CHCF: Congratulations on being selected as Athlete of the Month! To get started, can you share a quick bio?
I was born in Orange County and moved to central Illinois when I was 5. I went to the University of Illinois, where I studied English and writing.
CHCF: Why did you move to New York?
I moved to New York 4 years ago to start a new career. After college I was an ESL teacher for several years in Japan and then in France. I decided to leave France and move back to the United States, and at the same time I also decided that I wanted to work in magazines. I made my way back to Illinois and figured out that to work in magazines I really needed to move to New York…and so that’s what I did. I moved here, found a couple of internships and continued from there. Now I’m an editor at Harper's Magazine.
CHCF: What is your fitness background?
I have been a runner since I was 13—so basically my whole life. I did track and cross country in high school. I was also kind of a gym rat in college—not in any instructed way, but I did enjoy lifting weights.
After college I gave up going to conventional gyms. As a women you get bothered all the time and it’s f**ing annoying. I felt that the spaces were very orientated towards men—it never felt like it was my space. I didn’t feel comfortable there. So after college I stopped going to conventional gyms and I just ran.
CHCF: Have you done a marathon?
I’ve run several half-marathons, including the Brooklyn Half for the past three years. I have absolutely have no interest in running a full marathon.
CHCF: How did you end up doing Crossfit at Crow Hill?
My roommate David Jones has been a member of the gym for a while now, and he was really enthusiastic about Crossfit. Basically for 8 months he pestered me about joining. I said ok-whatever-shut-up and then finally went to the free trial class.
I remember Coach Dan leading the class and everyone was supposed to say something to describe themselves. He said, “I’m the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world.” I said “No, my brother is.” And Dan looked at me without missing a beat and he said, “NO, I AM.” I thought to myself, this is a weird person…let’s stick with this and see where it goes.
Then I did On Ramp and Coach Sean was such a good instructor. He was careful to communicatethat they wanted the gym to be an inclusive space for everyone…so if you notice any gym member acting in a way that excludes women or is hostile to anybody, that wouldn’t be tolerated. This convinced me that the gym was a positive and welcoming space.
CHCF: Did you participate in the open last year?
No, I did not want to. I purposefully skipped all of the open workouts.
CHCF: Are you doing it this year?
I am doing it this year!
CHCF: Why is this year different?
I joined Crossfit for reasons that didn’t have much to do with athletics, but over the course of the last year the athletics part has become more and more important to me.
I think the Open is a good personal test for where my skills are, and I want to try to RX some of the workouts. Even if I do horribly and I finish last - if I have some ability to do the RX skills, then I want to try it. I’ve been doing Crossfit for about 15 months and the way forward for me is to continue getting better.
CHCF: Do you have any favorite lifts or skills?
I've been told that I’m "quad dominant." So, squats are a strength of mine. I've only very recently been able to do toes-to-bar and kipping handstand pushups. So those are now my two favorite things.
CHCF: Is there anything about Crossfit that surprised you, or that you thought would be different?
Well, I haven’t yet seen anyone throw up. Which is what they show on TV when they show Crossfit. There is always someone puking in a bucket.
Also, the solidarity in the gym is pretty exceptional. I’ve made so many friends at the gym - it’s surprising that it’s had such an impact on my social life.
CHCF: Tell us about your volunteering at the barbell club.
There is a bi-weekly community open gym on Sunday afternoons at the barbell club that is led by Coach Sean. The idea is to open up the gym resources to people in the neighborhood who are committed to fitness but not able to pay for a full membership. I try to be present to help make newcomers feel welcome. The coaches have done a great job of cultivating a community within the existing gym membership, but the definition of "community" also includes neighborhood residents that predate the gym’s opening. If you look at the gym's demographic, most members are recent transplants to Crown Heights—I'd love to see more of a balance between longstanding and newer residents of the neighborhood.