CrossFit Changes Lives
I have no idea what I am doing. But, I’ll give it my best shot.
I read everyone else’s transformation stories before I sat down to write mine. What struck me the most and what always seems to strike me, is not so much the physical transformations that I see unfold around me day-to-day (though they are quite incredible). It’s rather the mental reform that hits me, and maybe that’s because that is what I believe a true transformation is.
Anyone can lose weight – even lots of it – and still not be “transformed”. Some quickly slip back into old habits and weak will, constantly making excuses to themselves and others as to why it was “impossible” to live that way. All of the transformation stories I read had a person who had not only made great physical strides, but contained a person who truly changed and transformed into someone new and better.
My transformation story is… different.
I will spare most the bore of my past, I was born in Dallas and lived most of my formative years kicking cans around the destitute streets of North West Plano (I hope you sense the deep sarcasm in this).
Okay really enough of that drudgery, let’s move on to little known fun facts;
1) I am ⅛ Comanche.
2) I’ve been to every state in the lower 48.
3) I studied Russian for a year in college.
4) I’ve never been to Disney World.
5) When I was 13 I wanted to be a Herpetologist (it has nothing to do with herpes).
I trained for and ran the 2010 Dallas White Rock Marathon and that left me with two things;
1) 26.2 is too far to run twice.
2) I really like training for something – just not this.
There was also something that was bugging me, in my pursuits of running said marathon I lost a good bit of weight and now clocked in at a trim 155 pounds. I wanted to get in on all those gains I had been reading about in the internet.
So, I looked into what the guys from the movie 300 did to get into such badass shape, this led me to Gym Jones which led me to Greg Glassman and Crossfit.com.
When I first looked at the Crossfit website, it was like reading hieroglyphs, I had no idea what it all meant. A quick google search later and I found CFWR, tucked right behind a bar that I had been to many times before – perfect!
What can I say really, Crossfit and the tidal wave of side effects that ripple through your life when you’re doing it, have completely and utterly changed everything about my life and the way I live it.
Since late 2010 I have met and continue to meet extraordinary people that have made irrevocable changes to the person I am today. I am truly and deeply thankful for this everyday.
I have loved every second of it and continue to love seeing all the wonderful people around me in the gym grow and thrive as an individual and as a community.
I never thought I was going to write this much and like I said this is not a typical transformation story (it’s really not much of a story at all). However I want to give to anyone who reads this, that has been there in my Crossfit/life journey these past five some-odd years, a deep and heart-felt thank you for all you have done for me. There are too many to name and I am sure you are already sick of reading this, but there would be no transformation without all of you.
So first off, my name is Jayla and I’m willing to admit that I’ve become a CrossFit addict. Lots of things have changed for me physically in the year since I joined and they have been great! My mentality about myself, however, is what has changed the most. It keeps me coming back, and sometimes I just don’t leave.
I know some people must think that I’ve always been this awesome, which is mostly true, but everyone has a different journey. I think the beginning of my “athletic” journey started after college. I spent most of high school and beginning of college getting over an eating disorder. Super skinny, but extremely unhealthy. I never ate, I never worked out, and I never thought I was good enough.
After college I finally figured out how to be a person again, and this realization hit me, that I’m freaking awesome. What was I thinking before?! Then I put on the pounds; cookies and pizza were (and still are) my friends. I was so awesome I didn’t need to care about what I ate. After getting a little chubbs though, I wanted to change, but was a little scared about losing weight. What if I went back to that cycle of up and down, liking myself, not liking myself? I found a support system from my teacher friends, and we started working out together. Later I picked up running with my dad and we have a friendly competition (someday I will beat you) and that kept me going. I met some crazy people who were doing CrossFit and I didn’t understand the obsession. I tried the first class, and I wanted to ‘win’ whatever it was. Bam, hooked.
If you couldn’t tell, for the first six months or so, I was absolutely terrified every day. There were so many things that I couldn’t do, and I hated that. Then you get that one thing, or a coach tells you that one pointer and you actually listen to them and it gets easier. Day by day it gets better. I used to just scoff at the RX stuff, and Cullen told me, “it’s not if, it’s when.’ That was a turning point in my mind. Holy crap, I could actually do this stuff one day. Then I started getting more even awesome, because I believed in myself. The crazier part is, other people knew I could do it before I did, and they believed in me. Michelle told me to get the pads out, because I was going to do a handstand push up. After some protest, lo and behold I did it. She jumped up and down with me in my excitement! Everyone at the gym celebrates your victories, and you celebrate theirs, because we are all in this together. Plus our coaches are the best.
After that I got serious about showing up, and about my diet. I lost about 20 pounds last year, and all of the positive comments and encouragement have been wonderful. I don’t do things anymore because I hate myself, now it’s because I love myself and just want to be the best version of me. Now I set goals because I know I can reach them. I am good enough, and I really believe it. I was always capable and beautiful in whatever way I chose to be, but now I choose this. Oh and Carrie and Dee are awesome, and shout out to my mom for helping me look this over. 🙂
This transformation story was very hard for me to write. I don’t have a story about losing lots of weight or changing my life and becoming more active. I’ve always been athletic. I grew up playing soccer, ran track in high school, was a gym rat in college and after, did yoga for a while, ran marathons, boot camp. You name it, I’ve probably tried it.
But CrossFit has changed me – both physically and mentally. And it’s changed my outlook on exercise (particularly for women).
I agreed to try CrossFit with my friend (and coworker), Jennifer Gibbs, back in January 2014. Walking in the first day, I was so nervous. Though I’d always been active, I thought the members would be so intimidating! I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The amazing community at White Rock was instantly apparent. The workouts, however, were a slightly different story! There was definitely a learning curve there – particularly with the olympic lifting. I’d never lifted a barbell or used bumper plates before. But the coaches (at the time it was Kyle, Haden, and Dhenmark) were so helpful and understanding. And of course the intensity of the workouts was like nothing I’d ever experienced. But I was hooked. I loved the challenge. It was new and different, exciting and empowering!
Two years later and my feelings about CrossFit have not changed. It remains unlike anything I’ve done before. Every day in the gym is different. It plays on each person’s strengths and weaknesses – I might be great at one movement, but still need to work on another. I love the competitive nature of it. It pushes me to my boundaries! Basically, CrossFit keeps me on my toes and, likewise, interested! Ha!
It is truly amazing what CrossFit (and particularly CrossFit White Rock) has done for me physically. I’ve lost weight and gained an incredible amount of strength. I can do things I never thought possible (Hand stand push-ups! Bar muscle ups!). When I started CrossFit, I couldn’t do one strict pull up. Now I can easily do 10 unbroken.
The change in my body composition is the most telling. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat. So you can weigh the same, but if you have more muscle, you look “thinner”, right? Well lots of even very smart people (particularly women) don’t truly understand this concept. The difference in weight in these two pictures is maybe 7 lbs. But my body is completely different! The first picture was taken almost 2 years ago – right when I started CrossFit – and the second this past summer (after two years of CrossFit and a few months with a nutrition coach – Team WAG).
So yes, my body has changed. And it is amazing. But my transformation story is just as much mental as it is physical. I am so much stronger mentally than I have ever been. I am more confident. I know my body can truly do anything (and lift anything!) if I put in the work.
My favorite thing about CrossFit, though, is the equality between men and women – that women are held to similar standards as the men. We ALL do squats, and deadlifts, and pull ups, and push-ups ON OUR TOES… full abmat sit-ups, no “crunches”. Yes, I recognize that the prescribed weights are typically less, but the movements are the same! I think that this equality, by itself, brings empowerment to the women of CrossFit that so many other exercise programs just cannot compete with.
And I love the encouragement to be STRONG – to push yourself to get stronger. Most exercise programs aimed at women focus on losing – losing weight, fat, inches, etc. CrossFit is about gaining. Gaining muscle, strength, health, mobility, confidence. I can’t count how many times I have heard women say they don’t want to lift too heavy because they don’t want to get bulky. In a world that focuses on women being “skinny”, CrossFit focuses on getting “stronger”. Granted, you’ll probably lose some weight in the process… but that is not the focus. And I am living proof that lifting heavier weights does not, in itself, make a woman “bulky”. Throw away those 3-5 lb dumbbells, ladies!
CrossFit changed my entire outlook on exercise. I no longer want to exercise just to keep myself from “getting fat”. I want to go to the gym to hit that new PR, to finally get that handstand push-up, muscle up, or double unders. Again, it’s no longer about losing or maintaining for me, its about gaining.
I would be remiss not to mention my other awesome “gains” – my friends! I love going to the gym to hang out with my “fit family” – the fellow members and coaches that have become a huge part of my life.
Bottom line, I have gained so much in two years at CrossFit White Rock…. I am so glad I took that leap!
The best advice I can give from my transformation story is don’t be a coward like me. Listen to your body and visit your doctor for an annual physical. If I would have visited a doctor annually, I would not have even been a transformation story at CrossFit White Rock.
My story started 9-10 years ago in my mid-30’s, my lifestyle before CrossFit was sleepless nights, sluggish mornings, and low energy days. I would go through phases where I would workout, clean up the eating habits, and lose a few pounds. Then when that phase wore off I would go back to my less than healthy habits. During this 10 year constant ladder of ups and downs I managed to put on 70 pounds. Certain foods I ate gave me problems, I was unable to socially drink, and I had lost my ability to sleep through the night. I accepted my decline in health as the natural progression of becoming older. Then my wife Julie noticed a bump on my stomach and convinced me to visit my doctor. Little did I know that this long overdue visit was pivotal in getting my life back. A simple ultrasound revealed what my body had been trying to tell me for the past 10 years. A few days later I had out-patient surgery and my transformation began.
After a brief recovery from my surgery, I started going to bed an hour later and waking-up 2 hours earlier. I hadn’t experienced this kind of energy in years. So after a couple of days I decided to get up and go for a walk. The first day I walked 3 miles, the third day I walked 5 miles, and by the end of the week I was walking 5 miles twice a day. Within 60 days I lost 45 pounds and I was starting to run again. More importantly I felt 15 years younger and my personality was coming back.
Living in Lakewood it’s impossible not to be bombarded with all different types of workouts. Multiple varieties of Yoga, running, biking, health clubs, boot camps, and personal trainers etc. It was CrossFit members working their asses off that peeked my interest. I started to do some minor research on CrossFit and the weight training that intrigued me. I had not done any weight training since high school and the last time I was in shape as an adult I was an avid runner. After the research, I happen to be in Chicago visiting my wife’s family and decided to work with Joe, a personal trainer. During my session I picked his brain about workout programs, specifically CrossFit. When the workout ended, even though my body had not felt pain like that since I was a teenager at hockey practice, I LIKED the feeling.
When I got back to Dallas, I walked into CrossFit White Rock and introduced myself to Cullen. That was 16 months ago. In that time I’ve lost a total of 70 pounds, dropped 5 pant sizes, 2 shirt sizes and most importantly I feel emotionally and physically better than I have in years. Working out was just part of my transformation. My approach to nutrition has greatly improved over the last 15 months also. There is no way I can workout at this level without eating healthy.
I’m a very big proponent of incremental improvement and long term change (it’s kind of a wax on, wax off balance thing). What I really like about CrossFit is that it supports that general philosophy. I try to come to CrossFit 4-6 times a week which naturally leads to healthier nutrition decisions and provides a place to blow off steam. Which has brought me to a very good place of life balance.
There are number of things I like about CrossFit White Rock, specifically the classes I attend. I typically go to the 5:15AM class with Julie. I like that this class is typically the same group of people. Everyone is very quiet but focused day in and day out on their workout. It has also become a mental toughness test to prove to myself that I can get up at 4:30AM every day to make the class. This would have been impossible before. I also enjoy the T/Th 8:30AM class, because to survive in that class you are responsible to the group to show effort and humility. So the test is your commitment level to the class and if you don’t have your A game you better find it and bring it, I like that type of performance pressure.
The other thing I appreciate are the value added activities provided. Whether it’s the Whole Life Challenge, body fat testing, the constant posts and pictures on FB, or additional classes. These all show how the coaches are committed to their members.
The best thing that happened recently was Julie, my much better half, decided to join CrossFit after we did the Whole Life Challenge together in the fall. So now my partner in crime and I are always talking about the next workout, talking about the workout we just did, how we should prep healthy food, or how we are physically changing. The best reaction is to see our two teenage children roll their eyes at us while we are talking about back squats, burpees, PR’s, and how eventually I’ll be able to do a pull up.
When I started, I was 44 and the toughest thing was not the physical pain, but I realized I had become rigid and risk adverse and not willing to try new things. So on one of the first days at CrossFit, I read what I call the CrossFit 10 commandments posted on the side refrigerator near the entrance. A number of things on that list resonated with me, such as work hard, don’t worry about others, and be honest to yourself about your numbers and times. After reading the CrossFit 10 commandments, I made a commitment to myself to take chances, humble myself, focus on the moment, and grind this out. The results have paid for themselves.
Part of humbling myself was realizing that I was not an expert and everyone else was better at CrossFit than I was. I take great pride in this but handed myself over to the coaches. First Kyle, Haden, Cullen, and now Michelle, Jesse, and Matt. To this day whatever they say to me, I listen and either do it or attempt to do it. I cannot tell you how appreciative I am of this group of individuals for allowing me to grow and develop under their coaching.
People always talk about their favorite workout, I find that funny. First, I can never remember the names of the workouts or what workout I did the previous 2 days. But there is one workout from a month ago on a Monday that sticks in my mind. The workout was as follows: 50 wall balls, 40 box jumps, 30 burpees, 20 push presses, 15 thrusters and 10 muscle ups. If you remember, no one except Jesse completed the workout. I don’t know what the workout was named, but I would like to re-name that workout to “Who did I piss off?”. It reminded me of being in high school when your team played like crap and your coach had that “special practice” reserved for the following day.
What I do know about CrossFit: as long as I’m sweating and I’m sore, I’ve had a good workout. In the grand scheme of things all of my CrossFit problems are great problems to have compared to everything else.