“Progress, no matter how big or small, is still progress”, Shannon reminded me the other day. I was frustrated with my first two performances for the Crossfit Open. She reminded me I had just switched gyms at the beginning of January, started a new strength and conditioning program, and have been putting in the work to make huge gains over the next year. Shannon has been doing Crossfit for about 3 years now. In her 1st Open experience, she was in the bottom 80% of her region. By second year, Shannon was in the top 18%, and this year she is in the top 5%- on the road to making her debut appearance in Chicago on a team for Regionals.
I remember talking to Shannon in 2011, she was saying I should look into starting Crossfit. She had just started and I could hear the excitement in her voice as she described this community she had become a part of. I didn’t look into it as I was moving out of state to be a general manager of a group fitness facility. At the time, the thought of paying for a gym membership when I had been hired to be a GM at another gym seemed unreasonable. Looking back, I wish I had looked into it and started my journey when Shannon did (you know what they say about hindsight…).
Fast forward 2 years and I am back in Des Moines. Burned out of the whole health and fitness career, I take a month off, not setting foot in a gym. I was still struggling with the idea of paying for a gym membership when I hadn’t paid for one in 5 years while working as a trainer and instructor at numerous group fitness centers.
Shannon finally talks me into trying Crossfit, a friend from her gym had recently moved to Des Moines and recommended a particular box. The date was October 1st, 2012, and I have never been more nervous. I walked into a gym, not knowing what the hell I was doing, and was introduced to my 1st WOD: FRAN. You’re surprised I came back, right? I was hooked. It was love at first thruster. Oh, to be in a new environment where I was being taught new things was invigorating! I quickly called Shannon and expressed my excitement and she couldn’t believe I actually ‘liked’ thrusters (mind you, I used only the bar on day one, so I had no clue how horrible they’d become).
I am the type of person who needs to be challenged physically as well as mentally; Crossfit was indeed, my calling. I thought I was in decent shape prior to starting, even when I took an entire month off before joining. Who was I kidding? You’re never going to be in ‘shape’ enough to start this crazy Crossfit regime.
Mesmerized by what these people around me were achieving, I quickly started setting goals and chipping away at them one by one. My first goal was to learn how to kip. How frustrating is it to see your partner knock out some unassisted pull ups and you’re (literally) stuck in a band? Second was a rope climb because progressions SUCK. PERIOD.
I started chipping away at these goals, one by one, and quickly noticed the progress I was making. Competitive my nature, I knew the next step for me would be competing. Watching Shannon and her team compete for the first time was jaw dropping. She and her teammates were incredible. I remember watching her teammate, Kate, perform overhead squats beautifully and I wanted mine to become that fluid and strong. Shannon performed bar muscle ups without any hesitation.
From that moment, my commitment level changed. I was going randomly, a few times per week but I stepped my game up to going 6 days per week. I would NOT miss a day and started staying late to work on whatever was next on my goal list. Little by little, I began to improve and started RX’ing things more frequently.
I’ve learned a lot over my year and a half, and still have a long way to go. As Jimmy Dugan states, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” I’ve never heard truer words pertaining to this sport. I have goals on becoming a versatile Crossfit athlete within this next year, and perhaps one day, I can be at my cousin’s level.
Shannon inspires me every day, and I’m so proud of her accomplishments. I’m thankful to have her help, advice and knowledge. She’s is one of the hardest working people I know, who NEVER lets adversity get in her way. Without her support and encouragement I may have never walked through those doors, and for this I am truly thankful.
My cousin Shannon and I at the Field of Teams Competition at Crossfit Kilo, November 2013