Tag Archives: CrossFit Pandora’s Box

Trainer Interview – Liz Harrison

Liz Harrison is one of the first stories we’ve had from folks I haven’t yet met directly, so thanks Liz for joining the fun! Let’s learn a bit more about her…

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a 35 year old military wife of 14 years. I am a mom the three smart, rambunctious kiddos, and foster mom to a baby girl. I love to be outside, riding my horse, serving my community, cooking, and of course doing CrossFit. I am stubborn, independent, driven, and strong in my faith.

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been an athlete my entire life. I was a competitive swimmer for 13+ years, ran cross-country in high school, and competed with the equestrian team in college. Three years ago I was looking for a gymnastics program for my kids and had some difficulty. After talking with my husband, who has followed the main site for several years, he suggested I find a CrossFit kids program. I found a great box in Georgia (CrossFit Sacrifice) and after a few weeks of running several miles while the kids worked out one of the owners said I should give CF a try. I did and drank the Kool-aid right away.

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 1

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I enjoy helping people and I love the box. Coaching offered me another way to help my community but also keep my schedule flexible with the Army and four kids at home.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

To help people achieve their physical goals. Support them as athletes and as friends.

Q: If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

Slow progress is still progress. I have a tendency to get impatient with myself or compare myself to others. Gains are much less frustrating if you enjoy the journey. Stop being so hard on yourself and be content with how far you have come.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment or movement at the box? And least favorite?

I love HSPUs (handstand push ups) and push press. My least favorite is  probably the snatch, probably because I stink at it. 😉

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

CrossFit Pandora’s Box in Colorado Springs for both.

CrossFit Pandora's Box - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I think several factors are involved. One is it’s hard to get bored. You are doing different things every day instead of just hitting the same cardio or weight routine.

Second, the community. Several close friends of mine are fellow athletes at the box. They hold you accountable plus the social aspect of the box is so nice. It’s like coming home and everybody is happy to see you and cares about you.

Third, progress is so easy to see. When I started I couldn’t do an unassisted pull up and my back squat was about 85lbs. Now I can do weighted strict pull ups and back squat 205lbs. Hard to deny those results.

Finally, CrossFit is literally for everyone. Is is scalable to age, injury, pregnancy, whatever.

I had a degenerative spinal disorder as a kid which landed me with two spinal fusions, hardware, and two hip graphs to help my back. This also put me in a wheelchair for two years as a teenager. I remember the doctor telling my mother, “She’ll be lucky if she can walk. Don’t bother with competitive swimming anymore.” And as tears rolled down my face he looked at me and said, “There will be other things.” I was devastated. And it was terribly hard to swim when your legs don’t do what you ask them to.

So my stubborn self picked myself up and worked my way back into the pool. And just to drive my point further to the doctor, I joined the cross country team.

Unfortunately I was never the same athlete again. I never competed at the same level and just felt done.

When I joined the box it didn’t matter my starting point. My coaches just said “OK let’s do this.” And that’s what I needed: a sport where my past didn’t haunt me in my progress. And yes, there are still movements where I have to work a little harder mentally and physically, but look how far I’ve come!

CrossFit Trainer Liz Harrison, Image 2

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

Recently my favorite became Kevin Ogar and I think it’s pretty obvious by my history above.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

What do you do when you slip into those doubting/down times? When it just feels too hard?

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

I went to the doctor for a physical to become a foster parent and she was amazed by my flexibility and how good my xrays looked of my spine. She asked me to touch my toes. I did. And she said I shouldn’t be able to do that. She said my spinal fusion was the best she had ever seen and asked what I do. I said “I pick up heavy stuff…and often.” She smiled and said to keep it up.

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Thank you Liz for answering these questions and sharing a bit of your story! One more great reminder of how much CrossFit can affect some amazing changes for the better!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!

Trainer Interview – Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a relatively new face at our box over the last year, but my whole family has enjoyed both working out with and being coached by him ever since. He is a big kid with a big goofy grin, and always has something positive or constructive to say to help you achieve your goals. His enthusiasm is infectious!

Plus, having him sing a duet of Journey’s “Faithfully” with your wife to encourage you to finish a workout is one heck of an incentive to get it done! 🙂

He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

Q: What brought you to CrossFit as an athlete?

I have been competing the in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge for 11 years. I believed that I was in good shape and able to perform at a high standard of physical readiness for any incident that I may have encountered while on duty. I won numerous regional competitions while competing in the Challenge as well as held several National titles in both the individual and team events.

In 2010, my wife bought me a Groupon for CrossFit for Father’s Day. During that year I finished 7th in the World, competing against over 1,000 firefighters from around the globe, so I did not redeem it until the Challenge season was over. When that happened, I contacted the CrossFit gym and set up an appointment to meet the owner and training staff. This was a requirement before attending a class.

My first CrossFit class left me in a puddle of sweat, lying on my back realizing that I was not in the shape I thought I was.

After that, I believed that CrossFit would not only benefit me as a firefighter, but it would also benefit with training for the Challenge. I drank the proverbial Kool-aid and was instantly hooked. In the following months, I lost body fat and gained lean muscle. I found myself able to move through the Challenge course faster and with greater ease. I believed that I had unlocked a secret to maintaining a superior level of fitness.

The Challenge tapers off during the fall and picks back up in the spring, and during that time I have been able to scratch my competitive itch while competing in local Crossfit competitions. I have competed in more than 20 events to date, both as an individual and as part of a team.

bill-gates

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a military brat and have traveled across the country. During that time I learned that I have a desire to help people. This led me to a career as a firefighter with the Air Force. I spent nine years servicing in the Air Force and during that time I was stationed in Texas and Colorado. I spent four years of my service time as an instructor at the Louis F. Garland DoD Fire Training Academy. There I found a calling to teach, becoming a DoD Master Instructor, earning a teaching certificate, and teaching almost 10k hours.

As a teacher, I was able to build a rapport with almost any audience and connect with them. This really helped me when I began coaching CrossFit. I began to see and hear what motivated people to succeed. It is incredible to see an athlete make that connection or have that “ah-ha” moment in CrossFit. I believe that my time as an instructor greatly influenced the way I coach and lets me know when to push a bit more or let the athlete move at their own pace.

As far as my family, I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 20. Six months after being married we announced that we were having our daughter. And a short three years later we had our second child. Both my daughter and son are truly an amazing blessing. I love nothing more than seeing them succeed –  whether that is in life, school, or in an athletic arena. My daughter has my competitive drive whereas my son enjoys being part of a team more.

I just surpassed my 15-year mark as a federal firefighter and I am enjoying the good life. My amazing wife is finishing her Nurse Practitioner degree which she has managed to do while continuing to work part-time in the emergency department at a hospital.

Q: Why did you become a trainer?

I became a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer in 2011, shortly after I began CrossFit. I am a firefighter and the Fire Chief approached me about taking the course to improve physical fitness in the fire department. I was the health and fitness point of contact within the department and attempted to be well versed in fitness routines. Essentially asking “What will work for that athlete?”

CrossFit was not new to the fire service, but the department I worked for did not have a fundamental understanding of movements or standards. And the Fire Chief wanted to provide opportunities for trained personnel to assist anyone interested in CrossFit work out without getting injured.

Q: What is your main focus or goal as a trainer?

When I attended the Level 1 training course, I intended on ensuring I was moving well so I could decrease my own chance of injury. (CrossFit has a perception of being dangerous.) After taking the course and attending various classes, I found that for every good trainer there were several poor trainers instructing classes.

I studied coaching techniques, cues, and instruction and after about a year I believed that I would enjoy coaching more than just firefighters at the station. So I asked about coaching at the gym and began shadowing the gym owner.

Q: If you could start over as a CrossFitter, what would trainer-you tell athlete-you?

As a trainer, I would tell the athlete me to slow down. It is not a race to learn everything at once. Become well rounded and research various articles and training techniques. Reach out to other coaches, gym owners, and train at a facility willing to open their doors for you. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box?

My favorite piece of equipment at the box would be the barbell. It’s such a versatile piece of equipment! Athletes are able place heavy amounts of weight on a barbell to gain strength or reduce load to perform metabolic conditioning. Athletes are able to perform isolation movements as well as multi joint, full body movements. The barbell seems to become an athlete’s friend and nemesis within a matter of minutes during a workout.

Olympic weights

Q: Where do you train? And where do you teach?

I typically train and coach at Crossfit Continuum. However, I attend an Olympic lifting class on a regular basis at CrossFit Pandora’s Box. I have found that coaches still need to be coached. It is easy to believe that you are moving well but the reality may be very different, so I have found it very beneficial to get another set of skilled eyes ripping apart my lifts and movements.

Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?

I believe and state that to be a success in CrossFit the athlete must have competitive drive. CrossFit provides release for athletes who still have that deep-rooted competitive drive. I have seen a stay-at-home mother succeed at beating a division 1 athlete during a WOD because in that particular moment the mom was able to move better.

CrossFit consists of constantly varied functional movements at high intensity, and virtuosity (doing the exceptional, exceptionally well). It provides every athlete opportunities to shine and be humbled. The continued growth of the sport stems from athletes succeeding in their boxes, at local events and competing with the world during the annual CrossFit Open.

Q: Who is your favorite CrossFit athlete and why?

My favorite CrossFit athlete would be Rich Froning. I have personally met Rich and believe he is an outstanding athlete as well as a gentleman.

Q: If you could ask your favorite CrossFit athlete a question – what would it be?

The question I would ask Rich is – “During that moment when the workout is toughest and your body wants to quit, what do you tell yourself to push through the pain and succeed?”

 

Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?

This is a difficult question. I have met so many amazing athletes and seen amazing feats of strength and abilities. I have competed with and against athletes that have left me filled with unbelievable pride and humility. I have met Rich Froning, competed against Kevin Ogar, and been coached by Jared Enderton as well as Chris Hoppe. I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and into a gym that prides itself on producing high-level competitive CrossFitters. I have seen the benefits of sound strength training program from coaches that have a desire to make their athletes stronger but with refined beauty.

But, I cannot overlook and enjoy community and network that I have become a part of with CrossFit. Almost everywhere I go, I can recognize a CrossFitter and engage in a conversation. Many boxes have their own set of programming goals and plans for their athletes which leads to successes in their own ways. And the truly amazing aspect of every box is to see and feel the sense of community, building of friendships, and how a diverse group of athletes grows from being a collection of individuals with a desire to better themselves to becoming a family.

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Thank you Bill for answering these questions and sharing a bit about your own journey! As always, we love seeing you at Crossfit Continuum as a coach or as an athlete!

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Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!