“Athlete. That’s the first word I would always use to describe myself. I grew up a jock and I loved it. I loved competing. I loved having a team. Then at 24 I was diagnosed with cancer, and again at 26 I had a recurrence. Suddenly, I couldn’t even lift my arm above my head. I wore a compression sleeve for 2 years to battle the effects of having my lymph nodes removed. Walking caused swelling. Weights were out of the question. I got chubby and lost track of who I was.
A year ago I signed up for, and finished, a half marathon. I got back into the habit of working out and I was feeling better and getting stronger but I was bored. Bored with a set schedule. Bored of doing it alone. Bored of blowing off that last set, or last 20 minutes of my workout. Plus, I started to plateau in my weight loss and I wasn’t seeing any new changes in my body.
Then, CrossFit Cape Ann opened and it has changed my life, completely. I went to one class and I knew it was what I needed. I was apprehensive at first – I had just signed up for a marathon in February, I hadn’t seriously lifted weights in 5+ years, I didn’t want to bulk up or get injured. After a few times in the gym though I quickly forgot about those worries. I let go of those cancer “crutches.” I was surrounded by a group of people who were all figuring out how to be stronger and fitter, together. I had a team again! I had a coach who was invested in my success and a collaborative of people who were all working hard to better themselves. We all have different bodies and different strengths but we’re doing it. I’m still lazy sometimes. I often fail. I still make excuses. The difference is that now I have a group of people who make me want to work harder, lift more, and get that damn pull-up!
Oh, and that marathon – I finished in 4:40 with no training but CrossFit and yoga for the 10 weeks leading up to race day. I’m an athlete again, thanks to CFCA.” Heather Fraelick
I’ve joined gyms before. I would go for a while, I was psyched, convinced this time I’ll stick with it. I wandered around aimlessly, ran on the treadmill, randomly picked up some barbells. Then slowly I realized…I effing hate this. I hate everything about it. I hate the people, I hate the smell, I hate that I have no idea what I’m doing.
When I moved to MA I was doing absolutely nothing physical at all. My roomies were into Crossfit and constantly singing it’s praises. I was highly skeptical at first. The last time I enjoyed exercise was…um never. But after months of hearing them talk about how great it was and seeing some results I finally tried it out. I wasn’t convinced.
Then, a couple months later that same roomie told me about a new Crossfit that had just opened in Gloucester. She had checked it out and loved it and she thought I would to. When I showed up I was surprised by how at home I felt. It was not like any gym I had ever been in. It was warm and clean and nice to look at. And I was greeted by Jon Conant. My roomie had told me that was he awesome, and she was right. He’s an amazing coach and motivator and just an all around great guy. I was nervous because I was so out of shape and the stuff that I was asked to do was HARD! But Jon scaled things for me according to where I was, and I realized that I could do all of it with some modification.
The people who do Crossfit are epic. Crossfit is not for wimps. If you’re happy doing the same damn thing day in and day out, running on your treadmill like a hamster on a wheel, then more power to you. But Crossfit is full of people who want more. They want to work their asses off (literally) and be challenged and held accountable and have fun! Crossfit is full of people who are willing to do hard things because it gets results. AND they’re tons of fun. There’s nothing like doing a workout with 5 other people and you’re trying to beat them, and you’re cheering them on and it’s just…awesome.
The thing I tell people is that I’ve finally found a gym that I actually like and that I WANT to go to. And it’s essentially like having a personal trainer in the epic Jon Conant. There’s nothing like knowing that if you don’t show up for a few days, you’re gonna have to answer to a few people!
If you’re ready to start taking your health seriously, to get into the best shape of your life, to have fun doing so, to be challenged like you never have before and to meet some amazing new people, Crossfit Cape Ann is the place to be.
I discovered CrossFit Cape Ann about 3 1/2 months ago and it came at just the right time. I was used to being super active and outdoors all the time while living in California and was starting to get really discouraged heading into winter, worrying about what I was going to do to get my fix. I was also looking for something to get me excited about working out again. Something that would get me out of my boring typical gym rut! Everybody at CFCA is fantastic. Jon and Karen have made the place very welcoming and a fun place to be. The members are super supportive of each other and it’s encouraging to be around other people who are working toward similar goals. I recommend it to everyone! Kacia Sullivan
“I think what is possibly the most important part of my submitting a testimonial is that it was completely unsolicited. In fact, I approached Jon to add a spot on his website because I feel so strongly about what is happening in a small space on Parker Street. Similar to my wife, I’m a lifelong athlete that played any and all sports growing up and continued playing into college (football & baseball). After college I took a sedentary office job tethered to a phone for 10-12 hours a day and continued to eat like a two sport athlete. Gradually, I added close to 10 pounds a year and in 2007 I weighed 270 pounds. I went to my annual physical to review my blood work with my physician who stated, “You have the labs of a 50 year old pre-diabetic man”. I started taking medication to bring down my cholesterol LDL level and another medication to manage my 3-month glucose levels and with a fad diet I dropped some weight but my blood work was slow to change. I used my hectic work schedule to justify my poor health and made small, yet unsustainable, gains that kept me off medications.
I was extremely frustrated by a lack of progress and was constantly injured, sore, and frustrated as my mind still knew what I was capable of while my body couldn’t even handle coed slow pitch softball. I have belonged to more gyms than I care to admit, and basically donated money to them annually showing up 2 or 3 times a month. I would put in maximum effort for a month and then lose interest, becoming bored and lazy. My wife and I hired a personal trainer to “motivate” us and as good as he was/is, the routines were similar, if not the same, and my work didn’t produce any tangible results. I had accepted the fact that I was overweight and out of shape and that wasn’t going to change after trying unsuccessfully for 10 years.
My introduction to Crossfit was a Reebok video my wife used to explain what she had just gone through in Gloucester at the new CACF. A year earlier she had committed to run a ½ marathon and trained to get into shape. She was, at the time, in good shape and loved CrossFit from her first class there. I, on the other hand, was approaching my high water weight mark and I was completely intimidated by what I saw – a standard Crossfit benchmark workout. I agreed to try a CrossFit session, couldn’t complete the workout and threw up. I absolutely hated it because it illustrated how out of shape I was. There was no way I was going to pay someone to make me self-conscious and sick, I could do that on my own.
After enough feeling bad for myself I snapped out of it and made the decision to try it for a month. I wanted to see the same gains as those members that starting in early November (2010). I knew I would have to do three things: join as a monthly member and not a punch card based on my attention span and track record, attend classes at least 3X a week, and start slow with lighter weight and work on proper form. Then, after two months the CFCA started their Paleo Challenge – a dietary lifestyle change that expedited the gains I was seeing from the gym. For the first time, in a long time, I was excited to work out and I enjoyed the diverse group of people that came to the gym. The best part about the gym is going through the same hard workouts together as a group. Jon is passionate about Crossfit but doesn’t take himself or the gym too seriously and that attitude lends itself to people showing up during the open gym days to discuss hiking, climbing, surfing and fitness.
I have seen gains that have drastically exceeded my expectations. I’ve lost 30 pounds in 4 months and feel energy that has been missing since before college. While I’m frequently sore, I have not been injured and specific injuries have slowly gone away (lower back pain, stiff neck, shoulder pain). I started with a one month membership 2X a week and have upgraded to 3-4+ times a week. I’ve never publicly endorsed a product or service but feel like my experience is not atypical or unrealistic. I can’t speak for all Crossfit gyms because I think the people, and especially the coach, make a huge difference. My overall health has improved signifigently with blood work showing a “healthy” 32 yr old man that still has some work to do. The more I learn about Crossfit the more I respect the science behind it. I cannot thank Jon and Karen enough, their gym has changed the way I feel about health, fitness and myself. I’m excited to experience a summer feeling this way.” Rick Fraelick
I showed up for my “Intro to Crossfit” class early, and noticed several people running out the door. As I got closer it was apparent that the folks here were involved in their team challenge. Wanting to feel confident I walked in and my first impressions were:
1 – some of these folks appeared older than me, although not by much and they all looked like everyday people, almost equal guys and girls, all shapes and sizes, very real. I didn’t feel intimidated
2 – no one wore fancy, high end workout gear here (one guy was running around in a pair of old, paint splattered chinos), and here I was worried about wearing my worn, grass stained, but oh so comfortable nikes
3 – they were blasting music, not the typical Kiss 108 pop music I was used to hearing at my old gym, but The Cure no less…love them
4 – these people were clearly working hard…they looked tired, but it was also apparent they were having fun
5 – I think I can definitely manage pullups with the help of those resistant bands
6 – this gym was small, much more intimate than my big, old gym. I liked it. A lot Sue Antinoro
Some days I don’t want to go to Crossfit, well let me say I don’t want to go to the gym. Some days I just want to stay under the covers. Some days I make up excuses for why I don’t have the time or perhaps I’m too sore from the day before. Well the good thing is Crossfit gyms and lucky enough for us Crossfit Cape Ann is not your typical gym. Once I get there the worst part is over because the next hour is guaranteed to be rewarding. You are surrounded by welcoming, inspiring, hardworking, individuals of all different ages. You are taught by amazing coaches and encouraged to keep at the workout, inspired by the other gym members sweating through the workout around you. The awareness of everyone doing the same workout makes it easier to do mentally because you know your not the only one with burning lungs, thighs and a racing heart. What you are feeling, most likely everyone else is feeling too. If you have an injury of any kind the coaches will help you modify the workout as needed so that you can still participate and benefit. There is a sense of camaraderie at Crossfit Cape Ann that I have never experienced elsewhere. I am so appreciative to have CFCA here in Gloucester, it makes home an even better place than I already thought it to be. Joining CFCA will change your life in one way or another. Just remember it takes time, effort and a positive attitude but with that you will surely feel and see changes in your body, sleep patterns, diet and overall happiness :) Sylvie Bell
Thank you for giving me the chance to test my limits, and break through. I had a moment of such clarity, inspiration and personal power at the gym the other day; and it moved me to write this note to you.
I was about 90% of the way through one of the workouts that included sit-ups, lifting the 50LB sandbag overhead and then running. I was taking a rest before completing the last 10 reps with the sandbag. I was standing with the sandbag between my feet and my arms at my side. A river of sweat was jumping off the tip of my nose. I stood there for a minute breathing deeply, feeling my heart pounding; my core was solid arms and legs trembling. Music was going and others were doing their workout. Everything slowed down and I didn’t hear a thing: other than my own breathing. I stared at the sandbag and thought of nothing other than completing this simple task. My mind was totally clear and I was at peace; I was entirely in that moment: no future, no past just now. I had pushed far beyond my limits (that I didn’t know I had) and felt a burst of power, confidence, clarity and inspiration. I thought to myself; this is life, this is who I am and this awesome. I’ve carried that moment with me and realized it gave me something else. Although it may sound strange, somehow it gave me hope. You’ve given me a gift and I’m grateful. Magic happens in your little gym. Anonymous Member
All throughout my childhood, I hated gym class. I was a puny, awkward kid with zero coordination, and I was always last-picked and spent most of the time happily warming the bench (which beat the alternative: inevitably taking a ball to the face). It’s not that I wasn’t active…my parents didn’t allow much television, so I spent a lot of time running around the woods, biking around town, and being a general nuisance in the neighborhood. I just wasn’t what one would call “sporty”.
As I got older, I went through a treadmill phase, an elliptical phase, did a bit of weight training, and sporadically jogged outside. This afforded me a consistently mediocre level of fitness, where I was never really out-of-shape, but never quite as fit as I wanted to be. My biggest problem with my workout routine was that it was just so painfully BORING. I yearned for something that was fun, but challenging.
After hearing about CrossFit from a few folks, I was intrigued. While I’m generally wary of anything with such a rabid following, I knew there had to be something to the hype. I could see the results right in front of me, and these people seemed to be having a good time! I became a bit of a CrossFit stalker, reading up on it and watching every video I could find online. I started to follow the caveman diet, began working on my air squats, purchased a few kettlebells to practice with, and when I finally finished my degree and had enough hours in the day, I sent an email to the good folks at CFCA to get started.
I admit to being a bit intimidated at first. I never quite outgrew my “awkward kid” phase, and I was anxious about being the newbie in what was now a well-established group. I needn’t have worried – Karen and Jon both have such a friendly and calm demeanor that I was immediately put at ease. I completed the four Fundamentals classes, which were tough, but a great introduction to all of the basic movements. Once I started attending regular classes, I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and friendly all of the CFCA members are. Everyone encourages each other, regardless of the amount of weight on the bar, or the time on the clock – it is truly a judgment-free zone. The coaches are fabulous, and know exactly how to motivate everyone in the class, whether it’s giving expert pointers for a certain lift, or queuing up the perfect soundtrack to help you blast through that last round of pull-ups.
Less than a year later, I’ve already noticed a huge difference. And it’s more than just the muscles growing on my twiggy arms and legs, and the ability to move faster and lift more weight – it’s the confidence I’ve gained in my body’s ability to do things, both inside and out of the gym. It’s that voice inside my head that always said “you can’t do that”, getting quieter every day. It’s talking about the day’s WOD over dinner with my husband, instead of ranting about our day jobs.
The community at CFCA is beyond vibrant. The folks here are some of the most creative, inspired, and motivated people I have ever met. I am honored to sweat alongside these guys and gals a few times a week, and I only wish I had not waited so long to walk through the door. Fortunately, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned here is that it’s never too late to start! Katrina Wightman