Athlete Double Take

Another one of our hard-working, dedicated athletes shares her journey with CrossFit below. Thank you, Rayna!

My Journey with CrossFit

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By Rayna Barker

After trying several classes, trainers, and solo work out routines to get in shape after my first son was born, I hesitantly contacted Mike during the summer of 2013.  I inquired whether or not CrossFit would be a good fit for a former high school athlete who had taken a long break from an active life style and failed to be motivated for long when it came to physical activity.  Mike reassured me that CrossFit is a good fit for many, encouraged me to join the next boot camp, and I was signed up the following week. Without his friendly support extended to a complete stranger, I never would have dared take the next step.

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When people inquire about what makes CrossFit so different from other options for getting and staying fit, I always recall my first email encounter with Mike. One of the primary things that sets CrossFit 7220 apart is our trainers. The encouragement to try, the effort they put into training us for both safety and fitness, and the confidence in our abilities, regardless of where we’re starting from, is unique. One of the primary reasons I am now a true Crossfitter and plan to be forever, is because of how dedicated and committed to our overall well-being our trainers are. They care about more than just how much we can lift or how many pushups we can do.

The other things about our box that motivate me to keep coming every week is the variety of work outs and the flexibility of the WOD schedule. I am no longer bored or unmotivated while working out. I push myself because I’m having fun and being challenged by my peers and trainers. My biggest challenge with making it to the gym is finding care for my children…if I couldn’t choose between 7 different classes nearly every day, I would be hard pressed to ever work out. Which brings me to the heart of why I’m writing…

CrossFit has made such a huge difference in my family life.  While content with just one child, we always wanted another one, but struggled to conceive again. It wasn’t until I participated in the nutrition challenge in the fall of 2014 that I reached my peak fitness level and was eating better than I ever had before.  I believe wholeheartedly these things are directly related to my second son’s life, as we learned we were expecting him in January of 2015.

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There seems to be a lot of controversy about CrossFit and pregnancy, and I am not an expert or doctor, but I’d like to share my experience. One of the first questions I asked the doctor was whether or not it was a good idea to continue with CrossFit. He actually encouraged me to continue based on the fact that I’d been doing it for a long time already, but to be smart and listen to my body. He cautioned me to pay attention to my heart rate, to be careful and rely on trainers to help me know when and how to scale appropriately. I appreciated his honesty and trust in our trainers. Nicole and Gretchen were great resources during pregnancy! One of the highlights of this season was participating in the 2015 Open. Not only was I expecting a baby, but I also got my first chest-to-bar pullups (2!) and unscaled hand stand pushups.

In early pregnancy, the hard part was just catching my breath. I continued to make progress in the gym during my first trimester. From about 4 months on, however, I had to scale the weight back more and more in most every lift, and any jumping movement got more difficult. I could have continued to lift heavy, but I could no longer do it with good form. I believe our gym’s commitment to safety and good form had prepared me to be smart in lifting scenarios. If I couldn’t lift with the proper form, then I should not be lifting heavy. I continued to work out until one week before my due date, where my final WOD (which involved sprinting) nearly did me in. And, no, sprinting did not induce labor…I don’t recommend trying it at 39 weeks!

I felt so strong when it was time for Luke to be born two weeks later. Everyone assumed the strength developed through CrossFit would assist in the process. It turns out, however, that the most significant way CrossFit helped was in the ability to listen to coaching and respond accordingly.  One of our nurses even commented on how well I was able to do what she told me to. Recovery was also much less of a burden, and as soon as the doctor gave me the all-clear (after 6 weeks of only walking for activity), I was back in the gym 2-3 days a week.

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The biggest challenge in the gym since having a baby has been rebuilding my strength. I was surprised at how much I lost during pregnancy, but it makes sense since I went several months decreasing instead of increasing the weight I was lifting. Because I’m now only able to make it to the gym 2-3 times a week instead of 4-5 due to childcare issues, getting strong again has been a slow process. I am, however, still in about the same place regarding metabolic conditioning that I was before.  I expected to resume my early pregnancy lifting gains and immediately be a rock star in every WOD, but that hasn’t been possible. The fellow athletes whom I consistently compared myself to have continued to progress where I have not. Until I learned to scale more than I would have liked to, I was miserable in most WODs and was unmotivated to come back.  Only because my passion for CrossFit had long ago been kindled and I was not willing to give it up, was I able to push through the discouragement and remember that scaling is okay as long as you are still working hard. Our commitment to flexibility and the ability to scale each WOD saved me from dropping out.

I wanted to share my struggle to demonstrate that persevering through the difficult season has been totally worth it! Six months later, I am finally feeling like I can conquer the world again and am making gains in the gym. CrossFit 7220’s commitment to trying new things such as RomWod and flex dieting (can we please call it “flex eating” instead?!?) are helping with the process. I never would have tried either of those on my own. The encouragement from my gym pals and the trainers’ effort and instruction have helped me succeed. Due in large part to both the nutrition challenge and sugar detox, I weigh less than I did pre-pregnancy and am more confident with my body since getting married 11 years ago. Thank you, CrossFit.

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While rebuilding my strength has been frustrating at times, I remind myself the reason for my less than speedy recovery is our sweet baby boy, and that it is all worth it. It also helps to remember that CrossFit’s whole purpose is to enable us to move well through all of life, not just in the gym.  Our trainers want us to be strong for our families, so we can do the active things we love as we age, and so we are overall healthy and fit people. I am grateful for all the ways CrossFit 7220 has contributed to my life- it is so much more than a gym.
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We want to hear about your CrossFit journey!
Email nicolebleak@gmail.com

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