TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?
I’ve been working in university undergraduate admission for 15 years, the last 8 have been at Northwestern University working with first-year international students. I also have the privilege of coordinating our financial aid program for international students; i.e. awarding students from all corners of the globe regardless of background, full need-based scholarships to study at a top 10 university, it’s pretty incredible. I’ve had the honor of representing Northwestern in 45 countries around the globe from world-renowned boarding schools, prestigious private schools, US Embassy’s, massive government public schools, to dirt floor outdoor classrooms in third world countries. The students I get to work with will be future leaders of communities, corporations, industries, cultures, and even countries. My passion for travel came after studying abroad through the Pacific Rim on a ship through a program called Semester at Sea in undergrad–after grad school I went back as a staff member to circumnavigate the globe on another SAS voyage. Originally, I was ‘supposed to be’ a high school history teacher, and did student teaching in a small village in England, but found myself in Chicago loving the city and its opportunities to learn about all identities, cultures, environments, peoples experiences. University admission allowed me to continue exploring the US and world seeing various contexts of education and striving to build access points for students toward higher education. So far I’ve been able to travel to 70 countries, and 6 continents–still waiting for a way to line Antarctica up on my itinerary.
I met my husband, Collin, here in Chicago at a church dodgeball tournament between greeting team volunteers. We remain involved in our Park Community Church family, now we are part of the South Rogers Park campus. We moved to Bowmanville (3 blocks from Hardware) 5 years ago. Our dog, Harold, is our “first born”. He is a fluffy affable mini-goldendoodle, who is 5 years old. My daughter, Corinne, is turning 3 y/o this week; she is spirited, sassy, sweet, and vocal and is teaching me to try to be a better human everyday! I’ll never forget George, Dana, Melissa, Adrian, and so many others who helped me keep moving at CrossFit through my pregnancy until 38 weeks! Although, it took me much longer than I anticipated to get back into a workout routine after having Corinne; my body, emotions, energy, mental health, working mom life w international travel demands just rocked me. BUT I was so glad to get back into the community of Hardware, being alongside other moms really pulled me through and so many people that witnessed me workout with my big pregnant belly were there to keep encouraging me post-partum. Also, I still remember how eerily excited I was to do my first burpee workout post pregnancy?!?!
WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTO TRAINING AND WHAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK?
I was always a runner, cardio focused, and petite for my age/grade and played casual sports leagues growing up. After my first freshman year high school preseason track meet I accidentally unseated some veteran seniors on various relay teams and honestly had no idea what I was doing, I was just running as fast as I could. Four years of Varsity track had me on a road to competing at the college level but I just never landed the right combo of focus, weight training, coaching/support, to fully get me directed on that path–so I enjoyed the sport for fun and chose not to go the recruiting route. Working out became more of a focus of a physical image/appearance I was striving to upkeep or match, which wasn’t always a great thing to focus on. Eventually I landed on running marathons which felt great in my 20s body, but less so in my 30s life/body, so I needed to get away from the compulsivity of mileage and competitive timing.
For years, I was part of a year-round outdoor no equipment necessary ‘Bulldog Bootcamp’ program, run by a Crossfit gym and phenomenal coach, that transformed my workout routine and mentality/endurance around working out, but the program concluded when I moved neighborhoods and our coach moved on too. I swore I would never do Crossfit, but in a longstanding funk not finding any motivation to workout and seeing Hardware Crossfit only 3 blocks away from my home, proximity won out. I did the “intro workout” w/ George and stated the ‘cliche Crossfit concern’ that “I didn’t want my body to get too bulky”. I think back to that conversation and think how many times Crossfit coaches must hear that (and how composed George was to humbly respond without laughing) and I now realize just how LONG and HARD I have had to work for my little tiny budding arm muscles, ha ha! Starting to notice the changes in my strength and muscles actually makes me quite proud now.
At Hardware I have finally learned that training and fitness doesn’t have to be about being fast and keeping thin. Especially after having my daughter 3 years ago, our bodies are truly miraculous, and I believe our goals should focus on functional fitness and bettering our body one day at a time. I feel incredibly blessed to have my health and a high functioning body as I strive to be an active, strong, full-time working woman and mom, carting around my growing human ‘wall ball’ toddler and all that comes at us in life, especially in my city townhouse living with tons of stairs.
WHAT ARE YOUR FITNESS GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?
My fitness goals have changed over the years and now it’s about staying consistent with getting to the gym, even when other aspects of my life are super demanding or have me emotionally down. Now my goals for fitness have been more about stress relief, work/life balance, mood boosts, and sort of a version of self care therapy for me.
My day to day WOD goal is to keep taking skills and weight to the next level even if it means going slower. Sometimes I play it way too safe with weight, since the runner in me is always focused on being competitive and going fast, and so I appreciate when people call me out for ‘sandbagging’ (Sarah, Alex, Adrian, Joel–love you all).
Also, a PULL UP, my forever goal is to be able to do a pull up, just one darn pull up–but then I’ll set a new goal to do more.
WHAT’S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT OR GOAL YOU’VE REACHED AT HARDWARE THAT MADE YOU THE MOST PROUD?
Definitely going RX in the Crossfit Open, I still can’t believe it. I lucked out a bit in this year’s Open with some more body weight focused elements. Setting a goal with each workout and then somehow smashing it was really affirming. Even doing scaled 21.2 because I was too tired/nervous/scared to do RX’d and then coming back with Nat S. and pushing through the Rx’d version, I think we both had no idea we could lift a 35lb dumbbell above our heads that many times.
It’s about appreciating the little benchmarks for me, stringing together Toes-to-bar, moving up to the next weight in dumbbell snatches or kettlebells, finally lifting my body weight in back squat and front squat workouts, doubling my original weights in push press. I continue to celebrate that I get to use the 35lb barbell on workouts, it reminds me of the work I put in with the lighter barbells when I started out. Even staying on my toes for push ups in workouts has been a great accomplishment that I continuously reflect on!
Also, staying active during quarantine was an accomplishment for which I’m very thankful, doing those YouTube workouts at home saved my sanity at times. Beyond the chaos of the pandemic, this year featured an incredible challenge in my life that was painful and lonely, those outdoor workouts at the Smiley Brothers yard were just what I needed. Hardware people were some of the only humans I saw in real non-virtual life and it felt amazing to stay fit and sane together. And the support I felt even when bringing my unpredictable toddler to workouts truly helped me through a period of solo parenting, juggling a full time job, with a toddler at home.
Running, totally running, but more particularly 200m, 400m, 800m repeats; those are my jam and despite running coming more naturally to me, I still find them challenging when pushing myself against a pace, peer, or to remain consistent throughout various rounds. And I understand that running is a separate sport than Crossfit so…I like really long arduous partner workouts OR workouts that have many rounds or super high quantities of each movements to them. My marathon mindset gets me excited to go through a grueling long ordeal and also try to set some consistency to the movements, many times during workouts I’m playing mind games with myself trying to match my performance each round, or chip away at 5 reps at a time during huge volume. So while I find it super challenging I really love those highest and lowest round scoring WODs that go on forever or when a coach/WOD tells me to do a quantity of something that seems impossible. I’ve come to enjoy the challenge of dumbbell snatches, we did like 200 of them in a workout outside and I wanted to do it again with a heavier dumbbell.
Also, I’m one of those weird people who don’t mind burpees–while they can be exhausting– I like trying to keep my speed up on them and figure out form.
LEAST FAVORITE WOD/MOVEMENT?
Pull Ups are my nemesis–and anything on the pull-up bar– but I am determined to win this life long battle and after finding a small amount of success with a handful of toes to bar, I’m declaring 2021 my year to get a single pull up–yep that’s it, I’d be perfectly happy with just 1 stinkin single pull-up. However, I need accountability and to force myself to consistently put in the extra work to get there, which I have been slacking on, so if you have read this far you have my permission to tell me to go hang on the bar for extra work before/after WOD’s. I also despise wall walks, it’s more my attitude than my ability, so 21.1 was nothing short of miraculous for me (Thank You Joel H for judging and listening to me complain). Snatches and Overhead squats something about my range of motion or how my arms are built, just makes them incredibly difficult and me looking ridiculous when I try to do them.
ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE INTERESTED IN TRYING OUT HARDWARE?
Hardware’s inclusive environment completely shattered my impression of what I thought CrossFit was, and I like to believe that I have learned so much from the athletes and humans alongside me, to build each other up and celebrate one another all ages/shapes/sizes/cultures/identities/accomplishments. Also, I want to build up that open mindset on fitness and all humans for my daughter, so having her come to KidsFit and hang around the gym has been meaningful for me. I think Hardware is special because it has allowed me to be inspired by the hard work of others and see each person where they are at while witnessing their progress too.
Scaling, scaling, scaling, is so key and so essential for everyone. Scaling has been a huge part of my journey into the Crossfit world. My competitive side used to think scaling was a deficit and that I wasn’t strong enough to do the “real workouts”, but I slowly started to accept it is all about making the workout tailored to you. Whether it’s a specific movement you are working on, a weight you are trying to get to, speed on part of a WOD, an injury you are being mindful of, or just the path that you are on as you work to acquire new skills. Having coaches that consistently talk up scaling, and tune into my ability to help me scale effectively, has been a great shift for me in my workouts and encourage me to push myself but not shame myself.
Track your workouts in Beyond the Whiteboard, it’s free through Hardware and I didn’t do it for like 2 years. It has really helped me chart out goals and accomplishments, watch my growth, as well as admire the work of other athletes at our gym.