Harriet Hansell


Harriet Hansell

IMG_3536Harriet Hansell

Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD (but really now Durham)
Age: 38
Occupation: Family Physician/Medical Acupuncturist

When did you first start Strength & Conditioningting?:
February 2014

What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
Handstand push-ups, dead hang pull-ups, toes to bar, burpees to chest to bar pull-ups. “Diane” is my favorite workout.

What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
Snatches! I’m also not a big fan of running long distances nor rowing (I’m too short)

Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I grew up a tomboy that was the “queen of the mountain” in my neighborhood and arm wrestling champion through 8th grade (then the boys hit puberty). I dabbled in different sports: lacrosse, diving, and skiing, but my main two sports were gymnastics and volleyball. I currently love biking with the family, rock climbing, snowboarding, and wake boarding. I am a believer of strength training and high intensity interval workouts and preach this to my patients. I also like competition and would happily challenge people to a handstand or arm wrestling contest (I am a good loser too).

How did you first get exposed to Strength & Conditioning? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go? IMG_3515
My cousin Eric moved to NC from NJ in September 2013 and started at Courage Fitness Durham. I took the foundations class in February 2014 and have been hooked since. Other than while on vacation, I usually come three times a week. My first WOD was a blur. I just tried to keep up as best as I could and not make a fool out of myself. Scaling was the key to survival. I just remember telling people how ugly my snatch was and that I had to keep my eye on the box. No wonder all the funny looks from my non-Strength & Conditioning friends!

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting Strength & Conditioning? (before/after)
So I tore my two of my right rotator cuff muscles in 2011 and had a two year rehab process without surgery. It was really painful and I had a lot of atrophy in my arm, rhomboids and lats. Even when I began Strength & Conditioning, I was not completely healed because I needed to strengthen my upper body. With appropriate scaling during the WODs and working on pull-ups on my own, I quickly regained the strength in my arms, shoulders, and upper back. I just remember not even being able to hang from the bar when I started and after just 3 months of Strength & Conditioning, I could do dead hang pull-ups without any issues. My chiropractor was in disbelief with how quickly I regained my muscle tone in my upper body after only 3 months of Strength & Conditioning.

What impact has Strength & Conditioning had on your life?
Strength & Conditioning is a good match for me since I am very internally competitive. I always want to do better with each workout and strive toward the next goal (which would be an unassisted muscle up!) I would come everyday if I had the time. I like being pushed to a point where I would not normally push myself. I am smart about what movements may compromise an old injury and scale appropriately. I also am not afraid to try anything and no workout scares me. I may still whine about it, but I know I can get through any workout. It has restored my strength and confidence in both body movement exercises and lifting.

What is your favorite Strength & Conditioning/CFD moment?
My favorite moment was getting my handstands back! I could not do handstands for about two years and now walking on my hands is fun and so manageable. My favorite part of Courage Fitness Durham is the camaraderie. I have met some great people here and we have a group headed to the Spartan Sprint in April 2015.

What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting Strength & Conditioning?
Do not be intimidated. Everyone is good at something in Strength & Conditioning. Strength & Conditioning forces you to strengthen and to have more endurance. You may not be good at pull-ups but may be a great runner. The variations of the WODs makes everyone realize what their strengths and weaknesses are. I now have a hard time getting a hard enough workout while on vacation because Strength & Conditioning has taken me to another fitness level that I did not know that I could hit after having two kids.

Also be smart about scaling appropriately. I have never gotten hurt doing Strength & Conditioning because I am smart about listening to my body. I know the difference between muscle fatigue and muscle/connective tissue injury (there should never be true pain while doing an activity). The foam roller and lacrosse balls (for rolling out sore IMG_2762muscles) will be your best friend!

What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of Strength & Conditioning?
I am married with two girls (ages 8 and almost 6). I am a full time physician who practices general medicine and acupuncture in Raleigh. We travel a lot, our family usually flies every 2-3 months for some vacation/exploration. I love to cook and am a self-admitted food snob. I eat well, believe in feeding your body healthy foods, and love beer. I actually usually eat a full dinner and drink a beer (usually an IPA) prior to all my evening Strength & Conditioning WODs. I moved to the triangle in 1998 and have lived in Durham since 2000 (and love it!). My husband and I enjoy renovating the beautiful old homes of Durham and have some rental properties in Durham. I believe in investing in your community!