Meet Coach Sharon!
Sharon took her first CrossFit class at Maia on a Saturday in May 2016. Her co-worker, Michele Ricou, (a member at Maia CrossFit) had been nudging Sharon to come try it out for a while. Michele had explained what the ‘box’ looked like but when Sharon rocked up, she had no idea what she was about to get into. A place with no mirrors seemed a bit weird at first, as Sharon was used to the typical globo gym environment.
The first workout that Sharon did was a mixture of box jumps, running and burpees. Sharon said, “I thought at the start of the class, “This looks fun, this isn’t so bad”… but by the end of the class I was dead!”.
Sharon had played netball but did no ‘real exercise’ for a while. She initially wasn’t sure if CrossFit was for her but with persistence and doing the exercises with other people, it made a world of difference. “I was used to talking myself out of going to the gym or if I did go, I would be there for 40 minutes and run on the treadmill ... which was never really a pleasurable experience - it was always a ‘this is something that I just have to do’ thing”.
New Kid in the Box
When Sharon committed to attending Maia CrossFit, she said “I saw all the people around, the coach was there the whole time, I started meeting people and building relationships… the unspoken vibe was just amazing.
The ‘muscular physique’ has always been appealing for Sharon but she was never successful in achieving it because her fitness routine was cardio based and never incorporated strength training. So, when Sharon started lifting weights she thought, “Oooh, this is gooood!” but she started off light.
Sharon remembers an experience during a class, “I looked over at Rebecca Downes and saw her strict pressing 30kgs, (I was really struggling to manage a 15kg bar) ... I looked over at her like, WOW, you are so strong! I was like this kid in a candy store, surrounded by all these strong people and I too wanted to be that strong”.
It’s taken her 3 years but at the moment Sharon can strict press 43kg. She believes in recording everything hence, why she has log books all over the place. “If you keep turning up, trying your best and trusting the process, you will get there”.
Sharon describes herself as a bit of an observer. “Looking around the room to see someone who appears to be small but can lift such a heavy amount of weight, with really good technique), that fascinates me. CrossFit takes months to learn the philosophy, movements and technique. Maia has an amazing philosophy itself . It’s a place to park your ego at the door and do the best that you can do that day”, Sharon says.
“Comparison is a thief of Joy” is her favourite quote by Theodore Roosevelt. Sharon says,“I have to work on that all the time. I have to look at me and only me. That is where I think my log books and the journaling helps”.
Sharon says she is at the age where she is seeing and hearing the messages about “beware women, your muscle is starting to decrease and [insert] all the other negative things that can happen to your body” ... “but touch wood because none of that has happened to mine”.
In fact, Sharon says that she is fitter, healthier and has way more muscle mass than she’s ever had in her life. She notes that it’s not all about the ‘exterior’ but these are some of the benefits that come with putting in the hard work.
One of the challenging movements for Sharon has been pullups. She says it took her about two and a half years before she got to the point where she could do kipping pullups. “Coach Jimmy was so patient with me, even when I wasn’t very patient with myself. One day he gave me a cue to keep a wooden board between my feet and from that moment - it clicked”.
The discipline and lessons that you can develop at CrossFit can transfer outside the box and into your everyday life. Sharon says that her experience and learnings from Maia CrossFit continue to help her cope with whatever comes her way. “Just like the chipper scenario. If things are crappy or you have lots of work to do, I tell myself: ‘OK, what do you do Sharon? you focus on one thing at a time’. The beauty is in the process and nothing comes over night. You need to practice to develop skills and also work to maintain them'', says Sharon.
CrossFit has unearthed some deep emotions for Sharon. She says that it is more than just coming in and doing a physical exercise, “holistically, this covers my spiritual, emotional and mental needs.''
Keeping the Ego in-check
Ego can sometimes have a negative connotation, like someone always talking about their achievements. Sharon says, "I, by default put myself down but CrossFit has helped me have more confidence in myself. I step up to that bar and sometimes I am terrified". She remembers reading something about “that bar doesn’t give a crap if you leave it on the floor, walk away from it or pick it up - this is all about what YOU can do”.
Overtime CrossFit became the centre of Sharon’s life and she felt such passion for it. Her circle of friends have changed, she is interested in goals and overall having a healthy mindset.
Becoming a Coach
When Sharon learned about the Maia Coach Development Programme in 2017 she was very excited and also nervous at the same time. “I originally had the view that if I am a coach - I must be able to do all the skills: I have to bar muscle up, ring muscle up, handstand walk, etc”. That was one of Sharon’s biggest fears - is that she couldn’t do all these movements. But Sharon says that Coach Joel was very supportive through this time, telling her, “you demo the best movement that YOU can do”.
We are human and we all have our off days and life can sometimes feel heavy. Sharon says, “if I am having a hard day, I sit in my car, take a few breaths and do some self-talk. ‘OK Sharon, whatever happened today, you park that to the side, go in there and service these people’.”
Sharon loves attending classes and the opportunity to workout with the members. She is conscious that being a coach is a leadership role so movement standards and effort must be present. She tells herself, “Go out there, do your best and be with your people”. Connecting with the members, building relationships and having a laugh is the foundation in which Sharon coaches.
Sharon says that her nutrition journey has been as big as her CrossFit journey. “I have always struggled with body image and weight. I have tried many different diets and was never happy. I also didn’t know how to maintain the weight once I had lost it”.
Sharon started to get curious about nutrition and the science behind it. “I started doing some research, got nutrition help from Coach Hannah McIntyre-Hill and signed up for a Precision Nutrition course”. Allowing herself to make conscious food choices has made a positive impact on her relationship with food. Nothing is off-limits with Sharon’s new way of eating, “if I binge on something I now own it versus feeling guilty for eating cake”.
People often think of ‘cutting out’ or removing items from their diet but it’s often that they are missing ‘x’ or needing to add in more of ‘x’. Sharon has added heaps of vegetables to her diet (lately parsnips). She also started eating more nutrient-dense carbohydrates to fuel her body for performance. Sharon says, “I am eating to get better at training and when it comes to food, I now have a purpose”.
Age as a Factor
Sharon believes that CrossFit is for everybody, she started her CrossFit journey at the age of 44. “I have certain limitations but I am not hindered by them and I am always striving. It has made me younger and changed my perception of what getting older means”.
Sharon loves that she can workout with a variety of generations and ages. “When I am at the box, I feel like I am 20 years old. I am not ‘Sharon the 47 year old middle-aged woman’, I’m just Sharon”.