What is your favorite CrossFit movement and workout?: My favorite movement is a pistol. I first saw a pistol at 2012 regionals and tried to do one as soon as I got back to the hotel room. I wasn’t even close, but made an action plan to get them and stuck to it. Now I’m working on a dragon squat.
In terms of my favorite style of workout, I love getting into a flow state by putting on a podcast and doing some strong man work (heavy yoke walks, farmer carries and sandbags). I also enjoy a good partner workout with a heavy/low rep barbell and gymnastic movements where you can keep moving at a steady pace and keep solid technique.
What is your favorite out-of-the-gym activity?: I love heading to the beach (even when it’s not summer), paddle-boarding, cooking, trying new restaurants (especially if it’s nice weather and there is outdoor seating), writing, creating, learning about different cultures, and anything that makes me laugh until I snort (usually a coaches game night does the trick!)
What’s it like being a woman and coaching men?: Over the past 9 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with four male high school teams, along with all of the males who have attended CrossFit Tribe and Bellum. I think the culture of CrossFit is very much built on respect and hard work. If an athlete can embrace a beginner’s mindset, that’s more telling than the person’s gender identity on how effectively I will be able to help them become a better athlete.
People can say what they want about CrossFit, but I can’t really think of another sport that fosters such an inclusive environment. Thanks to the OGs like Nicole Carrol, who has been on HQ staff since the start, the sport of CrossFit is a very equal space for men and women. I remember watching videos back in the day of Nicole out working men twice her size in an overhead squat-off.
Fun fact- did you know that the prizes for the winners of the CrossFit Games are the same for men and women and always have been? This can’t be said of all sports.
Do you feel pressure to be able to master every CrossFit movement, look fit and eat right more because you’re a coach?: When I first started coaching I definitely felt pressure for the wrong reasons. I thought I needed to look a certain way or be at the top of the leader board to be an effective coach. After we opened Bellum, my values shifted.
The difference between a good coach and a great coach is not determined by the number of consecutive muscle-ups you can perform, but rather the capacity to see, correct, connect, teach different learning styles, manage groups, and the pursuit of lifelong learning.
Do you have siblings?: Most people are shocked to learn they are much younger and only in 9th and 6th grade. They join forces with Ann to gang up on me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Liv is an amazing pitcher and has a really cool go with the flow personality. Riley is an artist and an occasional CrossFitter and has the most caring heart.
Which Bellum member is your favorite?: That’s impossible!!!! I can say that most people who find us and stick around do so because our values align. People who are willing to work hard and be nice are my favorite kind of people. I can say with confidence that every single one of our Bellum members fits this mold.
Do the coaches ever feel bad about what they put us through? Or do they see an up-coming workout and laugh about how much we will hate it?: LOL. Once in a blue moon, I feel so bad that I change the workout as I’m writing it up on the white board in the morning. Other times I keep it exactly as it because there is a specific method to the madness. You have to be pushed out of your comfort zone to get better, so that’s what we try to do. If you can’t get comfortable being uncomfortable, you aren’t going to grow as an athlete or a person.
Where would you travel if you had no budget?: I’d love to visit the elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Along with Spain to learn more about my family history. The others within the US would be to visit our family in NC more frequently and a road trip across the US hitting the national parks. There is nothing that puts life into perspective quite like the vastness and beauty of nature.
Ski or swim?: Does laying on my paddle board and using my arms to get out past the surf count as swimming….asking for a friend. My skiing is more like pizza-ing down the hill very slowly, but of course in style, right Shauna?
Steak or seafood?: This is a tough one! I’m going to have to say steak if I’m cooking and seafood if I’m at a restaurant.
What is your favorite sport after CrossFit?: In high school, the 100m hurdles was my main event. I don’t think I ever came to appreciate the explosiveness and power this event took until writing this, or how much I miss sprinting! Anyone have any hurdles laying around? (although I don’t need anymore fake teeth).
As for other sports, when I was a freshman, Meg Mason so kindly offered me the manager position for basketball after desperately trying to teach me how to do a lay-up with no success. So, while playing sports is not my thing, I do like to watch Women’s soccer, the eagles, the saints and even the jets when we are watching from seats in Miami.
What is your spirit animal?: In any quizzes, I always seem to get a bird- either an owl and more often a hawk. I recently started seeing hawks all the time. I don’t know if it’s a sign or if now I’m seeing them because I’m thinking of them.
Hawks are thought to be wiser, stronger, and more intuitive beyond their years and are thought to relay messages from the spiritual world to the real world. I guess it all sounds about right.
What’s your favorite part about coaching?: Where do I begin!? I absolutely love the different groups I work with- from children to adults, fierce pregnant women, teen girls, to adaptive athletes, sports teams and my workplace wellness lunch break warriors. I love the scalability and adaptability of CrossFit. It really is for everyone.
I’m passionate about passing on knowledge and helping people find their inner and outer strength. A lot can be learned in CrossFit. A hard workout can show you that you are capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for.
What was the happiest/proudest moment of your own personal CrossFit career?: I just became a Certified CrossFit Level 3 Trainer. The four hour test gave me a chance to apply everything I’ve learned over the past 9 years. The process of prepping for the test gave me a great sense of accomplishment. As soon as I get complacent or stop prioritizing learning, my mental health really suffers. This is why I also love the sport of CrossFit. As an athlete and a coach, no matter how long you’ve been at it, there are always new things to learn.
Do you ever need a break from CrossFit?: I’m really good about listening to my body and modifying workouts as needed, so I never feel like I need a break from CrossFit. My latest struggle has actually been quite the opposite. I’m trying to find my way back to being an athlete. CrossFit is something I truly believe in and is one of my favorite things to do, but sometimes as head coach and business owner I don’t prioritize my own CrossFit goals. In 2020, I’m finding a better balance of giving you guys my love and support, and giving it back to myself. January is off to a good start with making the commitment club… aaay!
Why CrossFit? What brought you to this and why coaching it?: I saw a picture of a tiny little beast (Lissa) flipping a tire at a local gym (CrossFit 1Force). It looked like so much fun, as I’ve always been someone who enjoyed pushing my strength limits. I’ve always been the tiny person that could lift heavy things. Whether it be helping a friend move furniture (as long as the nervous giggles don’t set in) or working onsite at a high voltage electricity job with my dad, I could always find a way to maneuver my body to get shit done.
CrossFit gave me a certain sense of confidence that I never felt before and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. It’s part of the reason I run the Girl Strength Movement to introduce young female athletes to an endless world of possibilities.
What would your superhero name be?: Little Hangry Woman, Captain Dramatic, or Agent Extra. What can I say, do you notice a theme here?
If you could go back to when you started CrossFit with what you know now, what advice would you give yourself?: Just start!!! One day or day one. My first class I sat in my car and almost didn’t go in. Little did I know how a group of strangers would become my biggest supporters. Thank god I decided to go in because both CrossFit and the people I’ve met along the way changed my life for the better.
I’d tell myself to put in the work and enjoy the process. Stop letting perfectionism and anxiety distract you and hold you back. Lean into those fears and listen to what they are trying to tell you. There’s never going to be a perfect time to work on a new skill or set a new goal, you just have to start now with where you are and embrace the journey. It will be hard, but that’s going to be where the most valuable lessons are learned.
“Don’t let the fear of time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” -Earl Nightingale
You only get ONE cheat meal for the rest of your life. What is it?: Soooo, I strongly dislike the term cheat meal. I try to eat in a way that allows me to enjoy all foods. I try to focus on protein and veggies at every meal so that if I want peanut butter pie, I can have it without thinking twice, or feeling guilty. I’m also pretty good about keeping things in moderation. Food is food. It’s not good or bad. Some foods will obviously make your body feel better, but there really is so much psychology behind our relationships with food that using phrases like “cheat meals” perpetuates. For the sake of this question- I will literally eat anything wrapped in a tortilla. During most workouts, I’m usually thinking, “After this we’re getting tacos, right!?”