In February 2014, I moved to a new place for work where I knew absolutely no one. I was the general manager of a restaurant and the only people I got to know during the opening process and even months after the opening, were the staff. I didn’t have time for anything else.
I have always been athletic and enjoyed competitive sports. One of my staff members Ashley, was a CrossFitter and kept telling me I should come check it out. I kept telling her that CrossFit was for crazy people, plus it was expensive. She was a school teacher, a couple years older than me, and waited tables part-time. She looked great and I could tell she really loved going to the box. One day she came into work and told me that there was a Groupon deal for her box. I decided to try it. Why the hell not? If I didn’t like it after a few months I just wouldn’t go back, and let’s face it I would be in better shape than what I was when I started.
I went in for my first class on the Saturday of Memorial Weekend, it was a one-on-one with the owner, we went over some techniques and he put me through a workout. He could tell that I was an athlete previously and told me that I could come to any classes I wanted to from then on. As I was finishing, Ashley and her husband came in for the Saturday morning WOD. She invited me to the Memorial WOD, Murph, and told me what it was. I am pretty sure after hearing what the workout was, I laughed and told her sorry I was going to be out of town. Until this year, that was the last Murph I missed, and it was only because of work.
With me running the restaurant and working 12+ hours a day, the 6 am class was the best option for me. I’m pretty introverted so the first few classes I attended, I would go in, do my workout and leave, but it didn’t take too long for the 6 am ladies to break down my wall and get to know me. It was nice to have the accountability and to actually get to know some people other than at work. I stuck with CrossFit after my Groupon expired and I have my first CrossFit “family” to thank for that. CrossFit became an outlet for me to relieve stress and become mentally and physically stronger.
Eighteen months later I moved to Cape Coral. When I moved I tried a couple free boot camp classes at a local gym, as well as attended a globo gym, but it just wasn’t the same. I googled local CrossFit boxes and picked the one closest to my house, CrossFit Hurt. I wasn’t back to square one as far as understanding the lingo and movements, but I was back to being my quiet self, working out and leaving right away after the workouts. Eventually, I started getting to know people. I don’t think it was until the box did a fundraiser for a husband and wife who were members and their daughter who was going through cancer, that I really had my eyes open and understood the power of what an awesome community CrossFit can be. People from all the other local boxes came together to support the family whether they knew them personally or not. This day was when I realized that CrossFit means everyone comes together and are one big family. I didn’t have any family members here in Florida with me, I moved here from Iowa in 2007. It was nice to have some personal connections who were more than just co-workers or acquaintances. I’ve spent holidays and even Christmas with people I’ve met through the box. It’s nearly impossible to find that anywhere else besides CrossFit.
Eventually, I got asked to do my first competition by my box’s owner and his son and another female member. It was on the beach, so I said sure. It was a fun weekend and I got to know everyone better. A few months later a coaching opportunity came up and I discussed it with the owners and they encouraged me to take my CrossFit Level 1 course. I took the course in December of 2015 and began coaching. I coached at Hurt until they merged with CrossFit Cape Coral in the Fall of 2016. At that time I had started a new job and my availability changed as well as being introduced into another new environment, so I took a break from coaching and was just a member again.
In January of 2018, I began another new path and started the fire academy and EMT school. During school I scaled back my workouts since we had PT at the academy, and I started spending more time at the box. Now that I am a Firefighter/EMT it is more important than ever to stay physically fit. As one of my heroes, former Army and retired NYPD officer, and CrossFit Cape Coral Coach, Jym Meers, said to a group of kids that came into the box as part of the Police Explorers program, “As a first responder you give up the right to be out of shape and not healthy.” That comment really stuck with me. I was doing 2 -a-day workouts and lifting heavy, which I enjoyed but it made me step back and take a look at what I actually needed to be working on, and my “why” changed. I didn’t need to be doing 2 workouts a day, as well as lifting. I needed to be healthy and fit for duty without overdoing it, and being super sore while on shift. As all of the coaches at CrossFit Cape Coral say, “Scaling is not failing.” I think I scale more workouts now that I am healthy and stronger than when I first started CrossFit.
In May of 2018, Nick approached me and asked when I was going to have more free time and if I was interested in coaching still. I was definitely interested in coaching and I was finished with EMT school so I began my coaching internship with Nick. That’s when I started coaching group classes, beginner courses, Kids class, as well as one-on-one personal training.
Now, even with being a full-time Firefighter/EMT for Sarasota County, my current schedule allows me to still coach individuals and group classes.
At CrossFit, it is no longer my PR’s I get excited about, it’s watching members hit their PR’s and becoming healthier, stronger and faster, that makes it all worthwhile!
Crystal Moel is a CF-L1 trainer at CrossFit Cape Coral and a certified EMT and firefighter for Sarasota County, Florida.
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