May 2019---Theresa Sparks

1.Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.  
I am the 7th of 8 children  in a family of giants – believe it or not, I am one of the shortest. I was born and raised in Texas. My family moved to Kansas in 2006 and that was when I realized that I could never live anywhere but the country. As of April 2019, I worked as the Human Resources Representative for Brinks Home Security for almost two years. I now work for my dad on our 20 acres and am studying to obtain my Level 1 certification to become a CrossFit coach. My ridiculously long list of hobbies includes reading, writing, CrossFit, volleyball, long walks down gravel roads, and pretty much anything that involves outdoor activities. (I have many others but if I try to list them all then we’ll be here a while…)  

2. When did you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?
I joined CrossFit Benedictus in January 2018. I had tried many (many!) exercise programs in the past and I was never able to commit to them completely. When a good friend of mine told me that there was a CrossFit box 20 minutes away from me and that I should give it a try, I decided that I had no more excuses. I remember stopping by to watch a class for the first time and thinking, “Oh yeah…that’s it… I am so doing this.”  
I continue now because it truly has changed my life in so many positive ways. I find myself noticing how much the functionality of the movements performed in CF impacts my day to day duties. (Though I’ll admit that I’ve gotten some funny looks from the neighbors when I’m outside doing Clean & Jerks when moving tree branches…) The friends that I’ve made since joining the box are such a blessing. The bonds that are created through suffering are unlike any other. 😊 The accountability, the camaraderie, the intense (and sometimes insane) workouts performed… there are so many reasons to keep coming back.  

3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?  
The week after I completed my On-Ramp the first WOD I did was a scaled version of Fight Gone Bad… key word being SCALED. To be completely honest, I wasn’t really thinking coherent thoughts after that one. I just remember laying on the ground next to the rower and trying to restore as much oxygen to my lungs as possible.  

4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
I pretty much covered this in #2. The accountability, the camaraderie, the intensity of workouts, the competition… pretty much everything. I honestly can’t think of anything that I don’t enjoy about CrossFit.  

5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
Hmm… that’s a tough one. There have been many times that I’ve gone into a workout thinking that I would never be able to finish and it is an extremely empowering feeling when you break past that barrier of uncertainty and doubt. I recently completed the 2019 Open and that was a very proud moment for me. Since then, my outlook on workouts has changed dramatically. Rather than feeling a sense of dread when I see a workout that is not to my strengths (burpees, running… burpees) I look at it as an opportunity to better myself, rather than something that I have to hurry and get it over with.  

6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
Favorites? Overhead squat, Deadlift, Back squat… I like the heavy weight stuff.  
Least Favorites? Burpees, Strict press, and running. No surprise there, right?  

7. Have you had one or two challenging CrossFit goals that you've achieved recently? What are your current goals and how close are you to reaching them?  
One of my goals following the Open was to be able to do a Double-Under. I had never done one before then. In a recent WOD, I was finally able to string together 12 double-unders. I was happy about that, but I still have a lot of work to do with them.  
My next gymnastic goal is to be able to do Toes2Bar. I’m kinda-sorta close to reaching that. My next strength goal is to reach 300 lb on my 1RM deadlift. I’m 25 lbs away from that goal.  

8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?  
While I’m sure there are many reasons that can be named, the first thing that comes to mind is the overall mindset going into CrossFit and the fact that anyone can do it. CrossFit is about constantly varied, functional movement. It aids you in your everyday life in ways that we don’t even realize. Anyone can do it because everything is scalable. Someone who has never touched a barbell in their life can show up and do the same WOD as someone who has been doing CrossFit for years – it is just performed at different levels. Even if I scale a workout differently then everybody else, I can leave feeling like I’ve accomplished something that I didn’t think I could do before.  

9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
CrossFit has had a huge impact on my life. I have more energy and strength, I’ve met some amazing, inspirational people, and my attitude throughout my everyday has improved. CrossFit has taught me (and continues to teach me) to push myself and that being comfortable is not necessarily a good thing. I’ve surprised myself many times when I was able to push through my fear and do something that scared the heck out of me.  
It also teaches humility… There will be times when you can’t lift that weight. There will be times when everyone else does something better than you. There will be times when you want to quit because you can’t see yourself making any progress. What CrossFit and my fellow athletes have taught me is that you have to just keep coming back. CrossFit isn’t just for training your body; it’s training your mindset.  

10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if any, since starting CrossFit?
It hasn’t changed as much as it should… I’ve kind of gone back and forth over the last few months but lately I’ve tried to really focus on eliminating sugar and basing my meals off of vegetables, proteins, and a small amount of (good) carbs. I find that when I eat healthy, my performance improves greatly so that is another of my goals going forward. (One that will hopefully never go away.)  

11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
For Time:
500m Row
15 Clean & Jerks Men: RxA/B/C: 115/95/75; Women: RxA/B/C: 65/55/45 
500m Row
10 Clean & Jerks Men: RxA/B/C: 145/115/105; Women: RxA/B/C: 95/75/65   
500m Row
5 Clean & Jerks Men: RxA/B/C: 185/155/135; Women: RxA/B/C: 115/95/85 
*Partner changes weights and resets rower.  
(15 minute cap)

12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
“Put the oxygen mask on yourself first.”  There’s a reason this is a well-known phrase…  God has given us so many wonderful gifts to help us get to Heaven. One of these gifts is our bodies, which serve as vehicle on this journey through life. If you’re taking a long road trip, do you not check to make sure your vehicle is in the best condition possible before venturing forth? That same care and preparation should be taken when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We’ve each been given our own unique gift that has the capacity to accomplish extraordinary things. It’s our responsibility to take care of that gift to the best of our ability.  

13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
Give it a try! 😊 You’ll never be sure until you do. It’s ok to be intimidated by it. We all experience that. Stop by and watch a class. Talk to people about their experiences with CrossFit. Ask them how it’s impacted them and what their thoughts were when they were thinking about joining.  
Yes, you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone… but, trust me, it’s worth it!  

14. Open Forum:

Extra special thanks to Doc and Mrs.Carroll for opening CrossFit Benedictus! It has made such a huge impact on so many people’s lives and that, most assuredly, includes me.
Thank you to ALL of the coaches! You all are always willing to take questions and offer advice that truly makes a difference. You are the reason I want to become a coach.  
Thank you to my tribe of fellow athletes!! Every single one of you is an inspiration and I’m very blessed to be a part of CrossFit Benedictus.

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