[Box jumping! Photo courtesey of Reebok.]

This post is part of the four-part series “Finding the Fun in Fitness with Reebok.”

Maybe being greeted by two elite CrossFit athletes as a prelude to your first ever CrossFit workout sounds a bit intimidating. But such was exactly how my first ever CrossFit experience began at the Reebok Women’s Fitness and Lifestyle Event, and it was anything but that.

Upon our arrival to the 5th Avenue studio, a small group of other fitness bloggers and I were greeted by Christmas Abbott and Annie Sakamotto, two well-known, elite CrossFit competitors. Both shared inspiring stories about how they found strength, courage, passion, and beauty through fitness and CrossFit.

[Annie Sakamotto performing kettle bell swings.]

In particular, Annie’s story really struck me as special. She shared with us that one day the family’s babysitter (she is a mom of two!) was dressing her younger daughter. The babysitter pointed out to Annie’s daughter that the pants she had chosen were just a tiny bit snug. To this, Annie’s daughter replied, “it’s because I’m strong like mommy.” 

When she finished her story everyone clapped and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s unfortunate, but women often aren’t taught to think this way, to think of strength as beautiful. So the fact that as a mom and a professional athlete Annie was able to have such a profound, positive impact on her daughter’s mindset really inspired me.

After listening to Annie’s and Christmas’ stories, we headed into the gym to start our workout where a theme of “Strong is beautiful” prevailed through our entire CrossFit session. There were several women leading the workout and before we started they really drove home the point that we should keep our exercise routines focused on what we can accomplish, rather than how we want to look. Fitness is important to our health but it should be fun. The aesthetic benefits like fat loss and muscle building are just welcomed side effects. Sure it’s okay to want to lose some weight or tone up your arms, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the best way to keep fitness fun is by continually challenging ourselves to accomplish new things.

[Annie and one of the CrossFit leaders in the midst of a super-intesne box jump competition!]

On a more personal level, I was really able to relate to the CrossFit-ers leading our workout because they talked about how many women come to their gym and say, “I want to lose this much weight,” and “I want to look like this, but I don’t want to look too bulky.” I mostly work with female clients, and often times they present me with all of the same sentiments when we begin working together.

Even though the CrossFit-ers and I are providing slightly different forms of training, our goals are the same in that we want to help our clients feel good about themselves at any weight, by encouraging them to shift their focus from how they want to look and towards what they can accomplish.

[Practicing burpees! Photo courtesy of Reebok.]

Aesthetics shouldn’t matter as much as working hard towards the goals that we can accomplish. We all have a certain “ideal” body type in mind, and that’s fine. But it’s going to be different for everyone, so we can’t forget that all body types are beautiful and more importantly, that strength is the most beautiful quality of all.