Athlete of the MonthJanuary

Katie Gates

Career: Nurse

Years at FireTower Athletics: 1

This was definitely in part to the coaches and people at FireTower being so inspiring, as well as teaching me how to scale movements to meet me where I am.

I grew up in Philipsburg, MT and attended college at Montana Tech.  I’m a Registered Nurse in the Urology Department at St. Peter’s.  My husband, Dave, and I have 2 kids, Hayden (16) and Maryn (5).  We have lived in Helena for almost 8 years now.

I had always been athletic and active in sports, running, and hiking.  However, as life became more complicated with “adulting”, in my 20s, I started a series of ups and downs of fitness followed by being sedentary and gaining weight.  I have yo-yoed 20-30 pounds several times in the last 10 years.  After my daughter was born in 2015, I had a very difficult time losing the pregnancy weight and rebuilding strength.  My early 30s also brought the beginnings of degenerative disc and joint injuries—unlucky genetics, I’m told, but exacerbated by my unhealthy state.  At 34, I was overweight and severely underactive.  I was not managing my stress, and dealing with depression, anxiety, and low energy level.  I always told myself I didn’t have the time or energy to exercise, but “maybe next week I will start again.”

In November 2019, everything hit an all-time low, and I finally decided I needed to get control of my health and take care of my body.  My husband had been going to FireTower for about a year, and he had been trying to get me to join.  The images I had of CrossFit were these intense athletes climbing 30-ft. ropes and flipping giant tractor tires.  Being my very shy, out-of-shape self, it took a lot of convincing that it was something I would want to explore.  I always told myself I needed to lose weight and get in shape before I could even try CrossFit.  To my surprise, I was met with an amazing group of people who were so encouraging and welcoming from the first time I walked in.  After my on-board and the first few classes, I felt optimistic and positive about what I could do, for the first time in a long time.  This was definitely in part to the coaches and people at FireTower being so inspiring, as well as teaching me how to scale movements to meet me where I am.  Despite some knee issues and COVID this past year, I am so happy with my increased fitness level and progress I have made at Firetower.  I have dropped my body fat 9% and lost over 20 pounds since starting.  I love how much stronger I feel, and my increased endurance capacity.  I was able to hike and hunt with my husband this year—which would have been out of the question based on where I was before starting CrossFit.  Reps and PRs aside, my satisfaction comes from being able to do the outdoor activities I want to do without having to worry about being limited by my fitness.  My goals for 2021 include getting a class in at least 3-4 days per week and continuing to work on my nutrition.

I love CrossFit for the structure it provides.  I don’t have to think about what exercises to put together or the duration to make a good workout—I have to show up at a certain time which holds me accountable, and the workout is laid out for me which makes it easy.  I scale several movements, but I make sure I’m always pushing myself.  I feel my body respond and improve after literally every workout.

My typical day starts at 6:30, mornings are tough for me.  I occasionally drag myself to a morning CrossFit workout if our evening schedules are looking too busy, but more often workout at 5:30PM.  I try to eat breakfast around 7:30-8 before I leave for work, and usually consists of eggs, toast, fruit, or a fruit/protein smoothie.  I am lucky to have a cafeteria where I work that offers a great variety and healthy options I can grab for lunch.  I try to have an afternoon snack around 4 to prep for the workout at 5:30, or just to keep me from getting over-hungry before dinner.  Based on our schedules, we typically eat dinner later than I would like, but try to keep things as healthy as possible—grilled meat and roasted vegetables or salad is pretty common for us.

The biggest lessons I have learned about CrossFit are:

  • The hardest part is showing up.  Just go, and you will be so glad you did!
  • Quads and hamstrings for sure, this has helped improve my knee issues more than anything.
  • Scale movements where you need to, the goal is to enjoy yourself and go more often, not red-line every time.
  • Pre-workout snack. I am always amazed at the difference in energy if I just have a fruit and cheese snack or a yogurt about 1 hour before.

All in all, I can’t say enough about how glad I am to have found the FireTower community.   It has helped me turn my whole perspective around.  It has given me something to focus on for myself, and has helped me with increased energy and confidence, which of course makes everything else in life better.

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