Shoreline Athletics: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"
"But my return to CrossFit was something I could have only experienced at Shoreline Athletics....smiling faces all welcoming me back and asking me how I was doing. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. The energy from my this community fueled me through my first WOD back, and several more after that. I like to compare this one of many experiences to the Cheer’s TV show song, 'Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your, and they’re always glad you came.'"
This entry to our summer essay contest, though on the longer side (would you expect Ms. DePaola to be short-winded?!?) has great merit. Over the years, we have lost members here and there. There is always disappointment on our end when we lose a client for whatever the reason may be. However, there is always a great feeling of joy when we get one back. The author of the essay below, Maria DePaola, represents a grouping of athletes who may be on the.... we'll call it, less-consistent side. What we want you to know is that we always want you back, no matter how many times you leave. There is never any shame in returning. There needn't even be an explanation as to why you left. What matters to us is that you are back in the right place. Right where you belong. Where "everybody knows your name".
My adventure at Shoreline Athletics dates back to the winter of 2010 when I stumbled along a posting on Facebook. After going to their website, I was intrigued, but also thought it was crazy, something I could never do. Fast forward to July of 2010, when my neighbor and trainer, Aja, was training at SCF and looking amazing, so I decided to observe a "WOD". At the time, I was thinking what the hell is a WOD, and then I witnessed their craziness.... OMG!! They were working out in a tiny garage bay, jumping on boxes, throwing down barbells, hanging from bars. My thoughts? What are these people doing and why? They are going to get hurt. This is insane. I can’t do this!
Next thing I knew I was in their July OnRamp, 3x a week for 4 weeks of seemingly incredibly insane WODs, but also coupled with an insane amount of encouragement. I recall doing "Elizabeth" thinking I am never naming my kid Elizabeth, she is evil, all these ring up things are torture, but I completed it with the encouragement of Ashley counting for me, while LP yelled encouraging words. Ooh.... and I remember completing "The Filthy Fifty", "Fight Gone Bad", and walking when I was out of the trainer's site behind the building, only to have another CrossFitter take the corner to push me along. It was nothing I had ever experienced. It truly was the start of a love-hate relationship; One that I have never regretted.
My Shoreline Athletics experience has included many siestas and a couple vacations. Initially, my siestas were taking a week, maybe a month off; not a big deal. I was beginning to love SCF for its community, encouragement, and my own physical improvements, healthy lifestyle...and, of course, the family atmosphere. I was introduced to this new style of eating--Paleo--and embraced a Paleo eating challenge. Needless to say, this was just as challenging as the workouts, but in true CrossFit style, there was always someone there to push you, help you, or in my case, put things in perspective. For me, it was a phenomenal thing, to know and have a support crew, even if I was negative, struggling, or confused (Paleo eating was a foreign concept to me). My body started to change; it was awesome!
But then came one of my siestas. I hurt my back. It was awful, but David provided me with individualized workouts, trainers would check in with me as I completed my WOD alone. No other gym would have given me that genuine, personalized programming or help. Unfortunately, my back was not healing, and I was getting discouraged and took my first vacation from CrossFit. Lauren would periodically, check in on me to see how I was doing... How many gym owners do that???!!
But my return to CrossFit was something I could have only experienced at Shoreline Athletics....
I walked in during an evening that was bursting at the seams with athletes mid-WOD to have "Rilla" Dave yell across the box welcoming me back with a smile from ear to ear. This was followed by me walking through the “social pre/post hallway” to receive hugs, high fives...smiling faces all welcoming me back and asking me how I was doing. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. The energy from my this community fueled me through my first WOD back, and several more after that. I like to compare this one of many experiences to the Cheer’s TV show song, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your, and they’re always glad you came.”
Throughout my 7 years at Shoreline Athletics, my longest break turned into almost a 3 year hiatus. I dabbled in CrossFitting, making minimal effort because I allowed work, life, and my own anxiety to interfere with my health. But never once I did feel I could not return to SA, never once I did I fear that I’d be judged. I always knew I could resort to SA in my worse and best days. I have several “worse” days. I recall the day my BFF of 35 years died; I needed to get out of the house. Where did I go? Shoreline Athletics. I stuck my teary eyed, angry-self in the back corner avoiding everyone. Chu was coaching. I was a mess, he knew it. He came to check on me, tears just gushed out of my eyes as mumbled, my best friend died yesterday, and that I needed to get out of the house and didn’t know where else to go. Carl gently put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Look at me, take it easy, you’ll be fine. This is best place for you to be right now, okay?", and he walked away. Or course he checked on me during the WOD, but he knew that was all I needed, a pep talk accompanied by a gentle touch. What other community would be so honest, and know exactly what to say to get me through a day like this? Shoreline Athletics was a safe haven, even if it was only for an hour.
Continuing with my not so great venture, we call life, I experienced a lot of stress, anxiety, discouragement related to my work-life, which I allowed to affect my health. I gained weight; half heartily completed the conditioning class trial, and even tried new physical activities. The siestas turned into another vacation. Regardless, I always went back to SCF/SA. I always felt community -wise like a never left because everyone knew my name and I’ll quote Cheers again:
“Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got;
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?”
SCF/SA was my getaway; I began to realize it was everyone’s get away. I started to share my worries, anxiety, and others and this helped me to get through workouts.
This brings me to Fall of 2016. SA had a "Get Your Sexy Back Challenge". I was reluctant to participate, however, it was what kick-started me (along with the new job) to get healthy!! The amount of support and guidance was perfect! SA was guiding me to become a healthier, confident, exercise-loving person. Just when I began thinking now that I am consistently working out, how am I going to eat better to improve my running and get stronger? The 2017 Shirts-off Challenge was created. It was as if SA trainers were reading my mind! The trainers/owners, appear to sense when their athletes need a kick in the butt. This time, unlike my first Paleo debut, I was going to stick with it and even if I had to ask a million questions to each and every trainer, I would because I could and I knew they would help and laugh at me all at the same time. The 2017 Shirts off Challenge has changed my lifestyle; it truly has! I have a better relationship with food, I am able to accept compliments because.... you know what?? This was not easy!! Eating clean, CrossFitting 3x a week, running 2x a week....it was no joke!
Throughout this challenge, and my 7 years of SCF/SA trainers, owners, and members were always there. It was, and is, crazy to me that even the silliest (or in my case negative) of questions, thoughts, actions are acknowledged, supported, encouraged or ‘politely’ rephrased to be positive. I have become one of those crazy barbell throwing, hanging from a bar people! Who can proudly say that Shoreline Athletics home of Shoreline Athletics is my Cheers!