Another beautiful testimonial by a long time member - Kaley Pugh
December 20, 2012 was one of those life changer days; it was the day that my sister finally got me to try CrossFit with Jason at Reebok 306. Heather had gotten hooked the year before, and had been trying to get me to a class for a while, but my slightly lazy, slightly scared, overweight, and out of shape self needed some convincing. If CrossFit was my elite rugby player sister’s new favorite thing, it had to be too intense for regular old me, and really, I was doing OK at the regular gym...wasn’t I?
That first WOD was crazy. I’d been an athletic kid, doing several different sports, and had always been “strong” and active, if not exactly fit. I knew I’d gotten off track in the preceding few years, and I knew I wouldn’t keep up to Heather, but…Bent over, hands on my shaking legs, staring down the last 9 box jumps of that modified-for-beginners workout, I learned a few things.
One was that I’d been lying to myself about my fitness; putting an empty 35 pound barbell over my head had turned me to mush, and I was struggling just to breathe, let alone jump onto that little box…the elliptical machine wasn’t doing what I’d thought it was doing. The second was that this was insanely fun – I felt like a kid on playground who couldn’t wait for their next turn on the monkey bars. The third was that this Coach had my back, even though he’d just met me. Jason was watching me, and with just a little smile had quietly changed my 16 inch box to an 8 inch one for that last round so I didn’t hurt myself, and then stood there patiently encouraging me to get myself back up there for those last few reps.
Laying on my back in a sweaty, gasping puddle, getting high fives from strangers , was incredible…even though I think my response to Jason’s “So, how was that?” was probably profanity laced, I answered through a big grin. It was humbling, but I was already in love with a new challenge and a new community. No one had snickered at the pudgy, middle aged lady who couldn’t jump; I was welcomed and encouraged, and I felt like everyone was happy that I was there and that I’d tried my best.
Fast forward just over three years. 306 has become my home away from home - my refuge- and it has reshaped my life (and my husband’s, too).
I’ve changed physically more than I could have imagined. People ask me how much weight I’ve lost, and I can’t say exactly because I don’t know how much I weighed when I started… but it’s a bunch. I know I now wear size 9 jeans, down from squeezing into 14s, that this year’s Christmas party dress is a size smaller than my Grade 12 Grad dress from 1996, and that I felt good enough to wear a bikini for the first time at 35 years old. The one that puts the biggest smile on my face is that complete strangers have made random comments that I “look like an athlete”.
The weight loss isn’t the most important change for me though. I’m stronger and fitter, at 37, than I’ve ever been, and have re-discovered my love of competition. So far I’ve done a few CrossFit competitions and 3 Olympic Weightlifting competitions (where I’ve set or broken provincial records for my age and weight class). I’ll never make the CrossFit Games, but I still love going head to head with friends every day, and relish the good natured ribbing when my husband and I do a partner workout together. The fitness has spilled over into the rest of my life – I don’t hesitate to go wall climbing with our nephew and niece, or skating with buddies, or on an epic 50 km backpacking trip, or to jump at whatever other adventures come my way.
Other parts of my life are better, too. Food isn’t just for comfort or a social outlet anymore, it’s also fuel that affects my body, and so the plate of chicken fingers and fries is far less tempting. Fewer drinks, better food, and more sleep all follow along from wanting to feel better in the gym. I’m far from perfect, but I consciously try to make better choices, and I can see the results of those choices.
I’m pushed nearly every day to do things I’m not sure I can do, and those mental battles have changed me. Looking forward to hard work with friends and great coaches helps get me through stressful days at work. When things are rough, I can focus on the grind like it’s a tough workout or a heavy bar, and I know I can get through whatever is going on.
At the end of the day, I know I’m a part of a community that is still just happy that I’m there and trying my best. I also know that sometimes I can make someone’s day by encouraging them when they’re struggling, or by helping a new person, and that’s a great feeling. I’ve made friends with people I would never have met otherwise, and we celebrate everyone’s successes together. Some days success is a personal record on a benchmark workout, or a first pull up, or two more kilos on a lift, but even on days when success is just getting through the door, I know the community is there.