CrossFit Jane

CrossFit Jane is a family owned and operated grassroots CrossFit community striving for growth and progress in every area of our lives.  We want to share this mission with neighbors, friends, family and our children.  We are here for everyday people, the families young and old who want to come together to live longer, healthier and happier lives.  We are committed to building better versions of ourselves.

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A New Way of Life

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.

Learning to Bloom at Any Age

“Transformation doesn’t ask that you stop being you. It demands that you find a way back to the authenticity and strength that’s already inside of you. You only have to bloom.”

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Photo by Steve Phillips.

As much time as I spend trying to work on my personal development and improvement, sometimes it is a breath of fresh air to stop and take in the many beautiful transformations happening all around me. I find it especially rewarding to observe people finding ways to bloom in every season of their lives. There are lessons I can take from each of their experiences, and I believe they represent some universal truths we can all benefit from hearing.

Early Adulthood

Just last week, my husband and I received this text from one of our athletes who is in her second year of college at UNC Chapel Hill. She started CrossFit with us when she was fifteen years old.

I just wanted to thank you both for being such great coaches over the past few years.  At the beginning of the school year, I joined the Quidditch team (yes from Harry Potter, but it's a mix between lacrosse and rugby so it's pretty intense honestly) and a weightlifting club and through them both I have met some great people and have gotten more involved outside of academics.  I actually get to travel to other schools for Quidditch so it's pretty cool.  But I never would have had the courage to join them if not for CrossFit and the fact that you guys always encouraged me and pushed me to try harder at every aspect of my fitness.  I have gained way more confidence in myself through CrossFit and I would not be the person I am today, nor would I be as happy, if it weren't for you guys.  Joining your box has completely changed my life and there is no way I will ever be able to thank you guys enough.

Obviously, this was probably the coolest text I have ever received. Finding happiness and improved human relationships through fitness stemming from a love of books - Boom! That might be this nerdy English teacher’s dream come true. Aside from all the awesome things this young girl is doing, she has the self-awareness to recognize that her bravery has allowed her to become comfortable pushing beyond her comfort zone, and THAT has made all the difference. She is making priceless memories, cultivating lasting friendships and outlifting many guys in her class because she decided to say “YES” when she could have easily said “NO” or “Maybe later.” How I wish every girl could muster up this type of courage to bloom at her age!


What does it look like to bloom in the trenches of motherhood? My neighbor, co-coach and good friend, I call her my Joy, is a perfect example. I still remember the first time I met her. She was a timid woman peeking in the corner of my garage watching wide-eyed as we all screamed and cheered on middle-aged people exercising. That shy woman, once hiding in the background, is now front and center as a Level 2 CrossFit coach at our box. She runs our schedule management system and created our Janesdottirs Program, a class born of her vision to inspire and strengthen teenage girls. An accomplished athlete herself, she has managed to reach all these goals while raising FOUR kids between the ages of 5 months and 8 years. She squeezes in workouts between carpools and carves a space for her individual talents and abilities to shine. There is no greater place to see her transformation than in the eyes of her children. Just last week her eight year old daughter informed her that she wanted to be a CrossFit coach when she grew up. Blooming in motherhood has a magical trickle down effect.

Coach Sara with her kids after running a 5K.

Empty Nester

A very special family friend is at a turning point in her life. With her children moved out and the chance for a new career direction, she is bravely writing a new chapter in her life. While caring for her ailing father, she has opened up her heart for intentional soul searching. She recently told me, “I don’t want my whole life to be defined by only one part of it...I want to figure out what I want to do with the rest of it.” Most of us understand how easily we can live as a daughter, a wife, a mother or an employee, completely losing sight of our own identity and personhood.

Her bloom, subtle and deeply profound, is a slow unfolding as she delicately peels back the layers of her life spent caring for others in order to find her true self. On a weekly basis, I have conversations with her discussing something she has read, seen or heard. She is examining her life and how she wants to spend the remainder of her time exploring this world. Gone are her days of asking permission and always putting her own needs last. She is paying attention and asking tough questions of herself and others. In so many ways her journey mirrors my own. Much like my young mom friend, this lady’s grown children are also taking note of their mother’s metamorphosis and quest for intentional living.


A mother and grandmother, this special woman has found her way into my family’s heart. She gives the best hugs - the kind with an extra squeeze on the end just to prove they are the real deal. On more than one occasion, she has stepped in with a compliment or observation that filled up a bit of the void my husband and I share missing our mothers in our lives. When we met her, she could not squat and claimed to never have exercised in her life. Now she runs 400 meters without stopping and hits up a wod several times a week. I am thankful her daughter introduced us, and her daughter is thankful for the “confidence my mom has found here.”

This brave woman is in the first year of her retirement, determined to rise above societal expectations and prove that age is indeed just a number. The strength and stamina she built in the box was spent taking her grandkids to water parks, zoos, hiking trails and various activities all summer long. She traveled to Colorado for her son’s wedding where she got to show off and apply her improved fitness and strong “guns” in the perfect dress. Holding her head high and proud, she gave the bride a run for her money. It was the gorgeous view and that stunning lady in the purple dress that first caught my eye in the picture. It’s easy to recognize a beautiful bloom when you see it.

Transformation and coming into our own can take on so many different forms and can happen at any stage of our lives. We are never beyond the point of reinvention. These ladies show me the incredible potential in combining confidence, courage and commitment. They made an intentional decision to take care of themselves in order to better enjoy life, care for others and make the most of each day they walk this Earth. I am thankful for the opportunity to stop and bask in the glorious beauty of their bloom.

-Coach Jaime


Ready for Battle

Our CrossFit community has been around for several years now. As with any family, we have experienced joy, pain, loss and success. We have laughed and cried together.

We are not strangers to sickness. Our community has supported athletes through birth, chemotherapy and surgery. We cook and deliver real food or whatever else needs to happen. It’s what we do. We are a family.

Unfortunately, this reality has presented itself yet again. After his amazing transformation and weight loss, Charlie noticed a lump in his neck. He had it checked out. The news was not good. He quickly had surgery to remove the mass. Again, the news was not good. With less than a 5% chance of cancer, that is the call he received. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

This is a classic case of bad things happening to good people. Charlie is an incredible, generous, and uplifting presence in our box. Simply put, he cares about people. If you are not careful, he will hug you...often. He is married to his soulmate, who also enriches our lives at CFJ. Charlie has four talented, healthy and happy teenage children.  One will be heading off to college in the fall.  Charlie is a hard worker, coaches his kids’ soccer teams and loves to surf. He just participated in the 2016 CrossFit Open as a strong, fit 40 some year old man. So when he got this diagnosis, we were all floored. The thoughts echoed through all of our minds.

“How could this happen to Charlie?”  

“He is so healthy. He has never looked better!”

“Charlie has incredible nutrition!”

We were stunned. This did not make any sense. We will never know any other storyline because this is the one we were dealt, but I do know this. Charlie was ready for battle. Yes, he was strong, healthy, happy and working hard to build a better version of himself, and maybe that put him in the best possible situation to become an everyday warrior.

I cheered as Charlie and Tracy worked through partner “Murph” on Saturday. Charlie had another round of chemo on Memorial Day, but he wasn’t going to let that keep him out of the game. Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” I might argue that Charlie was never even knocked down! Holding Tracy’s hand, he walks into the box smiling several times a week.  

We all use our time in the box for different things. Maybe it is a place to not be a dad, or a husband, or a banker, or a lawyer. Maybe it is a place to not be a patient.  Instead, it is a place for Charlie to be himself,  a man with an infectious smile and a textbook air squat.

Charlie is part of the foundation of THE 630!



A Letter to my Coaches: Susie's Story

This morning I woke up to an email in my inbox. It was from a CFJ athlete, who happens to also be our yoga instructor and a dear friend. It was titled, "A Letter to my Coaches." I asked her if I could share her beautiful words on our blog. One reason why I love her so much is because she strives to be "transparent," as do I. Susie, your coaches say, "Thank you," right back. Namaste. 


A Letter to my Coaches

Do you ever get the feeling that people and opportunities show up in your life at just the right time?  Maybe you call it fate, karma or just plain coincidence; but you start seeing that these are signs pointing you in a certain direction.  I’ve thought for a while that I would enjoy CrossFit, but I never took the plunge for money reasons and me holding myself back for no good reason.  Most of 2014 and 2015 CrossFit kept popping up in my life.  I would meet people that were living testimonies of the good that it has done in their lives: teachers, trainers, friends and even some family members.  And when I decided to seriously look into CrossFit all signs pointed to CFJ.  When I finally reached out to Jaime she told me that I can’t put a price on my health.  You’re right, Jaime; I’m gaining so much more than my health… I’m gaining my life back.  And money can’t buy this kind of richness.  

    In the front of my mind I had finally decided that I had allowed myself to gain enough weight and that it was beyond time to get back in shape.  I knew that I was having a difficult time holding myself accountable to go to the gym.  And I knew that I hadn’t practiced much yoga since I had stopped teaching at a studio about 3yrs. back.   So, it was time to try something different, something that all signs were pointing me towards, giving CFJ a try.  It’s been a great experience so far.  It’s even rekindled my yoga practice.  And then this dreaded 60 day challenge came along…

    I signed up for the challenge because I had completely let my eating and drinking habits get out of control, I wanted to lose weight and create healthier habits for myself.  I’m succeeding at both of these goals, which is great.  But I say I’m gaining my life back, not because of this, but because I feel like I just crawled out of a dark hole.  I’ve struggled with depression since I was young and when it becomes severe, it’s as if I sink into it and become oblivious to what’s happening all around.  I’ve been in this hole for about 3yrs now… I started eating unhealthy, drinking more (this got me back into my old smoking habits), I put on 75lbs and all that “good” stuff.  Before I knew it, I had lost myself in depression.  And as much as I know how all of what I just listed helps feed depression, I never notice until it’s almost too late.  I can’t begin to tell you how good it is to actually feel the warmth of the sun again.

    We’re a little more than halfway through the challenge now and I’ve definitely wanted to give up a million times, luckily, I enjoy a good challenge.  I also have the best accountability group.  I may not have made it this far without them.  But no matter who takes the cake at the end (bad pun, I know), we are all winners.  I’ve learned so much more than proper lifting and healthy eating.  This challenge has brought me closer to my friends and family, our connections seem more genuine.  And I’ve learned how to love myself again.  I am forever grateful for each and every one of you.  So thank you all from the bottom of my heart.                             


My Beautiful Mess

Recently, my daughter asked, “If your life was a book, what would be the title?” I smiled. Tears started to fall as I answered, “My Beautiful Mess.”  The tears did not alarm her, not this year. This year has been a period of painful personal growth.  It has not been comfortable or easy or neat. It has been a mess. But as I always tell my students, beautiful things are born in the struggle.

I lost my mom this year. No, she did not die. I can still go see her and hold her hand. I can talk to her and give her a hug, but she is gone. Mom is not there behind her eyes. Her mind is gone. I have been through a whole range of emotions. I have felt anger that she is only 65, guilt that I should do more to help her, pity that I am motherless and pain that I can’t fix this situation. It is impossible to describe the roller coaster of emotions.

But throughout this year of ups and downs, I have learned an important lesson. I might feel broken, but that’s okay. I can be broken and keep going. I can go to work and teach students to use their voice to tell their story. I can actively and intentionally participate in my children’s lives inside and outside of school. I can laugh and dance on romantic dates with my husband.  I can eat delicious meals and share stories with amazing friends. I can help athletes build better versions of themselves. I can put a heavy barbell on my back and set new personal records. However, I can still go home at the end of a long, productive day and sit on my bathroom floor and cry. I can bury my face in Brent’s shoulder, muffling my voice as I whisper, “I don’t want her to live like this.”

One of my closest friends, who also knows a thing or two about beautiful messes, sent me this quote after I had a particularly difficult mom day:

She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.

It was the most perfect thing anyone could have ever said to me. He got it.  Grief is an ongoing, fluid, non-linear process. We don’t stop our life to grieve for a week or a month. It’s not like maternity or sick leave. It is a tenant that takes up a permanent spot in our souls. So, we learn to adjust. We get a little stronger each day and become accustomed to carrying it with us. Then one day, we realize we are much stronger than we thought we were! Wow, we have been carrying this big pile of grief to the grocery store, to the soccer fields, to gymnastic practices, to our book club and to bed at night. Grief is a big mess that we have been dragging along with us, but we made it our own. Humans are amazing and resilient. We adapt and carry on.

During that same conversation with my daughter, I explained the complexity of my beautiful mess. She knows I don’t have it all figured out, and sometimes I get sad. She will also experience situations that are beyond her control and maybe she will feel broken, but hopefully she will remember this lesson from my life story.  My scars and losses do not outweigh all of the incredible opportunities I have to live and grow each and every day. As I get stronger, that grief will seem lighter. “My Beautiful Mess” is a work in progress.

Letter to my younger self

Dear Younger Self,

Be grateful and find gratitude in every situation. -Sara

You are much stronger than you think you are. -Jaime

Don’t be in a hurry to be an adult. The job, marriage, kids and numerous other responsibilities will all come in due time. Enjoy the freedom that you have now. -Becca

Take responsibility for your thoughts, actions, etc. -Sara

You can only change yourself. Work on being the best version of yourself and you will attract the right kind of people. -Jaime

Travel, make a lot more friends, try every new thing (as long as it is legal - mostly), and for goodness’ sake stop eating so much crap. Your body and mind will thank you for all of these things. -Becca

Be honest. -Sara

Read multiple perspectives and ask questions. -Jaime

Find somewhere you want to volunteer your time regularly and do so. Make making a difference a priority. -Becca

Take a leap and try something that scares you. You may be surprised by the outcome. -Sara

It's okay to be scared or sad. -Jaime

Give people a break and take off your judgy-judger pants. You don’t know everything, and you certainly have not been in others’ shoes. -Becca

You don't need to be in control all the time, and it's ok to have help. -Sara

Find strong, smart role models. Watch women that have it together and write their own story. Learn from them. -Jaime

Give help and ask for it. -Becca

You actually don't know everything. -Sara

Hug your mom and dad every chance you get. -Jaime

You always figure it out. So revel in that process and not just the solution. -Becca

What is important to you? Remember these things and make them a priority. -Sara

Laugh hard and often. -Jaime

Learn how to use tools to fix your own stuff, how your car works, how to negotiate, and how to let go. -Becca

It is ok to make yourself a priority. It is even more ok to help others and get absolutely nothing in return.-Sara

Just eat real food. Please don’t eat a low-fat diet. -Jaime

Love what you do and who you are with - deeply. And appreciate that you can every day. -Becca

You will never be perfect and that is perfectly ok. -Sara

Relax. Worry is a misuse of the imagination. Just breathe. -Jaime

You don't need to have your whole life figured out. Be a work in progress. Be flexible enough to allow yourself to be changed by experiences and people around you. -Sara

Get a good night's sleep and reevaluate in the morning. I promise it will not seem like such a big deal. -Jaime

Life doesn't end after your 20's.  You can make amazing things happen after your 20's! -Sara

Listen to honesty, even when it hurts. There is no point getting defensive. Own it and work to change what you don’t like. -Jaime

We Don’t Have Machines

A Coach’s View…

Skipping CrossFit is not like skipping exercise. Skipping CrossFit is skipping class, a class that you committed to attend. A class where you will be marked present or absent on the board with either a score or a DNS (Did Not Show). A class where your coaches will text or email you to make sure you are okay if they do not hear from you.

At a traditional gym, the machines will not ask you why you didn’t show up.  Those machines will not ask you to please arrive on time. They will not ask you about your nutrition or if you ate that morning. They will not tell you to focus on mobility.  

But do you know what else those machines will not do? Those machines will not spend hours in meetings each week discussing what is best for your progress.  Those machines will not plan nutrition workshops to help you and your family become healthier. Those machines will not scream and jump up and down in celebration  when you reach a goal or do something awesome.  Those machines will not give you a customized workout when you have an injury.  Those machines will not email or text to check on you when life happens. Those machines will not rally around to push you to finish a hard WOD.

We understand that people and/or kids get sick. Sometimes, there is something truly out of your control. Yet the majority of the time, people believe they just get too busy or have too much to do. They started CrossFit to make their health a priority in their life, so don’t let it be the expendable item on the to do list.  Make an appointment to show up to class. Put it on your calendar. Make it a priority.  

We have always been about accountability at CrossFit Jane. We are about showing up and encouraging each other.  You sign up for classes and we design plans with you in mind. In some cases, the class would not even exist if you had not signed up.  You are not a number. You are an individual athlete. We know your name, mobility, ability level, goals, choice in music, fashion habits and so much more.  If you do not want to be called out or held accountable for showing up, you can find machines. We don’t have machines at CrossFit Jane. We have dedicated coaches, a supportive community and a blank space by your name on the board. It’s up to you how that space is filled in each and every day.


CFJ athletes showing up for a 5 am WOD in the dark. 

Two Beards are Better than One

A Coach’s View...

As Brent and I continue to watch this dream grow and unfold before our eyes, we are incredibly grateful for each and every opportunity we have to work with our athletes. It is one of our top priorities for our growth to remain organic and stay true to our original “garage” roots. We continue to grow from within with an emphasis on strengthening our community and doing our absolute best to meet the needs of each and every CFJ athlete. We are incredibly proud of our CFJ coaches and can assure you that we are committed to furthering our knowledge and understanding of fitness and nutrition.  As our membership increases, our coaching staff continues to grow to develop a strong, unified team working to maintain the individualized coaching and attention that we believe to be the heart of what we do at CrossFit Jane.  

Following this approach, we are thrilled to announce that we are adding another “beard” to our coaching staff at CFJ! Nate “Nate Dawg” Hamilton has accepted our invitation to begin our Coach in Training program. Nate has been an important presence in our community for quite some time, whether he is setting up our box for the CFJ Open or contributing to one of our nutrition workshops.  Nate’s life is a shining example of building a better version of himself. He has revamped his nutrition, fitness, lifestyle and priorities to become a better father, son, husband and athlete.  We know that you will all be excited to help support him as he embarks on this new adventure. Nate will complete the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar on April 11-12.  He will be attending/helping with our next round of fundamentals, shadowing classes, and studying/meeting with our current coaching staff as he transitions into his role as coach.

Thank you for taking this journey with us.  

-Brent and Jaime

The Second Phone Call

A Coach’s View…

Lynn was at the box for both the phone calls.

She had just returned from a mission trip to Costa Rica. She knew her annual cancer appointment was coming. “They treat it as if it is back every time,” she had told us. We were optimistic. It’s our Lynn. Funky, spunky, cheery, bouncing off the walls Lynn. She would be fine; this is just standard procedure.  Then after class one morning she saw the missed call on her phone. “They didn’t leave a message.” That didn’t sound good. She called her doctor back and through teary eyes she looked at us and gave us the thumbs down sign. Her numbers were up. She had to go for further screening.  Our hearts dropped.

Lynn lives with this cloud over her head. Every appointment could result in a life-changing diagnosis. She fought and won once, but she stays on her toes never knowing when her next fight will come.  If you ask Lynn, she would credit her faith for her strength. She told me she has to learn to trust through the good phone calls and the not so good phone calls.  Her faith is forged by fire.

Last Friday, Lynn got the second call. We were standing around staring at the rings wondering how we could get our first muscle up for 15.3. That seemed like a legitimate concern at the time. Then Lynn’s phone rang. She ran outside to take the call.  The first thing we saw through the windows of the building was the jumping. Lynn was bouncing with an impressive vertical leap. Her petite little fist was punching the sky. She was screaming, “YES!” She ran through the door and hopped into my arms. We jumped and hugged some more.  I could feel the relief, the energy, the joy, the heart pounding out of her chest.  The whole room erupted with shouts and tears of joy. Matt leaned down to Lynn and said, “I’ll take a hug!” There was not a dry eye in the room.  Lynn offered us a huge dose of perspective: “That’s MY muscle up!”

I have to say that second phone call was one of the most genuine, raw shows of emotion that I have ever witnessed. To literally see the weight of the world lifted from a person’s shoulders is amazing.  After the initial celebration, Lynn happily plopped down outside on the sidewalk, oblivious to the cigarette butts from the bar next door, and called her friends and family. It was a beautiful moment.  Lynn celebrated, helped us set up for the CFJ Open that night and returned the next day to knock out some wall balls for her team.

When I look back on the 2015 Open, I don’t know if I will remember anyone’s individual performance, but I know I will remember Lynn’s second phone call. I hope to always be there to celebrate with our athletes when they overcome not just physical trials in the box but the tough calls that life gives us. Thank you, Lynn, for giving me some perspective. I hope to be there for all those hugs.   


Youth wasted?

A Coach’s View…

“Youth is wasted on the young.” -George Bernard Shaw

Or maybe not.

I am so proud of the “young” at CFJ. I write a lot about the adults and parents who are building better versions of themselves, but I think it is safe to say any of them will tell you they wish they would have found CrossFit earlier in life. What if we didn’t have to spend so much time unlearning bad movement patterns? What if we had gotten stronger and built muscle mass to protect our bodies before we experienced injury from wear and tear? What if we could have been one of those awesome pregnant women throwing a barbell around? Okay, maybe that last one was just me talking, but you get the point.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

As adults we have to prioritize our time and energy.  We might think it is cool to go against the grain and be different in the way we approach nutrition and fitness. I am not sure I would have been so bold at 18 or 24. Would I sit in a cafeteria full of my high school peers eating “weird paleo” food? Abigail does it every day.  Would I spend my free time working out with my family? Nick comes straight from swim practice to hit a WOD with his dad when he could probably just hang with friends. Would I wake up early on the weekend to exercise? Ashley comes to open gym so she can make up a WOD she missed during the week. Would I have the self confidence to face that bar and risk failure? Brittany did when she tackled chest to bar pullups for the first time this week.

This is why I am so proud of our young athletes. They walk into CFJ with their heads held high. They are not scared of a challenge. They face whatever we throw at them and usually with a smile. They cheer for each other and support their peers. They show up and get the job done. They are not afraid of hard work and sweat. They are not afraid of standing out from the crowd. They are forging mental and physical strength.

Nick looking strong during 15.2 in the 2015 CFJ Open. 

Watching our young athletes gives me hope that we are making significant changes in the way this country sees health and wellness. I see them developing a lifelong desire for fitness.  They are not chasing temporary aesthetic goals but rather they are nurturing positive lifestyle habits that will serve them well the rest of their lives. So, maybe youth is NOT wasted on the young.


My Mom's Light

A Coach's View...

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation...." -Audre Lorde

When people ask "How is your mom?" I find it frustrating. I can't help it. Everyone means well, but when your mom has advanced Alzheimer's, it's not like you will ever really say, "Much better! I think she has beat this thing!"  It is also not helpful when they say, “She is so lucky to have you as a daughter.” I am consumed with guilt every day of my life worrying that I do not do enough, even though I have accepted that “enough” is elusive and unattainable. I realize people don't know what to say. I always respond with the obligatory smile and nod, turning quickly before I catch a glimpse of pity in their eyes. It is always the same song and dance.

I spend most of my life and energy trying to help people and their families get healthier by building better versions of themselves at CrossFit Jane. I can't build a better version of my mom. My mama is broken. She will not be fixed. That is a huge, ugly, bitter pill to swallow.

I try to push forward without facing that thought every minute of my day. I hug my kids. I laugh with my husband. I have heart to heart chats with my friends. I grade papers and attend workshops. I go to my book club and drink good coffee.  I take a hike and breathe in some fresh air. I prepare fresh, real food.  I lift heavy things and put them down.

But then, occasionally, I have to bathe my mom and change her diapers. I have to clean up her messes or unearth items she has packed in strange drawers and hiding spots. I drop everything and run to the hospital because she has had a minor stroke. Then I sit next to her and remind her who I am and that I have two kids at home who love her. I comfort her and tell her not to be afraid of that bearded man; he is my husband and the love of my life. I smile when she says I remind her so much of her daughter. And I use my stern voice when I insist that yes, she must eat all her broccoli.

If you ask me why I CrossFit, I could give you so many reasons, but right at this present moment, my answer is simple: Mom. Yes, I want to keep myself healthy and my mind active. But it is more than that. I will never get to do burpees or clean and jerks side by side with Mom, but I can do it with her in mind. She is in my mind and heart when I throw weight over my head or on my back. My heart feels so much heavier than the weight I can drop and release. I can't drop or release the hurt caused by this horrible disease. I can't erase the blank stare in her eyes. I can't muscle through or dig deep enough to bring back the woman that used to live in her skin; but I can take care of myself. In the words of Dylan Thomas, I can rage against the dying of the light, her light. The light I no longer see in her eyes. I can sweat, eat real, nutrient dense food, get a good night’s sleep, control my stress level, run, lift, push, pull, squat and swing to build the best possible version of myself so I can better care for her. We must take care of ourselves in order to care for others.

If you or someone you know are dealing with this disease, please know you are not alone. We need to talk about it. Find someone you can talk to about it but not just anybody. In my case, Mom has early-onset Alzheimer’s, so it really doesn’t help me when someone says, “I understand. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s.” This is not an elderly grandparent; this is my mom, who should be spoiling her 7 and 9 year old grandkids. My best friend lost her dad to the disease. This is not why we are friends, but I know this is just another area of my life where she “gets me.” I can talk about the anger, the hurt, the frustration, and hopelessness without fear of judgement. Taking care of yourself involves surrounding yourself with the right people, devoting time to decompress, just be sad or grieve.

This Friday, I will complete the second workout of the 2015 CrossFit Worldwide Open. I will sweat, struggle and fight for one more rep. Then I will drive to stay with my mom for the weekend so my dad can have a much-needed break. I will feed her real food, clean her up, remind her how much I love her and make her get out and move. I will hold her hand as we rage against the dying of her light.


Celebrate and Be Thankful

A Coach’s View…

This past week I saw a post that said, “What if you woke up today with only the things you gave thanks for yesterday.” Ouch. That one struck a chord with me. I had a conversation with my daughter about it. My little, passionate optimist grinned and listed all she had been thankful for yesterday. She felt confident that she would have it all covered today. I was not quite so confident. I know I am always thankful for my husband, my healthy children, my loving parents, my friends, my home, my jobs, my food, but what about all the things I take for granted on a daily basis?

Throughout the year, I spend a lot of time trying to “attack my weaknesses” and work on all the areas in my life where I feel that I need improvement. I celebrate progress, not perfection; but I am a constant work in progress.  As we approach the 2015 Open, our theme is celebration.  It is a time to slow down and just be in the moment.  We want to celebrate all the progress we have made in one year.   During this time of celebration, I have decided to intentionally pause and give thanks. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by a loving and supportive community who support me as a coach, athlete, teacher, mom and friend. I am thankful that I have gained muscle mass and stayed injury-free.  I am thankful that my husband’s beard is so much more amazing than it was  last year. I am thankful that my two kids are healthier and stronger than last year. I am thankful for my loving Labradoodle, Fenway, who showers me in love and kisses and accompanies me to coach 5 am classes.  I am thankful for friendships that challenge me with honesty and push me to grow.  I am thankful that our CFJ coaching team has grown and is dedicated to helping our community develop and succeed. I am thankful that we have a new facility that is no longer in my house.  I am thankful for all the excitement and energy of our new CrossFit Kids program.  I am thankful for the athletes who took a chance and discovered CrossFit with us years ago and all those who deliberately chose our supportive community to be their new CrossFit home. I am thankful for 46 athletes who signed up for the 2015 CFJ Open.  I am thankful for all the improvements we have made in our nutrition. I am thankful for all the goals I have set and reached, as well as the goals that continue to motivate me. I am thankful for the new knowledge I have gained as a coach, through both experience and continuing education and certifications.  I could go on and on.

Thankful for smart, strong women who support and push me every day. 

What are you thankful for this year? Have you lost body fat and built muscle? Have you spent more active quality time with your kids? Have you improved your nutrition? Have you made sleep and recovery a priority? Have you made changes to improve your quality of life?  Have you set off on a new career path? Have you made lasting friendships? Have you built a better version of yourself?

Let’s get  ready to celebrate. Let’s get ready to give thanks. Let the games begin!  


Heart and Soul

A Coach’s View...

I am proud of the role models we have in CrossFit. I think that smart, fit people, like Julie Foucher, make fantastic ambassadors and examples for our community. But on a daily basis, I don’t see CrossFit “celebs,” such as Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. What I do see is what I call the heart and soul of CrossFit. Let me introduce you to one such person.

Kristie Hamilton is one of the founding members of CrossFit Jane, meaning she was with us before we had a name and worked out in our garage.  I remember when she started; her youngest son was barely walking (now he is in kindergarten). In the four short years I have known her, Kristie has dealt with some heavy life experiences. She has lost not one but both parents. As she has dealt with life, she has emerged as a profound presence in our community.

Kristie loves CrossFit. I mean she really loves it. She will watch it, read about it, do it, go see it, judge it, and buy anything with the word printed on it. Her boys have only ever known her as a CrossFitting mama. Her husband is also a CrossFitter (I can’t imagine it working if he wasn’t!). She is STRONG - deadlifts a car type of strong. She will take charge and get stuff done. If we need a social gathering or event planned for our community, she is on it. If we need a Pinteresty crafty award made for our Open Closing Ceremony, she is on it. If we need our box bathroom designed and equipped with a chalk board, she is on it and will fill it with her original photography (yes, she is also an amazing amateur photographer).

Kristie competing at the 2014 Goddess Games.

Kristie’s heart and soul hits especially close to home for me.  Simply put, she is on my side and always in my corner.  She knew me as an athlete before she ever knew me as a coach, so when I accomplish something or make a new PR, I always text her because I know she gets it. She knows what is formed from the struggle. She cheers me on as a mom, daughter, coach, athlete and friend.  When I broke some bones and had surgery, she stood in my kitchen and roasted a chicken wrapped in twine while taking care of my kids and driving them around town.  Seriously, twine and fennel.  Who, other than Martha Stewart, uses twine?  Most importantly, she makes homemade paleo mayo for me (I just refuse…”emulsify.” Just. Stop.)! Recently, when I was trying for a PR on a lift, all I could hear was her voice screaming from behind me where she was completing a horrific row WOD.  “GET UP!” I did.  She is heart and soul in my corner.

Kristie loves more than CrossFit; she loves the community.  Kristie does not know how to contain her heart and soul to just the CFJ family. She takes her show on the road. She has visited more CrossFit affiliates than anyone at CFJ. We always laugh because we know if she is not with us, we will see a picture pop up of Kristie at CrossFit San Francisco with Diane Fu or completing an Open WOD at CrossFit Atlanta. She is fearless and passionate.  Whether she is working as a judge for the SuperFit Games or taking pictures for an event at a local affiliate, Kristie is active and engaged with our greater CrossFit community.  

Kristie at San Francisco CrossFit in class with Diane Fu. 

So there you have it. Yes, CrossFit has “the Fittest on Earth” and sponsored athletes who are changing the face of the fitness community, but as for me and my CrossFit box, we have heart and soul.  Kristie is part of the foundation keeping our community strong at CrossFit Jane.  




A Coach’s View…


As the Open quickly approaches, one of our coaches recently reminded me of all the memorable moments from the Open last year in our community. Our Open took place in the garage of my home (we had not moved to our new facility). Every Friday night and Saturday morning, families gathered to cheer and scream for our athletes. I do not remember scores from last year, but I remember heart, grit, determination and the thrill of seeing someone do something they never thought possible (a first double under, one overhead squat or a really heavy deadlift). I remember the look on the faces of all the kids who were there as spectators, cheering for their parents. We had scaled versions for all the workouts because we wanted everyone to participate. I would like to focus on that word- participate.


Two years ago, a sweet, shy 16 year old girl wanted to try CrossFit with us. She had watched her aunt do amazing things, and she wanted to give it a try. But she wasn’t quite ready to go at it alone, so she asked her mom to try it with her. She didn’t want her mom to watch her do it and be supportive; she wanted her mom to participate (there’s that word again).  Her mom said yes.  Her dad eventually said yes too, but he was a tougher sell. In time, her sister also said yes.

This week as we watched that now 18 year old, strong, confident, young woman powering through 115 pound power cleans in a WOD, I took a moment to pause and consider the incredible gains that came from that mom choosing to participate. She could have stayed on the sidelines and been a cheerleader, her daughter’s biggest fan, but instead she stepped in the game and chose to participate.

We all have a choice whether we want to spend our life existing or LIVING. We can choose to face fear rather than cower from it. We can face the risk of failure in order to reap a grander reward. We can say we will no longer be satisfied as a spectator; we want to be a participant.  

In this moment, choose to move, to take action, to show up, simply put, to participate.  Grab your son, daughter, sister, brother, friend, spouse and get in the game.  


Eating my Words

A coach's view...

We recently started up our CF Kids program at CFJ. It wasn't supposed to be my thing. Brent would handle the Kids program along with our other coaches. I would assist him when necessary. I handle fundamentals, scheduling and other responsibilities. We divide and conquer. "I am not in charge of the kids," I declared on more than one occasion. 

So, then our kid classes BOOMED. For almost every parent we coached, we were also coaching their kids! I started helping out more and more. Somewhere along the way I realized I was hooked and completely loved it. Every class I found myself saying things like, "Jenny, you are on your mom's bar. That is where she does all her pull-ups," or "Luke, you have a strong squat just like your dad!" The more I said these things, the more I realized the beauty of it. When our kids hear coaches praising their parents and likening their positive healthy behavior to their own, they stand up a little straighter and pride twinkles in their eyes. They own it. The whole family owns it. 

Show, don't tell. Our athletes are working to build better versions of themselves, and in turn, they are sending their kids an incredibly powerful message. I will once again swallow my pride and eat my words. If you need me, I will be at CF Kids.