, proud member of the EAD | CFAH Buttercup Brigade, and accomplished actress. Once defined by others, she has rewritten the script on her fitness, and now boldly sets an example of strength and beauty for her fellow athletes. This is Ann Marie’s story.
Those are just a few of the adjectives people used to describe me from childhood through most of my adult life. At one time, each evoked a different and negative emotion for me. What a difference a year (or two or three) makes!
When I first stumbled across Elite Athletic Development, I was really just looking for a routine change. A workout that I could stick with and that wouldn’t bore me. I didn’t have any weight loss goals. I didn’t really have any specific goals whatsoever. I just had a vague idea that I was not as healthy as I could be and that I needed to do something sooner rather than later (I wasn’t getting any younger!).
I walked the two blocks from my house to the storefront on Dunton Avenue. I told Coach Jim I wanted to hang out and watch a class; instead, he threw me into the Dynamic Warm Up & Workout of the Day. By the end of the class, I was exhausted and exhilarated. Still, I had no idea just how important this place would become. I had no idea what inner and outer strength was in my future.
Looking back, my early training schedule was somewhat bumpy thanks to a crazy schedule, tweaked hamstring, adjusting to the College Drive move, and a very real fear of the barbell. But every time I got discouraged, lazy, or distracted, there was someone there to encourage me, motivate me, push me harder, and help me re-focus. The 9:30 a.m. ladies embraced my loud & quirky ways and made me feel like I could conquer anything. Coaches Jim & Josh convinced me I could lift heavy S&it, and could increase my overall fitness with strength training. Instead of feeling intimidated when lifting with “the boys,” the men of EAD | CFAH were my biggest cheerleaders.
It has been more than three years since I dropped in to Coach Jim’s class. I’ve had knee surgery. Outside demands on my time and health have been rough. Life is always chaotic. But every time I walk through the doors of Elite Athletic Development, I am home. It is my therapy. My entertainment. My “all-about-me” time. My realities (46 years-old, 5’3”, 110 lbs.) are now just side notes. No excuses. No boundaries.
It’s hard to believe I once feared a 35-pound Back Squat, let alone hoisting a weighted barbell in to an Overhead Squat. I didn’t think it possible to dig deeper or be prouder than when I posted PRs for a Strict Press (55#) or Deadlift (155# Deadlift). I was thrilled with one strict Dead Hang Pull Up. Little did I know those accomplishments were just the beginning.
Since committing to a mix of CrossFit classes and Strength & Power (and now Strength & Conditioning) classes, I boast a 187.5# Deadlift … and I am quite certain I will one day pull double my body weight. I consistently see technique gains & weight increases on all of my lifts. I can knock out 5-6 Strict Pull Ups, with a goal of reaching 10. My Box Jump is 28.5” with a goal of 31.5″, or half my height.
I have also seen improvement in my overall fitness capabilities. More endurance. Mostly Rx. I am always surprised when I realize I can do something new, like a Handstand Push Up, simply because I am stronger. I still have things to learn — a Muscle Up, Rope Climb, Kipping — but nothing seems impossible.
Those are the adjectives people now use to describe me … and more importantly, that I use to describe myself. Add in sheer gratitude, and you have my story.
Have a success story you’d like to share with the EAD | CFAH Community? Let Coach Karen know … we’d love to hear from you!