Sharon Simonsen: My CrossFit Story
One of our Members: Sharon Simonsen just got her CrossFit story published in the latest issue of WOD Magazine (Issue 4) – I asked her to send me the story so we could put it on the Adapt website too – here it is…
The first time I heard about Crossfit was from one of my best friends Nic, who was tackling the Kokoda Trail for her 40th birthday and she had just started at Crossfit Ringwood as part of her training. They way she talked about her first few sessions made it sound like torture, but it was the excitement and passion in her voice as she talked about it that intrigued me.
My husband Ray and I were overweight, and had been most of our lives. We’d both tried so many different diets and exercise plans, but nothing ever seemed to work for us, and the weight just slowly kept creeping up. After talking to Nic, Ray was really keen to try out Crossfit, as a good friend of his Dan, was also doing Crossfit down in Tasmania at Crossfit 42 South. Ray had also been researching Crossfit on the internet, and was worried that it was only for fit people, so he googled “Crossfit and fat”. This is how we discovered Gary Roberts and his series called “killing the fat man”. Gary is from California and he documented his journey into Crossfit with 13 episodes on YouTube. Gary was inspiring, and seeing this guy of similar size to us going through his transformation, gave us the courage to give it a go. (We are now both friends with Gary on Facebook and are keen to train with him one day)
So we went along to Adapt Crossfit and had a chat to Coach Becca the co-owner. She talked to us about our goals and things we had tried, and she explained how Crossfit works and what Adapt could offer us. Due to our size and fitness levels, rather than join the 3 session on-ramp classes, she suggested that we have ten private sessions with the coaches and then assess if we were ready to join the regular classes. We signed up then and there, with our first session booked the next morning. Little did we realize at the time that it was Valentines Day 2013, and it was to be the best gift we had ever received.
Our personal training sessions were great, we were mostly with Coach Ben (Becca’s husband and co-owner of Adapt) and he went through an assessment of our fitness and taught us the basics of the Olympic lifts. We also had one session on nutrition where we leant all about Paleo. It all made so much sense that we actually jumped in head first and did a Whole30 in March. The weight started to fall off us. We were only doing two sessions a week, and were so sore and tired after these we did little else, even walking was hard! Our sessions were at 7.30 am, so we always got to watch the tail end of the 6.30 am classes, and I remember how friendly they all were, always having a quick chat or even just a friendly smile as we came in.
Finally after about 5 weeks we were at our tenth session and we were chomping at the bit to join the classes. The Crossfit Open was on, and Coach Ben decided to introduce us to 13.3 which started with 150 wall balls with a 12 minute cap. He said if we could get more than 50 wall balls each he’d let us join the classes. Well I think we ended up with 56 each, damn they were hard! We were so excited to be deemed ready to start classes.
We joined the 5.30am sessions, and we met so many wonderful and encouraging people. The community at Adapt really amazed me. Here were all these people who to me looked super fit, and they didn’t judge us or ignore us. They encouraged us. They supported us. They became our family.
I’ll always fondly remember several of our 5.30am crew who helped me along the way when I struggled, especially with my running. Big Dave so often ran with me in the warm ups, even though I came in so far behind everyone else. I remember one WOD I did partnered up with Ann, that had running in it, and even though she’d already completed her set, she ran along with me in mine to encourage me to keep going. Another fond memory is with one of my regular partners Elaine, she knew how much I was struggling with my double unders, and I was only getting single, single, double and not being able to get any further without stopping. We went a few sessions without working together and then we had a WOD with double unders in them. For the first time I managed single, single, double, single, single, double. Elaine squealed in excitement and ran over to hug me – mid WOD – her excitement was as great as my own. So often I’d be the last person working trying to finish a WOD and everyone would be cheering me on. The support is amazing; Crossfit is the only sport where the person who is coming last gets the most cheers.
Crossfit quickly became an overpowering influence in our lives; we definitely drank the Kool-Aid! I never imagined how much fun lifting heavy weights could be. We even kept this up on our holidays and found boxes to visit including Crossfit Ringwood to train with Nic and Crossfit 42 South to train with Dan. At Crossfit 42 South we were so impressed with owner and coach Drummond. He knew that we were coming to train with Dan so he programmed a three person team WOD for the day, and we had so much fun doing this together, although the 7500m row nearly killed me! We were always warmly welcomed into all of the boxes that we visited. The Crossfit community is amazing everywhere.
Along the way people started noticing the weight loss, and I was always being asked what my goal weight was. I think one of the healthiest things that happened to me on this journey is that I didn’t have one. I wrote down some goals instead of things I wanted to achieve, and I started working towards these rather than thinking about the number on the scales. These goals included things like a 5km run, a 10km run, a body weight deadlift, double unders, a handstand, tough mudder, learning to surf etc.
Fast forward a year and we were totally addicted to Crossfit. We now eat Paleo about 80% of the time, and we’ve lost about 30kgs each. We’ve both started a Certificate 3 in Fitness at the local TAFE and our long term plan is to eventually run our own Crossfit box somewhere. We want to inspire people and help them along the same journey that we have been travelling along. We’ve already inspired a few friends to join up, and it’s been fantastic to be a part of their journeys too.
I remember watching a YouTube video of Greg Glassman talking about Crossfit (Ray is always watching new Crossfit docs and videos) and he said if all of the movements were written on pieces of paper and put in a barrel, and you had to do whatever was pulled out, what is the one thing you’d dread being chosen – and that is the thing you need to work on the most. For me this was running, even the 400m warm up was hard and I always came last. So 6 months into my Crossfit adventure I decided to teach myself to run. We were holidaying in Fiji and there was no Crossfit, so I used the resort gym. I think after the week there I was still only up to about 750m of continuous running. When I got home I kept at it, and it was only a few weeks later than I was doing a few kms at a time. I set myself some goals, and I achieved them. Soon enough I was running 5kms twice a week. It was hard to drop back my Crossfit sessions to make this a priority, but I knew I had to conquer this. I have since completed my first ever fun run, the 5km Swisse Color run in February 2014, and then in March I completed the 10km Sri Chimnoy run. I’m still a really slow runner, and I still dread it when it is part of a WOD, but I know one day it will be easier (and faster!).
In March 2014 we entered Tough Mudder down at Phillip Island, in a team with Dan and another friend who we had inspired to start Crossfit, Lukasz. Our team name was “just keep going” and that is exactly what we did. For 20kms and as many obstacles, we just kept going. We never once considered stopping and giving up, even though it took us 5 and half hours. I realized then that Crossfit has given us so much more than just physical strength; it has also given us such a strong determination and resilience.
Our life has changed in so many ways. We are up at 4.45am each day and in bed by 8pm and we train at Adapt 5 to 6 mornings a week. I also try to go for a run each week, and if I can a swim. We’d love to get back on our Mountain Bikes too, but it’s so hard to give up a Crossfit session to make room for something else. This year we competed in the Open and we went to the regionals to watch the best of Australia compete, which was so very inspiring.
We both still have a long way to go, but looking back over the past 18months, we have made some amazing changes. One of Ray’s favorite lines is that Crossfit is what he always wanted to do, just it had not been invented before. We’ve found something that we can be passionate about, we are challenged daily and we keep setting and achieving our goals together, and we’ve still never done the same complete workout twice!
This month I took my adventure even one step further – I resigned from my full time well paying job, and I accepted my first role in the fitness industry – as a casual coach at Curves. 18 months ago I would never have imagined that I would have become addicted to a sport, totally changed my lifestyle to work around it and also changed my career path. Not bad for a chick in her 40’s who has been overweight her whole life. Thanks to my wonderful, supportive husband, my amazing friends and the fantastic community at Adapt – my whole world has changed, and I can’t wait to see what is still to come.
Thank you Crossfit.