Throwback Thursday – All the way back. Back to the beginning.
I was chatting with Liz this week, and she asked me “How did you start doing CrossFit?”
It occurred to me that Liz is one of my good friends, and if she hasn’t heard this story, then most likely many of you haven’t either.
If you want to hear the tale of how CrossFit changed someone’s life, and as a result changed a lot of other lives, read on.
In January 2011, I was in a bad place, but I didn’t know it. I was working in a stressful job that I hated, I weighed 16 stone, and was gaining more by the day. I smoked 30 fags a day. I drank far too much and moved way too little. I had convinced myself that I was living the high life in Europe, when really I was in a sure decline into ill health and unhappiness. But I also was in denial.
Until I saw this photo:
This went up on Facebook after Christmas and I was smacked hard with the reality that I looked and felt like shit.
I was 30 years old, and I knew instantly that if I didn’t change something, things were going to get worse.
CrossFit wasn’t really a thing in the UK back then. There we maybe a total of 50 boxes in the whole of the UK. I discovered CrossFit because a girl I had gone to high school with had grown up to become a CrossFit instructor in Nova Scotia. She was posting pictures of herself on Facebook doing amazing things. Overhead squats. Pullups. She had cool knee socks. I thought I would give this CrossFit thing a go.
CrossFit Nottingham had just opened about 5 weeks before, and so I sent them an email to the effect of “I’M FAT AND SCARED, PLEASE HELP ME.”
The Coach, Andy Ward, called me back within 20 minutes, and invited me down to the gym for a chat and a cup of tea.
Cup of tea? I thought. This isn’t like a normal gym.
I met with Andy the next day. The box was a cold industrial unit on an estate in the back end of nowhere. There were 4 people in the entire gym that day. Myself, Andy, one other coach and one member. The other coach was shouting the member through an insane looking workout that had 140kg deadlifts and 30 inch box jumps in it. It was so intense as to be absurd.
Andy looked me in the eye and said “You can do this. We can work miracles; I just need you to be here.”
I did my first ever WOD the next day. I don’t remember exactly what it was, except that it had 4kg wallballs and 8kg kb swings in it, and it only lasted 12 minutes. I died.
I laid on the floor after it ended and smokers’ coughed until my eyes watered. Some of my earliest memories of CrossFit are lying on my back with blurred vision, staring up into the industrial ceiling, watching wisps of sweaty steam waft off my face and thinking “What just happened?”
(Two days after my first WOD, I couldn’t walk. I had to go down my stairs backwards on all fours. Steve was aghast.)
But I went back.
I don’t remember signing up for my fundamentals, but I did.
There were 6 of us on the course, 2 guys preparing to enter the Royal Marines, a high level taekwondoin, a PE teacher, an MMA fighter…and me.
I came last on every run. I used the lightest weights for everything. I couldn’t do a single pullup even with all the bands we had in the gym.
My only goals were to do a single push up (yes, just one), and to not quit. Something inside me knew that if I quit this, I would regret it forever.
I finished my Fundamentals on a Friday…and on the Saturday morning I woke up and thought “I think I will go see what’s going on at the box.”
So put one of Steve’s old tshirts on and a pair of leggings and went. (Years later, Steve would tell me this was when he realised that CrossFit was something special. He’d never seen me do anything like that before.)
I met people. They were all fitter and better than me, but they were all incredibly kind and welcoming. They encouraged me to keep going. When I was dead last in every single WOD, they cheered me to finish.
Many of them are still friends to this day.
I learned how to do double unders. I got better at lifting. I still hated running, hated it so much, but I did it.
I quit smoking. Three weeks in, I thought “I can either smoke or do CrossFit, but not both.” And finished my last ever cigarette.
I changed the way I ate. I stopped eating processed food, and gave up alcohol for 3 months.
And the weight fell off. I lost 18 pounds in the first two months.
By summer I’d lost almost 50.
By this time I wanted to learn everything I could about CrossFit, coaching, and how I could do this for the rest of my life. I started helping Andy with the Fundamentals Courses. I started minding the box on a Tuesday night to give him a night off. I started competing, which was the most insane thing for a self identified “fat girl” to ever do.
I did my CrossFit L1, and officially became a CrossFit Trainer.
I did my British Weightlifting Certification.
I studied anatomy in my spare time.
I went to work at CrossFit Deviant with my now best friends Rob and Athalie, and learned even more about class management, strength and conditioning, programming and more.
I started working at the brand-new box in Lincoln which was set up by my friend Neale.
LN CrossFit it was called. Seemed like a cool place.
I did my CrossFIt Weightlifting Certification.
I trained with some of the best coaches and athletes in the UK at that time.
I QUIT MY DAY JOB. In April of 2014, I finally quit the rat race that I hated so much, and went full time as a CrossFit Coach, splitting my days between Deviant and LNC.
The Open. Tribal Clash. Battle of London. First muscle up. The Open. CrossFit Level 2.
The years seemed to rattle by, punctuated by events, PBs, certifications, comps, and bbqs.
The cycle of new members, happy faces, cold winter nights and sunny summer afternoons continued.
In 2015 I became part of the ownership team of LNCrossFit.
In 2017 I bought my business partners out, and took sole ownership.
In 2018 we moved to the New Box, doubling the square footage and finding our forever home.
Now LNCrossFit Lincoln is my baby, my life, my full time dream.
Our box and its members are living fire-breathing proof that if you Work Hard and Be Nice, Good Things will happen.
This is just one story, one example of how sheer bloodymindedness can pay off big, when someone finds their passion, is willing to work, and unwilling to settle.
The thing I like most about this story are the threads of inspiration that run through it.
My Facebook friend with her knee socks inspired me. Andy inspired me. The people I met at CrossFIt Nottingham inspired me. Rob and Ath inspired me.
Everyone was nice to me when I was starting out, and it gave me the courage to continue.
I went on to help others. Some of them have gone on to help and inspire even more people.
It reminds me that every person who comes through our door at LNC has unknown depths of potential inside them. We don't know what they have overcome just to be there. We don't know who they could BECOME, if we just help them along and encourage them a little.
So if you want something, GET AFTER IT.
If you LOVE SOMETHING, SHOW IT.
If you see someone chasing their potential, HELP THEM IN ANY WAY YOU CAN.
Tell your story. Live your truth.
You never know who you might inspire to greatness. It might even be yourself.