A few years ago, my best friend’s brother owned a CrossFit box in Tampa and we always joked about how crazy CrossFitters were. We said, “never us.”

Well—famous last words.

After I joined the Queens of Swedes DragonBoat team, a few of us tried a morning session of CrossFit, curious at what it could do to make us better paddlers.

And we learned it could actually do a lot.

I was never very athletic. I always tried to eat well and move, but I didn’t play sports in high school or college. After I had my daughter, I wanted to start a more routine fitness program. I did a few group classes, tried yoga, and took up running. I enjoyed running with friends, but wasn’t very fast and constantly had minor issues pop up that required rest.

With CrossFit though, everything changed. I love that I don’t have to figure it out. I have awesome coaches that have put together a workout/program that will give me a good sweat, make me stronger, and improve my endurance. It’s never boring. I was always stuck in a rut doing the same combination of movements and drills, but that’s never the case at Solstice.

Since starting CrossFit, I am also much more aware that I have a responsibility to care for my body, knowing that what I put into it is a big part of that. I’ve always loved food. There were times when the food I loved was probably not the best food, but overall, I have always tried to eat well. Growing up in a Christian home, I was taught to say grace before meals—to be thankful for the food I was about to eat and the hands that prepared it.

It wasn’t until much later in life that I began to think about how what I was putting in my body was either glorifying the vessel I believe God gave me or harming it. We were taught to feed our mind and soul, but there wasn’t a lot said about our bodies. (But it is in the Bible, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” – 1 Cor 6:19) I soon began to look at food very differently.

Luckily, my husband eats well and my kids are not too picky. We try and pick out the week’s menu together so everyone feels like they have something they really like that week. We food prep, trying to use a good balance of meats and veggies. We keep fruit in stock and try to have healthy snack options along with the chips and cookies. We try to keep the “cheat” stuff to weekends since that is when we are more likely to go out. We also don’t have absolute NOs. My kids have donuts and McDonald’s on occasion. We enjoy good ice cream too. Did I mention that Mike and I love craft beer?

Doesn’t Coach Ron always say, “health in balance” ?

And that’s what really keeps me coming back—the coaches and the camaraderie. The coaches take the time to know you. They know about your sticky shoulder or cranky knee. They work with you to modify a movement, but know when you need that push to get out of your comfort zone. The people working out with you in the box are not the same as the people working out next to you at a regular gym. “Box people” will cheer you on when you are the last one trying to beat the time cap. They will run out with you when you think that last mile of Murph will kill you. They will remind you that there is a next time when you fail a PR you knew you should have gotten.

Both coaches and members there have become family.

Since beginning my journey at Solstice, I’ve seen so many positive changes. My confidence has greatly improved. I was always thin, but never fit. Now I feel better, I can tell I am stronger, and am more confident in everything from a tight sequin gown to a fun bikini. I even work out in booty shorts now!

I’ve also always wanted to run a sub 30min 5K, and just a few weekends ago I finished our local Dragon Run in 27:55. I’ve been able to RX or PR several benchmark workouts recently (Jackie, Annie, Nancy) and deadlift 205# over the summer which was a 30# PR!

I have lost fat and gained muscle, and my energy is through the roof! I remember having days when I fell asleep in the parking lot of my son’s school waiting for him to be dismissed—3:00pm and I was done. I still have days when my schedule gets the best of me, but overall, I feel so much better.

And in the end, that is the best result I can ask for.