1.Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, hobbies/interests.
First of all, I’m not Inuit. I’m half Chinese, half Czech…which actually makes me a “Chinese Czecher,” ha, ha, ha. I’ve been married to my fantastic (and very patient) husband, Mike, for over 15 years now. We had 5 boys in a row, decided we’d had enough chaos, switched to 3 girls, and, after the last drama queen, we decided we liked brainless destruction over Her Majesty’s iron-willed tantrums. We now have a little boy baking in the oven. Most of the time I’m busy homemaking or homeschooling my sixth grader. I enjoy sewing, baking, reading, and puzzle games, though these activities have become more of a thing of the past when once-upon-a-time I actually had time. When I grow up, I’d like to be a baby cuddler in a NICU or catch up on sleep.
2. When do you start CrossFitting? Why did you start? Why do you continue now?
I started in August 2016. Child #4, Marcel, had been in Children’s Mercy for three and a half months, undergoing a long procedure in preparation for major back surgery. This meant driving back and forth to KC and spending long hours mostly confined to a hospital room. I already felt as if I hadn’t quite recovered from the last baby, who was 5 months at the time, but after week after week of driving, eating poorly, and more sitting around, I felt more of an invalid than my son. I was throwing out my back just by transferring him from wheelchair to bed and had to start seeing a chiropractor. I mentioned this to my physician, who (with a twinkle in his eye) eagerly recommended that I join Crossfit. I thought, “Okay, what do I have to lose?” I admit I was also curious about what exclusive rituals had been going on behind the fence.
I try to keep coming back because of several reasons. I want to maintain the back strength I’ve gained. There are also other health conditions that have improved phenomenally that I’d like to maintain. Also, even though they are daunting at first, the WODs are genuinely fun, and not just in a masochistic sort of way.
3. Do you remember your first WOD? What were your thoughts after your first WOD?
I don’t remember exactly what my first WOD was—perhaps rowing and squats? I was very much out of my element. I do remember the feeling of bewilderment, trying to figure out if I was doing the movements right, and why everyone was so far ahead of me. Afterwards I thought, “Oh, what have I gotten myself into?” and had to repeat the slightly anxious mantra of “It’ll get better. I’ll get the hang of it” over and over.
4. What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?
Though maybe not really “enjoyable” per se, I like the fact that I am compelled to work hard. As I get older, I’ve started to evolve into a marshmallow, but getting in the Box makes me fight that tendency. Without the coaches breathing down my neck and the other athletes cheering me on, I wouldn’t put as much effort in at all. After the WOD, I can look back and really be proud, regardless of how I did in relation to others, because I tried my best and did the work.
5. What is your proudest CrossFit moment?
I think it was when I finally figured out how to do the deadlift. I seemed to take a lot longer than most to get the hang of any movement, and nothing I did seemed right. Then my mind and body finally, finally clicked and I didn’t have to be corrected for the umpteenth time on my poor form. We were in the basement, but I could have sworn the ceiling gave way to sunbeams shining through clouds and the music of angel choirs.
6. What is your favorite movement or lift? What is your least favorite?
My two favorites are the deadlift and single-unders. I like the deadlifts because I can actually do them without getting corrected. I’ve also really felt the difference they’ve made in strengthening my lower back. I actually enjoy jumping rope as well, but this is probably because I am nowhere near getting to do double-unders. My least favorite movements would be dumbbell push-presses and snatches. I have a bum shoulder that restricts the weight I can lift up. It’s frustrating when one arm is doing fine, but the other decides it won’t cooperate any more.
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?
I can’t say I’ve achieved anything significant recently. Pregnancy definitely slowed me down and I’ve probably been targeted next for a missing person’s poster. However, I would like to make a current goal to show up regularly. I’d also like to work on improving my weak shoulder and arm.
8. What makes CrossFit different from other fitness programs that you might have tried in the past?
The loveliest thing about Crossfit for me is the one-on-one training from our great coaches. The previous fitness program I had tried seemed like fun at first, but we had started to do a lot of stepping and “squats” (what I had believed were squats) at the time. My knees were always on fire. I had asked the instructor for help, but she shrugged it off. I eventually quit—the sessions were just too increasingly painful. In Crossfit, my first little eureka moment was when I learned to do squats properly in boot camp (thanks, Coach Andy). When I heard that we were going to be doing a lot of squatting, I seriously thought that my days at Crossfit were numbered and I would have to quit due to the pain. After following the instructions (which probably had to be repeated more than a dozen times) I was so amazed that my knees didn’t hurt. Like the squats, with every subsequent movement, the coaches painstakingly instruct and correct me so that I don’t do anything stupid, do things properly, and can keep coming in. I still have lots of learn and my body does get sore a lot, but I’ve made progress in my movements and my body has gotten stronger.
The other thing I very much enjoy is the camaraderie in the Box. I’ve enjoyed the companionship of every one of the fine ladies in the group, and the friendship is brought to a much higher level because of the way a lot of the WODs are set up. We work together, help each other, and encourage each other throughout the regular workouts. The team WODs are so dynamic and seem to really bond us. I get excited for the other ladies when the achieve PRs or are struggling and are able to put forth their best.
9. What impact has CrossFit Benedictus had on your life, in and out of the gym?
Well, the best thing out of this was being able to transfer Marcel safely and with ease. He is a growing boy, but I’ve been able to keep up with him, even while pregnant. Another nice effect (perhaps an embarrassing topic) is a tighter bladder due to a stronger pelvic floor. Thank you, squats. I can also say that mentally Crossfit has been able to help a natural pessimist like me to have a little more confidence and to look beyond all the challenges that come up in life. I’ve found that when I do go more regularly, I’m a lot happier during the week—kind of an exuberance, perhaps at having survived yet another WOD or just feeling proud of dragging myself in. Now that my husband has also joined, we now have learned to speak a new language which seems to be made up mostly of acronyms, which we seem to use a lot at home and at the Academy Open House, where groups of Crossfitters tend to gather while waiting in long lines to talk to teachers.
10. Tell us about your nutrition and how it has changed, if any, since starting CrossFit?
Ummmm, well, I missed the nutrition seminar, and so I can’t say that I’ve changed my nutrition much. We already tend to eat less gluten, since one of our kids is a celiac. I think seeing the nutrition poster every time I came in may have subconsciously encouraged me to try to cut down on the sugar. Because I like the morning WODs, I’ve been eating a lighter breakfast, usually protein-rich, most days.
11. If you could write a WOD for the classes to do, what would it look like?
Oh boy, I wouldn’t know where to start. I just try to show up and do what they tell me to.
12. What advice do you have for others about the importance of the dedication of taking care of yourself, of investing in yourself?
Most of us have a lot of responsibilities and people who rely on us to take care of them, so we must be strong and healthy ourselves. If we don’t have to worry about taking care of others, it’s still important not to be that burden for someone else. Besides, no one wants to be miserable or in pain.
13. What advice would you give to someone new to CrossFit or who is thinking about giving it a try?
Crossfit will be difficult, challenging, but very fun. It will make you sore in places you didn’t know existed, but stronger both mentally and physically. It will be all totally worth it. Be patient, listen to the coaches, and after the first three months, expect to see great results.