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Athlete of the Month: February 2017

Dana Nelson

Before Dana joined CrossFit 718’s “New You” program, she struggled to make fitness a consistent part of her life. She wasn’t sure what to do on her own, and none of the group classes she tried felt quite right. She figured working out just wasn’t her thing.

Now, after completing the “New You” challenge and joining CrossFit 718, she’s that person who can’t stop talking about working out. And who can blame her? Her strength and endurance are improving week to week. Her confidence is through the roof, she’s feeling happy overall, and she’s dropped two pants sizes!

She’s got her eyes on a strict pull-up this time next year, but, with her dedication and hard work, we’re betting she gets there even sooner.

Read our Q&A with Dana and get to know February’s Athlete of the Month!

You were a member of the “New You” program. What inspired you to join, and what was the experience like?

This past summer I had reached a low point physically; I was the least fit I had ever been, and I knew something had to change. I’d lived through three really personally difficult years, and I was finally ready to go beyond survival mode and do something for myself. I joined a gym and made a little bit of progress, but I often felt totally at a loss as to what to do. I felt like the classes I attended were either way too hard or way too easy, and when I tried to work out on my own, I had no idea where to begin, since working out has never really been my thing.

I saw an ad on Facebook for the “New You” program at the beginning of November. The idea of being able to try something that scared me and was out of my comfort zone with a bunch of other complete newbies was really fascinating. If a program like this hadn’t existed, I don’t know if I ever would have gotten up the guts to try CrossFit. In the past, if exercise became really difficult, or there was a possibility that I could injure myself, I ran in the opposite direction. The set-up of “New You” made me feel like I might actually be able to make a change for myself.

From the second I met Iz, Tammy, and all of the coaches, I knew that I could trust them and move past my fear of getting hurt. They made me feel safe, welcome, and part of the family. The other women in my class were all there for different reasons, but it was so cool to watch how so many of us fell in love with working out together so quickly.

The “New You” program made me feel like I actually could do things I’d never done, like use a barbell, or wake up sore and work out anyway. Looking back, the first few workouts were so much easier than the WODs I do now, but they were the hardest things I had ever done. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to go back for the next class. I was hooked right away.

When did you officially join CrossFit 718? 

I joined as soon as “New You” ended in December. I decided to join because I couldn’t imagine not going back to the box three days a week. It’s become an incredibly important part of my life in an unbelievably short time. I feel supported by the whole community, and the coaches are the perfect mix of positive, patient, and kind while they kick my butt.

What kind of changes have you noticed?

Physically, I’m doing things I never imagined. I used to be out of breath climbing a set of stairs, and now I get antsy if I don’t move enough on a rest day.

My body has changed a lot; at the start, a lot of this was motivated by weight loss, but I don’t care about the scale anymore. I’m much more motivated by my performance and what I can do vs. how I look in my (two sizes smaller!) pants.

The change mentally, for me, is the most important one. It has helped me manage my anxiety more than anything else I’ve ever tried. I am more confident, more outgoing, and much, much happier. Whenever I’m having a bad day and have a class later on, my husband will say, “Well, good thing you have CrossFit tonight!”

How do you make time for working out?

Even though I’m really busy, finding an hour a few times a week is doable as long as it’s a priority. For the first time in my life, working out is one of my very favorite things to do, so I just make it happen. This means I don’t go to the same classes on the same days each week, but the flexibility of the schedule makes the whole thing fairly easy to figure out.

What’s your favorite movement?

I really love ring rows right now, because week by week I am changing that angle of my body to the floor. I can pull myself up from so much lower than I could when I started!

What recent achievement are you most proud of?

The other night, I finished 100 wall balls. We did something like 15 the first week of “New You” and I couldn’t walk the next day. I’d say that’s a pretty awesome improvement.

What goal are you working on?

By next January, I really want to be able to do a pull-up. I’ll take just one for now. It might not even happen this year, but I’ll keep trying until it does.

What’s the hardest workout you’ve experienced?

I’m still so new to this that every workout feels like the hardest. Ask me again next year!

What do you do when you’re not at the box? 

I’m teaching 12th grade English, running a peer mediation program, hanging out with my husband and our corgi, seeing friends, reading, and doing grandma-style crafts like knitting and quilting. I’m probably also being that annoying person who is obsessed with their workouts and wants to talk about them all the time, but my friends are being really patient!

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