I think the best thing about the gym is the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made. Nothing seems too bad when you have 15 other people to commiserate with afterward. The camaraderie is priceless… the gym attracts really fun, passionate people and I feel lucky to know so many of them.
Since Lydia was one of the winners of the nutrition challenge and has made some impressive gains over the last 18 months, I asked her to answer a few questions for me about the gym. The following answers are unedited. Thanks, Lydia!
What was your athletic background prior to starting at CrossFit Charlottesville?
Growing up, I played soccer casually, never anything more serious than pick-up games or intramural teams after high school. I was the fastest runner in my grade when I was about 8! I was on a summer swim team for a few years as a teenager. I did some kick-boxing in college, which I enjoyed, but after graduating I didn’t really have a good fitness routine. Typically, I would get geared up to “get in shape”, go to the gym a few times a week for a few months, and then get side-tracked and quit for six months or so. I tried a lot of things to make myself work out, including training for and running the Charlottesville ten-miler, but nothing stuck.
Can you talk about some of the issues you had before you joined the gym?
Before joining, I was just recovering from some pretty bad back problems, which had kept me mostly sedentary for several months. I was really out of shape and frustrated. I couldn’t get interested in the elliptical/weight machines routine I’d designed for myself. I didn’t have any goals or know what I wanted to get out of working out, so it’s not too surprising that I wasn’t having any success staying motivated.
Why did you decide to join the gym?
I knew right away that I liked the idea of CrossFit. Jason had heard of it first, and I don’t think he thought it was something I’d ever be interested in, considering how much I usually complained about working out. However, I love a challenge! I also like doing things a little bit off the beaten trail. I’d looked at the main site a few times, but really had no idea how to get started on my own. When I heard CrossFit Charlottesville was opening, I was definitely excited and showed up the first day. After a three minute WOD left me struggling to buckle my seatbelt on the way home, I was sold. After that, Jason and I just had to discuss the price and whether we thought we’d really stick with it. He liked it as much as I did, so it wasn’t a hard decision in the end.
What gains do you consider most significant in the gym?
All of my strength gains. I’ve been in and out of cardiovascular shape all of my life, but I’ve always been pretty weak. Watching my lifts increase over time is really gratifying, and I remember I was shocked at how much I improved at the beginning.
How has the gym helped you with things that are outside the gym?
Stuff like carrying groceries has gotten a lot easier, but mainly I think I’ve gotten a much-needed energy increase that helps me in all areas of my life.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned or achieved after joining our gym?
I continually surprise myself at the gym. Honestly, I never thought I would be deeply invested in things like how many double-unders I can do in a row. The biggest surprise was getting my first pull-up. I’d never been able to do one in my life, not even as a kid. The fact that I could do pull-ups five or so months after joining kind of symbolized that I was really accomplishing something here.
You won the performance challenge last year. How do you maintain a strong commitment to the gym and continue to make gains?
I think I’ll always feel that I have a lot of room for improvement. I want to continue getting stronger and faster. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in the last year that I didn’t go to the gym because I just didn’t feel like it. Having friends in the gym helps keep me accountable, but I don’t actually have any motivation problems. I am the opposite of bored.
What did you get out of the recent nutrition challenge?
Abs, a much better relationship with vegetables, and freedom from the sugar roller coaster. I’m currently trying to figure out how to stay on track without the framework of a challenge. I tend to be all-or-nothing about everything that I do, but I don’t want to quit eating this way forever the first time I have a bad week. I have noticed performance gains at the gym, so hopefully that helps keep me focused.
What are your fitness goals for the next year?
I want to get a ring dip, I’ve been trying to do that for a while now. I need to figure out kipping pull-ups so I can join the ripped hands club. Those are more short term goals; increasing my deadlift significantly is my main long term one.
What would you tell someone in your shoes who might be nervous about joining the gym?
Don’t be afraid of being the weakest, slowest person at the gym. First of all, you probably won’t be, and even if you are, everyone is incredibly supportive and only wants you to improve. (Also, your odds of winning a performance challenge increase!) Your only real competition is yourself. The workouts are hard, but you can do them and they’re fun. It won’t take long before you improve to the point that you can keep up with everyone else.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Fitness and all those other great things aside, I think the best thing about the gym is the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made. Nothing seems too bad when you have 15 other people to commiserate with afterward. The camaraderie is priceless. Also, absolutely everyone is inspiring in some way and well worth getting to know. I think the gym attracts really fun, passionate people and I feel lucky to know so many of them.