“Where do I begin? Before joining CrossFit , I saw fitness as a way to be thin and toned rather than strong and powerful. After joining, right away I started to feel more confident in myself, my body and my strength. In fact, I have never felt so confident!” -Chelsea
“Cypher has given me a fresh outlet for my insecurities, my self-doubt, and, most importantly, my foolish wariness of self-care. I’m so grateful for my Cypher family for helping me build a better life!” -Christian
Congratulations to Chelsea & Christian, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlights!
Chelsea: At UC Davis, besides biking everywhere, I mostly ran on the treadmill and played around (mostly incorrectly) with some of the weight machines. I also joined the triathlon team and focused on endurance sports for a couple years. I joined 24 hour fitness when I moved out here after college and mostly fell back into the same routine from my pre-triathlete days – but I obviously got bored very quickly!
Christian: I played water polo in college. After graduation 4 years ago, I started lifting beach muscles, rowing on the ergometer, swimming, doing pull-ups and push-ups.
Cypher: What do you do for work?
Chelsea: I am currently a Medical Scribe for a primary care physician at John Muir in Walnut Creek. I will be going to medical school this fall!
Christian: I work in sales for an education technology startup company called Zeal Learning. We assess students online (about 40,000 public school kids in grades k-12 currently) in math and pair them, based on their assessment results, with our team of math tutors. So I travel around the country getting new schools signed up and helping students and teachers find success with the program.
Cypher: How did you hear about Crossfit Cypher and CrossFit?
Chelsea: The first time I heard about CrossFit was, surprisingly, from Christian. We first met at our teacher training in LA right after we graduated from college. One night Christian asked me if I would like to do a “CrossFit” workout with him (he also invited Don Gilbert!!). We did a Deck of Cards WOD from an app with push-ups, air squats, burpees and sit-ups. For the next few years I was always seeing CrossFit workouts on Pinterest, but I was never really motivated to do them by myself. I first heard about Cypher through Don when I asked him how he got so jacked!! I decided to try it after our neighbors at the time, Miriam and Ben, expressed their love for Cypher.
Christian: Chelsea dragged me into it, kicking and screaming. No, just kidding. Sort of. Chels was trying to get me to go to Cypher for many months before I joined. She was in love with Cypher, but the way CF was sometimes portrayed online, I had the preconception that CrossFit was just a narcissistic cult for people who liked to take instagram selfies of their butts, and I neither had a photogenic butt nor an Instagram account, so I thought I wasn’t eligible. Anyhow, Chelsea righted my misconception when she gave me a couple months’ membership to Cypher for Christmas in 2015! I was hooked pretty much immediately once I met the other members who were (and still are) so friendly and supportive from Day 1.
Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?
Chelsea: I remember this day so clearly. I arrived early and the gym was still closed. I stood outside awkwardly and was soon joined by Chris Y, Chris C, Diego and Alex! I was so intimidated by their muscles that I almost ran away. The workout was some barbell complex with a mixture of deadlifts, cleans, jerks and front squats. I was so confused – Mauricio had to stand next to me the whole time and remind me how to do each one. I fell in love with the community immediately and the encouragement I received throughout the tough workout. I signed up for an unlimited membership after the first day.
Christian: I think my first day was a trial during “free teacher week” a couple years back. If I remember correctly, the workout was some combination of wall balls, box jumps and KB Swings. During the workout, I was thinking, “Why is this so brutal? I’m like sort of fit right? I bench. I shouldn’t be on the verge of dying right now, right?” Afterward, I felt pretty relieved at having not vomited. I also felt a sense of camaraderie with the others who had just completed the workout, but I was curled up in the pain cave for several days after!
Chelsea: When I first joined CrossFit, the most challenging part for me was trying to not compare myself to others. I always considered myself “in-shape” but the first time I was squatting next to other ladies I felt so weak – squatting just the empty bar was so tough! I have grown so much from that point and I continue to work on my weaknesses knowing how much I have improved from when I first started. Now the most challenging part is not pushing myself too hard after my knee surgery. I still have pain in my knee and limited strength and flexibility in my left leg. I often have a hard time telling myself to play it safe, but I’m working on it.
Christian: Prior to joining Cypher, I was scared of back squats. I am not scared anymore, but squats have always been the toughest exercise for me. This feeds into thrusters, clean and jerks, snatches, etc. I have chicken legs, and I often shy away from doing squats because I’m not confident in them. I am getting stronger though, bit by bit! One of my CF goals is to squat 300# for the first time by the end of April.
Cypher: What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?
Chelsea: Where do I begin? Before joining CrossFit , I saw fitness as a way to be thin and toned rather than strong and powerful. After joining, right away I started to feel more confident in myself, my body and my strength. In fact, I have never felt so confident! An unexpected gift has been the community at Cypher. The members have become like a second family to me. Their constant encouragement through my fitness journey has been so valuable, I look forward to going to Cypher every day to seeing everybody come together in the name of health.
Christian: Before Cypher, I always saw self-care as an impediment to success rather than an essential component of it. At Cypher, especially with the amazing community that you all have built, I feel safe to show up with the sole purpose of taking care of my body and my health. I don’t feel guilty when I put in 2 hours at the gym, even if I have a long night of work ahead of me. Cypher has given me a fresh outlet for my insecurities, my self-doubt, and, most importantly, my foolish wariness of self-care. I’m so grateful for my Cypher family for helping me build a better life!
Cypher: What is one of your most memorable CrossFit PRs or milestones? What did it feel like when you did it?
Chelsea: My most memorable PR happened very recently. For the last year, I had been struggling to string my Toes-to-Bar together. I just couldn’t understand the swing and what my body needed to do to get there! I was working on Abs With DiegoTM and I told him how much I had been struggling to string T2B together. With some helpful tips and guidance from Abs With DiegoTM, host Diego Martín, I finally strung 6 together! I was jumping up and down, high-fiving everybody. I couldn’t believe I was finally able to string them together. Next stop, bar muscle-up!
Christian: I made my first Bar Muscle Up about 10 minutes before a 2016 Open workout that incorporated Bar Muscle Ups. Then I did four more during the workout! That was awesome! I felt… elevated.
Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?
Chelsea: I am the heaviest weight I have ever been! And I am so proud of it. I love seeing muscles peeking out from different places. I used to worry about getting “bulky” if I started lifting heavy weights. Now I look at the bodies of CrossFit athletes like those Dottirs and think #goals! My diet has changed dramatically as well – I know if I have that slice of cake or donut at work I will be paying for it at the gym later. I still indulge occasionally of course, but I don’t crave sugar like I used to. Something less visible, but really the most valuable improvement for me, is how mentally strong I have become since joining Cypher. I used to have very low self-esteem and body confidence and this would often translate into self-deprecating thoughts and a spiral of self-doubt. Developing physical strength and confidence has helped me become mentally confident and allowed me to see my life through a more positive lens.
Christian: Yowza! In all my years of playing water polo, bench pressing and doing bicep curls, I have never felt this confident in my body. The most notable changes have been more powerful shoulders and upper back, better posture, more defined abs and stronger posterior chain. During metcon workouts, I would be teasing if I said I was never wheezing, but Cypher has been steadily seizing my level of wheezing. At the start, I would be wheezing like 75% of the workouts, which was not pleasing. Now I am spending more time breezing, and only 10% wheezing at the end of tough workouts.
Cypher: What encouragement or words of advice would you give to new people coming in?
Chelsea: Never give up – just keep on showing up, ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to. I guarantee you will be glad you did 100% of the time. It’s okay to compete with others if it helps you push your limits, but try not to compare yourself too harshly with someone else. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and you should only focus on how to be better than you were yesterday. At Cypher, you are surrounded by the most loving, supportive and encouraging community. These wonderful people will motivate you to be the best version of yourself.
Christian: The moment you walk in the door, you already have something in common with everybody in the room: you want to get better. Your coaches and fellow athletes will stop at nothing to help you feel comfortable and safe here. That way you can get on with your fitness journey, then get on with your life!
Cypher: You have both been with us for a while (~1.5 years)! How has CrossFit and your relationship with it changed since you started?
Christian: My assumption that CrossFit was a questionably safe pseudo-science of fitness has evolved. I think this evolution has to do with the quality of coaching at Cypher. The coaching staff – their professionalism, their attention to detail, their insistence on safety, and their earnest belief in their members – is what sets Cypher apart from the kind of stereotypical, and frankly unwelcoming, “CrossFit Bro” culture I had seen and read about before. More personally, I used to think of CrossFit more as a competition against others because I didn’t really know my own limits. So I just compared myself to others at first. Now I know most of my PRs on lifts and popular workouts, so I think of it more as a competition against my old self.
Chelsea: I interpreted this question a little differently so I am going to answer it as such. As our love of Crossfit has strengthened, so has our relationship with each other. It is amazing having a shared love of something that has brought us even closer. We celebrate each other’s successes and support one another in strengthening our weaknesses.
Christian: Aw, you’re a sweetie-and-and-a-half!
Cypher: If we check the record, we believe Chelsea started with us first, and Christian wasn’t as ready to “drink the Kool-Aid”, right :)?” It’s pretty common. What was that time like for each of you, and how did you each navigate it?
Chelsea: I was so ready to drink the Kool-Aid – however I didn’t tell Christian that. I had heard nothing but amazing things about CrossFit and I was excited to change the stale fitness path I was on. I was so nervous going by myself because I thought I would be judged as a gangley weakling that had no business being in a CrossFit gym! After the first week, though, I couldn’t stop telling Christian how much I loved CrossFit and how I thought he’d love it too! After a few arguments, I finally convinced Christian to try 1 workout. He hasn’t looked back since.
Christian: When Chelsea started talking about joining CrossFit, I had no interest at all. I heard it was an expensive cult-like movement that wasn’t based in any verifiable evidence and a breeding ground for insufferable, exclusive “CrossFit bros.” I was annoyed that Chelsea wanted me to join because I didn’t want to have any part in it. I also thought I could achieve the same results on my own. After Chelsea badgered me into going to one Monday workout during a free teacher week promotion that Mauricio and Leslie devised a couple years back, I had so much fun that I ended up going every day for the rest of the week! Everyone was so friendly (Chris Y, remember when we did our first partner workout together that Saturday?!?!), and it didn’t feel like a pretentious cult. It just felt like a group of people that wanted to get better and support each other in that pursuit. I was hooked.
Cypher: Are you competitive with each other? Can you elaborate? Who is more competitive ;)?
Christian: Yeah, we definitely compete with each other. I know Chelsea can kick my butt at most workouts, so I love when I get to sneak in a win, but we never brag or taunt each other about the workouts if one person “does better” than the other. It’s more of a friendly rivalry that helps both of us stay motivated. I don’t want to be sucking wind, stumbling in the door 3 minutes after Chelsea while she’s just bouncing around like a spring chicken! I will say that I abhor losing, but I think Chelsea loves winning even more.
Chelsea: I am definitely more competitive. However, I don’t mind when Christian does better than me because I know we have different strengths and weaknesses! We also genuinely want each other to be successful. I do love working out next to him so we can push each other in the workout. But I do also love beating him ☺.
Cypher: What fitness goals have you set for yourself to achieve in the next 12 months?
Chelsea: I am currently doing the “All the Squatz” program to strengthen my legs as that is an area of weakness for me. I hope to get 20# PRs at the end of the program! I also hope to improve my weighted strict pull-ups so I can eventually get a smooth muscle-up.
Christian: I put my fitness goals into four buckets: strength, gymnastics, metcon and personal. My strength goals for the next 12 months are to Squat 300, Clean & Jerk 225, Snatch 205, and Overhead Squat 215. In gymnastics movements, I want to do a Parallet Handstand Pushup, 10 Unbroken Bar Muscle Ups, 5 UB Strict Bar MU, 3 UB Strict Ring MU and 30 UB Strict Pull-ups. For MetCon, I am aiming for a 6:00 Fran time and to finish an entire round of 17.4 under the 13 minute time cap. Finally, in personal goals, I’d like to consistently sleep 8hrs/night, eat paleo and show up to Cypher morning classes 3x per week. Oh yeah, I want to do 100 pushups unbroken. Just because that would be so cool!
Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym? Any fun facts your gym-mates might not know about you?
Chelsea: I don’t have much of a life beyond sleep, eat, work and CrossFit. Christian and I are pretty boring but loving when we’re at home. We like to cuddle, read, cook together and take care of each other. As a kid, I used to ride motocross bikes!
Christian: I love painting and writing fiction. I have written a feature film screenplay and I’m 100 pages into a novel. A little too busy at the moment to finish it, but I’ll get down to it! I am also addicted to podcasts, cooking and cuddling. I also love animals, especially pups of the fluffiest variety. I am a world class skipper of rocks. I once won second place in an international rock skipping championship with a personal best of 23 skips.
Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?
Chelsea: Spirit Animal: Nessie the Boxer Dog. Super Power: communicating with animals, particularly Nessie.
Christian: Otter. Time Travel.
Cypher: If you could describe Cypher in five words, what would they be?
Chelsea: The happiest place on earth.
Christian: The best place to improve!
Chelsea: I would like to give a shout-out to all the coaches – Mauricio, Leslie, Becky and Bianca! Thank you for all your love, guidance, support and motivation. You have created a wonderful community at Cypher and I am so happy to be a part of it!
Christian: Thank you coaches and fellow Cypher Brothers and Cysters for being such positive influences on my life!