Members of the Week: Pete M, Barbara (also M), and Rich S

We’re bringing back the Members of the Week feature with a VENGEANCE, baby!  I am very happy to turn the podium over to The Martins (Pete and Barbara) and Rich S this week.  They’ve got a pretty cool story to share–they all started the same day, usually attend the same evening classes, and, well, I’ll let you read the rest.  I’ll just say how proud I am of all three–they have come a LONG way in their tenure here, and they are wonderful people and athletes.  We love having them here…

Perfect! Barbara and Rich spotting Pete on his squat. The Trio!

Before the Woodshed experience:

Barbara: Before we discovered the Woodshed, I wasn’t exercising and it was apparent that I had arrived in middle age. At 46, I was experiencing lots of hormonal and metabolic challenges and my body had begun to transform – and not in a good way. Bits of flab were beginning to appear in previously trim places, like around my middle. Because diets no longer seemed to work for me, I wondered if being overweight was just an inevitable part of getting older. When shopping for clothes to fit my expanding shape, I began to gravitate towards stretchy fabrics and sensible shoes. In addition to the physical changes, I also felt tired, moody and anxious a lot of the time. I didn’t like what was happening to me.

Pete: I, too, was overweight and not really exercising. I didn’t feel happy with the way I felt or looked but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Barbara and I wanted to work out but we just couldn’t find a fitness routine that motivated us. We bought an elliptical machine and some exercise videos that we never ended up using. We also joined a big box gym, but the few dance-like classes they offered weren’t our cup of tea. We couldn’t be bothered to make the long trip to the gym after a hard day at work to run on a treadmill. And, as long as we paid our fee, nobody at the gym cared whether or not we showed up. So we didn’t go. Instead, I spent too much time watching TV and eating and drinking more than I should have. It was a negative cycle.

Rich: I’m about the same age as Pete. Biking is my main outdoor activity during the spring/summer/fall and in recent years I’ve put on weight and lost the fitness I used to have. My rides were becoming harder and less enjoyable, and my yearly mileage was dropping. I was active but far from being fit & strong and knew I needed to reverse that and shed some pounds. Although I didn’t know Pete and Barbara at the time, I was actually a member of the same big box gym! I couldn’t be bothered to go to it either. It’s hard to get excited about following a prescribed routine that a trainer writes out for you when you first join a gym. It’s pretty boring and, since you’re on your own, it’s easy to let yourself off the hook. They gladly took my $54.95/month but never cared that I didn’t show up.

What initially brought us to the Woodshed?

Barbara: I saw a piece on TV about a new fitness craze sweeping the area – something called CrossFit. The workouts, completed as a group, featured a combination of conditioning and strength training that looked challenging and fun. I did a quick Google search to see if there was a gym in the area that offered something like that. I was shocked to discover that Crossfit Woodshed was 2 miles from our house. Not only that, they had classes at 7:00 pm! As I signed up for the intro class, I wondered if Pete and I were too old and too out of shape to participate. Justin, the owner, assured me that the workouts were all scalable and encouraged us to come on in and give it a try. So we took a chance and signed up.

Rich: I work right up the street from the Woodshed but didn’t realize that until Justin installed a big sign out front. Before that, I had noticed some crazy people running down the street carrying sand bags and kettlebells. I wondered what kind of weird company they worked for that got their employees to do that at lunch. It looked like they were having a great time and I decided to give it a try, although I was also somewhat intimidated.

Looking back on our first day

Rich: I walked into the gym for the orientation session and saw one other person there – a very fit twenty-something woman who played college soccer. I immediately thought, “Oh, wow, what have I gotten myself into?” Then Barbara and Pete walked in. They looked to be my age and seemed to be just as worried about what we were about to do. Justin had us begin with a 400 meter jog (damn near killed me!), and then we went on to do a few goblet squats, pushups, and 1 or 2 other basic things. Although it seems so simple now, it was a struggle to finish for everyone except the soccer woman. For the rest of the weekend I was so sore from that first class that I wasn’t sure if I would return. On Monday I brought my gym gear to work, just in case I changed my mind. Over the course of the day, I thought about Barbara and Peter. I knew they’d be attending the 7:00 pm class and I didn’t want them wondering what happened to “that guy in our orientation” so I dragged myself in that evening. Barbara and Pete were really happy to see me and I was warmly welcomed by everyone else in the class. Nobody cared that I was lifting less than them or that my conditioning was scaled back. So I came back again on Wednesday. And I’ve continued since then, like clockwork.

Barbara: When Pete and I walked into the Woodshed for our intro session, we were warmly greeted by Justin. He immediately put us at ease. The intro session was challenging but fun. From the start Pete and I both felt a sense of camaraderie with Rich. It was like we were all on this journey together. We knew that first day that we had found what we were looking for. When we returned on Monday, it was nice to see Rich’s familiar face. I remember being in awe of the more seasoned athletes and being impressed with how welcoming and helpful everyone was. Pete, Rich, and I started that night with empty bar squats and nobody ever complained about taking off weights. On the contrary, we were supported and encouraged by everyone. Last night, the three of us were reminiscing about one of our early classes. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time.

Body re-composition project

Barbara: Justin invited members to join a body re-composition project in January. Pete and I joined; the experience was amazing. Justin created an online community for participants, a sort of community with a community, which allowed us to support and motivate each other. Rich and I have even shared lots of tips and recipes! Through blogs and personal coaching, Justin changed the way we think about food.

Rich: The body re-composition project has been great, and a great challenge, for me as well. I’ve stumbled a few times along the way – it’s not always easy to undo years of bad habits – and Justin has worked with me to come up with a modified approach (inspired by one of his blog posts) that’s working well for me. The success that Pete & Barbara (and others) have had has inspired me to hang in there and go after the same great results they’ve had. Having had dinner with them in the course of writing this post, I can say that Barbara & Pete put together a mighty fine paleo meal.

The results

Barbara: Since I joined the Woodshed 8 months ago, I have lost more that 20 lbs. I am also much stronger thanks to Justin’s thoughtful and varied programming. He obviously spends a lot of time thinking about how to best sequence and organize our training. It feels amazing to be able to do things that I never dreamed I could do (which, by the way, included purchasing some kick-ass skinny jeans). But the experience I have had at the Woodshed is so much more than improved strength and fitness. It sounds corny but it really was life changing. I feel more confident and happier in all areas of my life. I have more energy. I now know what and how to eat in a healthy way. Perhaps the most unexpected thing – and best of all – is that I feel that I am a part of a wonderful community. The Woodshed members and trainers are almost like family to me. I care about their lives and I want to support them in reaching their goals.

Pete: Like Barbara and Rich, I have come a long way. I too have lost 20 pounds and continue to see improvements in my overall strength and fitness. I also share their sentiments about the sense of community. It is wonderful to come to the gym and see familiar faces and to share the same challenges and goals as other athletes. I look forward to the coming years and to pushing myself to become as fit and strong as I possible.

Rich: Since joining the Woodshed I’ve dropped 15 pounds and have seen definite improvements in my strength, speed, and endurance. I biked 43 miles yesterday, pushing hard the entire way, finishing with a high (for me) average speed – and knew that all those lifts, tough conditioning sessions and prowler pushes were responsible for my being able to do so. If you’d told me last year that I’d be doing Olympic-style weight lifting, sandbag carries, kettle bell swings, etc, I’d have said you were crazy, but now I’m doing it and I love it. What I love even more is the Woodshed community, something I have never found at any other gym I’ve belonged to. It’s great to see the support we have for each other. It doesn’t matter if one person is lifting 45 pounds and another 450 pounds, what counts is the effort people put into it, which results in a refreshing lack of egoism. The community and Justin’s great programming are what keep me coming back time after time. There are tons of great people at the Woodshed, people who do interesting things in and out of the gym, and it’s been great to get to know some of these people from chatting during class, blog posts, Facebook, etc. I look forward to many more workouts at the Woodshed and the continued improvement they’ll bring to my athletic/recreational pursuits and daily life. I also look forward to continued interaction with everyone at the Woodshed and to greeting new members as our community grows. I think it’s great that Justin has been able to triple our floor space and can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us (prowler drag racing? “name that tune” KB/DB conditioning?). I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a big thanks to Pete & Barbara. Not only were they a big part of the motivation for me to come back after the intro session, they are also thoroughly nice people who have become good friends, workout partners, and inspiration during my time at the Woodshed.

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