Success Stories

8
Aug

Cory Iselin


Throughout high school I was always playing either soccer or basketball competitively, and then when I got to college I continued playing intramural soccer.  I never really lifted weights or went to the gym, I just figured playing sports and going for runs would keep be in good enough shape.  After college I found myself with less and less time to play sports and would just go on an occasional run or two each week.  In 2014 I decided to train for a marathon, but during training ended up hurting my IT band and had to postpone the race until 2015.  During the marathon in 2015 I injured my IT band again and had to pull out of the race at the 14 mile mark.  From then on my legs wouldn’t cooperate and would only allow me to run 1 maybe 2 miles at a time without any pain or discomfort.  Due to this pain/discomfort I started to go on fewer and fewer runs.
In January this year both myself and my father decided to challenge each other to see who could lose more weight in the first three months of the year, mostly due to the fact that we were both the heaviest we had ever weighed (right at 200lbs).  As I started to create some kind of self-made diet and exercise plan from different things I had seen on the internet, I saw an advertisement for the BCF New You 6 week program.  I figured I might as well try it out and see how it works since I was sure the people running the program knew far more about weight training and nutrition than I did.
I had heard how CrossFit was like a cult and how the people could be very serious and standoffish.  I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case at BCF.  Everyone was very welcoming and open to helping someone who was new to Olympic lifting (or lifting free weights in general) like me out whenever possible.  The Coaches were very engaging and encouraging throughout the strength training and WODs; they didn’t just tell you 
the workout and then go sit behind the desk.  It made the workouts bearable because I wasn’t struggling to figure out what I was supposed to be doing because they were there to actually coach me through them.
After  the new you program I had lost about 10 pounds, and thought to myself that if I could lose that in 6 weeks I wonder what I could lose if I came for 3 months, so I signed up for a membership.  In the six total months (inclusive of new you) that I have been doing CrossFit I have lost a total of 40lbs (and am now the lightest I’ve been since high school) and gained strength, stamina and overall fitness.  I am now able to go for longer runs without pain or discomfort and just have an overall better quality of life.  I am a firm believer that the atmosphere you work in (in this case workout in) can make or break the work you are doing, and the atmosphere I found at BCF makes working out fun, interesting and challenging.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

19
Jan

Derek Ramsey-Aquino

DerekUntil I graduated from high school, I was a very active person. I played several different sports and generally spent my weekends doing something outdoors. After having to make the decision to drop out of college during the Great Recession and find a full-time job, I found it very difficult to keep with a fitness routine of some sort over several years. I was bored with doing the same things every time I would go to the gym, and my odd work schedule prevented me from maintaining a habit that involved being active on a regular basis.

 After years of becoming more and more sedentary, I ended up suffering from a major knee injury that required surgery to correct. I went through months of physical therapy to recover and then attempted to continue being active after ending my PT sessions. Again, I ran into problems maintaining a consistent fitness routine. I tried several different programs but would eventually get bored and quit over time.
Finally, after moving to the DC metro area for a new job and getting comfortable with my new surroundings, I decided that I had enough of being out of shape and gaining weight. I hit my highest weight at 345 lbs when I finally decided that I needed to do something to turn things around. I walked by Ballston Crossfit many times and one day made the commitment to join. I knew it would be a challenge but I was determined to stick with it.
My first day of foundations was terrible. I could barely make it through the warm up routine without feeling extremely winded. I struggled to make it back to my apartment after every session. But I kept coming back because of the sense of community that I felt as well as the extremely supportive coaching staff at BCF.
It has been seven months since foundations, and I am amazed at the progress I have made. I have lost 50 lbs, increased my strength much faster than I thought possible, and I complete workouts without having to scale as significantly I as did when I started. In one of my happiest moments since joining BCF, I completed my first Rx workout a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve Rx’ed a few more workouts. Many athletes are able to complete workouts much faster than I can, but for me, being able to make it through these workouts occasionally without scaling is something I am most proud of.
I have noticed a big change in my mental health as well. I have more confidence at work which has led to better productivity. I have also become more social and more willing to interact with people. My ability to handle stress has improved tremendously. On top of all of that, I finally feel like I am making progress on goals that I have put off for so long.
I know that because of the coaches and community at BCF that I will achieve many goals this month. Had I not joined and committed to being a part of the BCF community, I doubt that I would have made as much progress as I have so far.

3
Jan

Liz Meserve Testimonial

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24
Dec

Kelly Barber

 
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Embracing fitness was without question the best change I made for myself in 2016. I recently passed the one year mark of starting Crossfit (my first foundations class was on 11/9) and while I wish I had done some things differently, I’m proud of the modest progress I’ve made so far and I’m in awe of the residual effects on my mental health.Growing up, I mostly did individualized sports: tae kwon do, gymnastics, diving, swimming, and flying trapeze. I preferred refined activities that required flexibility, grace, technical precision, and body awareness. To this day, I don’t think anything has been more satisfying than doing back flips or more exhilarating than a successful catch in a flying trapeze show, punctuated by the crowd’s roar.
As is unfortunately common, I picked up unhealthy habits when I went to college and fell into four years of lazy indulgence. Once in a blue moon I would do yoga with a friend or go rock climbing, but exercise was no longer a part of my normal routine. My senior year it dawned on me that I was about to lose free access to a 140,000 square foot state of the art fitness complex I had hardly touched. I started taking classes 3-4 times a week: pilates, total body, cycle. My main motivation was cosmetic; I was at my fattest and pastiest and wanted to do something about it. I measured success solely in how toned my legs and stomach looked. My experience with exercise was about as superficial as most college relationships.
In 2014 I moved to D.C. and told myself that all of the walking and stair climbing I was doing counted as exercise. By the time I joined Crossfit in 2015, I was as out of shape as I’d ever been. Dan encouraged me to take a foundations class at Ballston Crossfit and I did, since I liked the idea of utilizing personalized coaching and a group setting to learn how to weightlift. I’d never lifted a barbell in my life, except for one embarrassing experience in college when I tried to do a back squat and immediately fell on my butt, before exiting the gym as fast as humanly possible.
I was hooked from the start due to the constantly varied programming (combining cardio, gymnastics, and lifting) and the ambitious, inspiring culture fostered by the BCF members and coaches. The strength training and skill building sessions gave me the technical challenges I’d always loved in individualized sports and the signature short WODs (workout of the day) tricked me into enjoying cardio and allowed me to tap into a whole new level of sustained, intense focus.
In a year, I went from being completely incapable of a single knee raise to doing toes to bar. I learned to do double unders, rope climbs, scaled handstand push ups, and heavy, unbroken sets of wall ball shots and kettlebell swings. I can run farther and faster than I ever have before. I can strict press 70 lbs, deadlift 175, back squat 150, squat clean 110, snatch 70+, and clean and jerk 105, all big improvements from my meager lifts this time last year. And perhaps most importantly, I’m a much better arm wrestler.
For the first time in my life, I feel strong. Now that I know what a deeply empowering experience that is, I can’t believe our society has largely abandoned physical strength as the baseline for personal development. It pains me to think about how few women in particular take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity to boost their confidence and improve their lives. Lord knows I wish I’d had Crossfit when I was an awkward, miserable thirteen year old with body issues.
But the most dramatic evolution Crossfit has made in my life isn’t the physical feats or even the self-confidence, it’s the changes to my mental health.
When I first started to take control of my own life in high school, I identified obsessive, perfectionist tendencies in myself and acknowledged that I’d probably always be fighting to keep those characteristics in check. I still remember the day I first shifted my mindset by realigning my priorities and expectations. As a result, I became a more relaxed person, someone who lived more in the moment and didn’t overthink things or worry unnecessarily quite as much. It was easy to maintain this perspective while living inside the enclosed safe space that is college. But after entering the real world, I gradually felt myself losing those traits I’d carefully collected and with them, part of my chosen identity.
Most of the anxiety and stress that resulted began to manifest itself in my professional life. I developed a dysfunctional, obsessive relationship with work that launched me into a downward spiral and caused me to dissolve into tears in my boss’s office more than once. My behavior was sustained because part of me thrived in the comfortable familiarity of constantly throwing myself at task after task. Ticking off the check boxes wasn’t really providing me meaning but it gave me quick, addicting fixes of fleeting satisfaction. I fed that part of myself by staying endlessly busy, causing it to grow in power and size until it choked out the rest of me.
During that time, I started Crossfit and it quickly became my form of therapy. After furiously typing away at my keyboard for nine hours nonstop except to scarf down lunch, I would force myself to go to the gym. It seemed magical: I would enter the gym a zombie and would leave energized and full of life. And the best part was that it was 100% effective.
Crossfit became my refuge of meditation where I didn’t think at all. All I had to do was show up and do the proscribed programming, usually scaled down. Each time I gave the workout my all, but I didn’t spend any time outside of the gym setting goals. Crossfit was my space for anti-obsession.
As a result, it ended up being the place where I learned to develop real self-control. In the middle of a workout when I realized everyone else was way ahead of me and I felt myself start to despair, I would dial into the reason I was there in the first place and would renew my focus on my individual journey, letting go of the fear of being last. Or, when I was on the verge of giving up during a particularly tough movement or run, I would talk myself into continuing, latching onto whatever dumb thing came to mind to give me the motivation I needed to keep going.
These acts of mental gymnastics allowed me to exercise my ability to shape my own path through conscious decisions during emotionally taxing moments. Working out has helped reprogram my neurological pathways in ways that affect all other areas of my life. Just last night when I felt creeping anxiety and stress, I was able to hold the sensations at bay by simply recognizing the feeling and making the choice to relax and have a good time instead. It wasn’t easy — just like during a brutal workout, I had to keep recommitting to my decision, but it got easier as the night went on.
I used to think behaving obsessively was a sign that I was too controlling. Crossfit has helped me develop the self-awareness I needed in order to realize that it’s actually a sign that I’m allowing myself to be controlled by negative emotions and that I need to dial back into my sense of inner peace and purpose so I can live ambitiously in a healthy way. I’m still a novice both physically and mentally, but I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned already and for how much is still in store.
 

9
May

Judi Clary

I’ve been a “runner” since 2007, when I realized my “freshman 15” had become “graduation 30.”  Not only did running help me lose fat, but it became my stress relief.  Unfortunately, in 2011, I began having knee pain that limited my runs to under 2 miles.  I tried other cardio, but it wasn’t the same.
I had to do something to stay in shape and keep from going “JUDI SMASH” so decided on weight lifting.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but was afraid of injuries. My first personal trainer got my endurance back up, but failed to push me or actually have me lift weights.  I eventually changed gyms and got a different trainer.  He showed me how to lift weights, but I knew my form was wrong because my knees and shoulders would hurt.
Finally, after months of sadness and gaining weight, I decided to look in to crossfit.  After doing some research, the box with the best reviews was literally right outside my apartment.  From the first week of Foundations, I knew I had found my fitness home.  The work outs were great, form was always stressed, and it was like a little athletic family.
Two months later I got back in to running, since the knee had been holding up during run WODs.  One day on a leisurely run, I checked my watch and stopped in my tracks.  3.5 miles!! I hadn’t run that far without pain in years.
Now, almost two years later, I’ve never had a recurrence of knee pain.  I was even able to complete the Army Navy Half Marathon with another crossfitter.
I will forever be grateful to the coaches for always pushing me to do my best, in a safe manner.  I’ve never been more happy with my body and plan to keep making improvements.Judi

27
Apr

“KADISON”: Madison Moore & Kelly Wagner

To those who don’t frequent the 5:30 am or weekend classes, hello! We are Kelly and Madison, also known as Kadison. When Tucker approached us about writing a Success Story, he offered that we could do it together or separately… but let’s be real, we already do everything together anyway so here goes our joint interview!
How long have you been doing CrossFit?
M: Somehow it’s already been 2 years and about 3 months since I joined BCF.
K: I started Foundations 3/18/14, so I recently celebrated my 2 year anniversary.

Why did you decide to start CrossFit?
K: After graduating, I was in a fitness rut- I missed the nice gyms at school and my apartment building’s gym just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I did Insanity but really missed lifting weights. CrossFit had always been appealing to me because it was a mix of weightlifting and cardio. A few of my coworkers were also interested in trying it out so we signed up for Foundation classes at BCF. We did the free class and I remember that I could barely walk down stairs for the next week, I was so sore.
M: Well, I had always sort of considered myself to be in good shape (spoiler alert: I wasn’t). I played high school tennis, basketball, and soccer, did club soccer for about a year in college, and after graduating I got into a routine of waking up, running on the treadmill for about 30 minutes at the Gold’s nearby, and that was my workout for the day. CrossFit had always been something I was curious about, but never found the right opportunity to try it out. So, in December 2013 while I was on a work-trip in Ohio, I decided to try a CrossFit workout at a local box with a coworker who had been a regular Crossfitter for about 2 years. We did a 20 minute workout involving front rack lunges, push presses, and pull ups – even using an empty 15lb barbell and 2 large bands for pullups, this 20 minute workout completely whipped my butt, had me sore for a good 3 weeks, and was probably the most fun I’d ever had working out. Naturally, this was all I needed to realize that CrossFit was something I needed in my life. So when I returned to Arlington, I looked around for gyms in the area, tried the free class at BCF (which also kicked my butt), joined Foundations just about a week later and never looked back!
Ballston CrossFit Success Stories
What’s your favorite thing about CrossFit?
M: In short – feeling strong. I had never really known what it was like to feel “strong” mostly because all my life any exercise I’d do was solely focused on cardio and endurance training. There is something so empowering about lifting, and a huge part of me regrets not trying weight-training sooner. Similarly, the technique that comes along with lifts, specifically Olympic lifts, I find to be so interesting and so much fun because there is always something new to learn and improve on. Basically, the way CrossFit incorporates skill, strength, and stamina definitely makes it a way of working out that even now, over two years later, has me waking up every morning to tackle the next WOD with the crew. Oh, and hitting new PR’s definitely begins to give you that Christmas-morning feeling.
K: I really enjoy the mix between weightlifting and bodyweight movements- CrossFit is true to the notion of constantly varied functional movements. I think I was most excited to learn technical Olympic lifts when I started- I’m not a particularly fast person and strength is more of my strong suit. Overall, the variation is what keeps me interested- even though you’re not doing the same thing every day, each workout contributes to your improvement in several different movements.
In addition to the physical benefits, I think the sense of community is a big part of CrossFit’s appeal. I love my 5:30 am fam (#teamwedoitbeforedawn)- not only do I get up to go work out, I get up to go grind with friends. Fun fact: Madison and I actually met at CrossFit and we are now roommates/swolemates.
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What have you learned since starting CrossFit?

K: I’m not as flexible as I thought! When I first started, I had to use one of the black strips when squatting. I joke about my old lady hips, but CrossFit has made me more aware of the importance of mobility- especially now that I’m sitting at work for the majority of my day. I envy how easily kids can plop into a squat… my yogi squat is a still a work in progress, 2 years later.
M: I’ve definitely learned to not take stretching/mobility/yoga for granted. Though I’ve been fortunate enough not to suffer any major injuries in my life, I had never really given stretching or yoga much thought or put any time towards it. However, since starting CrossFit I’ve realized the necessity of stretching. No matter what level of fitness you’re at, CrossFit is sure to make you sore and tight at some point, and utilizing stretching exercises and yoga poses help you to recover SO much quicker. Aside from that, CrossFit has taught me that although competitive sports are super fun, there’s something to be said for how fun and utterly humbling competitive exercise is, too.
Who is your favorite Crossfitter?
M: Lauren Fisher. It probably has something to do with the fact that she’s only 22, near the top of the CrossFit world, a U.S. Olympic Lifter, and the face of Nike compression gear. But all of that aside, she is just a total beast and an inspiration. Definitely my fav(e).
K: CrossFit is awesome because there are so many great athletes, which makes this question difficult. If I had to pick just one, I have to go with Sara Sigmundsdóttir- she’s a beast from Iceland who is also a Nike athlete. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet is a close second for her hilarious Instagram captions and hashtags. I’ll also put Khan Porter out there for the men Crossfitters.
What piece of advice would you give to new members or people considering CrossFit?
K: Be patient and don’t be intimidated! While CrossFit is definitely a wake up call to your physical limitations when you first start, but I think most people don’t recognize or anticipate the mental challenge. It’s easy to look around at the rest of the class when you’re new and be frustrated with how slow you are or how light your weights are in comparison. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s a process and success does not happen overnight. I will say that consistency really lends a hand to progress. Also, I’d recommend that people make sure to write down their training! Not only does it help when trying to figure out percentages, it’s how I track my progress.
M: Don’t get discouraged or frustrated when certain movements or certain weights seem impossible. In my experience, not only will your body adapt, but the more dedication and perseverance you put towards learning and practicing basic movements at light weight, the more successful you will be once your strength begins to match your skill. For instance, it took me a good 5 or so months to even hold myself upside down against the wall, let alone attempt a kipping handstand pushup (that I now can do RX). Through coaching, gaining upper body strength, skill practice using a box, and getting used to the sensation of being upside down – eventually those kipping handstand pushups, which once seemed ENTIRELY impossible, became possible (and next up – strict handstand pushups!). The same thing can be said for weights that seem too heavy. Give it time! “Patience is a virtue”….or something .

28
Mar

Jerry Kelly

I always considered myself an active person. Throughout high school, I was involved in a sport in every season throughout the year from football to basketball, baseball and rugby. In college, I stopped playing “competitive” sports; but, was always involved in intramural leagues and working out with friends which kept me pretty active. After college, I started struggling to keep up with my fitness and I saw my weight increase. I always kept a cheap gym membership and would have periods of time where I would go consistently as well as times that I would never go at all. When I would go to the gym, I would go in and do a few lifts that I really enjoyed (squats, bench press, triceps work, and curls) and would maybe run for about 5 minutes. I may not have been great at working on my weaknesses at this point in my life; but, I was really good at making excuses (running hurts my knees or I can’t come up with a program).

I decided it was time for a change after going to my now fiancé Alye’s CrossFit competition and witnessing CrossFit firsthand. I decided to join a box right by Philadelphia. I liked the idea of CrossFit; but, the box I was at was very focused on the top level competitors and didn’t pay much attention to the newer athletes or scaled workouts which led to a lot of personal frustration.

In May 2015, Alye and I moved to Virginia and I decided to give CrossFit one last shot before going back to my on again off again relationship with working out. I joined Ballston CrossFit and saw a big difference in the atmosphere and focus on the athletes who were not at the elite level like myself. I originally would get frustrated that I was never in the mix with the other athletes in metcons until some of the coaches would work with me and remind me everyone has been there. The atmosphere of the gym and the people I have made friends with allowed me look forward to going to the gym instead of making an excuse to stay home. I saw my max lifts and stamina grow; however, realized something was missing.

At the beginning of 2016, I began to assess whether a change in my diet or nutrition would elevate my performance. I’d become involved with Advocare throughout the year through my fiance’s interactions and decided to begin a 24-day challenge. I started to shed weight and throughout my experience with the products and company; I’ve lost nearly 20 lbs. since the beginning of 2016!

Alongside my nutritional changes, I began to take my training seriously and have seen increases in almost all my lifts; my metcon times are down; and I have accomplished things I never thought possible (handstand push-ups and double-unders)! Within the next few short days, I will also complete the CrossFit Open for the first time which has been an amazing way to motivate and see my hard work. I love the camaraderie at the gym and see it as a group of people at different fitness levels cheering each other on to dig a little deeper. I haven’t completed all my goals and reached my ultimate “success” yet; but, I know that no matter if you’re brand new to CrossFit or the reigning games champion, you can always challenge yourself to do a little better at something! With the help of Ballston CrossFit, the coaches, and the other members of the gym; I am definitely heading in the right direction!

jerry

3
Nov

Sean Cavanaugh

IMG_7649My fitness journey started after college.  I played club lacrosse at Radford University, and back then I thought I was in shape.  What I didn’t realize was working at a deli and eating lots of free pizza caused me to put on a lot of weight.
Now I did the typical things most people due to get into shape, I lifted, I ran.  That lead to my first 5k which lead to my first triathlon.  I had a blast training, but I saw little improvement in my strength, cardio, and agility.  I had bad knees, bad ankles, and a bad back.  I just said I was getting old, and that was it.  I was about to give up on just being athletic.
I said I would try CrossFit, starting with the 6 class Foundations and then give this CrossFit thing one month.  That was almost three years ago now. I also said I would never let myself get “too into CrossFit.”  Well, so much for that,I will be doing my fifth competition this month! When I started I never thought I would do half the stuff that I have achieved.  That is all thanks to Tucker and his staff.  I have learned that fitness is a journey and not everyone is the same.  I say this because I know when I started I was hard headed, and I tried to cut corners by avoiding listening to technique, not doing mobility in my off time and avoiding yoga.  It wasn’t working then I realized I wasn’t listening to what the coaches were saying.  Then I checked my ego at the door and started to  listen to the coaches at BCF.  As I begun to open up and ask questions to truly understand the movements, I begun to realize I was limited from years of bad fitness advice from around the water cooler.  Fitness should be fun, and when I was trying it on my own, it wasn’t fun, and I didn’t get any better.11393484_10101349948624243_4731686553273518129_o
CrossFit, just like anything in life is about the fundamentals.  Personally, that is what I love about the process, technique work and mobility are the key to getting better.  It can be a long process if you are an old broken down lacrosse player like I was when I came through those doors.
I would never say that I’m a “success story,” I just came to try CrossFit for a month and I wanted to see if I would like the results.  I weighed 196 lbs when I started crossfit, this past week I weighed in at 177 lbs, the lightest (and leanest) I’ve been since high school.  I was wearing a size 36 jeans when I started at BCF, last month I bought a size 32.  I can say crossfit changed my life, I’m 32 years old I’m in the best shape of my life and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon thanks to the amazing community of friends I’ve made.  So if you have read this far, why not give CrossFit a try?  Just one month and see what happens.
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