Diane and Steve Lindsey
Q. What was your life like prior to your CrossFit training and why did you want to start working with a coach?
Steve: Prior to starting CrossFit training, I worked out but wasn’t consistent and certainly never exercised to the intensity that I do now. I would lift weights, run, and bike — but never felt like I was progressing, just maintaining. I first learned about CrossFit in 2007 when I was chief of NASA’s astronaut office. During that time, we were all extremely busy flying Space Shuttle and Soyuz missions supporting International Space Station assembly & long duration operations. I was concerned that due to the high workload and operations tempo, the Astronaut Corps was losing out on fitness, critical to being able to handle the rigors of spaceflight. So I asked our trainers to come up with a series of workouts that would allow astronauts to go to the gym, get an effective, intense workout, shower, and be back at their desks in 1 hour. Their answer to this challenge was to implement CrossFit, something I had never heard of. This proved to be very successful and is still in use to this day. However, we typically did the workouts on an individual basis, so the coaching and the group dynamics were not in place. After moving to Colorado, I wanted to try CrossFit ‘for real’ as opposed to doing CrossFit ‘lite’.
Diane: I had trained with friends and run a few half marathons, but moving away from my training buddies I had gained weight and gotten sedentary. Steve was going to be traveling for a few months and I knew I had to force myself to do something while he was gone. I had heard about CrossFit workouts from Steve and the previous CrossFit Julia box location was right across the parking lot from his office. I was scared to death to try CrossFit.
Q. What have been your greatest challenges since you began your CrossFit Training?
Steve: Like most everything else, the biggest challenge with CrossFit for me is psychological — starting with the discipline required to consistently get up in the morning to make the classes, and then once there having the appropriate state of mind going into the WODs — going into them with confidence that I’m going to get through it and do well, versus going into a WOD with fear of how I do/can I get through it. My performance each day is significantly influenced by the attitude I come into the gym with.
Diane: I was very out of shape when I started (I even pulled a hip flexor trying to do modified sit-ups ☺) so learning even the basic skills was a challenge. Slowly I’m making gains and
with each new skill I gain a little more confidence. I’m definitely more confident that I can get through WODs and I am learning how to face some of the skills that I have been afraid of.
Q. What have been your greatest successes since you began? How does your body feel now compared to when you started and WHY?
Steve: Most of what I like to do in my free time involves outdoor activities that require fitness (skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc.) – since I’ve been doing CrossFit, where I really notice the difference is in my recovery times — I can stop what I’m doing for just a few seconds, recover, then keep going. It’s really nice to be able to ski all day, or hike a 14er, and not really be tired when I’m done.
Diane: I used to take two different medications for high blood pressure and I no longer take any meds. I can run, hike and ski and feel great. My mobility is improving and I can feel the difference in everyday life. Successes? Getting my first handstand, that first rope climb, and learning double-unders.
Q. How has your life changed since starting CrossFit training? Has CrossFit transferred over into any other areas of your life?
Steve: My life has gotten more balanced since I started CrossFit. Instead of straight to work every day, I go to the gym first – there are no excuses or schedule conflicts at 5:30 in the morning. Getting an intense workout first thing in the morning makes the rest of my day go much better, both mentally and physically. I arrive at work relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the day’s challenges.
Diane: CrossFit helps me manage my stress much better. I feel better equipped to face challenges with more confidence outside of the gym. I’m also learning to change how I think about fitness and food in the long term as a way of life.
Q. What are the advantages of CrossFit style training compared to your previous workout styles?
Steve: What I like most about CrossFit is that it’s very efficient and effective. I used to alternate between lifting weights and running – both took a lot of time with not much in the way of results. With CrossFit, I can complete an intense workout in 1 hour that’s more effective than what it used to take me 2 hours to do. Having coaches there to teach, encourage and correct, as well as other members of the class doing the same provides both camaraderie and accountability. I also like that CrossFit is a whole body workout; not just working on single areas or muscles.
Diane: When we lived in Houston I used to jog with my friends at the same pace and didn’t do anything to strengthen any other parts of our bodies and we didn’t vary our routes our routines. In CrossFit I feel like I am more fit overall. I love that there is a new challenge everyday and I enjoy the camaraderie I feel at the box. I think I am stronger at 54 than I have been in my entire life and I believe I have the capacity to get even stronger.
Q. What advice can you give to others?
Steve: If you decide to give CrossFit a try, stick with it consistently for at least 1 month — that’ll allow you to develop the habit pattern to be consistent, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Diane: This really is a community that will help you reach your goals I can’t tell you how many times someone has come along side me in a WOD to help me push through to the finish. Take advantage of the competition and the support; it will take you places you never dreamed you could go.
Q. Any other details you would like to share about your experience at CrossFit Julia?
Diane: Since we started doing CrossFit, our kids feel compelled to workout before they come and visit; now some of them have started CrossFit too.
Steve: Below is a picture of me doing back squats on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) while onboard the International Space Station in 2011. This device is designed to allow astronauts to ‘lift weights’ (up to 600 lbs) in a weightless environment. One of the challenges of long duration spaceflight is that in a weightless environment our bodies don’t need the same skeletal mass that we need in earth’s gravity. As a result, within a few weeks of living in zero gravity, our bodies start shedding calcium at an alarming rate (some Russian anecdotal studies indicate as much as 30% bone loss over a 6 month mission). We have learned through research that weight training is the most effective countermeasure, and since putting the ARED onboard the station, astronauts are now coming back not only stronger than when they launched, but also with zero bone loss.