May is Mental Health Awareness month… and I am going to talk about it!!
Many of you know that I worked as a social worker for 12 years before “retiring” to focus on a career in health and fitness. What you may not know is that I probably do more “social work” now than I ever did working in the field (my caseload is in 100+!)
My lens is just different! I still consider myself a facilitator of change and I get to help people become their best self -with A LOT less paperwork!
I meet with each prospective member prior to them joining at CrossFit 1936.
This gives me an opportunity to get to know our athletes, what their goals are and what has held them back in the past. I am also not naive to the fact that though anyone CAN come to our classes- CrossFit isn’t the right fit for everyone.
I have done hundreds of these interviews and ALL of them have something in common…. Every single one of us want to FEEL something. Feel strong, feel sexy, feel energized, feel confident, and feel like we belong. What does that mean?
Plain and simple. Every single person wants to have a positive feeling.
Do we want to look good in a swimming suit? Of course!
But most people said they want to feel confident in a swimsuit… hear the difference?
I love working through this with our members. It's not easy and is often messy… but it's worth it!
So often we ignore our feelings, we maybe don’t know how to understand them or even be able to identify them. But they are THERE! They are a part of who we are! Ignoring them is like leaving a child home alone... ( They MAY be okay for a little while- but they may burn down the house!)
I cannot tell you how many times people refer to their workouts as (or in addition to) their therapy. It is time, space and energy put into something really hard to do. Little by little, burpee by burpee, you can do harder and harder things.
Little by little your confidence grows and as you feel more and more connected to those around you- You start to FEEL.
When we workout we cry, swear, scream, laugh and sometimes we just lay there unable to move.
Sometimes we need to be reminded to breathe...
Just. Like. Mental. Health!
Now I am not saying simply attending CrossFit will make everyone's mental health struggles just go away.
Not even close… I believe that you owe yourself one hour a day for self care. CrossFit, yoga, reading, dancing, writing, meditation, painting, music… whatever it is for you- you owe it to yourself!
One hour of your day. 1/24 of your day… less than 5%.
If your self care plan includes therapy- awesome! Medications or herbal supplements?- Great!
My point is that you need to be able to be and feel YOU.
I know from personal experience and that of hundreds of people we have trained, that exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.
We coach mindset just as much as we coach fitness. Our thoughts become our words and our words become actions.
I love that in our 1936 CHAMPS- Youth Empowerment~ we focus on repeating “I am strong” “I am confident”. In hopes that when the kiddos are faced with really hard situations those words are going through their head rather than “I can’t..” or “This is too hard”.
We coach that for our adults too!
May is mental health awareness month…
I challenge you to look at it as being aware of your own feelings, emotions and mental health- and NOT being judgmental in others. What I love most about the community that Sheldon and I have built is how fiercely the tribe of people show up to support, empower and encourage each other- in and out of the gym!
I encourage YOU to show up for others… and to seek the help of others when you need it. Check in on your friends, be kind to strangers and find a community of people that want you to succeed.
I hope you know you are capable and brave and significant~ even when it feels you are not.
“I believe that health is more than merely the absence of disease. It is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being.” ~ Dr. Frank Lipman
I joined CrossFit 1936 in January 2018, but have been a member of the CrossFit community (in Iowa) since 2014. Prior to starting CrossFit, I was physically active and looking back I would call myself “skinny fat” as I was not overweight but had no strength. I ran and was a member of a local rec center and primarily attended boot camp/aerobic classes.
Due to low numbers, they cancelled the classes. I knew I needed to do something, having a job that involves a lot of sitting and thinking my brain is tired at the end of the day but my body is not! I tend to feel very anxious when I don’t get my workout in. After a month of just running on the “dread-mill”, I was sitting next to a fellow Mom at a volleyball tournament who had joined CrossFit when they opened in January and she was hooked. Her progress both physically and mentally was amazing, she invited me with to try a free week of classes starting the next Monday and I agreed. By the 3rd day, I signed up. Hands down it has been one of the best investments and decisions I have made in my life. I was wrong about all my preconceived notions around CrossFit!
August 2018, we moved for work from Iowa to Wisconsin. I was learning a new job, unpacking, and getting a child settled into a new town/school- I thought I’d take a break (plus our school had a fitness center that was free to the community).
I’d be foolish not to use that right?!?...or so I thought. I tried that for a couple months along but with a lot of work travel, I noticed I was losing strength. I was also missing the connection of a CrossFit community, and my clothes were not fitting like they should.
I had my physical and was 10 lb heavier than the prior year! I decided it was time to do something more. I tried a punch card at another CrossFit box in the area, but it just didn’t feel like “home.” I decided to look into Crossfit 1936 as it was actually closer to where I live. I walked into Crossfit 1936 on a cold Friday night in January, introduced myself and my background. Sara invited me to stay for class. I don’t remember everyone who was in class that night… but I remember people being so welcoming!
I was hooked, I felt like I belonged, these were my kind of people- and what a great tribe members at Crossfit 1936 are!!!
Over the past 14 months, there have been days I wanted to quit, cry, or yell at Coach~ but he never stopped believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
Fitness-wise they have helped me improve my form on many lifts and become stronger both mentally and physically. I have accomplished moves I was not able to do before. When my heart rate gets high, my brain tells me to stop and take a break even though my body can push through. In the past, I have always used water or chalk, as a crutch for a break (even though I really didn’t need it). Coach Sheldon has taught me to be mentally strong and push through!
I owe so much credit to the coaches and members at CrossFit 1936 ~for believing in me and pushing me out of my comfort zone.
They have encouraged me to take risks; which has helped me in other personal and professional aspects of life.
I have built the confidence to stand up for myself and to be okay being a little uncomfortable speaking to a group.
I wish I could go back and show my high school PE teacher what I can do now. I clearly remember him telling us girls don’t pull ups during the fitness tests. Well- he has never met CrossFit girls!
If I can give a suggestion to those thinking about starting… We only get one body, invest in it now or pay for it later! I choose to lead an active healthy lifestyle not only for myself, but also to set an example for my daughter. I love that CrossFit doesn’t focus on the weight on the scale, but rather building strength and healthy habits.
The best part about CrossFit 1936- aside from it’s coaches is the community of members! They are not my relatives and I don’t work with them- and really have no connection other than at the box. Every single one of them are so happy for each other’s successes and so encouraging!!
It’s truly amazing.
When I first heard about Crossfit, protein shakes and muscle t's came to mind. A bunch of men, grunting and talking about their latest supplement programs. A vivid image played over and over in my head - it's not for me, I'm not strong enough or fit enough to start. I'm not dedicated enough, there isn't enough time in the day, blah blah blah.
I was a 3 sport athlete all through high school and after JUST having my second kid, I missed my old self. I missed wearing pants with zippers, I missed being able to run around with my kids and most of all, I missed being happy with myself in the mirror.
So on blind faith, I signed up for basics after a suggestion from good friends. The first day, I almost threw up from rowing. The second day, the same. I thought about quitting so many times. But with each new class, I learned something about myself. Maybe I didn't have to be an overweight mom, maybe I could still be competitive, maybe I could actually get out of my maternity pants! Maybe, just maybe, I could wear a swimsuit...in public...
Crossfit 1936 and it's members helped me through some of the lowest points of my adult life after losing my mom to breast cancer and health disease. I have heart disease and high blood pressure on both sides and after living through her death, I promised myself I wouldn't do that to my kids. I would fight. Every. Day. to make sure their mom was healthy, happy and here for the long haul. Crossfit keeps my mind clear and my emotions in check. It's more than a workout, it's working toward a longer life. My kids are the reason I keep going. They are watching and I want them to know that I'm motivated, passionate about something and that I kick a little ass.
You don't have to be fit to start. You don't need to own your own jump rope or lifting shoes. You don't have to be intimidated of the members that chalk up and do everything RX. You just have to make the decision that YOU are enough to fight for. Value yourself enough to start.
Here are some pictures of before and after starting CrossFit 1936. My advice is this - take the leap of faith. Trust yourself enough to know that you will succeed. At Crossfit 1936, you will find a tribe of people that are willing to do anything for you. A tribe that will sweat it out with you in class and in life.
Hi, I’m Melissa. I’m a 39 year old Accountant and mom of 2 awesome boys.
In the summer of 2016 I stumbled across a post for a 6 week “New You Challenge” on Facebook. I had been looking for the next thing to do to try to “get in shape” and the post intrigued me. Like most people I had hopped from workout regimen to workout regimen trying to find the answer to varying body insecurities. I soon signed up for the challenge and was on my next journey to “fix” myself.
I had no idea how much my life would change from a random scroll through Facebook. Joining CrossFit 1936 has truly brought out a “New You” for me in ways I never expected. Sure, I have seen some changes in my body that I am proud of, but the real change has been in my mind. I was always a very insecure person. I would compare myself to others and focus on my shortcomings. If something was too hard or intimidating, I quit.
CrossFit has shown me how amazing it feels to push yourself past the quitting point and the confidence that comes along with doing that. I no longer find myself comparing myself to others in any aspect of my life, not just during a gym workout. I find I now have the confidence to push out of my comfort zone and tackle the hard stuff whether it be at the gym, work or my personal life. I not only love CrossFit 1936 for bringing me, myself, but also for bringing me a great set of friends, a true support system. The group at CrossFit 1936 truly cares for one another whether it be seeing each other succeed in our gym goals or supporting each other outside the gym. I look forward to every day I am able to attend a class and cannot wait to see where this journey takes me….hopefully towards gaining some “Rx” designations next to my name!
I happened upon this quote over the last year and I feel it resonates with the mental shift I have gained since joining CrossFit 1936…”Comparison is the thief of joy.” Boy, you nailed it Theodore Roosevelt!
My name is Ben and I’ve been doing CrossFit for a little over 2 years. I’m married to a beautiful woman named Melissa and we have 2 wonderful children, Lena and Camden and a dog, Maddie.
My CrossFit journey actually starts about 7 years ago while studying to become a Chiropractor. During my time at school there was an area in the gym designated for CrossFit, I would watch the “crossfitters” workout while I was on the treadmill, which were located directly adjacent. I always said to myself “I should try that” but always had the excuse of either, I don’t have time or I’ll try it after I’m in better shape.
Fast forward a couple years, I’ve started my own Chiropractic clinic which was growing but I found myself giving advice to my patients I wasn’t taking seriously myself. I was out of shape, lethargic, and tired all the time. All this prior to having kids… One day I was chatting with one of my patients at the time, and she told me about a CrossFit gym that had recently opened just 6 miles from my office. Again I said to myself: I will go when I get in better shape. Which, I know now, is like saying “I’ll go to church when I become a better person.” It was just a ridiculous excuse I was using to not commit.
My first day of CrossFit was 8/24/2015. I walked in and met Coach Sheldon. I believe I was the only one at the noon class that day. I remember him going over workout goals and proper technique, and thought “Ah, this isn’t going to be too bad.” Then I quickly found out I couldn’t do one of the movements. So that was the first slice of humble pie taken to the face. Sheldon explained that I could still do the workout, I would just need to modify it according to my abilities at the time.. This wasn’t such a big deal to me afterwards because I quickly learned that even modifying these workouts is sometimes harder than not. Upon finishing I thought I was going to DIE! But…. it was the most fun I’ve had working out since playing sports in high school. So I came back. Again and again and again. I am working through my 3rd notebook we use for tracking our workouts.
Over the 2 years of experience I have doing CrossFit at 1936 I have learned a lot. When I first came CrossFit 1936 my thoughts were that this was going to make me stronger and I’m going to lose the 45 extra pounds I’ve put on since graduate school really fast! This was definitely not the case. I have definitely gotten stronger, but what I have not quite grasped yet, and am still learning, is that even when you do the workouts you still must eat correctly. This has been the hardest part for me, mentally. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen changes in my body. I am no longer in a 38 waist pants.. I can proudly say I have just purchased my first 34 waist pants in probably 10 years. But I am still around the same weight I was when I started. Changing my diet is now part of my new set of ever changing goals. The mental changes have far outweighed the physical changes that I have seen. I do believe more physical changes are coming the more I focus but I cannot thank Sheldon and Sara enough for what they have done for my mental health. My noon class at the gym is the only time of the day I can just show up and not think. It is the mental break that serves as a productive replacement to my afternoon nap that I was taking everyday prior to starting.
One of my favorite things about CrossFit has been the mental edge it has given me. During my life I have mostly been pretty good at things athletically and academically. I’m not saying I’m the greatest athlete that ever lived or the smartest person ever either but I’ve always had an ability to grasp concepts and movements pretty quickly. Sheldon and Sara’s workouts have humbled me. There are movements and workouts and movements that I am not good at or simply cannot do.. Yet. Nothing has come easy. Another thing is the energy it provides. My wife comments about how much energy I have to play with our kids even after a long day at the office and doing the workout, this wasn’t the case before CrossFit. I also have the energy to try new things. My new thing is archery and bowhunting. I have not hunted since high school and have never bow hunted but I finally feel I have the energy and the mental fortitude to try a new sport that I can share with my family.
Something they don’t tell you about CrossFit, though, is that for the first 6 months to a year you make all this great progress. You “personal best” almost every time you re-do a workout or a lift. Then a phenomenon called “plateau” occurs. Those PB’s come fewer and farther between. For example it took me almost a year, 11 months actually, to PB one lift. But Sheldon and Sara always say “just show up and you will get better”, little do some of us know is that better can be physical OR mental. Develop mental fortitude because things may not happen in the time you think it should but if you put in the work and stay consistent, you will get better. This is not only true at the gym but also in life. There isn’t anything you can’t push through and achieve if you are persistent and consistent.
One of the ways that CrossFit fascinates me is the amount of data the workouts give us. If you know me, you know I am super analytical and I like numbers. CrossFit has real data that you can use to help monitor and track your fitness. From the amount of weight you can lift to the number of repetitions you can do in a certain time frame sings to my nerdy soul.
The last part of CrossFit I have learned about, and may be the most important, is recovery. I learned very early that if I didn’t take care of myself outside the gym there is no way someone could do the workouts 5 days a week without help. So, I started eating better (still too much), I started getting adjusted more often, I started doing mobility work at home and in my office during down time, and getting more sleep. I can track on a monthly basis that when I am controlling what I do outside the gym, my workouts are far more productive. Sometimes a mental break is needed also. It’s ok. I’ve been doing CrossFit for over 2 years, sometimes you just need a couple days away. The trick is to keep it to a couple days and not let those days turn to weeks to months.
If someone tells you CrossFit is bad for you, consider the source of that information, it’s usually ignorance. Through all the research on CrossFit, there is nothing that says CrossFit is bad for you. It only becomes bad if YOU don’t do it correctly and YOU don’t listen and YOU don’t follow instructions given by our amazing coaches. I have been tracking the joint health on myself and some fellow CrossFitters who do things right for a couple years now, and none of us get injured or show signs of injury unless we are doing something we are not ready for, yet. Leave your ego at the door, show up, learn, recover, and you will get better without injury. Period.
Crossfit 1936 has changed my life physically and mentally. I have new goals that would not be there if it weren’t for this wonderful place and I can’t thank Sheldon and Sara enough for helping me grow into a more well rounded, fitter person.
My CrossFit Experience
I started at CrossFit 1936 a little more than two years ago. At the time I didn’t have much confidence in myself- I knew that I was unhealthy, unhappy and looking for something more. Something that I could have as an “escape” from the craziness of life and also to help reach my weight loss goals. Once I started CrossFit 1936 I realized it wasn’t about the number on the scale going down but the number on the barbell going up. I was becoming a stronger and healthier version of myself. CrossFit has changed my body in great ways- but more importantly it has changed my mentality in and out of the gym.
My husband and two kids are my world and my motivation to stay healthy and strong. I want to pass on healthy habits to my children. My daughter Bailey attended the CrossFit 1936 Champs summer course and loved it! My ten month old son Everett can’t pick up a barbell yet- but will grow up watching his mom set a positive fitness example.
Within my CrossFit journey I have chosen to participate in CrossFit competitions. I did this to get out of my comfort zone and to meet other fitness minded people. My goal is to continue to strive for that “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” mentality to push my limits.
I feel so thankful and blessed to have found CrossFit. The amazing coaches and community at CrossFit 1936 have completely transformed my life. It is amazing what can happen when you make a decision to step out of your comfort zone and start something new!
I have struggled my entire life with trying to lose weight or feel comfortable in my own skin, feeling good enough; if you will. CrossFit has truly changed me from the outside, in.
CrossFit is about mental health, physical ability and family. I’ve always been athletic, participating in sports my whole life; from gymnastics, soccer, softball, football, half marathons, etc. But, never have I enjoyed something as much as I enjoy CrossFit. Each day I go to class and I surprise myself, I wow myself, I impress myself. The workouts are hard and after completing them you are so proud of yourself that you thrive for that feeling day after day. Besides being the strongest physically that I’ve ever been, I am also the strongest mentally.
I have met some of the most amazing people in my past two years at CrossFit 1936. We all draw different strengths both inside and outside the gym and we’re so free to share & help each other. You become more like a family, doing whatever it takes for each other. I know I can, and do count on these members for so much of my life. Often these members believe in you & see your potential when you’re having a hard time doing so. Their encouragement & passion is contagious and you can’t help but walk out a better person.
CrossFit is for all ages, abilities & goals… My son attends CrossFit every day with me and watches from the sidelines. There’s something about your children witnessing you do something hard & having them so proud of you that is truly inspiring in itself. He’s my biggest cheerleader and it’s fun to share this love with him. He attended CrossFit 1936's "Champs" camp this summer and I was able to return the favor by cheering him from the sidelines!
I have now competed in 2 CrossFit Games Open competitions and 6 competitions at local gyms. I am always learning more and more about myself and my desire to grow athletically, spiritually and as a woman. I look forward to the many years I have ahead of me in CrossFit, the friendships I’ll gain and I pray the lives I can tough along the way!
It’s been just over a year since I was surfing the Internet yet again for some new “weight loss” solution that I hadn’t yet tried. I was feeling down about myself and my ever-increasing weight – which was nothing new after having tried what seems like a million different ways for years to lose it. But, at that particular moment, I was feeling especially alone in my struggle. That’s when I ran across a posting from Crossfit 1936 for the “New You Challenge”. I emailed the gym indicating my interest, and even though I was already past the deadline for the start of the new class, Sara got in touch with me to discuss other options, had me enrolled in a basics class that day, and the rest is history!
My initial goals when I started at Crossfit 1936 were to lose weight – plain and simple. And, you would think the happiest ending to this story would be that I lost all the weight and met my goals. Truth be told, that while I can see significant positive changes in my body since starting Crossfit, the weight loss is still a work in progress that I am trying to figure out. But, another huge, noticeable difference that Crossfit has made in my life has nothing to do with reshaping my body, but everything to do with reshaping my identity and focus. I used to look at myself and identify as “the fat girl.” And, all I could focus on was what I should or shouldn’t eat so that I could lose weight. I was obsessed with that for almost 10 years of working through health challenges and significant weight gain. Now, with the help of Crossfit and the amazing people at Crossfit 1936, I have changed both of those perspectives. While I still recognize the weight loss goals I need to reach; I no longer identify as “the fat girl.” Instead, I see myself as a “the strong woman,” and my focus is on what I can do to achieve my next fitness goals while enjoying life and spending time with the wonderful people I have been blessed to call friends and family. The coaching and the genuine care for individual goals that Sheldon and Sara provide is unmatched. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to have a gift for appropriately adjusting their coaching styles to fit ability, temperament and tolerance... giving just the right amount of "push" mixed with encouragement to keep me motivated and coming back.
One of the BEST and most rewarding things to come from this journey over the past year was that my husband has come alongside me to support me in every way. Not only that, he has joined Crossfit 1936, and is paving his own journey as well! It is so awesome to be able to do this with him! Even though we both have very different abilities and goals, we are able to encourage each other during times of setback while celebrating each other’s successes! It has also brought us closer together outside of the gym – bringing us to a point where leading an active lifestyle is important to both of us. We have spent the year having fun together by riding bikes, hiking, playing volleyball and signing up for 5k’s together. I love it!
I had been going to the local gym on and off for quite some time, and I always thought that if I was going to get in shape and be healthy that I would do it on my own terms. For a while that was working for me and I was absolutely okay with it.
I knew my wife, Jennie, had started going to Crossfit 1936, and she would talk to me about how great the owners were. I have always had my doubts about Crossfit because I had tried it before and it didn’t work out for me the way that I wanted. The experience I had with Crossfit showed a lack of direction and I often didn't know what was going on. I saw people doing things that looked dangerous, and no one really seemed to give consistent instruction. Here and there Jennie would give me hints that she thought I should give it another try and I just never wanted to because I thought that I would have the same experience as before.
Last year, Crossfit 1936 was having a Thanksgiving WOD where you were able to bring family members, so Jennie asked me and I finally agreed to go. After the WOD, I remember thinking how much I really enjoyed it. The community that I saw was amazing. Everyone motivated each other and wanted each other to succeed. Jennie kept telling me that I should join and said that Sara mentioned it to her as well. A couple months went by before I decided to go for it. Being able to share something with my wife was one of the main reasons I joined, but I also wanted to see if my experience would be any different than before. After the basic classes, everything just fell into place. Sara and Sheldon welcomed me with open arms, and the community at Crossfit 1936 is truly amazing.
My initial goals were to just be in shape and healthy. Crossfit has given me this, but it has become much more than that - it has made my whole life better. My relationship with Jennie is even stronger because we are able to share this together, and the friendships I have made here are something I cherish very much. Sara and Sheldon are not only my trainers, but they make me feel like they are my very own cheering section. They have seen my struggles, have heard my complaints, and through all of that they pick me up and do everything to make sure I don’t fail. The passion they have for not only my progress, but for every single person there is beyond amazing. I could never thank them enough for how they have changed my life in ways they don’t even know. Joining Crossfit 1936 was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
We all know that we should eat more vegetables right?!? How many? How much protein do I need?
What we eat directly impacts our workouts, energy levels and body composition. We now offer personalized plans to help you with what you are eating, when you are eating it, and how much you consume.
Our goal is give you the tools to fuel your body to look and feel your best!
In November 2015, I was looking for a change. I had recently lost my mom to cancer and was looking for a way to deal with my grief that didn’t involve food or alcohol. I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed... but I knew it would involve a healthier lifestyle. I had tried gyms in the past, aerobics classes, and even a Zumba class. None of them really kept me interested. I would not always be sure of how to use the equipment properly or would not push myself much.
So, when I saw the flyer for CrossFit 1936 in my chiropractor’s office, I was immediately intrigued. I convinced my husband that we had to at least give it a try. After our first class we were both hooked. We both loved the challenge, the variety, and the supportive atmosphere. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I immediately noticed the positive changes in my body as well as my attitude. The nervous energy I felt walking into the box changed to excitement to see what I would be able to accomplish. The positive atmosphere in the box is contagious. I also found myself being much more patient at home and at work and finding more joy in my life.
I had found the path to a healthier, better me. A little over a year later, I am stronger than ever, both physically and mentally! In January 2017 I started scheduling 5 days a week of CrossFit for myself. I even signed up for the 2017 CrossFit Games Open! Last year I was too scared to even think about it. I was certain I would not do well. This year I am up for the challenge! I am so thankful that my husband and kids have been supportive as I continue to ensure I have time for me and my health. I am much more focused on being a positive role model for my children. I want them to grow up with a healthier frame of mind.
Thank you to Sheldon and Sara for your training and support! With their help, I have moved from coping and surviving to thriving and loving my life even more.
Above is Janelle pushing herself during the CrossFit Games Open workout 17.2