Forward by Pete Shaw
Soraya Moghadam joined NCR in February 2015 not knowing what she was getting herself into. She had set the generic goals typical of any normal person looking to progress their fitness and now only cares about her max snatch and clean and jerk. Every day Soraya walks into the gym with a smile on her face wondering how to attack the Workout Of the Day and still gets butterflies thinking about overhead squats.
I have had the pleasure of training Soraya one-on-one and I can tell you first hand that she has made leaps and bounds in her fitness. She is always determined to give the workout her very best and is the first to be inspired by other athletes' performances. We asked Soraya to describe her experience at NCR and this is what she had to say...
"I'm So Glad I Started CrossFit"
by Soraya Moghadam
Every New Year’s Eve for the past number of years I have made the same resolutions dealing with food and fitness. My final goals were always the same: to lose 10-20 lbs. I have done a number of things in the past, such as running several ½ marathons per year, cross-country skiing, cycling, swimming, doing cardio and power lifting at the gym, as well as a combo of the above.
All of that was fine, and I felt like I was fit, but my weight and body composition mostly stayed the same. Plus, I was getting bored and finding it a chore to get to the gym or to go for a run.
So in January 2015 I decided to push myself more and try something different. I thought I should try ‘Body Boot Camp’. I checked out some nearby sites on Facebook but was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a place nearby, so I gave up. Then Facebook suggested ‘CrossFit NCR’ and to be honest, I groaned a bit at the thought of CrossFit. I admit I didn’t know much about it, but the little I thought I knew was that it was some sort of hard core exercise fad with muscular, macho protein-shake-drinking ‘tough guys’ who would put down anyone who tried to caution them on the dangers of this fad. To be honest, they kind of scared me. But then I noticed it was near my home, a family member had a friend who went to NCR daily and loved it, and I was still looking for something different to do fitness-wise. So I emailed the site and very quickly received a friendly reply back. Because I was very nervous, I emailed the site a second time suggesting that it might be best if I just go and watch a class 1st, but again I received a quick, friendly reply back encouraging me to come and do a class.
I anxiously showed up near the end of January 2015 and the 1st thing I noticed was how welcoming and friendly everyone was. I asked some women in the change room where the lockers were, and they just smiled and told me “lockers aren’t needed here”; this shocked me but showed me how much trust there was with this group. I then waited in the lobby with some other obvious newcomers and we were watching a class finish. I have to admit, I was in awe with how fit and muscular the men and women were! I caught myself secretly wondering and hoping that I would be able to be like them-which was so different from my usual ‘lose 10-20 lbs’ dream. I sensed the rest of us in the lobby were feeling the same way-but we were obviously looking a bit nervous too!
We then did our first class, and it was fantastic. I remember it being challenging, I was sweating a lot, but also that it was great fun. But most importantly, I sensed a closeness with the whole group that I never saw at regular gyms, even in the group classes. I knew that day that this was for me.
I have been doing CrossFit at NCR since January 2015 and I am still grateful that Facebook suggested it on my newsfeed! I have noticed many changes, such as feeling happier and even more confident at work and other areas of my life. Things that would have made me anxious in the past bother me far less than before. If I have a bad day, I catch myself lighting up at the thought of going to CrossFit. My family, friends, and co-workers have told me on various occasions that they noticed a positive change in me as well. I sometimes feel like this may have prevented a mid-life crisis for me! I suspect part of this improvement may be the constant endorphin rush you get with a good, hard workout, but I think a lot of it is due to the sense of community you feel at NCR. From the start I was impressed with how welcoming and friendly everyone was - it is nothing like a regular gym where people smile politely but then go on with their business. Here people know and care about each other, and this includes during classes. There were many times I pushed myself harder than I thought I was capable of, despite wanting to give up, thanks to the encouragement of the coaches and members of the class.
And it doesn’t matter what level you are at, there is something for everyone at CrossFit. I love that the person next to me may be hoping to make the Games (the CrossFit world championships) someday or is working to be a competitive lifter, while I may simply want to be able to do a pull-up for the first time. I feel like everyone’s goals matter and I love the encouragement given to everyone. You are not made to feel like you are taking up space or wasting people’s time if you can’t lift as much or move as fast as the next person, and the coaches spend as much time-even more time-on the beginners compared with the more elite athletes. This is the first time in my life where I actually feel like I’m an athlete!
I had the good fortune to go to Albany for the East Regionals (CrossFit championship qualifier event), and I loved how a large group of us from NCR were there: it was our chance to be able to encourage our coaches who were competing, like they do for us all year round in our classes. It was great watching them and the other athletes - I caught myself again being inspired by them and it motivated me to push myself further when I returned to Ottawa. I caught myself following the Masters athletes as well and this inspired me to want to continue to do CrossFit well into my 50s and 60s. Imagine being a strong fit person in your 70s and 80s!
There are still many things in CrossFit that I can’t do and it doesn’t bother me that it may take me years before I finally can - I am having a great time trying, and I love the small improvements along the way. My ultimate goals are to be able to do most of the workouts Rx (as prescribed), and I suspect that will take a few years, so that’s ok. I have been doing private sessions with Pete Shaw, and I found them to be very helpful. I started out with these sessions because I felt that there were so many Olympic lifting moves I had trouble with, and I also felt I wanted to improve before going to the regular classes (though I see now that I could have gone to them even as a beginner). With his help, I am sure that I will reach my goals.
People have been kind enough to tell me that they noticed a change in me physically and that I look fitter compared with when I started. It hit me there that I realized how I stopped caring as much about my weight as I did the past 10 years. I see that my fitness resolutions these days just deal with doing better at CrossFit, and I am now just curious as to what I would look like as I improve (the more muscular the better!). And despite caring less about looking thinner, doing CrossFit was what finally helped me to get the change I was always wanting.