Member Spotlight: Sara Carlsson

As I kid, I tried every sport and was pretty terrible at all of them. I played tennis my senior year of high school because the outfits were cute. I regularly got C’s and D’s on running tests in gym class, mostly because I just didn’t feel like running. Long story short, I was not exactly known for my athleticism.

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Fast forward to my late 20’s when my metabolism finally caught up with me and I started running just so I could continue to fit into my clothes. Since then, I have stayed active, but didn’t have a routine that I loved. Sometimes I’d run, or hike, or walk, and that was about it. I did some weight training at a Globogym near me until they changed the class times and they no longer worked with my schedule. So by December 2018, I had been out of a real exercise routine for nearly 2 years. A bad breakup led me to finding that I suddenly had a lot of free time and a serious need for endorphins. I tried to think of the hardest possible workout so that at least for that hour a day, I couldn’t think about anything else. I knew about CrossFit from friends and decided to give it a shot. I walked in one evening after work to sign up for 101, and I was seriously intimidated right away – these people were doing pullups and lifting barbells and I didn’t think there was any way I could any of that. I decided to take the approach that I was at level zero, and every day would be a learning opportunity.

I wish I had a video of my first CrossFit 101 class. I could barely lift the empty barbell. I had to learn the power snatch, and no matter how much we broke it down, and Ali patiently explained to me (over…and over…and over…) what I was supposed to be doing, my brain and body could not make the connection. It was super frustrating, but at the same time, that experience showed how awesome Ali, and as I would soon learn, each and every one of the coaches, is – I felt supported instead of shamed. That is what kept me coming back. I definitely still felt intimidated in those first few weeks, but everyone was so nice and welcoming to me, that slowly but surely, I started to feel like I belonged. I was often the last one finishing the WOD with a seriously scaled weight, but nobody cared – they all still cheered for me and kept me going. In my first “real” class, we did back squats and 50 pounds was my one rep max. In the 9 months that I’ve been a member, I’ve nearly tripled that. There are still plenty of movements and weights I need to scale, but to me that’s what is fun about CrossFit. There is always something new to learn, whether it’s a more efficient way to move or a tweak to lifting form. There is always room to improve. There is no better feeling than finishing a particularly grueling WOD – I find myself constantly amazed at what my body can do that I never thought possible before. My evening CrossFit class is usually the highlight of my day (unless there are a lot of burpees involved) – I get to hang out with friends and relieve some stress at the same time! I look back to where I was in December 2018, both mentally and physically, and I feel so proud of how far I’ve come. Walking in that door to sign up for 101 was life-changing, which sounds very dramatic, but it’s true. I am happier, more self-confident, and feel powerful. I can’t wait to see what I can do in another 9 months!

Brian Peterson