By: Jenessa Connor

Coach Bailey is the real deal. If you’ve taken one of her classes, you know she brings the perfect balance of motivation, attention to proper form, and corny jokes (she said it, not us!) to every WOD. And she’s just as committed as an athlete and teammate, often jumping into other coaches’ classes and working out alongside the students she instructed in basics. She’s hardworking, dependable, and an exemplary member of the 718 family. That’s why she’s January’s Athlete of The Month.

How did you discover CrossFit?
Prior to moving to Brooklyn I lived in Buffalo. A co-worker and good friend was engaged to the owner of CrossFit Buffalo. In March of 2010 she wanted to join but wanted some backup so she wasn’t starting out alone. I had never lifted weights heavier than 10 lb. dumbbells in my life and had never heard of CrossFit (that was before there was a box every 1/2 mile), but I agreed to give it a try. I was very nervous but Coach Dave set up a private class for four of us (all newbies with zero lifting experience). He made it so welcoming that I quickly got over the fear and was immediately hooked. 
I discovered 718 in the beginning of the summer of 2011 when I was in Brooklyn looking for apartments. I was peering through the gate at the gym on 5th Avenue like a total creep when Tammy appeared before me and told me to join and that it was like a family there and that I would love it. I moved to Brooklyn August 1st. Too broke to join, I worked out at the park for a month until I got the money together to join in September.
DSC01144Why do you do CrossFit?
I’ve danced since I was four and have always enjoyed being active mainly through dance and yoga. However, as cliché as it sounds, prior to CrossFit I hated going to the gym. I would start and be committed for a few weeks and then inevitably get bored and stop going. I love the community of CrossFit – if you’ve met me you know I love to talk (and make bad jokes), and CrossFit classes combine working out with support and socialization in a way that makes me want to keep coming back. I also love the way it forces me to push my comfort zone and continually surprise myself with what I’m capable of doing. I feel like CrossFit (and specifically 718) has a medicinal effect – I never leave in a bad mood. Regardless of how stressful the day may have been, I’m always better off for having been at the gym.

How do you make time for working out?
I schedule it in. However, I keep a few things in mind: I try to be realistic about how much time I have and how much I can get done; I never use exercise as a punishment or consequence for “bad behavior;” and I focus on maintaining a balance in my life. When I first started CrossFit I was obsessed and wanted to work out ALL the time. As I’ve gotten further into it, I’ve made it a priority to learn how to incorporate it into my forever schedule, which means balancing it out with other areas of my life and knowing that if I have a week where life gets in the way of my WODS then it’s no big deal and I’ll be back in action the following week.

How did you decide to pursue coaching?
It felt like a natural progression for me. I love CrossFit and I love working with people. I particularly enjoy working with beginners and helping them to change their perceptions of what they are capable of. It’s awesome to watch that lightbulb moment for a person when suddenly everything clicks. I often (semi jokingly) refer to myself as a “therapist-coach,” and I enjoy seeing how the physically hard work and mental toughness that CrossFit requires can completely revamp a person’s outlook on something. But, if I ever ask you “but how do burpees make you FEEL,” please feel free to throw a med ball at me.

What’s your favorite lift or movement?
I love powerlifting. Deadlifting and squatting are my favorite. Lifting heavy makes me feel calm, confident and in control. I also really enjoy box jumps, pistols and standing upside because it’s fun and just feels like playing.


What recent achievement are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my toes-to-bar. After several years of doing them strict and having a block against doing them efficiently, I’ve finally found my stride.

What goals are you currently working on?
My two main goals are to move without pain and to be able to CrossFit until I’m 90. From 25 + years of dancing I have a lot of back and hip pain that frequently flares up. In addition to dealing with pain, it’s also frustrating to feel that your body is working against you. I’m working on correcting poor movement patterns, modifying movements as needed and finding ways to avoid the pain before it starts. When I was dancing it was all about the aesthetic; it didn’t matter how the body was affected. At the gym I really appreciate and try to reinforce the focus on form over everything else.

What’s your Fran time?
That’s a great question. I have no idea. I haven’t done Fran in quite a while and no longer have my old notebook –bad coach! I remember I got the “Fran Cough” and came close to throwing up.

What do you do when you’re not at the box?
When not at the gym I work as a dance/movement therapist at an amazing school in Long Island for kids with physical disabilities. I love my job even if the crazy commute often makes me late to the gym! I also love cooking, dancing anywhere and everywhere, hanging out with my boyfriend, friends and family, being outside, going to the beach, enjoying the occasional adult beverage and watching the same TV shows over and over.

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