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Karen’s Empowerment Story


I felt in a rut professionally, personally, and physically when I first joined CrossFit Central. I had published a book, adopted a child, and run three marathons and yet still, somehow felt like I was weak and floundering. After listening to some friends rave about CrossFit I decided that perhaps what I was lacking, despite some real accomplishments in my life, was the strength and support system to appreciate them.

I work out three times a week at 6:15am in Coach Jen Shaw’s women’s only class. Those 45 minutes, burst of power and exertion have become the fundamental anchors of my week. The first six months of Crossfit were the most profoundly humbling of my life. The warm-up alone left me gasping and wondering what terrible decision had brought me to this place.For the first several weeks I didn’t speak to anyone in class, just grunted and sighed to myself as I struggled through unfamiliar moves and expectations. I felt like an ass. I waited for someone to kick me out. And finally I stopped caring that I was not yet as strong as the strong women around me and that continuing to show up anyways was for now, enough.
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It was the first time I’ve ever felt comfortable being “the worst” at something in my life. And what a thing to have a group of deeply impressive, good-humored, similarly sweaty and vulnerable women rally around you as you graduate from jumping pull-ups to the green band to the red band to the blue band to no band. Every little increment of progress acknowledged and cheered.  There’s something profoundly invigorating about accomplishing the hardest task of your day—climbing a rope to the top, jumping onto the higher box, finding the courage to lift something heavy and then heavier still, over your head even after first failing—by 7 o’clock in the morning. It means you’ve already risked trying, risked failing, and dared try again. Suddenly the rest of your day is freed up in crucial ways. If I got up the nerve to climb a fricking rope, surely I can then summon up the courage to push myself harder professionally and demand more from myself personally. I climbed a rope! By myself! To the top! If I can do that, what can’t I do? Oh right, handstand walks. One day… And maybe that there is my biggest takeaway so far from Crossfit: I might not be able to do something today, dammit I will get there eventually if I just keep showing up and giving my honest best, even when it’s scary and hurts and makes me shout filthy obscenities. 



  • I’m 38 years old & feel committed to my coach & team more than I ever did playing varsity sports in High School.
  • I’m 38 years old and I just bought my first bikini.
  • I’m 38 years old and I’m a mother, a wife, a writer, and an athlete. 


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