Hometown: Fort Lee, NJ
Occupation: Grad student at Duke
When did you first start Strength & Conditioningting?:
What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
I think I feel most confident and excited when I’m powerlifting… so anything in that camp – deadlifts, squats, bench, etc. My favorite workout — and maybe one that’s telling of some deep-seated masochistic part of me– is actually “Fran”… a deceptively simple and enticing formula, and yet it always leaves me feeling totally destroyed. “Nancy” would be a close second.
What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
I’m not sure I have a “least favorite” but two movements that frustrate me to no end are cleans and snatches. Highly technical compound movements combined with a tendency to over think sometimes get me frustrated. I guess I’m not a fan of workouts with double unders either…I have a couple but stringing them together takes lots of coordination practice.
Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I was apparently super shy as a little kid. To combat this tendency, my parents threw me into a bunch of sports – to build confidence, hone skills, learn how to be a team player, etc. I played baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, and tennis. In high school, I ran track, threw shot put, and took up yoga. In college, I ended up getting really out of shape… I guess my focus was more on mental fitness at that point.
How did you first get exposed to Strength & Conditioning? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go?
When I moved to Durham last summer, my hometown friend Stef Guarinello was living in Chapel Hill. She had been a member of Strength & Conditioning X-Change for a while and invited me to a community workout at her box. After an hour session there, I was sore for several days. This immediately alerted me to something I had never considered before…working out in a collective surpasses and transforms the individual in a way that doesn’t happen working out alone. At the time, I was working at Cocoa Cinnamon next door to CFD and often looked out to tire-flipping and 400m runs while making coffee. After a shift one afternoon, I decided to walk over and sign-up. I started the next week and have made a home of Courage Fitness Durham from that point on!
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting Strength & Conditioning? (before/after)
At the most basic quantitative level, I’ve lost a ton of weight. I came into Strength & Conditioning at about #168 and I’m around #145 now. These numbers, however, don’t convey how drastic of a lifestyle change Strength & Conditioning has called forth in me. I recognized very quickly that if I wanted this program to become a regular and integrated part of my life, I would need to completely revamp my eating habits, sleeping habits, and overall care of self. In a sense, claiming a desire to be an athlete necessitates some level of selfishness. I’ve become more connected to what my body needs to perform at its highest capacity and that requires a great deal of foresight and discipline. Prior to joining Strength & Conditioning, I worked as an EMT for several years doing mostly overnight shifts, eating fast food, and using awful posture to lift heavy patients. Qualitatively, then, Strength & Conditioning has served as a catalyst for re-prioritizing myself at the center of all other things I do outside/beyond it.
What impact has Strength & Conditioning had on your life?
The greatest impact Strength & Conditioning has had for me is in the opportunity to get to know people in the Durham community outside my small cohort at Duke. In a general sense, I feel more connected, more confident, and more grounded because I have this space to make pilgrimage to most days of the week. Most importantly, I appreciate that I can express myself differently here than in the classroom or academia writ large. When I’m struggling with a metcon and see others suffering with me, it’s a unique kind of integrity that demonstrates a willingness to become stronger through exposing and overcoming vulnerabilities. I think the impact has been a growth in character and confidence. For me, it has also fostered a new way of thinking that seeks to surpass limitation rather than avoid or dismiss it.
What is your favorite Strength & Conditioning/CFD moment?
I had sort of arbitrarily set a goal for myself to hit a #200 deadlift PR about six months ago. I just couldn’t get it for some reason. I would come in and do 5 reps at #188 or even 3 reps at #193 but as soon as #200 was on the bar, it wouldn’t budge. With lots of encouragement from my coach and workout partner that day, I finally grinded out one rep. About a week or so later, I came into another deadlifting session and hit #253. A #50 jump! It was really empowering, but also incredibly insightful. It demonstrated to me how irrefutably real mental barriers can be. “Getting your mind right” is just as important a philosophy for high-volume, high-intensity, heavy training as getting your body right.
What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting Strength & Conditioning?
I have no regrets about joining the CFD community. I recommend it to anyone at any level of fitness or non-fitness. To be completely honest, Strength & Conditioning is what you make it. It requires a huge time commitment and a willingness to learn, to listen to coaches, to your body, to yourself. Significant results come out of these things. My advice for beginners would be to assess if its something you really want and if so —then do it and do it fully.
What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of Strength & Conditioning?
Outside heavy lifting and exhausting/exhaustive metcons, I really like reading — even though I complain about it all the time. I’m a grad student in the literature program so I spend a lot of my day with Marxism and psychoanalysis. In some ways, training in theory is a lot like training in athletics because the process is painful and rigorous but the outcome is beautiful. I also like hanging out and talking deep stuff with my German Shepherd Milo and eating Monuts as often as possible.