“Hi, are you new with us? I’m Claire.” That’s usually what you’ll hear from me if we’ve not yet met.
In 2011, I returned to Atlanta after a 6 month work rotation in London. While there, I was suffering from seasonal depression & some family medical issues. I was mentally exhausted, physically tired and “skinny fat.” I returned to yoga, but craved something that put all my mental & physical energy into one space & challenged me. I wanted to feel strong. I tried a few different things: work gym, sculpting classes, Blast 3,000 (or something like that). But nothing really grabbed me. That is, until 2012 when a dear work friend told me about this place she’d been trying. So I went to our local “box,” and was given the rundown on CrossFit. I loved that it incorporated movements I was already loosely familiar with from my youth (running & body weight movements? That’s my jam!). And then we started talking about the barbell work. This really piqued my interest because I hadn’t picked up a barbell since a weightlifting class that I took in high school (at this point, we’re talking 15+ years in the rearview mirror). But I remember feeling like the barbell made me superhuman. “I can lift things. HEAVY things.” I was sold. I completed my introductory classes to become familiar with the lifts & vernacular. And then I had my first WOD (Workout Of the Day. That vernacular…). Boy, did those farmer’s carries down MLK humble me. Real fast. This is when I learned to “check your ego at the door.”
So, despite being humbled, I kept returning. Usually hobbling from the last 2 day’s workouts, but so excited to get at it again & see how I performed. This is not to say that every WOD was a PR (Personal Record. More vernacular.), but I loved the intensity, challenge and how I felt afterward. My pals and I were in the same post-WOD pain cave, but it was exhilarating. The very definition of bittersweet. We hung out together, sometimes over beers, traded Paleo recipes and got to know each other. At the end of 2012, my boyfriend of 4 years finally made an honest woman out of me and proposed. 2012 was a really great year.
My gym friends were thrilled for us. I competed in a fun CF team competition & strung together the most toes to bars ever (& probably to date, if I’m being honest). And then in August 2013, I lost my dad when his body could no longer fight his years of smoking and high cholesterol (a hereditary gift I’m constantly monitoring). When I returned to the gym, I couldn’t have anticipated the love & support from my fellow athletes and coaches. I was overwhelmed. Their support made me realize that CF was far more than a workout or a gym. It’s a place where the people who you see more than some of your family, genuinely care about you.
Fast forward to 2018. After several years trying to conceive, I made the difficult decision to take a step back from CF & let my body rest to better support my pregnancy. During active labor, I vividly remember telling the medical staff, “This is like a chipper. Do you know what a chipper is? Are you familiar with CrossFit? Yeah, I love it. I miss it so much and can’t wait to get back at it!” This proved to be a great choice for me, as our baby girl was born in April 2019.
Knowing how welcoming the CF community is, I re-engaged at Decatur Strength & Conditioning in August 2019, after an 18 month hiatus. Initially, the close proximity to our new house was a large part of the reason that I chose DSC as my gym. But as is the case with most CF gyms, the community immediately welcomed me in. Over the course of the past 3 years, the members & coaches have become part of my life. We laugh, cry, sweat & stress together. When the pandemic hit and Eric made the challenging decision to not have the gym open, he & the staff did a fantastic job of pivoting to what they COULD do. They could provide at home programming. They could rent out gym equipment to members to keep their fitness journey afloat. They could make modifications for those who didn’t have access to equipment. It was a true test of gym & community support. Once the gym was re-opened, the space had been reconfigured to reflect a more personal experience. Each athlete had their own “box” (a box within a box!) and all of the equipment needed for the WOD. It made returning in person just thrilling for me. I could sweat with all my people again! And I far prefer sweating with friends than alone.
Next to sweating with friends, I appreciate that the programming is done for me. Despite being a Type A personality, I’ve never been drawn to creating my own programming. So when I receive the weekly email on Sunday, outlining the week’s workouts, I know what’s ahead. And all I have to do is show up. Even the ones I don’t want to (which means I need to work on whichever movement I’m avoiding!)!
The intensity in each workout is up to me. I’m not an overly competitive person, but I love how I can be competitive with myself and challenge myself to be temporarily uncomfortable. If I’m dealing with an injury, I can always ask the coach for a modification. A common misconception about CrossFit is that athletes have to execute the workouts exactly as they are written and that’s not the case. They can ALL be modified or scaled to accommodate athletes in various stages, ages and seasons.
This became very beneficial in 2021 when I became pregnant with baby #2. I really wanted to continue CF throughout my pregnancy, simply for the mental benefits. I recognized that I could not push myself like I normally would, but I also wasn’t incapacitated. Through my own research and working with our coaches, I found modifications for everything needed that was programmed. This helped keep my gestational diabetes at manageable levels and able to keep up with a 2 year old! I worked out until 6 days before baby boy’s October 2021 birth and wasn’t fearful when I returned 6 weeks later. I was there simply to move and some days, just to get out of my postpartum head. If I have to bring my boy in, it’s amazing when members or coaches step in to snuggle him if he gets fussy. Their mental and physical support continues to be the best gift of my daily attendance. The
community is the heart and soul of DSCs success and what draws people in (or back!).
If anyone is on the fence about whether to join Decatur Strength & Conditioning, I’d encourage you to come see us, talk to members & take a chance on yourself. And when you join (see what I did there?), check your ego at the door and introduce yourself to me if I haven’t already.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson