Jess Cruger


Jess Cruger

jess-2-225x300Member Since June 2011

What made you want to give Strength & Conditioning a try? 
In order to stick to a fitness program I need to do something with variation, yelling, camaraderie and encouragement. Something that helps me see change and feel good. A place with knowledgeable, like minded people who are not going to judge me. So far Strength & Conditioning meets all my criteria, most of all it is FUN!!! This is what I need and what I want.

What were you doing for exercise before Strength & Conditioning? 
In 2009, I was ~220 lbs and couldn’t even lift my 20lb baby girl out of the crib! I had to call a neighbor to help me get my crying daughter up from her nap because I was having trouble lifting and walking. Pathetic, I know.  This was my cue to get a new life!  My back was, and sort of still is, in rough shape.  When I am overweight the pain can be unbearable.

Strength & Conditioning wasn’t my first attempt at getting better.  I did work with a personal trainer and I lost about 30 lbs.  My heart just wasn’t in it, although the pain I had been in previously was pretty much gone. After a Christmas binge the trainer was disappointed to see I had put on a few pounds. The day he said “I don’t want to see you gain another pound, throw up if you have to,” I walked away, picked up a cheese burger on the way home, and never went back.  In a bit of pain again, something had to be done. Something fun. Something permanent.

How would you describe your previous athletic background before Strength & Conditioning? 
I was never “into” being fit but I was active.  Prior to back surgery I rode my bike and hiked often; since our house was on the Appalachian Trail I just had to go out the back door and I had miles of cut trails, I rarely hiked the same trail twice. I also walked a lot, sometimes from town to town, which in NH means 20 miles. These things never really qualified as “working out.”

I had back surgery at age 13. I was “disabled” for well over 3 years between my actual injury, diagnosis, surgery and recovery. I was playing dodge ball in gym class where I bent back too fast and twisted just wrong. I slipped a disk, chipped a bone, herniated it, and pinched a nerve.  Good news; I won dodge ball.  Bad news; surgery. I lost alot of muscle tone and will power (mostly due to incredible pain) around that time. My metabolism began to slow, I got depressed and didn’t want to move.

They say “one surgery leads to another” so for many years I felt like I was being chased by a scalpel every time I tried to lift,  move quickly, or be active.  Ignorance is bliss, until it hurts.

jess-1-225x300What has been your favorite workout so far? 
I really enjoy agility WODS.  Not a lot of weight but fast paced and easy to see accomplishment.  I can do push ups! I can do pull ups! I can run!  These are all things that I am not only doing, but I am constantly surprised by my progress.  Because of my history, I feel like lifting any weight is an accomplishment; therefore I don’t use weight as a measure.

What impact has Strength & Conditioning had on your life? 
I am so strong!  In the past year I have gone from wheezing on stairs and hardly able to lift my child to running a 7k, completing 2.5 Tough Mudders (GA and VA, VT I didn’t register but hiked, so 0.5), and running a half marathon!  I am healthier, happier, all around better, which certainly has a positive impact on my family.

What is your favorite thing about Strength & Conditioning? Courage Fitness Durham specifically? 
Coaches go out of their way to make sure that I am comfortable with the movements; they help me scale or modify workouts but don’t let me off easy.  Members and staff alike are very encouraging and supportive when they see people making these crucial life changes.

How would you describe Strength & Conditioning to someone that had never heard of it before? 
Even if you are not athletic by nature everything can be scaled, modified, or worked around until you are comfortable with any movement.

What is your Strength & Conditioning nemesis? 
Deadlifts for sure. I am still very insecure about what I can actually handle when it comes to lifting weight.  I really have to pay attention to what my body will tolerate.  There is a balance between being cautious and being over-cautious.  The coaches have all been tremendously helpful with this.  They help me figure out when to push or explore a little and are very accepting when I say I can’t, and truly mean it.

What is your favorite movement? 
Besides crawling into bed…?  see above.

What piece of advice would you offer to others thinking about starting Strength & Conditioning? 
Combine Crossfit with Active Life Concepts and you certainly can’t go wrong.  Don’t let injury or diagnosis hold you back from being the best human you can physically be!  Nothing can stop you, except YOU!