CrossFit Jane
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COACH'S VIEW

A Coach's View gives you a small glimpse into the mind and heart of your CFJ coaches. 

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.

-Jaime 


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!  

-Jaime


Jaime Pollard-SmithComment
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.  

-Jaime

 

Jaime Pollard-SmithComment
Work

A Coach’s View....

I have gotten a lot of questions through social media asking for suggestions and advice on how to lose weight and become healthier. I get this feeling that everyone is hoping I will say, “Take this supplement,” or “Just control your portion sizes,” or “Do more sit-ups.” Nobody really wants to hear, “It requires hard work and commitment for the rest of your life,” or “You will need to be intentional in your eating, moving and sleeping for the rest of your life.It’s not a quick fix. We have become a society on a constant hunt for the “easy button.” Buy this lotion, take this pill, drink this cleanse. And yet, as CrossFitters, we are ridiculed for being willing to work hard and push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. We are labeled and criticized for not trying to take the easy way out. Hmmmmm…

If you ask me how to eat, I will say put in the work. Plan and prepare your own meals and eat REAL food. Don’t let restaurants and major food companies prepare it for you. If you ask me how to get fit, I will say put in the work.  Start with “constantly varied, functional movement performed at high intensity” (yep, that is the textbook definition of CrossFit). If you ask me how to improve your quality of waking hours, I will say put in the work.  Start taking your non-waking hours seriously and sleep.  

While all these suggestions seem pretty straightforward, the truth is they are not. So I add to these suggestions, don’t go it alone. Here is the part where CrossFitters gain their “cult” label. You mean we don’t take the easy way out, and we ask other people to take that journey with us? Yes, that is exactly what we do. It takes a village to manage this crazy world. There is no “easy button” for unexpected illness, or car accidents, or sudden unemployment, but there is support from a community who stand alongside you each and every time life happens. So we form hidden Facebook pages where we share recipes, brag about our physical accomplishments and post articles to educate ourselves and better ourselves as people.  A “cult” of genuine self-improvement is born.

Most people don’t want the truth. It seems too daunting, too overwhelming. It’s too much work with no true end in sight. Are you unhealthy, overweight, overtired, overextended and unhappy? What results have you gotten lately from the “easy button?”  Results aren’t easy. But don’t go it alone. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and themselves.

We are building better versions of ourselves at CrossFit Jane. Join us.

Jaime


Jaime Pollard-SmithComment
Participate

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.  

Jaime


Jaime Pollard-SmithComment
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. 

-Jaime

Jaime Pollard-SmithComment