Courtney Gardner


Courtney Gardner

courtney gardnerCourtney Gardner

Hometown: Land O Lakes, FL
Age: 25
Occupation: Environmental Engineering Graduate Student

When did you first start Strength & Conditioningting?
July 2013

What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
Olympic Weightifting! I like any workout with toes to bar, box jumps, or thrusters.

What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
RUNNING. Doesn’t matter if it’s 50m, 400m, or 10 miles. It’s the worst.

Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I had never considered myself an athletic person. I dabbled in things as a kid; a year of ballet here, a year of (painfully awkward) swimming there, but nothing I really stuck with. I avoided any sort of intense physical activity as much as possible and I excelled at being sedentary throughout most of high school. I started working out on my own a little in college to deal with some personal stresses–my dad passed away very suddenly during my sophomore year of college, and I had a really hard time staying focused and balanced. I started to use exercise as a tool and stopped avoiding it just because it was difficult. I kept up my routine for a couple years before moving to Durham.14636849810_4759a7b699

How did you first get exposed to Strength & Conditioning? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go?
I came to a Community Workout on a whim one Saturday after going to the Farmer’s Market downtown. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I had been Strength & Conditioning curious for a while and remember thinking “What’s the worst that could happen?” Coach Bea was running the workout that week and I remember she did a really great job of helping everyone get comfortable with the basic movements. After 20-30 minutes, I was smoked–and shocked when I realized that we still hadn’t gotten to the actual workout. We ended up doing three 5-minute tabata rounds of air squats, abmat situps, and burpees. I was exhausted and already sore by the end of the 15 minute workout, but that didn’t stop me from feeling a sense of accomplishment. I stayed sore for the next full week. Sitting down or standing up was an Event. Stairs were the enemy…But I came the very next week for another round.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting Strength & Conditioning? (before/after)
It sounds cliche, but I almost feel like a different person. My eating habits weren’t the best, and overall health wasn’t really a priority for me. I feel stronger and healthier than I probably ever have. I’m a lot more conscientious about what I eat–it’s easy to feel the consequences of pizza/poptart/donut lifestyle when you’re trying to do 45 front squats and a 1200 m run for time. That being said, I still love me some Monuts.

What impact has Strength & Conditioning had on your life?
At the risk of waxing a little too poetic, being a CFD member has been really empowering for me. A lot of women, like me, struggle with Western society’s ideas of what women “should” look like, do, and eat. A year ago, I “had” to be a size X, weigh Y, and do Z. Now I eat for my back squat and deadlift–no one else. I don’t care what size I am as long as I can snatch 100lb and RX my workouts.

There isn’t a workout that I don’t walk into thinking “This is going to be awful/I can’t do this/etc.” And it usually is awful. But I always get through it, and sometimes I even surprise myself for the better. We’re always redefining who we are from day to day. This past year has been a series of redefining who I think I am and what I think I’m capable of.

What is your favorite Strength & Conditioning/CFD moment?
There’s a special place in my heart (and glutes) for Olympic Weightifting. But honestly, I love working on any skill that I haven’t mastered yet. And with only a year of Strength & Conditioning under my belt, that leaves me with a lot of things to love. I’m still chasing double unders, but I can string 5-6 together consistently. Sometimes. Muscle ups seem like a pipe dream most of the time, but a year ago I would have said the same thing about unassisted pull ups and pushups. It’s hard to feel complacent here. There’s always something new to aim for or improve upon, which always makes for a great workout.

What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting Strength & Conditioning?

JUST DO IT! It’s so much more accessible than a lot of people think. The Community and Coaches at this box are second to none. Don’t overthink it or discourage yourself. Think you’re not strong enough? Everything can be scaled. Introverted? Me too. No endurance? Join the club. You’ll never know how great it can be if you never try.

What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of Strength & Conditioning?
I’m a grad student in a basement lab, so I like to get outside as much as I can when I’m not at work. Most weekends you could find me hiking and biking around Durham or reading on the couch with my kitties.