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Liz Huard: The Value of CrossFit

By Coach Liz Huard

I started CrossFit in 2008 after my first year of graduate school at Florida State. Despite doing all of the traditionally “right” things health-wise, I was gaining weight quickly and feeling like garbage in my daily life. Around that same time, a very close friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join her at the local box. So, even though I had no athletic abilities to speak of and I was absolutely terrified, I gave it a shot.

I will never forget that first summer. I thought my coach would let me quit because I was so slow (WRONG). I was constantly sore. I was nervous to go into the gym having no idea what kind of workout was in store (this was before the days of publishing WODs in advance). And I was constantly finding myself very far outside of my comfort zone. But I kept going back. Because on the flip side of that, I was doing things I never thought I’d be capable of doing. I was seeing progress and gaining strength. I was feeling awesome. I now know that this experience has given me invaluable tools – not only to become a fitter person, but tools that are applicable in everyday life: patience, perseverance, control, awareness, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, confidence, bravery, and so many other things that I have since applied beyond the gym setting.

I’m passionate about CrossFit because it was a life changer for me. It’s always super corny-sounding when people say that, but it’s true for me, and I’ve seen it change countless other lives in the last eight years.  It’s not just a hobby or even a fitness regiment. It made me (and continues to make me) who I am today. It’s brought me so many experiences I otherwise never would have had, it taught me to turn inward and face adversity. I love the saying, “CrossFit is not for everyone, but it is for anyone,” meaning, everyone has their style of fitness, and there is no one single way to get there, but if you’re willing to give CrossFit a shot, it is for you. It is accessible to all people, and my passion for CrossFit is rooted in that fact.

Throughout the years, I have hit PRs, I have seen my body grow and change, I have become stronger and faster, and I have had some really awesome highs within this sport. On the other hand, I’ve also had injuries, life changes outside of the gym, and other factors that have impacted the way CrossFit has looked in my life. With that in mind, I think what I’m most proud of is my ability to really embrace the ups and downs, and truly appreciate the fact that there is no destination, it’s a constant journey. To truly stick to something, to continuously enjoy it, and to get the most out of it, you have to constantly reevaluate your goals and expectations. So I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to do that relatively gracefully (on most days).

In 2011 one of my coaches encouraged me to get the CrossFit Level 1 certification, and to begin coaching. It’s not something that I ever saw myself doing, and when I first got started, there was definitely a big learning curve. But I was lucky to have very small and phenomenal coaches to mentor me. The cool thing is, looking back, it makes total sense that I became a coach. I’m a teacher at heart, and the bulk of my days are spent teaching Spanish at Spanish Institute in Denver. As it turns out, teaching CrossFit is not so different from teaching a foreign language. As a teacher, I’m comfortable, approachable, direct, and honest. I have a very student-centered approach. It’s not about me, it’s about them. I’ll often say the same thing in a multitude of ways to make sure everyone is taking something away from my cues.

For students who are looking for an extra boost in their learning and performance, we also offer private lessons. When I work one-on-one, I assess the athlete’s individual goals and interests, and like to focus on what needs the most attention for that particular person. I also like to teach students pieces of really important accessory and mobility work that we don’t always see in larger group classes in order to give them tools to train their weaknesses on their own.

What’s most important to me is being able to meet each athlete wherever they are at. Since I began CrossFit with nothing, I remember what that feels like very vividly, and I was blessed with coaches who were able to meet me where I was at, with little-to-no fitness or body awareness. So I think it’s very important to be able to make fitness accessible to those who don’t believe that they can get there. When I’m coaching, I emphasize drilling proper and functional technique. It’s the basis of everything we do, and keeps people safe and moving towards their goals. As a coach I love seeing people realize their potential and gain confidence in their capabilities, inside and outside of the gym. Our bodies are these awesome vessels that can do all kinds of neat things, and it’s so cool to see people when they are in the process of grasping what that really means. It’s easily the best part of this journey.
My advice to everyone reading this: Don’t be afraid to try CrossFit (or any other sport outside of your comfort zone)! If the 2008 Liz can do it, anyone can!
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