In 1990, I suffered injuries in the Army which resulted in many surgeries to my chest, back, shoulders and abdomen. Many years later, on June 27, 2010 one of my injured disks compressed my spinal cord. After emergency surgery the result was Cauda Equine Syndrome and incomplete paraplegia.
It was the best thing to ever happen to me. I didn’t suffer from pain like I had decades before.
I started to get stronger (mentally and physically) and wanted to hire a private trainer. Feeling came back in my thighs and I could stand. I had no luck though, people were afraid to take me on as a client because of the liability…I had become morbidly obese and developed high blood pressure and diabetes. My kidneys and liver weren’t functioning properly…and an EKG showed that I had some sort of heart episode that could not be explained…all secondary conditions to my SCI, which are quite common.
Being told “no” or “sorry” made me press harder (I get especially stubborn when people tell me no or I can’t do something) I attended as many wounded warrior sport clinics as I could and at WWP/Spaulding Rehabilitation summer sports clinic in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where I learned about Crossfit. A double amputee veteran showed me a video of himself jumping rope at his local box. I was hooked. If he could do it, I could too.
I went home and contacted Breathe Crossfit here in my hometown of Derry, New Hampshire. My first workouts with Sharon were so incredibly hard, but each day showed progress…a 1/4 mile on the treadmill with band work turned into a 1/2 mile with an unweighted barbell… then a mile with added modified pushups… the goal was to get me in a class in 5 weeks. A year and a half later I am addicted to crossfit and even participate in crossfit competitions lol…I am no model athlete… but even coming in last place, the roar of the crowd makes you believe you are beating a world record. This community is incredibly supportive of one another. I am lucky to have found it. It literally saved my life.
“Never say you can’t do something unless you really can’t, no excuses”
To say that Crossfit has changed my life is an understatement. Some may say that is overdramatic, but it really is the truth. It came to a point in my life where I was extremely unhappy with my physical appearance. I knew I had to make changes to better myself. That’s when I decided to walk through the doors of Breathe Crossfit. I was extremely intimidated and didn’t think I would be physically capable of completing the workouts. Once there, the coaches, and other members, were constantly cheering me on and giving me encouragement. Never once did they doubt my capabilities. They helped me build self-confidence. I did not know how much my body was capable of. Never in my life did I think I would ever compete in a Crossfit competition. I’ve now completed two. Crossfit also inspired me to compete in and complete my first 5K Mudderella obstacle course. I also enrolled in Sharon’s Nutrition class which opened my eyes to how bad I was really eating. Changing my diet and eating habits had an immediate impact on my workouts and I could instantly start to see my body’s transformation. In the last year I’ve lost 58 pounds. I went from a size 20 in jeans to a size 12. I went from struggling through light jogs to completing mile runs. I’ve gained so much confidence within myself. I truly believe Breathe Crossfit, their staff, and members, have made me a stronger person.
The feeling that I now get when others tell me how good I look or how I have transformed is unlike any other. The constant praise, encouragement, motivation, and enthusiasm from all of the coaches and other members has helped me forge friendships that have helped make me the stronger, happier person that I am today.
I have been a member of Breathe CrossFit for over a year now and I can honestly say that joining BCF has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was first talked into trying CrossFit by my sister and like so many other people, I thought I was in “ok shape” from going to the local “globo-gym.” It only took one class to realize just how wrong I was. Just the warm-up portion of the workout taught me that very quickly! I was so frustrated with how out of shape I was and how little I was capable of, that I kept going back in the hopes to prove to everyone and especially myself, that I could do better. 3 weeks after joining I was encouraged to join in with the rest of the Box in competing in the “CrossFit Open.” Even though I struggled with many of the workouts, the coaches and other members sat along side me, cheered me on and motivated me through every single rep. I was treated like I had been a part of their family for years, not only by the coaches and owners but by the members as well!
Since the 2014 Open, I have taken Sharon’s Nutrition Challenge (coming in 2nd place), Marisa’s Olympic Lifting class, joined the competitive Performance Team at the gym and am currently competing in the 2015 CrossFit Open. I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that you are truly treated like you are the only member in the gym.
The attention to detail Sharon, Marisa, JD and the rest of the coaches use with every class is reassuring and motivating! They are constantly monitoring you so that you are doing the workout safely, while also making sure to push you enough to make the gains you are looking for! There is a competitive side to the gym, which is true of any gym. However, at BCF the competition is with yourself! The atmosphere is such that every time you leave the gym, you know that you pushed yourself to be better than you were yesterday, which is what truly counts!
In the past year, I have lost about 30lbs and 10% body fat and I truly owe this success to Breathe. However, the really motivating thing for me is how much more I can do in comparison to a year ago, its like night and day! Before BCF, I hadn't ever been so positively reinforced for my abilities, not only from the coaches but also the other members. It truly has become more of a family than I would have ever imagined and I know many other members would say the same. Marisa, Sharon, JD and the coaches are truly invested in your success and you can see and feel this every single day. If they haven't seen or heard from you in some time they always send an email/text/call to check in, when you beat a personal record (PR) they are the first to congratulate you and if you need a little motivation every once in a while they are there to get you moving. All in all, Breathe CrossFit is like a second home for me and I am so happy that my sister talked me out of my nervousness and got me in the door.
The best advice I can give a new CrossFitter: Just walk through the door. Come in as a blank slate and give it an honest try. Leave any misconceptions, judgements or worries at the door and embrace the fantastic workout and amazing atmosphere, the coaches will take care of the rest!
The human body is truly amazing. It evolves, adapts, heals, performs self-maintenance and the best part of all-when you're good to it, its even better to you. It feels amazing when your perfectly engineered body is operating at peak performance because that is exactly what it was designed to do. If you want to feel great and you want to allow your body the chance to operate at its intended capacity (which is 110%), then give it what it needs-
Enter Breathe CrossFit.
Look-if you're reading this then you're somewhat serious about CrossFit. Right now, you're in your recon phase; gathering as much intel on the sport as possible before making your decision whether to give it a shot or not. Smart move-knowledge is power after all. I was there myself less than two months ago. The best move I made was brining myself to the 'box' and actually checking it out in person. Thats all it took for me. Why? Well, let me you...
1) Certified Coaches: See, you're not alone on your journey to optimal fitness. Nope! For me, having squared away Coaches was a key element in my decision to do this. Every step of the way, as you fumble and bumble (which is a beautiful thing) and learn the fundamentals of this awesome sport, you've got coaches watching to ensure you're doing the movements correctly! When you're doing movements correctly-then by default-you're also doing them safely and that's important! If you can be humble enough to leave your ego at the door and know that you're gonna struggle but can trust what your coach is saying (and be open to it!) then you're going to get better...and better...and better...and as your muscles thank you by aching, suddenly life starts getting a little easier and more enjoyable.
You start to feel better, love better, eat better and sleep better...and when you start feeling better overall, you do more! That is my reason for doing CrossFit at Breathe; to be able to do more in life. To enjoy life more. To put my fitness to use. For me, I want to get as much out of life as possible; it's a short ride and you only get one shot at it. CrossFit gives me energy and purpose to get more out of life and my Coaches are a big part of that! Breathe CrossFit coaches are mentors and motivators.
2) Simplicity: There's an old saying in the Fire Service that we're taught early on in our career from the senior guys: "Keep It Simple Stupid" or "KISS". Lets face it, we are wayyy too caught up in the BS of everyday life. The emails, the text messages, the voicemails-all the BS that softens us up as humans and takes away from our awesomeness. I try keeping my life as simple as possible. Heck, I don't even have Facebook! I'm just a simple guy who's madly in love with my bride, my 3 kids, my family, my country and my profession. I'm adding Breathe CrossFit to that list now, too! When I walked into the gym for the first time, my first thought was 'simple'. Ropes and rings hanging from the ceiling, pull-up rig on the right and stacked weights in the back.....KISS.
3) The WODs (Workout of the Day): Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort, at least that's how I think and live my life. Haha -and apparently my Coaches believe this as well! The beauty of CrossFit is it's consistency and variety. Weaknesses become strengths. Then a new WOD is performed and it exposes new weaknesses! For me, finding a new weakness is great, exploiting it in front of other athletes is even better! Thats the accountability part. Weaknesses turn into strengths and the cycle continues that way. The WODs make that happen. The beauty of CrossFit is that eventually, an old WOD pops back up and you get to test your fitness and progress! I'll be the first to tell you that I've got quiet a few weaknesses right now just starting off. But, they'll be strengths soon.
4) The Athletes: At CrossFit, we're all athletes. The last time I considered myself an athlete was when I was playing football and lacrosse...in high school...13 years ago. I attend the 9:30am class during the week at Breathe most days. In that class, there are some incredible people-athletes-who impress the hell out of me. All of us have strengths and weaknesses. There is no judgement made to new guys, like me. We're a big team. We push each other, encourage each other, and all 'embrace the suck' together that is the WOD! No one finishes a WOD alone! The senior guys and gals, who've been doing it for a while, help give pointers to the junior guys. Everyone, including the coaches, want us to succeed. No one keeps trade secrets. We talk strategy of getting thru a WOD efficiently. Coaches provide insight, wisdoms and advice. I have not met one person who doesn't want to help you get better. I think one of the most important reasons why CrossFit works and works so effectively, is because of the environment and the athletes in that environment. We're all equals during the WOD and we're all suffering to get through it, together! I'm proud to be part of such a humble, respectful and encouraging group of athletes. There's a lot of camaraderie which you won't find in a regular gym.
The bottom line is that CrossFit works. The proof is in the way a CrossFit athlete looks, feels and performs.
Best Trainers I have ever met! Sharon, Marisa and JD pay close attention to everyone at the gym during workouts to insure you are learning skills properly so you don't get hurt. I have worked out at other crossfit gyms that don't pay as much attention to form...NOT HERE! If there is something you can't do or don't know how to do, they will teach you or help you to scale down the workout until you build yourself up to performing it as prescribed. Every class is like having a personal trainer. I have been working out at Breathe Crossfit for almost a year now and have seen huge results. When I first walked into the gym I knew this was the place to be. In just seven months, my coaches turned me from a bulkie power lifter to a lean crossfit athlete. I definitely still have a lot of work ahead of me to meet my personal goals, but under the direction of my coaches I know I will get there. Everyone at the gym is also super friendly and very helpful which, in my opinion, is the best part. I have been to gyms that are filled with snobs and it makes it hard to feel comfortable and work out. The people that work out at Breathe Crossfit are so far from that. I am very grateful to be a part of the Breathe Crossfit family!!!
Breathe Crossfit is a fantastic place. It has shown me that I can change my body and that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was. The trainers are great, knowledgeable and really care about me and my progress. The members are kind, supportive and the friendly competitive atmosphere really pushes you to work hard. The workouts are demanding, and will push you to your limits but the results speak for themselves. I started during their 8 week Nutrition Challenge and in that time I lost 7 inches in my waist and went down 5 pants sizes. With the guidance of the trainers, the encouragement of my fellow gym members and tons of my own hard work, I accomplished something I thought would be impossible. I can’t wait to see what other changes my body makes. I love it there, and you will too!
I’m a mom and have never been an athlete, but I wanted to keep up with and 3 boys. I wanted to be on the slopes with them rather than sitting in the lodge waiting for them to tell me about it. That’s why I dragged my husband, with me to the Breathe Crossfit open house in January 2013. My littlest son was 7 months old and it was time to make my move.
Everything hurt at first, but it was addicting. I found myself looking at the website every night to see what the next day’s workout would be before going to bed. I googled every movement as it came up in the workouts because I was learning a whole new vocabulary. The people who I worked out with every day became the friends who I commiserated with after a particularly hard workout and celebrated with when I got my first kipping pull-up. My husband and I came home from each day’s workout to compare times, rehash how we did with each movement, and discuss what we still need to work on. Going to Breathe was often the highlight of my day. My success did not just start and stop with the workouts; at Breathe I also received much needed guidance with my nutrition and saw even greater results. I learned how to eat healthy and make healthy choices…So I can honestly say that I no longer diet – I eat!
I’d like to share “before/after” pictures, but there are very few “before” pictures because I avoided cameras. I was the one who always took the pictures so that I didn’t have to be in them. What I can tell you about is my favorite pair of jeans… I bought them several months before I started Crossfit, and I couldn’t even come close to buttoning them even though they were supposedly my size. Today, they are my favorite pair and fit me perfectly.
I’m still a mom, but I’m now also an athlete. I may never compete in the Crossfit games (or maybe I will!), but I’m stronger than I have ever been and can do things that I never thought I could do. I did the work to get here, but Sharon, Marisa, my husband, and my family at Breathe Crossfit support me every step of the way.
I am not good at writing... but I can only try to express how much Breathe Crossfit has helped me to become stronger. I am 61 years old and I have more energy and feel better about myself more so now than I did before. At first I was intimidated and frustrated, but the coaches helped me to scale all the workouts to suit my limits (which I really appreciate)!! I used to look at the workouts and say "I can't do this", but after learning how to scale the movements and having the support of my coaches, I feel so much more confident in my abilities. Everytime I do the workouts l feel such a sense of accomplishment and am amazed at how much more I can do each time. I have already lost 12 lbs., I have lost inches everywhere, and also dropped 2 pant sizes in just a few months!
As someone who has struggled with depression, I can say now that I feel amazing and am not letting depression stop me and don't know where I would be without the coaches at Breathe Crossfit.
I want to tell everyone about Breathe Crossfit. I love these guys!