When I started my job in September 2015, I had no idea that it would bring CrossFit, let alone West Essex into my life. My boss spoke fondly of the gym – the atmosphere, community, WODs and coaches. He knew that I enjoyed working out, and was looking for something more fun, as I was easily bored an distracted at the typical gym. When I used to hear the word “Crossfit” my mind drifted to people slamming heavy weights and doing crazy tricks on the rig. I never thought that I would be one of those people slamming weights and using the rig, but I am so glad I was wrong.
Initially, I used the gym to have a certain level of fitness, de-stress, and maintain an overall healthy life style. I enjoyed cardio – ellipticals, treadmills, stair masters, and used 5 lb weights for very light training. I was always afraid to get “bulky” from lifting heavy weights because I am a female. I would not trade the defined triceps and traps that I now have for my old, flabby, chicken arms for the world! I am nowhere near bulky, so ladies – don’t be afraid to give this a try!
After months of him telling me about this “Crossfit” place, he convinced me to try it out, and I wish I heeded his suggestion sooner. My first WOD was January 13, 2016. I recall barely being able to pick up the 15 lb training barbell, let alone put weights on it! I considered myself to be in decent shape, and I was so so wrong. Burpee? What’s that? Boxjump – You want me to do what? Snatch? Power clean? AMRAP? I was hearing all of this terminology that was quite foreign to me, and confusing at first. Raina, Kevin and all of the coaches were, and still are extremely patient with me, and all members of our gym. I love that everyone can workout together, encourage and push each other, all at different ability levels. If someone asked me if I would be able to do a pull-up ever, I would have easily said no. But, now I can do a pull-up amongst other movements and lifts that I never thought I would be able to do. I love how each coach brings something different to workouts, and notice different things about movements, such as staying on your heels in front squats, or making sure your legs stay together when you kip. It’s really great how athletes of all levels can workout together!
The best part about Crossfit for me is the community. I truly feel like it is my home away from home. There have been a few personal struggles over the past two years, and I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without this gym and its members/coaches. I’d often walk in upset, and someone would instantly put a smile on my face. This community is there for each other on both good days, and bad. Days when you hit a new squat snatch PR, or when you get a rope burn or can’t seem to get the Bar muscle up you thought you mastered the previous week. I love being there to support my fellow CFWE family members, and knowing I have this type of support as well, is so amazing and refreshing in today’s world. I love how we are all different people, and bring our own individual flair to the classes, and the overall culture and community.
As individuals, we are constantly changing based on the people we surround ourselves with, and experiences we have. I can honestly say I am a better version of myself – emotionally, mentally, and absolutely physically, since day 1 of CFWE. I have reached new levels of confidence in myself that I never knew was possible, and can lift triple digits – even if it is for one rep! I walked into CFWE barely being able to lift a 15 lb bar, and now I can lift over 100 lbs over my head. I am no longer afraid to try new things, do things by myself and much more, and this is mostly due to CFWE.
When I initially joined CFWE, I had ZERO intentions to ever, ever participate in a competition, but participated this past fall – October 2017. Needless to say it was nerve-wracking and anxiety provoking to have everyone in a gym watching you workout, but when you know your CrossFit family is there cheering you on, everything else fades away. I never considered myself an “athlete” until that day – growing up I never quite found “my sport” but tried everything to the best of my ability. It took me almost 25 years to find “my thing” and I am so happy that I finally found something aside from my job that I truly enjoy doing every single day!
In June 2017 I signed up for a tank pull competition to raise money for the veterans, as one of my bosses runs the fundraiser. I love supporting the people I admire and care for the most, so I decided it would be fun to join in the team-like camaraderie, and test my strength. I had NO idea that I would be able to pull the tank myself and come in second place for pulling the tank the quickest with the least amount of weight. Needless to say I surprised myself, but if it weren’t for Crossfit, that wouldn’t have been possible. Me, a 137 lb girl pull a 40,000 tank and trailer? Yeah, right!!! But I did it! If I can pull a 40,000 lb tank 12 feet in 35 seconds by myself, I can do almost anything, right ?
For all of these reasons and more, I can say without hesitation that joining Crossfit West Essex was one of the best choices I have made in my 27 years of life. I am more confident, have an amazing extended family, and strength – physically, emotionally and mentally (but mostly physically) that I never dreamed of having. Since starting here, I have been happier in other aspects of my life, and even more focused on my job, as the endorphins truly clear my head! I know that I have come so far with CFWE, and know I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, but I know I can do it!
CFWE has given me more than I can put into words, and more than I could ever give back to it. Thank you, Raina and Kevin and all of the coaches for lighting a spark in my soul, and helping me be the best Alexa I can be for my family, friends, students, and myself.