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My Fitness Journey: Mary O.

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Mary O became a hero in 2015. She has been consistently attending morning classes and is a wonderful member. Here is Mary’s story.

My journey to fitness started at a snail’s pace (which isn’t surprising, for anyone who knows me). Growing up, I always enjoyed being active but was not exactly a team sports kind of girl. I tried dance, cheerleading, softball, and field hockey, but quit most of these after a year, frustrated that I wasn’t as skilled as the other girls. My parents were not exactly athletes themselves and didn’t care one way or the other if I participated in a sport, so I took the easy route and quit. Instead, I joined Chorale and sang all 4 years of high school (total choir nerd). This was enjoyable, but didn’t exactly earn me a varsity jacket.


When I got to college, not much changed. I knew I wouldn’t be trying out for any college teams, so I got involved with a sorority that took up most of my time. My trips to the gym were few and far between, and when I did go, I spent the time socializing with friends or flirting with guys. I was embarrassed to try much besides running on the treadmill because I couldn’t imagine asking for help and/or looking stupid trying to figure the machines out on my own.


Fast forward to post college, I moved in with a group of girls, and one in particular was very active. She convinced me to join a local gym where we could take group classes together and of course, run on the treadmill – what else is there to do in the gym anyway???? ;).  I found I was enjoying the gym for the first time, and realized it was because I liked some of the people I met there that were regulars in the classes. However, I was not dedicated. It was hard to see progress since in most of the classes, we did the same routine every week. There was not much interaction from the coaches and you were rarely, if ever, encouraged to try a move differently or with a heavier dumbbell. Most weeks, I found myself making excuses after work to not take class. And the morning was not an option – I’ve never been a morning person and very much enjoyed staying up late and hitting up Morristown happy hours several times a week. Eventually, I quit to save the money of a membership going to waste.


Getting frustrated with not being active and beginning to gain weight from my unhealthy eating and drinking habits, I started to think about what was next. Running was always something that came easier to me, so I figured why not try a race. Having run two 5k’s in my life at that point, I wasn’t sure where to start. There was a woman at work who I sat near who was a crazy athlete. She had done multiple iron man competitions, full marathons, tri-athalons, etc., and was very friendly – many people in the office would chat with her regularly and ask her for advice. One day we got to talking about my thoughts on running, and she offered to write me a half marathon plan. I was feeling adventurous so I said sure, why not.


I ended up following her plan obsessively, and found that running was an extremely effective emotional outlet. At the time, I was working full time and completing an accelerated MBA program, so running helped me deal with the stress in a healthy way (along with wine. Lots of wine).


I kept setting pace goals for myself and ended up crushing all of them. I finished the half in one hour and 48 minutes, roughly an 8 minute, 10 second mile pace. I was amazed at how far I was able to come by staying dedicated to my plan. From there, I continued to run a few more races including two more halfs. While I enjoyed running and training, over time, I found myself with pain in my knee and hip. The only thing that seemed to help was not running, which was incredibly depressing. I knew I had to find something else fast, before I lost motivation. Plus, I was a few months out from getting married, and I had always told myself I would be in the best shape of my life at my wedding. No pressure.


My coworker Melanie was also my running partner now and then, and someone I had become close with over the years. I knew she went to some crazy crossfit gym by the office, and used to laugh out loud when she would insist on leaving the bar early for her 615am classes. However, with my wedding quickly approaching, I began to get desperate and thought maybe I’ll give the crazy gym a try (temporarily, of course). Melanie was in great shape, so I figured something must be working. Plus, I could do it a few months then quit if I hated it – which I figured I would.


I joined the gym [Heroes Journey Fitness] and struggled through the first few months, getting frustrated that I couldn’t even come close to doing the same weights or movements as most of the rest of the class. However, for the first time, I felt supported by both the coaches and the rest of the class attendees to keep trying and to have more confidence in myself.


My wedding came and went. The time came for me to renew or cancel, and I made the decision to stick it out a few more months. After all, I gained all my weight back on the honeymoon and could use the time back at the gym being active. What was the worst that could happen?


Almost two years later, I am still a member of Heroes Journey, a faithful 6:15am class attendee, taking class between 3-4 times a week. I run now and then on the side for fun and to up my cardio, but I also spend time after class practicing skills like double-unders, chin ups/pull ups, rope climbs, head stands, hand stand push ups, and even sneaking in some of the strength training that I miss on my days off. I love how measurable CrossFit is, how clear it is to see improvement, and how much support and guidance I get from both the coaches and my classmates. Am I obsessed with CrossFit and trying to compete? No. Am I lifting even close to as heavy as some of my classmates? No. Am I skinnier than ever? Nope – quite the opposite – but I am ok with that and know I have more muscle than I ever have had in my life. Am I able to do every single movement? Hell no. But I’m improving in my own skills and abilities, and that’s what is most important. Plus, I’m having fun. My early morning workouts help keep me from staying up super late at happy hours after work. Overall, I’m healthier and happier.


So, thank you Heroes Journey Fitness. Thank you to the coaches – Andrew for teaching me that even though we’re not all amazing gymnasts like he is, we can still try, and that is more than good enough. Thank you Rachel for cheering me on and not making me do burpees every single time I am late (only half the times). Thank you Sheri for yelling out in the middle of a WOD for the class to check out the butt I am growing (my butt was non-existent before joining CrossFit, so the bar was set pretty low, but still). Thank you to my fellow 6:15-ers, for not making me feel like a failure when I finish a workout last (and for accepting I could school you all in a 5k – I’m looking, at you Tom). Most of all, thank you Melanie for being a cray cray athlete and for rubbing off (some of) your crazy habits on me. Thank you for pushing me and making me realize I can improve and I will improve with if I am willing to put the time in, and for keeping me accountable.


At one point a year or so ago, I was nursing a shoulder injury and was very close to quitting. At the time, Andrew was our morning coach, and I’ll never forget our conversation about what I should do next. He told me that I should do what felt right, but to promise him I wouldn’t stop moving. I healed from that injury, and haven’t stopped moving ever since. I hope I never will. Even if it’s still at a snail’s pace now and then.


If you would like to share your fitness journey, please email, and please include pictures too!