July 2020--Katie Gross

1.Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.
I was born here in Kansas, and am the second oldest of 12 children. I graduated from Saint Mary's Academy and College, and in 2003, I flew across the pond and lived in England for a year, where I taught and helped out at the Juniors boarding school in the enchanting Highclere in Berkshire. I moved to Syracuse, NY the next fall to teach 4th grade for three wonderful years, and managed to capture the heart of my amazing husband Chris. We lived in Foxboro, MA, approximately one mile from Gillette stadium. Go Pats! After a couple of years, Divine Providence led us to where I started, and I am so grateful to be back. I enjoy being a mother to my six kiddos ages 2 to 12. I love reading all kinds of books, anything from PG Wodehouse, to Dostoevsky and Dickens, to history and biographies, to beloved children's books like Wind in the Willows. I also love music and singing with my sisters; Uncle Ricky and his friends are always a treat - especially when Fr Kopec brings along his double bass, Rhonda. I get excited about birding, watercoloring, traveling with family and friends, having our priests over, game nights with my siblings, and eating anything coming off of dad's grill and out of mom's oven.

2. When do you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?
I have been interested in starting CrossFit for a long time. My brother is a coach, and my dad has been a living example of how CrossFit improves the quality of life of any athlete at every age. I finally started on-ramp in May 2019. My husband knew it was going to fill a void for me, as my sister who had lived with us for over 7 years was going to enter the convent in Italy in September. Chris told me it was time, confident I would make good friends with the ladies, and enjoy getting away from the chaos 3 hours a week to workout. I continue now because not only do I need it, but I love it. Every class teaches me something - because of these classes, I am better prepared for the unknown and the unknowable.

3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?
I don't remember the first WOD exactly, but it involved weights. I thought the sound of the weights clanging against the floor very thrilling. I believe my exact words to Chris after the WOD were 'You were right! It's everything you said!' Even now, when I happen to be walking by the box, I hear the heavy barbells dropping and I feel my heart leap.

4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
Hands down, it's the atmosphere from the people in the box that I enjoy the most. The coaches and athletes pray together, suffer together, encourage each other, and keep each other laughing. No matter how difficult the day, I truly am uplifted and inspired by how incredible each person in the class is. I also love that our patron is Saint Benedict, as I am an OSB Oblate. Some of the athletes are as well, which makes me feel connected in a special way. I very much enjoy that our classes are 'just girlz' which is not the case anywhere else in the world. Judging by my stats, it would also seem that I really enjoy getting my posterior chain kicked by the other athletes regularly.

5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
Probably just showing up when the going is tough, when sleep is scarce, and when the desire to hide under the covers is strong.

6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
I'm sorry, I don't understand the first question.
Least favorite? Ah. Yes, so many. Probably the overhead squat because it's the scariest one for me. I also think thrusters and wall balls are from the devil; St Benedict should exorcise our box of them soon, thank you very much.

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?
Not re-injuring my left foot is my current goal!!! #kiddingnotkidding
Honestly, just making it to class three times a week is the most challenging for me to achieve, so when it happens, I'm glowing. I have had a pull-up on my bucket list since I was about 10. I've never been able to do one. If - WHEN - one day it happens, it will be entirely because of the CrossFit methodology. I also just passed my L1 certification, which is unreal.

8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?
Any exercising I did prior to CrossFit doesn't compare to what CrossFit offers. Every class has a coach to help you progress in your fitness and keep you safe. They put in time and research to help us reach our individual goals. It's constantly varied so you're never bored out of your mind like following along to the same workout DVD over and over. It offers a change of mindset, how you approach something that seems impossible. Everything is scalable, measurable, and over time, you will see progress. It's why it works! Not only are you performing functional movements that are rehabilitative, but you also flex a little willpower, grow in humility, and have fun while you do it. (I privately question the functionality of the burpee, as I have certainly done hundreds and hundreds, and I've never once done one to get off the ground outside of class. At least handstand push-ups look cool.)

9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
CrossFit is so much more than leaderboards and kettlebells. No matter how inadequate I am in the movements required in the WOD, all I have to do is listen to my coaches, give it my best, and keep going when the voice in my head says 'you can't.' It reminds me to embrace that which I detest or fear, and to let go of the comfortable. The mental toughness required in the box is the same required in our day-to-day life. Breathe, and do the next rep.

10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if any, since starting CrossFit?
Ironically, a few years ago, I was dealing with health issues, so I became quite militant with my diet. I started off Weston A Price, then the GAPS diet for about 8 months, then I did Whole30 for about a year-and-a-half. Soon after I started CrossFit, my diet got completely derailed. Currently I do my best to eat whole foods, avoid the junk, and I feel pretty good. I do not consider 85% dark chocolate with a layer of almond butter and a blob of whipped cream to be junk; it is a superfood. Do not fight me on this.

11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
I can't. I would end up making cocktails, dividing us into teams, playing charades, and finally doing something I'm good at.

12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
I'll keep this simple and deliberate. Taking care of yourself is of the greatest importance, not only to you, but also to those who love you and depend on you. Your life is precious. Those who love you and cherish you will thank you for putting in the effort to live a full and healthy life as best as you are able.

13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
Do it! Don't be intimidated by ring-dips and muscle-ups. Scaling is not a dirty word! If you do decide to sign up for it, my advice would be to not take yourself too seriously. Really work on the fundamentals, eat nourishing food, try to get good sleep, and always remember your 'why.' Enjoy the camaraderie while you throw around the barbell, and have fun!

14. Open Forum:
A huge thank you to Mindy, Andy, Bridget, and Joe for keeping CFB going, even during an apocalyptic pandemic! You have stepped up to the high standards set by Dr. Carroll and his incredible wife Cindy. I can't thank you enough for your sacrifices, and your generosity towards me over the last year.
Thank you to all my coaches for all of the time, dedication, and sacrifices you and your families make so we can make the progress we do.
I'd also like to thank each member CFB who has kept my family in your prayers and sacrifices. I couldn't do this without you and your friendship. Thank you to those who have supported me and comforted me and advised me when the days have been so hard. I am deeply grateful.
Lastly I would like to thank my favorite person in the world, Chris. I wouldn't be here without you and I couldn't do this without you by my side. I miss you so much it takes my breath away. Through the pain, fear, grief of our children, and all the convoluted aspects of this journey, you're still here. You still show up. Can't wait to see you again as soon as this AMRAP of life is over. Thank you for staying close by. Love you, babe.
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