I’m happy to say that all my preconceived notions of what CrossFit is and who CrossFitters are have been turned upside down by my experience at FireTower.
During quarantine this year, I invested hours of my time watching ALL the Marvel movies for the first time and I really wish I had a great origin story to share… but I started my life in Great Falls, so there’s that. I delivered newspapers at 4:30 every morning from the age of 10 until I graduated high school, once I won a contest on the radio and got 2 free CDs every week for a year, and my junior year of high school I was declared Most Improved on the varsity softball team, but that was basically because I started off the year SO bad. I was super nerdy (and still am), so I feel like I’ve got that part of my alter ego pretty well fleshed out.
I graduated from the physical therapy program in Missoula in 2005, and I LOVE helping people in whatever capacity I’m able to. I treat the typical orthopedic conditions and studied a lot of hours to pass a board certification exam so that I can put Orthopedic Clinical Specialist on my business card, but I mostly love to treat conditions related to pelvic floor dysfunction (low back, hip, SIJ, pregnancy & postpartum, pelvic pain, and all the bowel and bladder problems). I take great pride in making my treatment room a safe spot – my super-power is to talk about all the stuff that usually feels like TMI as casually as you’d talk about the weather.
I married my very own partner in crime almost 14 years ago (Brooks) and while he’s usually the one with the crazy ideas, I started CrossFit first and eventually dragged him into it. We have 3 kiddos who test their boundaries like it’s their job so hopefully they’ll start putting that energy into regular CrossFit classes someday soon.
I initially signed up for the on-ramp class at FireTower in October 2018 so I could be a better physical therapist. I had some post-partum clients who were CrossFitters, and I wanted to be more familiar with the lifts so that I could understand pressure mechanics in my own body well enough to give them some new movement strategies (Nerd Alert). But then I just loved it – the intensity, the comaraderie, and the never needing to plan my own workouts again.
CrossFit appeals to me on a lot of levels.
- I like having to think about the technique for the power lifts. I’ve been lifting weights since my senior year of high school, but until on-ramp I didn’t know what a clean or jerk or snatch was. So the novelty of those oly moves and trying to figure out how to match what the coaches tell me to do and what I think I’m doing with what I’m actually doing are really intriguing for me (again, nerd).
- I’m also sort of competitive – at this point in life more with myself than with others, but I love seeing all the strong women of FireTower and my secret jealousy of the sound their barbells make when they hit the floor makes me keep pushing my limits, even if it’s only 5 lbs at a time.
- Everyone leaves exhausted and the workouts never get easy. When I’m working out at the rig next to someone I know is in better shape than me and I hear them swearing under their breath too, I feel strangely better.
- It has taught me I can do hard things. In May 2018 before I did on-ramp, I did my first Spartan race and had a lot of negative mental self-talk – 5 miles was too far, the sandbag and bucket carries were too heavy, what crazy sadist designed the Twister, etc. The year after starting CrossFit, I ran my first half marathon, completed 4 Spartan races including an Ultra, and took 8 minutes off my Montana Women’s Tri time from the year before (without training on the bike at all).
- Three words: Linda Hamilton arms.
- The carry over to improved functional capacity rocks. Moving furniture, getting my mountain bike down from the hanging hooks in the garage, transferring heavy and deconditioned patients is all way easier and no longer gives me back pain.
- I think becoming a parent, and becoming a mom specifically, you lose a lot of who you are in the process – or at least redefine it. CrossFit has been a way for me to rediscover the part of myself that actually prioritizes health and fitness and to model that to my children. When your 11-year-old daughter says “If those pants are too big I’ll just start working out more and then they’ll fit” you start to wonder if you might actually be in the running for parent of the year.
My typical weekday starts pretty early, trying to get a 1-block Zone snack in before the 5:30 or 6:30 am CrossFit class. I try to go to 3-4 FireTower classes per week and run a couple days a week. Then home and doing the morning shuffle of getting ready for work, getting kids ready for school (when that was a thing) and getting out the door. I work 3-5 days per week (currently splitting time between St Petes, Capital City Health Club, and private patients), anywhere from 8-10 hours a day. Evenings are dinner, spending time with kiddos – fighting the constant pull of screens, reading, playing games, or mindlessly scrolling on the facebook (the struggle is real). When there’s not a global pandemic, there are always kids’ activities at least 4 nights a week to juggle as well. My typical weekend day usually starts at one of the bakeries in town for coffee & pastries (that struggle is real too – the butter just calls to me).
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I basically heckled my brother when he talked about doing CrossFit in 2013 – I’m pretty sure I even warned him about rhabdo and told him he was going to get injured (incidentally, I did a review of the research on injury rates in CrossFitters last year, and it is a little higher than some other exercise choices, but correlation does not equal causation – Nerd.). I’m happy to say that all my preconceived notions of what CrossFit is and who CrossFitters are have been turned upside down by my experience at FireTower. The members here are all real, genuine people who are just trying to live their healthiest lives. I’ve been able to make it to every class time over the past couple of years and have yet to meet anyone who is not approachable, authentic, and friendly – even the engineers. And no one has heckled me even once for the tinny sound my barbell makes when I drop it.