Athlete of the Month: Erin Winters

Erin Winters, Athlete of the Month January 2018

When you’re not seeing her bust out strict handstand pushups like a boss or perfecting her technique in Olympic Lifting, you’ll definitely find her at the front of the pack in any running WOD, oh and the first to crack the funniest jokes around. Erin Winters has made some serious strides in CrossFit and we’re excited to feature her as Athlete of the month as we kick off 2018!

1. When and why did you start CrossFit?

I started CrossFit in March, 2016. Prior to joining, I was exercising on my own, doing spin classes, running and lifting weights. After a while, things became stale and I wasn’t seeing the gains I used to have as a new runner.

I knew I needed something to help step up my game.

CrossFit Salus Middletown Athlete of the Month Erin WintersLiving with someone who is a crossfitter definitely inspires you. Shawn, my husband, has made amazing strides with his health because of CrossFit Salus. I’ve known him my entire life and had never seen any form of exercise motivate him the way this did.

So, in spite of my fear of the unknown, I went for a free trial and immediately felt like I had found an amazing community of like-minded, encouraging people.

2. How has your performance changed since you started CrossFit?

I’m definitely stronger. I would never have dreamed I could lift the way I do now.

Learning the efficiency behind movements has been a game changer too. I have learned just how powerful I can be when I really listen to the coaches and focus on form.

CrossFit has also shaved minutes off of my running times too. The improvement I’ve had running makes me optimistic that this is something I can continue to get better at in my late 30’s and 40’s.

The mental strength I have gained from demanding WODs is also something that stays with me during running.

When maintaining a faster pace, enduring longer distances, or running hills becomes daunting, I have used the same encouraging words I tell myself during WODs to push me through.

3. Are there exercises you can do now that you couldn’t do before?

Absolutely!! I can remember thinking during on ramp that I will never get these moves down. While movements, like snatches, thrusters, and front squats, are still a work in progress, there are some things I was unable to do before that I feel comfortable with now.

One moment that speaks to that progress took place during on ramp. It was one of those “lets see what we are working with” moments when Gino asked me to kick up against the wall and do my first handstand pushup. First, I thought I was going to either kill him or tip over into the very expensive sound system. Turns out, he can be pretty persuasive, so I gave it a try. Once I was in the handstand hold, he then told me to lower my head onto the abmat. When he told me to push back up, this where all progress ended. My head was not coming up off that abmat.

Now I can now do at least 9 strict handstand push ups unbroken.

Add that improvement to (my newly reborn) double unders, split jerks, ring dips, and kipping pullups.

4. How has your body physically changed since you started?

I remember when one of fellow Salus members told me “your body has totally changed. You look like a crossfitter now.”

It was a kind of a turning point for me. It made me feel like a I LOOK like I belong here. I didn’t feel like a runner who CrossFits. I felt like I was a crossfitter who runs.

My body definitely feels stronger and I see more definition in my upper body. I never joined CrossFit with the intent of changing how my body looks, but it certainly makes me feel good when people notice just how hard I’ve worked.

I’ve also learned a lot about nutrition. Doing the challenge last year and adopting a hybrid of paleo and macro counting has really opened my eyes to how important food is for performance. My diet has become a major player in my workouts.

5. How has CrossFit changed you in other ways?

The most important change is that it’s challenged the way I think. I’m a perfectionist. If I can’t do something perfectly the first time, I won’t risk making a mistake and therefore won’t take a chance at all. CrossFit involves making a ton of mistakes in order to learn.

The coaches at Salus have helped me feel comfortable taking these risks. I’m willing to try a new movement or increase weight because I feel supported by those around me.

Allowing myself to feel uncomfortable during a hard workout is still something I grapple with, but I’m realizing those are the moments when I find I’m more capable than I originally believed.

It’s helped me accept that I might not achieve my goal today, but tomorrow is another chance to try again.

6. How do you describe CrossFit to your friends?

It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it can be done by everyone.

Most people assume crossfitters are ridiculously strong, athletic people who aren’t human. It can seem totally intimidating. I, myself, used to say “it’s not for me”.
However, try 1 or 2 classes. I can promise the support you receive from the coaches and other athletes in the box will encourage you to come back.

It’s the kind of workout where everyone can participate in the WOD at their own pace and anything can be scaled to help you progress.

Plus, the others working alongside you will encourage you each step of the way.

7. What keeps you motivated to continue? What’s your “why”?

My “why” changes all the time. Some days it’s to get faster or stronger. Some days it’s because the WOD has all my favorite exercises. Other days, the WOD has exercises that I hate and the only way I’ll get better is by forcing myself to do it.

Sometimes it’s merely because I want to feel better and to relieve stress.

Overall, I just want to be better today than I was yesterday.

8. Favorite lift or WOD?

Running is a given, especially short distances that involve sprinting.

Team WOD’s are a lot of fun, no matter the lifts or movements prescribed. I also love a 1 rep max day with some good old-fashioned lifting.

The energy in the box can make anyone feel like a rockstar.

9. What advice would you give to a newbie just joining CrossFit Salus?

You must be patient with yourself.

There will be workouts that will make you feel completely lost and inadequate. Everyone has stood in the box, feeling confused and overwhelmed, all while watching others grab weights and scribble on whiteboards as if they have been doing this their whole lives.

It’s all going to seem like they are speaking another language that you will never get the hang of. However, I guarantee that if you speak up, those same people will be the first to answer any question you have. In addition, as much as those seasoned crossfitters enjoy hitting their own PR’s, they equally enjoy cheering on someone new when he/she reaches his/her own goals.

Try to remember that even the seemingly advanced athletes had to start from the beginning too and have been in your shoes.

10. What is your next goal to accomplish?

In the near future, it’s to properly do snatches, toes to bar, and chest to bar.

I’ve been dealing with an inflamed shoulder for several months that has tried my patience with the healing process and at times, made me feel genuinely angry and frustrated that I have lost some progress that I made prior. These are movements that seem to exacerbate it the most.

I’m trying to use this experience as my 2nd chance at on ramp.

My body is telling me to work on doing them correctly.

Long term goals are to run a ½ marathon in under 2 hours, run a 5k in under 23 minutes, link toes to bar/ chest to bar, continue improving double unders, improve squat form, and maybe one day, get that muscle up I was working towards.

11. If you could design your own WOD, what would it look like?

Teams of 2 for time:
200 m run (partners do together)
80 Deadlifts 135# for ladies
200 m run
40 handstand pushups
200 m run
80 Deadlifts
200 m run

12. Favorite thing to do for fun?

Definitely spending time outdoors, preferably at the beach with a book.

13. Favorite healthy dish….and favorite “cheat” meal?

I love anything that involves grilling, like burgers, steak, shrimp, or clams alongside grilled veggies and a salad.

For a cheat, I love any cheese, chocolate or wine. I’m your typical girl.

14. If you could be a superhero/animal/superstar who/what would you be and why?

This question that was tough to answer. Every time I thought of someone or something to be, I would think of a problem that came along with taking on his/her identity. I’m sure I’m overthinking this (shocker), but I’ve always felt that if you envied someone or wish you could have their life, it also meant that you inherited their problems.

There are too many people and moments in my life that made me who I am. I would miss them all too much if I traded that for a new identity.

Like Oscar Wilde said:

“be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

15. Favorite motivational quote?

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

This quote popped up when I needed it most. I was nearing the race date for a ½ marathon I was training for and was so afraid of failing to achieve my goal time. Scott Brownfeld posted a youtube video on facebook with this quote in it and it resonated with me.

I had to get past my fear of failure and trust my training.

This became my mantra for the final few miles of my run. Although I ended up falling just short of my goal time, I PR’d my run by approximately 6 minutes.