Stormy

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On my very first visit to CrossFit Center City—October 1st, 2012—I couldn’t even open the gym door.
I now know, of course, that the door sticks a bit, that you have to pull pretty assertively. Just one of those things. But on that first day, I walked uncertainly up to the entrance—stupidly proud of myself for even finding the unassuming basement entrance in the first place, on this unfamiliar downtown street in my new city of five whole weeks—and gave the handle a tentative tug.
Nothing happened.
I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do. I looked up and down the street, then walked into the lobby of the apartment building next door and asked whether they knew what time the gym opened. Their nonchalant advice was “that happens sometimes; someone will probably show up in a few minutes.”
I walked back outside, getting a little aggravated. After weeks of vacillating, stalking the website, talking myself out of it and back into it again, here I was, finally ready to take the CrossFit plunge—and nobody was even at the damn gym? Out of frustration, I yanked on the door handle again.
This time it moved an inch—just enough to let me know that it was, in fact, open—and had, obviously, been open the entire time.
(Was there ever a clearer sign that I didn’t belong here? I could see the headline now: Newbie CrossFitter, Insufficient Strength to Enter Gym!)
…You might say it was my very first ‘no-rep’.
I’m the first to admit that I didn’t go into Elements (the CrossFit intro course) with the best attitude. Door-opening incident aside, I was only about a month into Philadelphia, a mere two weeks into my terrifying new job, had just lost my entire network of friends and classmates in one fell swoop, and was generally falling to pieces in so many other areas that my initial coping mechanism was to try my very hardest to believe that this athletic stuff, at least, represented something halfway familiar that I was reasonably good at. Except that I wasn’t, of course. CrossFit is many things, but one of the biggest is consistently humbling—by definition, it is always going to be difficult, whether your experience spans five days or five years. But I didn’t have that kind of perspective during those first few sessions. Compared to the total agony of everything else in my life, this was supposed to be easy, damn it, or if not easy, at least achievable. At the third Elements session, when I was presented with a 20” box and told to jump onto it, not only did I not do so, but I broke down into unreasonable tears that took me a good 15 minutes to control. It was a drastic overreaction, but that godforsaken box was simply the final straw, the very last insult to my battered confidence that I could possibly handle that day. The idea of abruptly propelling my entire white-girl-can’t-jump self into the air and landing on top of something so high was a task my body had no idea how to approach, and although I didn’t have a clear sense of what would actually happen if I failed, I had a fair idea that it would involve physical pain. Around me, the other five Elements students eyed their boxes uncertainly, then braced themselves, took deep breaths… and somehow, mysteriously, landed on top. Some of them were even turning their boxes sideways to make them HIGHER. How could everyone else be doing this so easily?!? It felt deeply unfair, and yet bitterly metaphorically appropriate — my myriad of current life challenges suddenly made manifest in this ridiculous, terrifying, two-foot Everest. I was failing at work, I was failing at life, I was failing at exercise… and now I was crying. Fantastic.
My Elements coach, bless her heart, handled my little meltdown with aplomb and kept me after class to baby-step me up onto the box by using barbell plates, gradually stacking them one atop the other until I was jumping a 21.5” stack—a full inch and a half higher than the previously impossible box. Then we tried the box again—and, lo and behold, I jumped onto that, too.
Even after having overcome the obstacle, I was still more humiliated than proud—but as I left that day, a growing part of me was also able to objectively recognize how special it was that the coach had taken the time to continue to work with a tearful athlete, as well as make sure I didn’t leave the gym with that (in my mind) epic failure hanging over my head as my last memory of the day. On a deep gut level, I hadn’t wanted to stop; despite the annoyingly persistent tears, I still wanted to ‘get it right’ — but given how upset I was, a lot of people would have let me back away from whatever task had provoked the reaction. Even in the moment, I was oddly grateful that my coach hadn’t done that. Anyone can work with someone at his or her best, but it takes a uniquely committed individual to work with someone at her worst. I started to suspect that I might have stumbled onto something pretty special here.
That inkling grew stronger as I began to hesitantly forge my way into regular classes. Though I couldn’t have been considered anything but the rawest of beginners (couldn’t do even one push-up, double-under, or hollow-rock), the aspect that hooked me was the unique, supportive people I was meeting and the friendly faces I increasingly recognized each time I went to class. In contrast to my intimidating day job, where my guard was always up, the CrossFit gang was laid-back, accepting, universally encouraging, and very reminiscent of my years living in crunchy-granola Durham. This much-needed built-in social interaction, more than anything else, was what kept me coming back to CrossFit during those early days.
Finally, in January, the addiction began to kick in full force; I had a great workout on New Year’s Eve where I again faced down a 20” box—and, this time (with a few false starts and some help from Coach Danny), won the battle. That felt like a turning point; my CFCC attendance jumped to a consistent 5-6 days per week shortly thereafter. We humans as a species tend to enjoy the things we’re good at, and tend to be good at things we enjoy. Once I reached a certain (minimal) level of skill, CrossFit suddenly got a lot more fun… and once it got more fun, I got a lot more committed to it… and once I got more committed to it, I got a LOT better at it.
The next curve ball was the Body Composition Change Challenge, a.k.a. the BCCC. This is essentially a 30-day nutrition challenge that the gym does a few times a year as a way to focus in on how certain foods and behaviors affect body composition, athletic performance, and overall well-being. I was on the fence about participating—after all, life was just calming down; did I really want to add more ‘change’?—but in the end, I decided that I trusted CFCC implicitly in so many other ways that I had no reason not to trust them again. Furthermore, the sense of community at the box was taking on ever-increasing importance in my life, and I could see how participating in the Challenge would serve to further that sense of belonging. I signed up, with the (in hindsight, relatively modest) goal of cutting out added sugars for 30 days. Then, purely coincidentally, three days before we started, I was up all night with the worst case of acid reflux I had ever experienced (resulting from a tipsy late-night pizza-and-breadsticks binge with out-of-town friends), and so made the eleventh-hour choice to cut out gluten as well.
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I’m not sure I have ever made a better decision in my entire life. I was blown away by how fast things started happening. The first changes were internal; my mood improved almost immediately, as did my sleep, which meant that work started going a lot better. Then, within the first week, completely by accident, I discovered a dairy sensitivity (total shocker for a girl who’s been known to kill a gallon of milk within three days!). However, the biggest light-bulb moment was recognizing that, for literally my entire life, I had associated stomachaches with the sensation of fullness. Until I cut out the gluten, sugar, and (eventually) most dairy, I literally did not realize that it was possible to be comfortably satiatedwithout being in at least a little bit of pain. I cheated once during the month-long challenge, when friends came into town for my birthday, and I felt noticeably rotten for a good 2-3 days afterward. I couldn’t believe that I had felt that way for almost twenty-nine years and never realized it!
And, athletically, my performance went absolutely through the roof during the BCCC. In some senses, the timing was probably about right for me to start making some big gains anyway—but the immediate burst of forward progress was still uncanny. We started the challenge on January 16th, and by February 16th, I had gotten my first double-unders as well as added over thirty pounds to my front squat, deadlift, AND clean—the latter of which represented one of those early CrossFit achievements that I’ll never forget. The Olympic lifts had long posed a challenge for me, but the clean had finally begun to click; my form became much more consistent, I could often ‘feel’ the flaws when they happened, and sometimes even articulate how to fix them. It was as though my higher level of alertness to food’s physical effects were translating into a different kind of increased body awareness. What was still missing was the necessary mental toughness to dig deep and really go after a heavy lift. About halfway through the BCCC, I cleaned 83 pounds during a workout—a new PR—but then failed 88 on my next rep, blurting out, “OK, that one’s too heavy” as the barbell crashed to the floor. Sammy, the same coach who had talked me through my epic box jump fail a few months prior, gave me yet another tough-love pep talk, saying “It is heavy – because you’re getting stronger. And there’s going to come a time when every weight feels heavy. You just have to trust that you’re strong enough to lift it.” Her words echoed in my head throughout the long bike ride home—but unlike in Elements, where a sticking point had been a source of personal shame, this time it served as motivation. Unconsciously, my mentality had shifted. I wanted to try again. I am strong, damn it, and I can lift that bar!
About a week later, I was working with my Elements coach again in Oly lifting. Halfway through class, she casually switched me over to the unfamiliar kilogram plates, referring to them only by their colors, not their numeric weights. She forbade me to look at the conversion chart or do any mental calculations (which was easier to abide by than it sounds, since I didn’t really want to know—I know as well as anyone how easily I can psych myself out!). I just kept doing what she told me to do, chatting to classmates in between lifts, doing my best to keep my mind blank.
Then she pulled out her phone to film my final lift.
Of course, I fell on my rear end.
Sigh.
“Can I try that again?” I asked.
After a rest, on the second try, I made it.
Then I counted the plates—and realized I had cleaned 47kg.
Which works out to 104 pounds—a TWENTY-ONE-POUND personal best.
Also known as an absolutely crazy example of what your body can do if your mind can get the hell out of the way!
The BCCC officially ended in mid-February, but given how good I was feeling and how well I was performing, I chose to maintain 90% of the dietary changes I’d implemented. I’m now completely gluten-free and eat only small amounts of dairy, sugar, and soy. Even better, I genuinely don’t crave those things anymore. That statement would have been unfathomable to me back in my calorie-counting days. I certainly have my ups and downs (ahem, summer), but on the whole, I’m now able to eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and maintain a healthy, functional, stable weight without undue effort. I still love to eat, but food has truly become fuel, not solely a matter of taste, reward, or guilt. After 29 years of struggling with calories, weight, and appetite, if CrossFit had given me nothing else, that alone would be a tremendous gift.
The month of March marked the start of the competitive CrossFit season, beginning with the CrossFit Open, five weeks of workouts that constitute the first step on the way to the revered CrossFit Games. The later stages of this progression are highly competitive (our gym of 300+ members had one athlete move on to Regionals), which, as with the BCCC, had me initially feeling a bit hesitant about participating—but, also as with the BCCC, I got so much out of the Open once I took the leap. First, it really made me pay attention to the virtuosity of my movements—in regular day-to-day workouts, there’s no real penalty for being a bit sloppy on a clean-and-jerk or falling a little short of the prescribed wallball height, but during the Open workouts, every athlete has an assigned judge who is counting reps and watching each movement to ensure that standards are met. That attention to detail can’t help but carry over into the off-season. Secondly, the enthusiasm at the gym has never been higher—people were dropping in and lining the walls simply for the chance to watch other members compete, screaming and yelling and urging their friends and boxmates on. It’s amazing how much that intensity can push you in terms of performance. In the fourth week, I clean-and-jerked 95 pounds—which, at that time, was a 12-pound jerk PR—and I did it twelve times. And during the third workout, which began with 150 wallballs (um, yeah, OUCH), I was judged by Coach Danny, who kept up a steady stream of loud verbal encouragement the entire time—and because of his one-dimensional focus on me, I ended up with 146 reps before the time cap, a number that was considerably more impressive than anything else I’d yet achieved with my level of fitness at that time. It’s incredible what can happen when there’s somebody there to shout louder than the voice inside your own head that is begging you to STOP THE MADNESS. (Until that workout, I thought people who collapsed onto the floor after a metcon were just being dramatic!)
Finally, the Open reinforced not only the day-to-day encouragement and camaraderie at my home gym, but also a new awareness of my place in a worldwide community. At one point, I traveled to New York City with my parents, and as we huddled in a deserted Mexican restaurant for lunch, my mother squinted through the snowy front window into a building across the street and asked, “Jess, are those people doing CrossFit?”
Startled, I followed her gaze—and immediately spotted familiar barbells and boxes. “They’re doing 13.2!” I said with a grin, mostly to myself. I was pleasantly surprised by the immediate and unexpected sense of belonging, like spotting a family member in the middle of a crowded airport. If I had chosen to drop in, at that New York box or any other, I would have been welcomed as a member of the tribe, one who ‘spoke the language’, someone with a shared frame of reference. After uprooting every single facet of my professional and personal life just a few short months prior, I was heartened to realize that I had a community again—one that stretched even wider than the one I had left behind.
I’d come into this strange new world of iron and rubber with a self-conscious complex, worried that I wouldn’t ‘measure up’—to some strange standard that even I couldn’t define. But a few weeks after the Open, as one of my 6am classmates grindingly pulled a 238-pound deadlift at the CrossFit Total, every muscle straining as the bar agonizingly crept inch by inch up her thighs, I found myself not only cheering, but literally jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs as the whole gym collectively urged her on. At the same time that my body was leaping and shrieking, some deeper part of me was inwardly marveling at my own reaction, this outward manifestation of how my investment in CrossFit had changed over those first six months. It was no longer a forum in which to simply measure my own accomplishments—this world provides enough of those—but was becoming a way to focus on all of us—my friends, my boxmates, my 6am family, and all the CrossFitters around the world that I’ve never met. Now that I understand the context, I know exactly what those achievements mean, and I can celebrate them with genuine respect and joy—no matter who they belong to. I know that the confidence I gain from hearing an encouraging “Let’s go, Stormy!” shouted across the room is truly immeasurable—and as much as I love hearing that myself, I love it just as much when I can be part of providing that support for someone else.
April 1st marked six months since my first Elements session at CFCC, and three months since I began attending CrossFit on a truly consistent basis. I was now easily jumping onto the 24” box, could back squat my own bodyweight and then some, had (for one brief shining moment) once strung together as many as 27 double-unders, had lost 15 pounds, and had achieved a 75% bodyweight clean. Another highlight of April was that I ran a ten-mile race at almost a full minute per mile faster than my previous year’s time, with no training other than CrossFit! I was still well short of RX’ed pull-ups, push-ups, and many other movements, but I was also well aware—and pretty proud—of how far I had come. We repeated ‘Karen’, a benchmark workout consisting of 150 wallballs, almost exactly two months after that painful 12-minute Open workout—and I was amazed to find that it didn’t hurt nearly as badly, I didn’t have any no-reps, and—best of all—I finished the full workout in 10:36! Around this time, I also recall stepping up to my old nemesis, the dreaded 20” box, and literally laughing out loud in incredulity—my visual perception was of the box being significantly smaller than it had been a couple of months previously! I knew that it wasn’t, not really—and the workout was definitely still not easy—but the literal message I was receiving through my eyes and brain was that this obstacle was now far less significant than it had been. That one moment taught me a lot about how we view the world in proportion to our physical capabilities.
However, the sweet, steady upward climb couldn’t last forever. Around the nine-month mark, CrossFit began to teach me yet another hard lesson: that once you reach a certain level, PRs are actually really damn hard to come by. Suddenly, for no reason that I could define, my lifts all stalled. Bodyweight work continued to improve—I could link five kipping pull-ups, run a 7:30 mile, bang out double-unders with reasonable consistency, and (finally) even do RXed push-ups—but remained stuck at a 175-lb back squat, a 150-lb front squat, a 125-lb clean, and a 70-lb snatch for the better part of a YEAR. I can’t possibly articulate how frustrating this was—there were multiple instances when I successfully back-squatted 170, loaded an additional 10 onto the bar with high hopes, then failed the next rep miserably. Friends and coaches kept reminding me that my training volume was up (six days a week), that my body weight was down (if you weigh less, you lift less), and that I was now consistently training at a higher percentage of my true maximum abilities, none of which was true when I was a newer CrossFitter. All of those things were valid, but didn’t ease the emotions much. Oddly, beneath the frustration was a very real layer of fear, one that I didn’t fully understand at first. Sure, this plateau was disheartening, but I’d get through it; with persistence, even if it was months away, a day would eventually come when I would squat 180 or clean 130. On a cerebral level, I knew this. So what, exactly, was scaring me so badly?
I had a difficult and confusing couple of months before I finally hit on the answer, which eventually struck me with enough force to bring tears to my eyes. A big part of the reason I had fallen in love with CrossFit was that it was (in various ways) consistently validating at a time when few other areas of my life were bestowing the same courtesy. When I first moved to Philly, CFCC was the one thing that was consistently good, consistently rewarding, consistently worth waking up for. The fear I was feeling stemmed from the unspoken question, What will my life be like if this steady stream of joyful validation suddenly tapers off?
The rumors about CrossFit increasing self-confidence are absolutely, one hundred percent true. In the beginning, you notice changes on an almost daily basis. You become dramatically physically stronger, and your numbers go up and up and up. You learn things you never knew about your own individual body and its innate strengths, weaknesses, and heretofore-unrecognized muscle imbalances. You make a ton of new friends, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and encourage one another accordingly. And you look better than you ever have—not because you’re ‘trying to’, but simply because, if you can do strict pull-ups and bodyweight back squats, you will LOOK like a person who can do those things. Best of all, when you walk into the gym, nobody cares how you got there, or what you do ‘on the outside’, or what kind of a morning you had—and suddenly, after you’ve been there for two minutes, you don’t care either. All you have to do is redline the last 30 seconds of ‘Fran’, or spot your boxmate during a heavy back squat, or crack a snatch joke during the warmup. For that one single hour, your world becomes small; you get to take a break from reality. Is it any wonder that CrossFit has such a ‘cult’ reputation? Who wouldn’t want to join?
But once you hit that first plateau, whether it’s after two months or two years, if you’re going to stick with CrossFit, you need more than just the external validation. Numbers aren’t enough. Even supportive, amazing boxmates aren’t enough. You need to be able to dig deeper, to find something to be proud of and passionate about, even on the days when you can’t link a single double-under or when the weight gets heavy before you crack triple digits. My personal ‘frustration phase’ culminated in two fairly significant running-related injuries sustained outside the gym—I was unable to run, squat, box-jump, or double-under for months—and somewhere amid the many, many workout modifications that were necessary during that period, I realized I had to learn to find some internal validation—to learn to be proud of myself just for being there, just for showing up and working on the few movements I could do. To gain satisfaction simply from listening to my coaches and getting my form that teensy bit better for that one single rep. To be proud even when nobody was cheering, even when my numbers didn’t reflect any change whatsoever, even when I was quietly kettlebell-swinging in the corner while everyone else blasted through a heavy Olympic lifting metcon. To appreciate the gift of having coaches who are so knowledgeable, passionate, and committed to their work that I can trust them unconditionally with my physical safety, and thus can continue to train even when I’m not a hundred percent healthy. To be okay with scaling a workout as much as I need to, and to feel no shame in stopping altogether if the pain changes from that of ‘pushing’ myself to ‘hurting’ myself—and to be proud that I now know my body well enough to be able to make that distinction clearly. All those things represent an entirely new level of confidence—and one MUCH different from that which comes from simply lifting a heavier barbell than the week before.
And although they’re fewer and farther between, the breakthroughs continue—and it turns out they’re even sweeter when you have to fight long and hard for them. My lower-body injuries meant that while everyone else peaked their front squat, I got my very first strict bodyweight pull-up. When we repeated Open workout 13.2, right around my ten-month mark at CFCC, the interim five months of work led to me increasing my score by not ten, not twenty, but FORTY-ONE REPS. Had this been the Open, I would have gone from being tied for 3046th in my region to—wait for it—tied for 261st. In my first team competition (just this past weekend), there was a gymnastics complex of pull-ups and toes-to-bar (1 PU + 1 T2B + 1 PU + 1 T2B, all without coming off the bar). I thought I might get one or two. In the end, I did TEN.
In the past, I used to keep a ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to do, accomplishments I wanted to achieve. On the athletic front, it mostly included things like swimming around Key West or completing a half Ironman triathlon. The problem was that once I’d achieved those things, I didn’t know where to go next. The accomplishment, whatever it was, invariably felt empty—because while it was the pinnacle of a long-sought goal, it was also the end of something, without an obvious next step.
CrossFit isn’t like that. The physical goals are fluid, the achievements ongoing. While there are always plateaus, it’s still an overall steady forward progression, rather than a life of peaks and valleys. If you deadlift 300 pounds, your next goal is 305. If you master bodyweight pull-ups, you put on a weighted belt. There are always ways to scale exercises to match any athlete’s capabilities, whether that means making things harder or easier. You always get to celebrate a personal best, whatever it is, because you worked hard for it—but with the understanding that you aren’t ‘done’; it’s just another step up the ladder. This means I’m always going to have goals now. I used to want a bodyweight pull-up—now I want a muscle-up. I used to long for a sub-30:00 5k run; now I’m honing in on 25:00. I used to want a bodyweight back squat—now I want a bodyweight clean.
It’s never going to get easy. I’m never going to be completely satisfied. I’m never going to be at a point where I want to stop working hard. Which is the way it should be. A wise man called Shakespeare once wrote, “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” I understand this more clearly today than ever before.
I know now, of course, that on the day I stood there cowering before that 20-inch box, that I definitely wasn’t the first or last to burst into tears at the gym. That meltdown was far more significant to ME than it was to anyone else (much like this entire missive, most likely :)). But here’s what I also know. Though I didn’t define it this way to myself a year ago, I realize now that when I walked through that door for the first time, I was scared of SO MANY THINGS. That 20” box was merely the tip of the iceberg; it just happened to be the thing I confronted first. At one point, watching others struggle under heavily loaded barbells, I remember silently vowing never to lift anything I might not be able to manage, because straining looked too frightening. Snatches? Forget it (holy cow, HEAVY THINGS FLYING OVER MY HEAD.) Handstand push-ups? I was sure I’d break my neck.
There is still so much I cannot do. There is still so much that makes me nervous. But in the past year, I have failed lifts and missed reps and lost balance and dropped weights more times than I can count. I have repeatedly been the center of attention—something I used to abhor—and failed spectacularly with everyone’s eyes on me. And the world didn’t stop turning. On the contrary—my spotters caught me, my coaches instructed me, my friends encouraged me—and my community matter-of-factly gave me the tools and the courage to try again. Every single time.
And it happened so slowly that I wasn’t even conscious of it—but as I gradually internalized the mindset of persistence over perfection, a day came when I turned around and realized that, somewhere along the way, I’d left the fear behind.
Because, let’s face it—it was never the barbell I was afraid of. It was failure I was afraid of.
And what a waste of emotional energy, when opening oneself up for critique and suggestions—at least in the CrossFit setting—ALSO allows for such intense unconditional collective support and encouragement.
Back in May, when I’d been CrossFitting for not quite 8 months, I did my first RXed ‘Grace’ (thirty clean & jerks at 95 lb). It wasn’t pretty. There was a 10-minute time cap, and although I knew I wouldn’t finish, I also knew I was (finally) capable of using the RXed weight, and wanted to see how it would feel. Slowly and steadily, I gutted my way through, staying in the present, focusing on THIS rep only, thinking only of where I WAS, not how far I still had to go. As my boxmates finished, they each drifted over, surrounding me in a ring of encouraging shouts. Each time I hoisted the bar to my shoulders, and then above my head, my friends cheered at the tops of their voices and urged me onto the next rep. I was sweat-drenched and trembling, the lone athlete still in motion, but felt pretty satisfied as I obediently dropped my bar at the ten-minute mark.
Coach Erin walked over, camera in hand. “How many?” she asked over the still-blaring music, taking in the cluster of expectant faces.
“Twenty-six,” I said proudly.
She raised an eyebrow. “Keep going,” she said simply, backing out to join the circle.
I blinked. And kept going.
It took me 11 minutes and 40 seconds, but I finished ‘Grace’ as prescribed, bolstered by the electricity of my friends, coaches, boxmates, and fellow athletes, who in those final seconds were all focused solely on wanting ME to succeed.
That’s another of those moments that will never leave me.
One year ago—October 1st, 2012—I walked into CrossFit Center City for the first time (after that initial ‘no-rep’ at the door, that is). I signed a waiver, nervously introduced myself to six people I’d never met, and cried in front of a box. I was 15 pounds heavier. I had a constant unrecognized stomachache. I was a brand-new physician assistant, a lonely and confused Southern transplant, a scared beginner in every possible way.
Today—October 1st, 2013—I also walked into CrossFit Center City. Today, I did not no-rep the door. Instead, my little 6am family giggled our way through the warmup (over things that are somehow only funny at 6am) and did a Tabata row for total distance, before which I PRed my strict press by five pounds. Tomorrow, I’ll go to a specialized training session tailored to my own particular weaknesses (ahem, glute activation), and, as with most days, will not PR anything—and I could not care less. Being there, and belonging there, and putting in the work, is its own reward.
Today, I am an athlete. Today, I am healthier than I have ever been. Today, and every day, I have a tight-knit circle of friends and coaches who challenge, encourage, and inspire me. Today, I am proud—of my body, how much it has changed, and all that it can do—of the mental and emotional health I’ve fought to gain and maintain—and of all the things I’ve learned along the way, physical, mental, and emotional. And today, I’m excited for the future (who knows what Year Two may hold?).

Today, I am an athlete. Today, I am healthier than I have ever been. Today, and every day, I have a tight-knit circle of friends and coaches who challenge, encourage, and inspire me. Today, I am proud—of my body, how much it has changed, and all that it can do—of the mental and emotional health I’ve fought to gain and maintain—and of all the things I’ve learned along the way, physical, mental, and emotional. 

I know of no other rubber-lined basement floor that yields so many layers of life lessons.
Here’s to a great first year, CFCC!
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