I had been back and forth between the Soo and university, whether it was undergrad at Laurier and then law school at Michigan State and Western for 8 years, and I always worked out various “chain” gyms. In the summer of 2012 I ended up moving home after getting an articling position in the Soo. I looked into the different gyms in town and while I gave some thought to Catalyst at that time I defaulted to the Y where I had worked out when I was in high school and whenever I was home for Christmas or Summer. My first workout back there after returning I was scolded by one of the other members for doing deadlifts outside of the squat rack. Every so often I would look at Catalyst’s website or see some posting on Facebook with respect to Crossfit, but never took any additional steps to investigate. This past summer and fall I realized that I had been working out at the Y for about 2 years and seemed to be spinning my tires in terms of improving my overall health. I had also had some discussions with people who participated in Crossfit and finally made the decision one day around Christmas to make some changes in my life, which included signing up for the no sweat intro with Jess. I signed up there on the spot for OnRamp and haven’t looked back since. The only thing I regret is waiting so long to make the decision to check out Catalyst.
I really liked the atmosphere of the gym right away, nothing flashy or unnecessary taking up space; everything had a purpose, even if I wasn’t completely aware of it at the time. I wouldn’t say that I was intimidated, but I tend to be a cautious person and haven’t strayed too far from my comfort zone, so the change from the “Globo Gym” to the box had me a little apprehensive at the beginning.
My impression has changed somewhat, in that I realize how silly it was of me to be worried/apprehensive about making the switch to Catalyst. The people, from the coaches to the other members have all been extremely welcoming and make it a place you can’t help but look forward to going to, which I can’t say I felt in my time plodding along at other gyms. I will admit that dropping the bar with weights on it took some getting used to, but I definitely don’t have any hesitation now when it’s necessary.
I don’t think there has been just one thing that has caused my improvement, rather it has been a combination of a few different things. I think it started with the coaching I received in OnRamp and throughout my time at the gym since I joined. I was doing some of the standard weightlifting exercises before I joined and thought that I was fairly strong. However, I quickly learned there are many areas I could greatly improve. Having learned some of the more technical Olympic lifts, as well as newer movements and ways I could improve on my base strength has made me want be at the gym, try new things and work to get stronger and generally become healthier. The camaraderie and atmosphere at Catalyst makes me want to go the gym, even on those mornings where it’d just as easy to roll over and hit the snooze button rather than do 50 burpees or beat up my shins trying to string together double unders. Finally, taking part in the Open rekindled some of my old competitive spirit and has given me a foundation that I can work on improving for next year.
I’m currently working on continuing to practice and get better performing the Olympic lifts and other movements so I can reduce the number of exercises I have to scale and get through more of the WODs. Competing in the Open has also made me want to take part in more of the programming and I joined the Couch to 5k group with Charity to work on my cardio and general running ability. I’m hoping to participate in some of the other programming coming up. I’m also working on cleaning up my eating and generally trying to be healthier and consistent in my daily routines. I bought a bunch of paleo and clean eating cookbooks which I have been working through, but I know I can be more consistent and I have been surprised with the number and variety of recipes available.
I would say that taking part in the Open (including the hanging out with out with other members after each event part) has been my favourite Catalyst memory so far. I had only been a member for about a month and a half when I started having people ask me if I was going to sign up for the open. I was still new to the new to the world of Crossfit as well as a majority of required movements so I was extremely non-committal when asked. I thought I was so new to Crossfit and a bit worried about being able to complete the workouts and kind of went back and forth trying to decide if I was going sign up or not, until finally I remembered something I read about before joining Catalyst, about what you can achieve by stepping outside of your comfort zone, I think it was something along the lines of “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. I signed up one night and the next day I got a Facebook message from Lisa who had been asked by Phil to recruit me to the Chalk Monkeys.
The first Thursday before 15.1 I was at my computer by 8 pm on the Open website waiting for the release of the first workout. I was pretty nervous leading up to the first workout and had a few butterflies in the stomach before my heat thinking the crowd was intimidating. Once the countdown ended that all went away and all I could think about was making it through the workout alive. There was a few times I wanted to slow down, but Coop’s encouragement and clipboard banging got me through. I had a training session with Jess before the release of 15.4 and was sure thrusters were about to appear so I asked that we work on them as I hadn’t really practiced the movement since I joined. They didn’t appear in 15.4, but I worked up to 95lb thrusters, which Jess said was the weight in last year’s open. Fast forward to the announcement of 15.5 and low and behold there were the 95 lb thrusters with rowing for calories. I was talking with Adam prior to 15.5 on Friday night and we were trying to decide whether we were going to try the workout Rx. He had been getting over a wrist injury and I had only done maybe 13 thrusters ever (the week prior), but we decided to both try to complete the workout Rx. Looking back I can admit I probably bit off more than I could chew given that the workout involved 72 thrusters at 95 lbs along with the rowing in between. I will admit there were times I felt like quitting during that workout, especially when I was the last one in my heat still struggling to finish. However, at the same time I also heard everyone cheering me on and it drove me to get those final reps, no matter what my time was.
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