The Body in Which We Live


Justina and Barb rope climbing at Amoskeag Concord
This is me and Justina. We both work out and coach at Amoskeag Concord.

One of the things I love about CrossFit, especially as it relates to women, is the fact that there is really no “ideal” body for excelling at the sport, or with being successful in the gym at any level. The concept of constantly varied in the description of CrossFit and its philosophy opens the doors for people of all shapes and sizes to find success and better their health.          

The photo is me and Justina. We both work out and coach at Amoskeag Concord. We are both women. We both have two-year-old children. We both love CrossFit, competing in CrossFit, and what CrossFit brings to our lives. We are both quite self-critical sometimes. We dislike aspects of our physique; we wish we were better at certain movements, and we spend a good amount of time and money on training and nutrition plans. We are mothers.

The similarities stop there.

Justina lives inside a strong, hefty, solid body. While my CrossFit eyes see the strength a body like hers has, knowing American culture all too well, it is likely that Justina has spent a lot of time thinking she is too big. Her build helps her succeed in power workouts as well as workouts with weight lifting in them.

If there is a place for big thighs to exist without negative judgement, it is in a CrossFit gym.

I live inside a long, relatively skinny body. While I have never truly worried about my weight, I have always longed for curves, boobs and a butt, to look more feminine and less like a “human stick”. I imagine Justina sees my strong lungs with her CrossFit eyes. My ability to bang out a chipper with ease. She might also see my core strength. I see small (although well defined) muscles and weak shoulders.

We long for what we feel we are lacking.

We are also twenty-seven years apart in age.

At almost thirty-three Justina is coming into her peak years physically. I am sure she feels old sometimes when competing against those twenty something athletes, but research has shown that women continue to improve, and are often better after childbirth. I know that she sees her flaws first and takes a while to come around to her victories.

What I wouldn’t give to see how I could do at this sport at her age.

At sixty I am well beyond my athletic peak. As a once elite athlete I remember being the best of the best. Winning races, being the favorite. I have my moments in CrossFit competitions. I can easily win my “over 50” scaled competitions and I can sometimes outperform women Justina’s age. I don’t always see these accomplishments though. I disqualify them with terms like “old lady division” and “forever scaled”.

While I also tend to see my flaws first, I am quick to throw my hands over my head and take a bow when I do well.

Justina and I competed in a competition together this past weekend called the Amoskeag Classic. It is the brainchild of Ryan Tanguay. Not an AFC member he approached our gym because if it’s size/location and reputation for embracing the competition side of CrossFit. Now in its third year the “Classic” is well on its way to becoming a premiere New England event. There were five of us from our little gym. Jared in the masters, Sean in open scaled, Tucker in open RX, and Justina and me in open scaled.

We set up tents, we brought chairs, we are family.

In our field of 13 Justina was one of the younger ones and I was the oldest. We ranged in age from seventeen to sixty. We were short, tall, thin, thick, soft and solid. Every body type was represented in our group. We all had our unique and personal strengths but we shared comradery and a common goal, to do the best we could. We all had personal goals as well. Mine were to finish ahead of last year if possible and to finish every workout. I almost met them. I was timed out of one workout and I believe I finished a bit higher last year. I am still happy. Justina had two main goals which were to complete a wall walk as well as a rope climb. She did both.

We both did well, but in very different events.

I placed 5th in the running workout. I placed 4th in the chipper. Apparently doing pull-ups is a skill that many female athletes do not have. My endurance, ability to hurt, and core strength saved me here. Justina also had a 4th and a 5th. Her best events were the snatch workout and the bike/dumbbell thrusters. Her strong amazing powerful quads and hamstrings kicked ass. Short bursts of strength come easily to her.

Together, as one athlete, we would be amazing.

So why am I writing this? Mainly to point out that we all have value. That while our looks are sometimes important, they are not the deciding factor in finding success. Neither is age. I am almost twice Justina’s age. Our overall finish is really a tie in my mind. Along with our top half performances, we both finished close to last a couple of times. We each bring our strengths and our weaknesses to the table.

We are amazing role models for our children.

As I finish this my muscles are finally calming down and I am returning to normal. I had a massage and chiropractor visit. My shoulder is feeling better. My knees work and my legs move. I am incredibly grateful that I was given this body to house my soul. It does almost everything I want it to do. It is fit and relatively healthy. It lifts things and climbs ropes and does pull-ups. It runs. I love all of these things.

And I love all of the thing’s bodies built like Justina’s can do. We are all amazing.


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