I’ve long joked that couples who come in and do CrossFit together can be the best or worst decision for that relationship. But as Eminem said so pointedly one time, “A lot of truth is said in jest!” Thankfully, this next success story that CrossFit For Glory is proud to share falls into the category of the former – it has proven to be a HUGE win for them and their continued forward march in the right direction! Warning: grab some tissues. So without further ado, here are the Carvers:
- What brought you to CFG? How long have you been a member?
Brandon: Well, you see that’s a long story. I will try my very best at explaining it to you. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I was sick of being overweight and out of shape. I married a really nice young woman that helped me to rethink my completely unhealthy lifestyle of eating what I wanted, outrageous daily soda consumption, lack of exercise and an incredibly disgusting 2 pack a day habit of smoking cigarettes. My buddy Kaliym said “Hey come try out my gym, it’s fun, you will like it”. I am proud to say that September was my two year anniversary at CFG.
Cassie: The short answer to the question is Brandon, my husband. I suppose the short answer isn’t exactly what you were looking for. So, I will start from the beginning. By the beginning, I mean the beginning of Brandon and myself. We met under, what I would call, ‘unique’ circumstances. In October of 2013, I had been divorced for 3 months, and Brandon had recently lost his wife. We were both going through a major ‘transition’. Brandon and I were with our previous partners for nearly a decade, and we both lost our previous spouses abruptly. Looking back, I am sure we could both say that we knew things were coming to an end in our previous relationships—but in the moment, who thinks that way? With the ending of my previous marriage, came a lot of self-deprecating, self-harming, and reckless behavior that resulted in serious weight gain. I would feel exhausted climbing up stairs. I spiraled into a very dark, angry, and lonely place. It wasn’t until I met Brandon that I started to find my bearings again. He became a foundation, someone I could count and rely on for anything and everything. He had my back. However, we had a few problems: 1) We were both very out of shape. We started to go to the gym. You know, doing the basics—walking on the treadmill and maybe curling a dumbbell or two. I think we can both attest to the fact that we started to feel better. 2) We are addicted to food. We love food. We love to eat our feelings. We love to cook. Heck, we love just watching food on the food channel. 3) Even though exercising helped me feel better, I felt worried that we were enabling each other to either be healthy or the polar opposite—sabotage each other. In August of 2014, we went whitewater rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon. It was a test of our physical and mental strength. On our flight home, Brandon looked at me and said, “It’s time I really do something” referring to his physical health. In September of that year, he told me he heard about this thing called CrossFit and planned on going to the foundation class. I looked at him like he was crazy. In case you haven’t noticed, (or didn’t know) Brandon wasn’t exactly a size 2, and didn’t look like the typical CrossFit enthusiast. Imagining a CrossFit body-type in my head, looking like some kind of Roman soldier or Greek God/Goddess—that definitely wasn’t us. We were round, squishy, and winded by the sheer thought of exercise. But if anyone knows Brandon, he loves when people think he can’t, so he can prove them that he can—and he DID. He went to foundations and loved it. When I got home from class (my excuse for not going to foundations with him), he asked me to give it a try. He knew that if we did it together, we could hold each other accountable. We could be healthy together, and stop the sabotaging. I agreed. I used to lift when I was a teenager, I wasn’t afraid to work hard, and well…the hubby asked me to. Sure, why not?! Two years later, the rest is history.
2. What was your first impression? How has that changed?
Cassie: The moment after I said, “Sure, why not?!” I had to take into account what I just agreed to. I just agreed to go work out with the Roman soldier, Greek God/Goddess body-type type people. But when I walked through that door, it was different. There were 2, maybe 3 people in my foundations class. They were regular people. Two of them were moms who were balancing work and family that wanted to get their fit on. They were regular people! Although in better shape than myself, they didn’t look like they just fell out of a fitness magazine. And they were kind, they were so kind! It wasn’t just the members, it was the coaches too, it seemed that everyone I encountered valued each other. They all valued my family, my health, and me.
Brandon: My first impression was “What the heck are you thinking?” immediately followed by “Kaliym, I am going to slap you in the head for convincing me to do this” and finished the workout with a “Wow, that was awesome, I think I can get used to this.” I was HOOKED, I went home and I couldn’t stop talking about it, I waited for Cassie to come home and said “You have to try this!” I now know that I will not die, I might pass out, I might throw up but I wont die. LOL
3. What are you most proud of? What have you achieved?
Brandon: I am most proud of the fact that I get to work out at a gym I love with my absolute best friend, my wife. She is there all the time in my corner to cheer me on with my victories and there to help me through my defeats.I am also proud to say about myself that I have lost weight, gained muscle mass and have done and continue to do things that most people say guys my size can’t do. Multiple PR’s over the last two years. A 500#+ dead lift, a new 300# Front Squat (Thank you squat cycle), a 200# OHS (Again, thank you squat cycle). I have gotten more flexible and have done things that I would have never imagined possible like doing pull-ups or 30″ box jumps. Most importantly, I have learned that my ego does get me in a lot of jams. I have to swallow my pride quite often and learned that it’s ok to “fail”, its how you manage those “failures” and turn them into a teaching situation so it doesn’t happen again.
Cassie: The coaches and the community opened the door to my success with their kindness and the way they clearly valued not only each other, but also my family and me as well. Now I have support at home AND at CFG. That support allowed me to overcome two very large and personal obstacles: Social Anxiety and Grief. For those of you who don’t know what Social Anxiety actually is, it is the fear of being judged or scrutinized. This fear is something that has held me back personally for years. It has prevented me from trying new things and being comfortable in my own skin in front of others. Not only did I initially think that all CrossFitters were Roman soldier and Greek God/Goddesses, but then I realized CFG is such a personal and intimate community with coaches and superb athletes watching you perform. What if I screwed-up? What if I couldn’t lift the weight? What if, What if, What if? What separated CFG from all the other places is that all the coaches wanted was for me to be healthy and to try. You don’t compete against your peer. You aren’t there for them to judge or scrutinize. You are competing against yourself and the clock. The coaches and the athletes were cheerleaders, fanatics, and friends. Secondly, it helped me overcome grief. Like I mentioned previously, I had a marriage (before Brandon) end abruptly and I hadn’t fully healed. I needed a way to channel my energy, my hurt, my pain, and my confusion into something positive—something to make me feel better and build me up. CrossFit was exactly that. I took my bad days out on the weights. I sweated out the grief. It was how I coped. It became part of my family function. We “The Carvers” had both been through something and CFG helped strengthen our family. Facing my fears by walking through that door, every day, is my greatest achievement yet at CFG.
4. What’s your next goal to hit?
Cassie: CFG has done so much for me on a personal, therapeutic, and family level. My goals are now starting to shift toward my fitness. I still hope to someday get a strict pull-up (ok, any pull-up would be great). I now want to break two bills on my front squat and back squat, and be more proficient on my double unders (aka my arch nemeses). Who am I kidding? I want to EVERYTHING.
Brandon: Plain and simple, this week I would like to hit a 335# FS 1RM & a 400# BS 1RM (Coaches note: Brandon surpassed that back squat goal – he nailed 405# just couple weeks ago!). We plan to continue our path of fresh, whole eating. I feel like a new man. I am also going to continue training to enter the Florida USAW meet next year.
5. What’s your favorite CFG memory?
Brandon: Not all gyms are created the same, this IS the only gym that has kept my attention for more than 30 days though. My whole journey here at CFG has been a great memory, the coaching staff, the athletes that go here. I love you all, you all are great, and I love showing up to class. We all have a good time, give each other crap and have a great time! I have met some absolute great people there and fostered some excellent friendships.Keep up the great programming and maintain the low level of running. 2017 is going to be a strong year, lets go!
Cassie: My favorite CFG memory was with coach Leigh-Ann. As I previously mentioned, I have this fear of being judged and scrutinized. Well, we had a day where we had to work out with a partner (Leigh-Ann was my partner). Our partner had to watch us perform and critique our movements. The intention of this exercise was so we could learn and grow. Little did she know, this was my greatest fear. I woke-up that day, and I knew what the work out was and the expectation. I knew what I was getting into. I CHOSE to go anyways. I remember standing by the door fidgeting. I could feel my heart beat in my throat. My whole body was trembling. I didn’t really know anyone in that class. Since, I usually go in the evening with my husband. But I knew that in order to face my fear, I had to go alone. So I’m looking around the room, trying to select the ‘weak link’ if you will. I wanted someone nonthreatening, preferably wimpy who I could dominate against. OF course everyone had already partnered-up and I was flying solo. Leigh-Ann walked right up and said, “you’re my partner”. I honestly don’t think she even asked (which I am truly thankful for, I probably would have run out the door). Since Leigh-Ann was a coach, I viewed her as an authority figure in the CrossFit world and someone who could actually judge me, accurately, with plenty of street cred. As the WOD began, I was shaking. I was trying to do everything perfectly. She wasn’t critical or judgmental. She was nothing but kind, comforting, supportive, and the perfect partner. As soon as class was over, I walked right out the door. I climbed into my car and began to cry hysterically (you know, the super ugly kind of crying). I was flooded with emotion and pride—I did it. I faced my fear. I was becoming a better athlete, and more importantly, a better person.
I would like to thank every coach and member who has been apart of CFG. You have all helped me along my journey. This place has become a sanctuary for my family and me. We will forever be indebted to each and every one of you.