June Spotlight Athlete: Michelle Penson
1. What made you decide to start CrossFit? – I had a number of friends across the country who were doing CrossFit and loving it. My curiosity was piqued but I wasn’t ready to make the jump since I didn’t know anything about the local boxes or anyone who was a member. When Maria Petow joined Strongpoint, stopped working out with us at boot camp and couldn’t stop talking about it, I knew I had to give it a try. I waited until the summer challenge was being offered and took the plunge. It’s been 10 months and I haven’t looked back.
2. What results have you seen or goals have you achieved? – My core has gotten stronger and my overall strength has increased. I have steadily gained personal records in many of my lifts. Back in February, I challenged myself to work on double unders for 5 minutes per day since I could only get one at a time. By the end of the month, I could do 10-15 at a time.
3. What do you like best about the gym? – I love the camaraderie and the feeling of acceptance. No matter your shape, age, level of fitness, everyone is welcomed with a “You can do it” attitude. Everyone roots everyone else on. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first or last to finish or if you Rx-ed or scaled the WOD. You showed up, challenged yourself and moved forward on your quest for health and fitness.
4. What is your favorite exercise or WOD? – My favorites are those exercises I can do as prescribed: box jumps, toes to bar, double unders, and yes, burpees. But I also like working towards achieving PRs in weightlifting, especially back squats and clean and jerks.
5. What is your least favorite exercise or WOD? – Karen is an absolute killer. I don’t like to use the word hate. I abhor Karen.
6. What motivates you to show up day after day? – The accomplishment I feel after I have finished at Strongpoint carries me through the day. I am proud of myself for giving it my all and leaving my ego at the door. I have never felt better about my level of fitness or my health. I want my two daughters to know the importance of exercise and commitment and that strong women should be applauded.
7. What negative thoughts hold you back from being your best? – CrossFit has helped with many of my negative thoughts but the devil on my shoulder still pops out at times. My age is a big one, immediately thinking I can’t do something because of the number of years I’ve lived on this Earth. At times, I also doubt myself when going for a PR. I think someone needs to load the bar for me next time so I don’t have a number stuck in my head with a negative thought attached to it.
8. What has been your most memorable moment at Strongpoint CrossFit? – I have a few! 1. The first time I Rx-ed a WOD with Toes to Bar. 2. When 14.2 came up in the open, I was freaking out because I had only been able to Overhead Squat 50#. I tried once on Friday and couldn’t get down to below parallel and back up once. Determined not to get a zero, I came back on Monday and was able to squeak out three at 65#. 3. Completing 14.5 and all 168 reps of thrusters and bar facing burpees. I surprised myself that day with my determination and now know I can get through almost anything after completing that WOD.
9. What has been your least favorite moment at Strongpoint CrossFit? – Times of self-doubt are hardest. I may have been able to complete a skill or WOD if I had only believed in myself more.
10. What’s one thing that no one at the gym knows about you? – Before I moved to Florida 4 years ago, I worked full time and lived a pretty sedentary life. Running a mile with some of my 4th and 5th grade students was difficult for me. Going from a full time teacher to a stay-at-home mom, I was determined to make myself a priority and get in shape. I lost 30+ pounds, started running and playing tennis and eventually found boot camp which led to CrossFit. And the rest is history…
11. What is your favorite quote from Strongpoint CrossFit? – The only one I can remember is “Thumb up your butt, you’re good!” Not sure why it sticks with me.
12. What do you want to accomplish with your training in the next year? – I’m working on strict pull-ups and hand-stand pushups as often as I can. I also want to increase my back squat, clean and deadlift numbers. And I’d like my rowing to become more efficient. When I participate in the 2015 open, I’d love to end up higher in the standings than this year, even though I’ll be a year older.
13. What advice would you give to someone who just started out? – Be positive and be proud of yourself for just showing up and doing the work. Listen to your coaches. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else is the gym; it’s a losing battle. And above all, celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small.
14. What advice would you give to someone who was on the fence about starting? – Give it a try, especially at Strongpoint CrossFit. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain: a positive attitude about yourself, your body, your mind and your health. You will have so much fun, you won’t think about the sweat pouring down your brow or the ache in your muscles the next day. You will find a home away from home.
Coach’s Comments: Michelle has become a mainstay in our morning classes. She has demonstrated above average determination and work ethic since her early days in the gym, but has really picked up her intensity in 2014 and the results truly speak for themselves as we have seen substantial improvements in her strength and skill. She regularly participates in the monthly challenges, nutrition challenges, meticulously logs every workout, and constantly seeks self-improvement. Not only does she ask how to improve, she implements what her coaches tell her to work on… sometimes that very day! Michelle has rededicated herself to improving her mobility and the work has transferred directly over into better movement. We are very excited to see what she can do next year with another year of training under her belt! Michelle is a strong community builder and has taken several new members under her wing and helped them along as they were starting out. Plus she makes some amazing Paleo treats! For all these reasons and more, it is our pleasure to name Michelle Penson as our Spotlight Athlete for June.
PS: This is our first Spotlight Athlete that was referred in by a previous Spotlight Athlete. Thanks to Maria Petow for sending such a great member our way!