'Stronger Than I Have Ever Been': Abby's CrossFit Conversion

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There was a time, not so long ago, when you couldn't go a week without hearing something about CrossFit. As terms like WOD, AMRAP and box infiltrated the lexicon, so too did the CrossFit stereotype: Men with large biceps and six-pack abs lifting outrageous amounts of weight over their head in between sips of protein shakes. The "cult of CrossFit" intrigues some, while intimidating others. Abby Maley (VEG_GIRL04) fell into the latter group—that is, until she talked to an unexpected CrossFit enthusiast.

"When a 40-plus-year-old friend who is a single-leg amputee tells you she's obsessed with CrossFit, it opens your eyes a little bit," 31-year-old Maley says. In her mid-20s, Maley had fallen victim to the common cycle of gym excitement turning to boredom before ultimately throwing in the towel. The slow weight gain that came as a result—from 120 to 152 pounds—left her suffering from the body image issues that plague so many women.

"It's a terrible thing what we women do to ourselves. I looked in the mirror and felt unpretty. I lost confidence," she remembers. "It's strange that I wasn't bothered by the fact that I got winded on stairs, but by the idea that I was no longer a size two. I would sit in the bathtub and poke my fat and be disgusted with myself."

Maley recognized the warning signs and knew she had to change something before her health became a problem. Her friend's CrossFit encouragement and enthusiasm prompted her to give the intense workout a shot. After a few CrossFit-inspired classes at her local park left her wanting more, she visited her local gym, or "box," for her first official session.

"I was scared and intimidated. As I watched the more experienced men and women, I thought, 'How am I ever going to do that?'" she said. "But my first 'real' class came and went, and I did it. The next day I could barely sit down and stand up—my thighs were on fire! [But] watching my friend work through a CrossFit [Workout of the Day] on a prosthetic leg was all the inspiration I needed. Add to that my buddy doing it at 50-plus years old and I was truly motivated."

As she visited the gym more frequently, she found herself improving and getting stronger each session. In early sessions she had a difficult time completing the 400 meter jogs in between exercises. Flash forward to today and Maley's already completed a half marathon and has plans to complete a 5K race every month. Where she once didn't even understand the term "burpee," now she prides herself on being able to complete 100 in just 10 minutes.

What's more, though, is her confidence in her inner strength skyrocketed. After hitting personal bests, Maley says she enjoys showing off her moves to her husband in their living room. They laugh about the shocking amount of weight she still can't believe she can lift over her head, and the fact that she's capable of pumping out a hundred burpees.

"It feels nothing short of amazing," she says. "CrossFit has made me realize it's not about the size of my pants or the number on the scale. I have the confidence because I'm fit, strong and having fun!"  

One year after becoming interested in the workout, Maley is down 26 pounds and a proud member of the CrossFit culture that once intimidated her. "I don't just have a gym membership," she says. "I have a place where I belong. If you aren't there, people notice and ask why. They encourage you to come more, push harder, lift more, be more, focus more. [It's a] place filled with people who support and care about each other."

Maley recommends that anyone interested in getting involved with CrossFit really focus on finding the right gym, emphasizing that not every box is the right fit for every person. Try a trial class to get an idea of the types of exercise you'll be doing and to see if you like the coaching style. And most importantly: "Go in with an open mind," she says. "You are stronger than you realize!"

On the successful journey to healthy living, exercise has a way of becoming a part of you. Home Is Where the Workout Is is a series featuring members like you who achieved their goals by getting hooked on exercise. Discover what can happen when people struggling with weight loss find their passion and change their lives. 

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MAREE1953 5/21/2021
Can't believe I've been doing crossfit-type classes since 2013 and now I believe it will contribute to my longevity. Use it or lose it! Report
MUSICNUT 5/16/2021
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
PLCHAPPELL 4/18/2021
Me too Report
ty Report
RAZZOOZLE 9/29/2020
thank you Report
The cross fit class including step ups onto a step Aron is step omg up and dow doing a 1 5 pound bicep next round other are. Instructedr would change things up the next session. Class 1x per week. The rest of the week was a spin class and a Pilates class. I was her showdown Report
Inspiring 👍 Report
WTG. thanks for sharing Report
Very inspirational. Report
Thx for the share because YES, we are usually stronger than you realize! Report
Interesting article Report
Congratulations! Report
You inspire me to do a little better Report
Congratulations, I'm glad you found something that you enjoy! Report
Nice to know you don't have to belong to a gym to have a successful exercise program. Trainers are often accentuated regarding their benefits. Report
I am half-way through a six week beginner crossfit challenge. I am still apprehensive before each session but I have really enjoyed the program, it has jumpstarted my fitness regime (you don't have to be fit before starting, everything is scalable) and I can't believe how much my fitness has improved in only three weeks. Report
Great job, Abby! Crossfit has always sounded both fabulous and grueling to me, and I'm happy you've experienced so much success with it. And whoa, 100 burpees in 10 minutes is impressive! Keep up the great work! Report
I've been doing Cross Fit for over a year. It changed my body and my mind. It also provided me the confidence to lift weights and run. I am so thankful for it. Report
For a different perspective, check out Coach Nicole's Spark article on Crossfit--mentioning the costs & injury risks. Report
Awesome article, great inspiration. I'm so proud of you! Report
Great article Maley - some of the same reasons I joined a cross fit box as well after years of body building and weight lifting... people need to drop the stereo types. I turn 50 in December and starting my ninth month - every day I see an improvement in something. Report
This certainly hit home with me. When I relocated to another state I lost my trainer. Initially I didn't think too much about it, but once the unpacking and stress of moving settled down, I thought what am I going to do? Every morning I seemed more creaky as I got out of bed and knew I had to find someplace/someone to get me moving again. Easier said then done. I've looked at the "Y", crossfit, etc. I needed a PT again, signed up with one and was honest "I cheat if you don't watch me", "I will talk and interrupt the routine", etc. but after a few months I finally cut him loose because the results just weren't there. So I am on the quest again, of course money being a factor as it always is. Hopefully, I will find someone who will get me moving again and lovin' strength training, etc. Report