Guest Blogger: Kelly Winfree, CFJ Athlete
I never imagined that my life would change so much in such a short amount of time. I had heard outsiders refer to this organization as a “cult” and that it was only for the “super fit.” However, I needed to find out for myself exactly what it was all about. Sixteen months ago, when I walked through the front door for the first time, I immediately knew this was something extraordinary and I wanted to be a part of it. Joining the CrossFit community has completely changed my life for the better in every way imaginable. The main factors that have been instrumental in my new way of life are the CrossFit community, a growing sense of self empowerment, and an evolving mental strength. These elements have provided positive impacts in all areas of my life.
In the beginning I was quite anxious and intimidated about working out with these seasoned CrossFitters. From watching the CrossFit Games on television and seeing how incredibly fit those athletes were, I assumed that was the fitness level of all CrossFit athletes. Despite being involved in sports throughout my childhood and being a regular gym goer as an adult, I did not think my mediocre athletic ability would be up to par. I was afraid that I was going to be the weakest, most out of shape person there. After my first week, all of the anxious, negative, and self-shaming thoughts I had were gone. The coaches and the other athletes were so welcoming; they all made me feel as if I was a long lost family member who had finally found my way home. I was relieved to see that these CrossFitters were of all different ages and all different fitness levels. They smiled and warmly greeted each other as they would arrive for class. They supported and cheered for one another during the intense exercises, then at the end of the workouts, the coaches came around and high fived every single person. The coaches and my fellow athletes celebrated every accomplishment I made, no matter how small I thought it was. For instance, one of my early goals as a new CrossFit athlete was to perform push ups without dropping my knees to the floor to make them easier. One night during class I finally did a perfect push up, then I followed that up with 15 more, and I remember my coach clapping and cheering me on. It was the best feeling, not only to see my coach’s face light up with pride, but to feel that same pride within myself. After the workout was over the other people in class were patting me on the back and congratulating me for a job well done. I had never experienced such an incredible force of positive energy like that. I decided that night I wanted more of that feeling, so I started attending 5-6 classes a week instead of 3. Not only did I want to become a stronger athlete, I also wanted to be with my new friends or, as I refer to them now, “my people.”
I am healthier and more physically fit than I have ever been in my life thanks to what I have learned by being a part of this CrossFit community. In addition to understanding how to perform exercises and weightlifting movements properly, I have also learned the importance of taking care of myself by way of good nutrition. My greatest achievement since starting CrossFit came last year when I won the 2016 New Year 60 Day Nutrition Challenge that my gym put together. After attending the helpful nutrition seminars and speaking one-on-one with my coaches, I learned how to use foods to fuel my body to perform better in and outside of the gym. At the end of the 60 days I was a new person; I was stronger, happier, and I had lost 38 pounds. This challenge taught me how to really take care of myself through balanced nutrition, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. The skills that I acquired during those long 60 days will stay ingrained in me for the rest of my life.
While gaining physical strength and losing weight have been great results that I have had from doing CrossFit, the mental strength and self confidence that I have developed has been the biggest game changer. It has taken me a long time to appreciate my body and mind for what they can do. For example, at 35 years old, I decided to go back college to finally earn a degree. I have become a better, more driven employee, and I am better able to manage my stress and anxiety that previously overwhelmed me at times. CrossFit helps me have more energy throughout the day, think more clearly, do well on the many tasks I juggle every day, and stay focused to continue working towards my goals. Overall, I am a happier person and it shows in everything I do.
Being a part of this CrossFit family has enriched my life by giving me a positive, encouraging place to belong, by teaching me how to be a strong individual, and by teaching me how to truly love myself. I surprise myself everyday with what I am capable of, whether it be lifting heavy weight or making A’s in all of my classes. Finally, I am becoming the woman I have always wanted to be and I am looking forward to my future. I would recommend CrossFit to anyone, no matter their age or physical ability. This community welcomes people in with open arms and changes lives for the better.