Introducing Kelly

Hey LocoFam! Coach Jay here to share something that really touched my soul. One of the tasks we require of our interns is a letter of intent. Basically I want to know their why; why is coaching important to them, why do they believe in our program, and most importantly why should I trust them enough to put them in front of you guys- the people I care about most.

Our most recent addition, Kelly, absolutely blew me away with her response. Her certifications were impressive, but her mindset is what really made this stand out. I think she’s going to fit in here just fine. I’ll let Kelly take it from here:

I am much better equipped to address problems in society on an individual basis, from the bottom up (or, the body up) than I am able to effect change via media. Since relocating to Charleston, I’ve decided to shift my career from design (I have a bachelor’s degree from RISD in film + video, a master’s degree from CCA in graphic design) to [fitness and nutrition] coaching and bodywork. I am halfway through an eight-month, full time program for Neuromuscular Massage Therapy and will test for my license in July. I got my CrossFit Level One Certificate in January and am working on my Movement + Mobility 101 certificate from Mobility WOD. I’m studying functional nutrition and will start the Precision Nutrition certification in April, when I’m also going to Tampa for my Functional Range Release seminar and certification with Dr. Andreo Spina. I am building a life around fitness, nutrition, and bodywork, with the right gym at the center of it all.

I come from a family of therapists—people who have the tools and language necessary to describe the human experience holistically and address emotionally rooted problems with tact and efficacy. I’ve also experienced the benefits of extended therapy and therapeutic environments firsthand as I gracefully and at times not-so-gracefully faced my own issues. In so doing, I was able to transform those issues into my greatest assets: honest communication and profound empathy. These skills came somewhat naturally to me, but I’ve worked hard to cultivate them further. Living into my core values of courage and humility did not come effortlessly. I must consistently work towards these ideals with a willingness to be honest and uncomfortable. As with CrossFit, adaptation occurs at the edge of our struggle; just outside our comfort zone is where the magic happens.

In my youth, I played soccer and rowed until high school, when my performance anxiety became so crippling that I gave up athletics entirely. I had a lot of emotional issues that were manifesting in sports (what a surprise) and so I quit, choosing instead friends who were more interested in partying than running laps. Only when I got help for those issues and sobered up did I realize the damage I’d been doing to my body, let alone my mind and spirit. I had broken my neck and knee in a car accident, and deprived myself of sleep, nutritious food, and self-care for the better part of a decade. It showed. After rigorous internal work began, I immersed myself in running and alignment-based yoga, reconnecting with my body in new and humbling ways. I was introduced to CrossFit by a friend in 2013 and, though I resisted at first, realized I had found my tribe. Throughout my journey with CrossFit, I’ve struggled with injuries and occasional setbacks, which, I know now, make me a better mentor and athlete.

Having been the recipient of excellent coaching, emotional support, and wise teachings, I feel a responsibility to pass these gifts along with matching sensitivity. In order to be a teacher and facilitate the growth of another, I must remain teachable myself. I try (imperfectly) to see the obstacles as the paths, the challenges as opportunities to grow. When I am able to do so, the rewards are exponential. This is my understanding of humility: a relentless deflation of ego that enables real listening, connection, and learning. Knowing that I don’t know. I am neither worse or better than anybody else, simply one among many. What a fantastic place to exist! I can rest in the comfort that it’s not all about me, and I have everything to gain.

Deflation of ego takes courage. It’s often not pretty, and requires some vulnerability (*gasp* I must be human!) Being true to myself and my values means being fearful of situations and doing the right thing anyway. Being vulnerable, making mistakes, letting people bear witness to my imperfections—these are the experiences that ultimately draw me closer to my friends, family and community. I thus create containers for others to take risks and be vulnerable, to come as they are without fear of judgement or criticism. I make it a point in all of my relationships to ensure that others feel safe with me. I believe it is imperative to good coaching that I establish a foundation of trust—an understanding that this is where you can safely fail, struggle, and grow.

Here’s where I struggle: perfectionism. My ego likes to creep in and think I know what is best for someone else. I want to fix and heal but must remember I don’t have all the answers. I can beat myself up when I fail to meet my own expectations, which are sometimes set too high. I can wrap my own self-worth up in my job and relationships, tacking it to elements that are beyond my control. Sometimes I have to be in a considerable amount of pain before I’m willing to change. With time, my tolerance for such pain has diminished, and, more often than not, I’d rather dive into the discomfort of the unknown and get it over with. I know by now that it’s worth it every time!

Hardly unique, I also struggle with self-doubt when it comes to leadership. There is a very loud voice that says “Who are you to tell people how to do anything?” Fortunately, there is now a voice that talks back, louder, and doesn’t take that first voice too seriously. I can’t lift much overhead. I can’t do a handstand push-up or a muscle-up. I can, however, cue an athlete who is struggling with those movements. I can provide excellent progressions, and I know my stuff.

I work hard. Sometimes it comes from a place of insecurity and other times I am brimming with confidence, but either way, I do nothing halfway. As I mentioned before, courage means being afraid but not retreating. Having spent 7 years in rigorous art and design school critiques, I have had my ass handed to me on more than one occasion. I appreciate honesty and actively seek such help from others in order to grow. Do not spare my feelings; I am not fragile. Feedback is a most valuable gift.

CrossFit is beautiful microcosm reflecting life’s challenges and triumphs. The box becomes the laboratory where we can test ourselves, prove ourselves, humble ourselves, and surprise ourselves. The community CrossFit engenders is one of striving for improvement while supporting one another exactly as we are. It isn’t about compare-and-despair, rather, we aim for better-than-yesterday. It is about surrounding ourselves with people who inspire us. It is taking time for ourselves while practicing selflessness. Focusing on daily effort and not obsessing over outcomes we can’t control. Consistency. Commitment. Showing up for ourselves and each other. Falling and getting back up. Jumping on a wooden box that, not too long ago, took a chunk out of our shins! It is messy, it is human, it is the stuff of life that bonds us. Isolation is a killer. CrossFit is a path for fully Living.

Back to Coach Jay. Pretty beautiful right? I thought so too. Thanks Kelly!


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