Two years ago, Julia and I decided we were getting nowhere with our local gym membership.  We went sporadically, fixated on a few of the same workouts each time, and we weren’t realizing any of our fitness goals.

I had heard of this thing called CrossFit… and I was vaguely aware of what it was all about.  Like most people on the outside, I did kind of assume it was all about flipping tires, bleeding hands, and generally pushing yourself to the limit.

Julia & Than Before CrossFit

I floated the idea of getting into CrossFit to Julia one evening, and, like any rational modern human, we turned to YouTube for answers.  Some videos were scary, some were entertaining, but all of them got us a little excited to seriously challenge ourselves.  When we searched for a box near us, we were both surprised to learn that CrossFit Clintonville was just down the street.

Watching their video is what sold the idea for us.  Julia and I like to get out of our comfort zone, to do things that challenge us physically and emotionally.  We’re back-country hikers and campers, she’s got over 100 skydives under her belt, I’m a motorcycle enthusiast; we both have a thrill-seeking streak that yearns for fulfillment.  After learning more about our local box, we knew that getting into CrossFit would be an interesting challenge to tackle together.

We want to be fit, energetic, healthy, and live long awesome lives filled with adventure.  We’re smart enough to know that you don’t get that by just wishing for it… so we acted and signed up for 101.  With 101 classes came a version of muscle soreness that I don’t think I ever understood as possible, and I couldn’t help but think “do I really want to do this??”

When I was a kid, I went to one Cross-country running practice, complained about how much I had to run, and then never went to another school sport practice again.  I started smoking when I was 15, partied like a rockstar on many weekends up until my mid-twenties, and never gave much thought to a balanced diet.  Julia was (and will always be) more responsible than me.  She was never silly enough to start smoking, and she did play tennis in high-school, but like me, she wasn’t one to physically push herself to the point of exhaustion and physical pain for the sake of a work-out.  Bottom line – neither Julia nor I were ever really athletes, and nothing proved that quite like our first year of CrossFit.

Year one of CrossFit, along with extreme bouts of soreness, was all about overcoming the mental challenge.  I had quit smoking years ago and started wanting to be in good physical shape, but I didn’t have the drive to push myself physically in the way CrossFit demanded.  When the workouts hurt, I was ready to dial back and stop pushing so hard.  Those first few months sucked.  It was demoralizing to barely be able to move any weight and then be sore as shit the next few days.  Wall balls and 95lb back squats nearly crippled me for a week.  Mentally, I struggled with the idea of pushing through it.

Nevertheless, as wonderful women apparently do, Julia persisted.  She kept going to classes despite being just as sore as I was, and I finally thought to myself “you idiot, this IS what you signed up for!”  Thankfully, no matter how badly my movements looked, or how slow my times were, I was never met with anything but positivity from the coaches and the rest of the community.  Both Julia and I probably benefited from that positive energy more than we realized!

Enter Team Rainbow

After getting through a tough first year, things really started to improve.  The next year was more about getting comfortable with the movements.  Over time, we went from going twice a week, to three times a week, then more recently we started going 4 times a week.  Now, we’re working to make it 5 times a week.  The more we go, the more of a priority it is becoming in our lives.  THAT is transformation, and it’s awesome.

I’ve gone from a 1 rep max back squat of 115lbs to 285lbs, and I expect be easily over 300 soon.  Counter to many people’s goals, I’ve always wanted to gain weight.  I weighed between 160 and 165 for almost 15 years.  I never seemed to be able to move the damn scale up.  But now, after two years of CrossFit and finding a better diet, I’m closing in on 180lbs.  That’s freaking incredible to me.  Friends and family have started to comment on just how fit I look these days.  I feel better than I’ve ever felt, and I’m probably more than twice as strong as I was in almost any way you measure it.

Julia & Than CrossFit Team

Julia made me write this, so she’ll just have to deal with my take on how CrossFit has impacted her.  I’ve always thought she was sexy… but damn… now she is SEXY.  She’s a tough go-getter, and as an Architect, she works in a very male dominated field.  As we’ve become more active with CrossFit, I swear her stress level with work has fallen dramatically toward non-existent.  She’s always been tough as nails, but with improved physical strength, it’s like she’s ready to tackle anything that comes her way.  She got her first strict pullup a few days ago, and couldn’t stop smiling about the achievement.  For the longest time, she wasn’t comfortable back squatting more than 75lbs, but she threw up 155 like a boss in her most recent 1 rep max attempt.

Julia and I are best pals.  We do everything together, and joining CrossFit Clintonville will probably go down in our history as one of the best decisions we ever made.  The life changes we are making now will be with us for the rest of our lives… and they’ll probably prove far more valuable than our 401ks combined.  We appreciate being a part of this community and have enjoyed building new friendships while also transforming our lives – both mentally and physically.  We’ve still got several goals to achieve (i.e. muscle ups, butterfly pullups, better WOD times).  With the major kinks in our form worked out, and with all the support from this amazing community of coaches and athletes, I have no doubt we’ll finish our third year in CrossFit far beyond our expectations!  I’m still, however, waiting to flip a tire.

– Team Rainbow (Julia & Than)