Rachel Carande

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Q. What was your life like prior to your CrossFit training and why did you want to start working with a coach?  

I grew up hiking, skiing, and doing various outdoor activities with my family.  I also dabbled in different sports including getting into figure skating when I was 8.  Skating “stuck” and soon I began competitively skating (in singles, ice dance, and synchronized skating, I had to do it all…)  and continued this through college in Boston.  Training for skating involved on-ice training, off-ice training, and traveling for competitions.  During this time, I also started to get interested in running and yoga for general exercise and cross-training.  All this left me very busy, especially when paired with the rigorous school work for my engineering major.  But I enjoyed being busy and skating was a nice outlet from the stresses of school.  Fast-forward to post college… turns out skating is not as enjoyable when you don’t have a team to practice with or a competition to work towards.  Running was so static and yoga began to get boring.  Crossfit entered my radar and I figured it would be fun to give it a try.  Within the first few classes, I recognized the vast potential CrossFit had to fill the gap that the lack of skating had left.  And, almost immediately, that is exactly what it did.

Q. What have been your greatest challenges (physically, mentally, emotionally) since you began your CrossFit Training? 

Initially, my biggest challenge was just getting my upper body strength to catch up with my lower body and cardio.  It was frustrating when I couldn’t do a pull up or an overhead squat because my shoulder strength was a limiting factor.  But “hard work” (hard fun gratifying work?) and dedication pay off, and my upper body strength has significantly improved over the past months.  This is apparent during wods, but also physically.  Which, as a girl outside the CrossFit community, can be viewed as a great or not-so-great thing.  It’s not the social norm to be a small girl and have bigger muscles than many guys.  I have nothing but respect for the girls who radiate self-confidence and flaunt their muscles like they rule the world, but honestly, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never felt insecure or self-conscious of this.  Luckily, I am reminded nearly everyday of the unexplainable bliss that accompanies a PR or crushing a wod, and this outshines any feelings of doubt tenfold.

Q. What have been your greatest successes (physically,mentally or emotionally) since you began? How does your body feel now compared to when you started and WHY? 

It would be hard to pick out a “greatest” success for me.  Sure, getting a muscle up after working on it for months and months was an incredible feeling.  But all the small successes along the way hold just as much significance:  My first RX workout, any new PR’s, running a sub-6 mile, going from hating pull-ups to loving pull-ups, any time I beat Eric or Gordon in a wod… you know, the small things. The frequent successes are another reason CrossFit is in such a league of its own.  It is so rewarding (and addicting) to succeed in something that you remember struggling with just a week before.

Q. How has your life changed since starting CrossFit training? Has CrossFit transferred over into any other areas of your life? 

I am definitely a happier, more confident person because of CrossFit.  Everyday since I started, I get excited for the next wod to be posted and all day at work I look forward to when I get to leave and drive to CFJ.  I tell non-CrossFitters that not only do I go to CrossFit nearly every day, but I never feel any reluctance to go.  And they look at me like I’m crazy.  Which I might be.  But I found a community where everyone is on that similar crazy spectrum, and I couldn’t be happier.

Q. What are the advantages of CrossFit style training compared to your previous workout styles?

Hands down, the community.  The people.  I have never met a group of people that (as a whole) are so like-minded.  The CrossFit community I know seems to be filled with easy-going people that turn on the intensity when it counts.  I love that in finding CFJ I’ve also found a group of friends who ”get” me; who enjoy spending some of their Friday evenings climbing or their weekends skiing or hiking.

Also, CrossFit doesn’t feel anything like typical exercise to me.  Whether it is the people you’re sweating with daily or the coaches who genuinely care, there is another dimension to CrossFit that is not found in running or working out in a gym.  The friendly competitive atmosphere is one of the main things that keeps me eagerly coming back every day.

Q. What advice can you give to others?

When learning all the movements, focus on form (actually, never stop focusing on form) and do what you feel comfortable with.  Once you feel confident with the basic movements, go outside your comfort zone.  Know your limits, but push yourself.  Get stronger, get faster.  There always will be something to improve, acknowledge that, but don’t loose focus on your natural abilities.  Do what you love, and let CrossFit enrich what you’ve already got.