I have spent most of my adult life loving the sport of bodybuilding. I respect the sport. Bodybuilding has always been a part of my life. My first bodybuilding competition was back in 1999 with my last show in 2014. I went from entry level women’s bodybuilding to national level in 1999. I took time off to have a family, but it always remained in the back of my mind that I would compete again. In 2011 I decided to get back on stage. I was older, had better coaching, my kids were older, my life was in a different place. I went from entry level in 2011 in women’s bodybuilding to national level in 2014. Between 2011 and 2014 I was on stage 8 times. I competed in both open classes and master’s classes.
Bodybuilding is tough mentally and physically. It requires focus and discipline. The training aspect of bodybuilding for me was easy. The nutritional aspect for the sport was the hard part. Competitive bodybuilding requires you to put yourself in a caloric deficit over a select period in order to get as lean as possible. You are on stage for 30s-60s, for some we do routines, being judged on “how we look” by a panel of 6-10 judges. Preparing for a show takes time, effort, discipline and sacrifice. I did this back to back between 2011 and 2014. For the most part I was happy but there were moments of pure misery. Who wouldn’t be miserable when you are dieting on less than desirable calories while being required to put in 45 minutes of hypertrophy training and then add in anywhere between 30-60 minutes of cardio? In July 2014 I competed one last time. I made it to the nationals. I knew I was done. My body was sore, my emotions were getting the best of me. I was done and ready to retire.
I wasn’t just done competing; I was done with bodybuilding. In November of 2014 I hurt my lower back training. It wasn’t like I was lifting too much weight, it just happened to be my first set of my last exercise. I was upset that I hurt myself being a trainer and doing a basic movement. I took time off to heal but was determined to change the way I was training. I was somewhat unmotivated after my show in 2014 so I knew change was needed. I decided on Powerlifting. I programmed my training once I felt I could lift again. I was trying to find that motivation I felt the first time I decided to compete in 1999. After weeks of Powerlifting, I still wasn’t feeling great about training. The gym atmosphere was horrible, I started going to other gyms to see if that was the issue. I went from the LRC to snap to various gyms in the Edmonton. I just couldn’t find that “feeling” again. I was trying to find myself, the trainer who was motivated and stopped at nothing to get the job done. I was fighting my lower back pain, adductor pain and a chronic shoulder injury that was all a result of constant overtraining and my dedication to my sport over the years.
For the first time I started to think about changing my training completely. I was never a fan of CrossFit. I was the trainer that would bash it. The personal trainer in me did not agree with the mentality behind CrossFit, which at the time for me was “lift as much weight as possible while moving as fast as you can.” I always thought kipping was bad, that the WOD’s were ridiculous. This all came from my lack of knowledge of the sport. I really had no idea about it because I never tried it. I will admit I was afraid to try it. I never had to push myself hard with bodybuilding. The only push came from the diet. However, I wanted to learn Olympic lifting. Cleans, snatches, clean and jerk, these lifts intrigued me. In addition to this I wanted to learn how to do a muscle up. I wanted to do a handstand push up. This meant CHANGE! This meant going out of my comfort zone and trying CrossFit. It took me a bit to muster up enough courage, but I did. The first thing I did was contact Crossfit Leduc. I wanted to hire Brad to help me with understanding the proper techniques for the Olympic lifts but to also slowly introduce me to the world of CrossFit. Hiring Brad with CrossFit certification was a priority, but he also has an Olympic lifting certification. The best coaches in the world in my opinion are Olympic lifting coaches. I started with 5 sessions with Brad and then moved into a 10-punch pass to try the classes out. I started with one class per week for the first little bit. Learning technique for the big lifts was a priority. The classes were filled with people of all ages, sizes and athletic abilities. Each class offered scaled versions of the WOD’s. Each class came with a group of people that encouraged one another to work hard and to finish.
I started my first session with Brad in November of 2015. I have fallen in love with the training. I went there with shoulder mobility problems and a slight pec minor issue. Since my start my shoulder and pec area have improved. I have progressed. I have listened to the trainers, both Annie and Brad and modified when needed and added weight when I knew I could. I’m not throwing up big weight, but I am progressing. I have used my foundation of strength to my advantage and learned how to kip. I can even do strict handstand push-ups. This has all happened in a few short months with proper training, nutrition and leaving my ego at the door.
The best part of my change from bodybuilding to CrossFit is that I no longer focus on how I look. I simply go in and work as hard as I can. I can fuel my body and get results without being in a caloric deficit. I love that I progress in almost every class. I love the strength skills and the WOD’s that always seem to be different and offer new challenges. There is constant support. I believe all sporting activities come with a community and CrossFit is no exception. The support and encouragement are something I never seen in bodybuilding, not like this. I love the fact that Crossfit Leduc has no mirrors, so you don’t have to compare yourself to others. Coming from bodybuilding where aesthetics plays such a huge role, this is huge for me. I haven’t hurt myself which is what many believe will happen when you join CrossFit. That only happens if you are not listening to your body, you don’t check your ego at the door and if you ignore your trainers. I hurt myself doing basic lifts in bodybuilding. I have chronic injuries due to my bodybuilding career and now feel better because of CrossFit.
Change is good. I needed it. I encourage everyone to embrace change. I don’t care what other people say or do. I admit that I once disliked CrossFit. I was uneducated and I had no experience with the sport. Now that I have tried it, I am proud to call myself a Crossfitter. I think people need to stop hating and instead encourage others to do what makes them happy. I have not been this happy in a long time. Training can be boring. You can hit a wall and you can become unmotivated. Even elite athletes get bored. Trying something new, going outside of your comfort zone can be the best gift of motivation you could give yourself. CrossFit is not for everyone, neither is bodybuilding. The best activity is one that you will stick to and enjoy.
As as update this post on December 23, 2019, I’m proud to say I am still at Crossfit Leduc. Not only do I still love the community, but I have improved in so many areas of my fitness. I have maintained my body composition, increased my strength in many of the lifts and can kip and butterfly like it’s no big deal. I’m a proud member of Crossfit Leduc where I am also the resident nutrition expert (coach).