Testimonial Tuesday: Kristin Shanahan

I’ve been active the majority of my life. I started competitively swimming at the age of 4 and kept on until high school. I’d always been pretty self-conscious of my weight and tried several attempts at weight loss – always struggling with those 10-15 pesky pounds. I was successful once at ‘healthy’ weight loss after seeing a dietician in high school. However, I felt calorie counting was too hard and took too much time. So, in college I went back to attempting the low-fat diet and usually was able to maintain my 10-15lbs ‘overweight’ and just accepted that that’s just the way my body was (big-boned, thick, etc….) I majored in health and prided myself for my ‘knowledge’ about nutrition and exercise. I did my 3-5 days a week – 45 minutes of cardio and 3 sets of 10-15 weights. I continued this for years, was even certified as a personal trainer and spin instructor and worked in the fitness industry for several years after college.

In June of 2008, the dreaded year I turned 30 (gasp!), I decided it was time for my husband and me to think about starting a family. I’d been on birth control for many years and having heard many stories from friends about infertility issues, I was unsure if I, too, could have infertility problems…I also wanted to see if getting off of the hormones would help me lose those last few pounds that I’d been dying to shed for oh…20 years?! (Geez, us women, we’re so hard on ourselves…). So, I stopped taking birth control. The first month after getting off, everything was normal…but then crazy things started happening to my body. My cycles were taking longer to show up, I was gaining weight by the week and was starting to have crazy cystic acne (I’d never had acne my whole life). I’d known about CrossFit by both Google and CrossFit Houston owner, Carlos Ibarra. In early December of 2008, after 72 days of not having a cycle and putting on an extra 12 pounds (since June!!), I decided to take the plunge and call CrossFit Austin. Wes and I can thankfully laugh about our conversation now but I was probably the biggest pain in his butt since opening their doors. I basically grilled Wes about techniques, programming, etc for 45 minutes on the phone. In order for Wes to finally end the conversation (poor guy), he said, “Kristin, we can talk about this all day until we’re blue in the face or you can just come in and try it out….” Cue, “SHUT UP.” So, I meekly said ok and went in two days later for my assessment. I’ve never looked back since joining. (It’s been 3 years now…sniff, sniff.)

Three weeks after joining, I had a doctor’s appointment to figure out what was going on with my body. Just as I’d suspected, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is the leading cause of infertility. It is also a precursor to many health problems including diabetes and heart disease. This scared the crap out of me. I asked my doctor what the options were – his response “Well, if you don’t want to gain 20lbs you should just get back on birth control…oh and you’re probably going to have a hard time getting pregnant.” As a woman, hearing your body isn’t going to do what it’s supposed to is pretty upsetting and I left the office in tears. I went to the gym and spoke with Boone and Wes about the diagnosis (they graciously listened to TMI). Both of them encouraged me to try Paleo. The pride of my education wanted to take over but another part of me said “what the hell do you have to lose in trying this?” So, I embarked on the Paleo diet, making small changes over time (I can’t eat a low-carb tortilla??). My body slowly started responding; my cycles weren’t perfect but weren’t all over the place anymore. Robb Wolf and I sent several emails back and forth, and he referred me to a naturopath in Arizona, Garrett Smith, who helped me with a few more supplements to help get my hormones back on track. Things weren’t perfect but I was losing weight and at the same time getting stronger.

By August of 2009, I’d lost 18 pounds, without birth control. And in December of 2009, after feeling ridiculously car sick on the way home from Houston, I took a pregnancy test and it was POSITIVE. Wait, what happened to it being hard for me to get pregnant? We weren’t even ‘trying’! 🙂 I crossfitted through my entire pregnancy (I did Karen with a 6lb ball at 32 weeks!!). Anna Rose Shananan was welcomed into the world on August 11, 2010.

I will NEVER be able to truly convey my gratitude for CrossFit Austin. It has become a staple of who I am. I love walking in the doors of the gym to talk a little crap to the coaches, sweat next to amazing athletes who never stop encouraging me and laugh with what has become my second family. CrossFit has taught me so many things but above all it’s taught me humility, confidence and to never, ever stop trying.

Would you like to share your CFA story? We’d love to hear it! Send your testimonial to caitlyn@crossfitaustin.com.

Running Classes Update!

We’re excited to announce some adjustments to Running Class times and the addition of more Running Classes!

Starting March 5th, classes will meet at the following times:

  • Mondays and Wednesdays: 6:30pm at the O’Henry Middle School Track
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays: 6:30pm at the Gorzycki Middle School Track
  • Saturdays: 8:00am at Zilker Park (by the water coolers under Mopac Bridge (North side of Lake Austin, by Veterans Dr)

Sign up for classes here.

Want to know more about the Running Classes available to CFA members through Coach Aaron’s Austin Athletics Running Team? Check out the website and facebook for upcoming events, activities, and information!

How Old Are You?

Once, I was 15 years old. Now, I’m only 5 months old (in baby talk, that’s 20 weeks). Some of you may doubt it, but it is a true story. Let me break it down for you. It all revolves around “Training Age”. Here is the math…

Running Age:
Start – Finish = Training Age
E.g., 10 years old – 25 years old = 15 years old

CrossFit Age:
Start + Present = Training Age
E.g., September + February = 5 months

One might ask why “Training Age” matters, but here is a better question: Are you serious about achieving your fitness goals? If yes, then finding your training age could map out the next steps toward a higher level of fitness.

11/2 – 2 Years Old or “Younger”
Spring is on its way, and no doubt, love is soon to follow. Having a young training age and new love are very similar. You can get away with almost anything.

  • Love Example: You don’t call her when you are supposed to. She doesn’t think anything of it – little hearts are still in her eyes.
    Training Example: You get 4 hours of sleep. You feel tired, but you still have a good strength day at CFA.
  • Love Example: You make him watch the Bachelorette, then break out the DVD box set just to show him the “good parts” of past seasons. He smiles and finds it adorable.
    Training Example: Your nutrition still consists of getting fast food because it’s easy… You still feel like you are getting “tone” after CFA workouts.
  • Love Example: Burping the alphabet is your go-to method of cheering her up. She laughs it off because you are sooo cute!
    Training Example: Your technique for the Olympic Lifts is not quite up to par. However, you feel good, because you still have “some” weight on the bar.

I think you see the pattern. Having a young training age means your body is hungry for a new stimulus. In fact, it could be so hungry that it will adapt to almost anything and any situation. As nice as that sounds, over time “any situation” just won’t cut it.

11/2 – 2 Years Old or “Older”
With age comes wisdom. Your body (or significant other) is smarter now. The same ol’ thing just won’t cut it anymore…

  • You don’t call her when you are supposed to… She thinks the worst and fire is in her eyes!
    You get 4 hours of sleep….You feel exhausted and you have a terrible strength day. In fact, so bad it borders on NO strength at all!
  • You make him watch the Bachelorette, then break out the DVD box set just to show him the “good parts” from past seasons…He excuses himself to the bathroom. He sneaks out the bathroom window and you never see him again!
    Your nutrition still consists of getting fast food because it’s easy… You feel like crap and “lean” is a thing of the past!
  • Burping the alphabet is a way to cheer her up… She breaks up with you before you make it to letter “B”!
    Your technique for the Olympic Lifts is not quite up to par. You feel like crap because you are still the only one left with “some” weight on the bar, and you’re constantly fighting aches and pain from your ingrained poor-movement patterns!

As the old adage goes, “The little things in life matter.” It’s true, even with your fitness. As your training age gets older you need to master the little things!

Training Age

[Left] is a graph showing how fast one might adapt if they are young in training age. As I stated before, adaptation can happen fast, but it can also happen so fast that it will stunt your fitness growth (as the first peak shows).






Ideally we want the third peak. We might be new to CrossFit Austin and hungry for fitness, but we need to take the time and do it right! Otherwise, we could find ourselves working our way to the middle and grinding away on a fitness plateau [Right]. All this equals is exhaustion and frustration.




Tips for the Young “Training Age”

  • Patience: Take your time and recover between workouts
  • Technique: Practice the basics and master them.
  • Consistent Intensity: Don’t kill yourself on every workout! It is about the accumulation of quality work, not just having one great work out.
  • Mastering the Little Things early: Sleep, Nutrition, and Mobility.

Tips for the Old “Training Age”

  • Master the Little Things NOW!!: Sleep= 8+ hours, Nutrition= Healthy Foods, Mobility = 10-15 min. before or after class.
  • Spend more time on the specifics: Use Chad’s Olympic Lifting Classes or Running Classes to fine-tune technique.
  • Taking it to the next level: If you need a new challenge or are at a plateau, it may be time for a more focused plan. Group competitive training is a great tool to motivate and break through psychological barriers. However, once that is accomplished, a focused plan that addresses your specific physical limitations is the best way to jump start more improvement.

Coach Aaron

The Happiness Principles: Attitude is Everything

Any training program worth a lick is tough. Creating new habits or eliminating a bad habit is tough. And, although life is is full of ups and downs, good times and bad times, the consensus for most people is that life is pretty tough. So if everything is so difficult, how can we ever be successful?  I’m going let everyone in on a little secret: you have a choice.  That’s right – everyday, every action, every moment, good or bad, you have a choice. You can choose to work with yourself or you can work against yourself.  I can be a part of “Team Wes” or I can be “Team Wes’ Arch Nemesis.”

A good attitude is like your best friend and teammate. It can help you no matter what, pick you up when you get knocked down, support your efforts regardless of the results, celebrate your accomplishments, and is there to have a beer and laugh with you when you fail. Meanwhile bad attitudes are quite deceptive – and cunning!  They are only there to point out your faults, they laugh at you when you fall down, they think effort is only worthwhile if results are guaranteed, they convince you that you’re accomplishments aren’t good enough,  and  spit in your face and call you a bad name when you fail.

Now, everyone probably has experienced both of these scenarios via inner dialogue at some point or another.  So, how do we ensure that we’re working with ourselves, and not against? Here are some things that help me stay on “Team Wes” and avoid being “Wes’ Butthole Bully Arch-rival.”

Like we’ve said time and time again: realizing and acknowledging when we are going down the bad attitude path is key. Just writing the above paragraph is cathartic for me in the sense that it makes some of the effects of both good and bad attitudes tangible. Creating a frame work for what an attitude does and how it affects you helps you to embrace the good and combat the bad.

Focusing on what you can control and what matters
Like I talked about in the challenge seminar, so much of what manifests as a bad attitude lies in the uncontrollable past: a place that no matter how hard you try, cannot be changed.  Effort  and energy are also often wasted on things that ultimately don’t matter. I won’t delve into these people, actions, and things, but leave it to the reader to reflect and contemplate the things in life that cause them angst and stress but ultimately do not matter. Lets collectively focus on the actions wthinin our control, and the people/things that matter: ourselves, our family, and our friends.

To steal a concept from a great article Walker has written for Monday, you must practice having a good attitude when normally you wouldn’t.  Be happy about having to work late or deal with a difficult person at work. Celebrate a workout that is composed of all the things you suck at. Rejoice in social situations where you can’t partake in delicious treats and imbibements! Practice your good attitude daily.

In closing, I would like to give a quick testimonial to our Tuesday 5:30 and 6:30 am classes.  As most of you know, I now live in San Antonio with my lovely future wife and commute to the gym. Teaching on Tuesdays requires me to wake up around 4:00 AM and get on the road by about 4:10 or 4:15 am (hence my stylish hair). Starbucks does not open until 6 AM so I trade in my delicious Americano for Chevron gas station coffee.  Despite all of this, I consider Tuesday morning a treat in my week, mainly because everyone always seem to have a smile on their face and a joke in their pocket that early in the morning.  This is what makes coaching at CrossFit Austin so enjoyable – working with people that brighten your day.  I won’t pretend that we don’t deal with folks on the other end of the attitude spectrum, but our hope is that the attitudes of the coaches and athletes will rub off on those around us that struggle with the negative demons.  So look inside yourself and commit to being your best teammate and get rid of that bad-attitude nemesis in your brain holding you back.

Picture via behaviorgap.com found @ The Happiness Project

Welcome New Members!

January has been an awesome start to 2012 and we’re excited to welcome even more new faces! In case you haven’t had the chance to meet them yet, we wanted to take a moment to introduce the newest members in the Circle of Awesomeness…

Charlie Gregoire Meredith Walker Sarahi Hernandez Eileen Eiden 
Katie Wills Megan “Meg” Cary Anna Gann Brittani Marshall
Adrian Guerra Sarah Mendoza Peter Do Laila Al-Yafi
Brandon Mulvey Sam Legge Elizabeth “Liz G” Goman  Kyle Pettersen
Brittany Marley Faraon Hernandez Lee Woodward Paul Mahoney
Sarah “Dusty” Duffey Lexi Iverson Jennifer Stanlake Nicole Seltman
Adam Glick Laurel Lowke Mischka Partida Jeff Partida 
Wade Holmes John Land Andrew Lockwood John Nelson
Desiree Chavez David Cancialosi Edward Graber Matthew Place

Taylor Maanao Michael “Professor” Beckham

Welcome, new members! We’re so happy to have you here!

*If you are a new member and haven’t had your picture taken, please talk to Caitlyn! 

February Athlete of the Month: Jennifer “Machine Gun Jenny” Felps

State your Name and/or Nickname please.        
Jennifer Felps aka Machine Gun Jenny

Senior Business Systems Analyst at AMD

Words to live by?
“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Muhammad Ali

What is your fitness background? 
I was certified to teach aerobics in high school (yay step!).  I’ve always loved lifting, but I was really a 30 minute elliptical, light lifter, 3 times a week for many years.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
I started On Ramp in March of 2010.

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit?
My favorite part is the support from all the other athletes and coaches.  No one is ever derogatory.  Not ever.  The last person in (usually me) is cheered on like a first place finisher.  It’s amazing every single time.  I was afraid when I started that there would be days I would have to sit out because of my leg injury.  There has not been one single WOD that the coaches have not been able to mod for me in nearly a year of classes.  It really makes me feel like part of the team, and not like I’m a burden or in the way.

What are your training goals? 
I want to compete in my first powerlifting meet in the spring (Thank You, Coach Blake!).  That is so exciting!  I just want to keep getting better at everything – higher jumps, faster times, smaller bands on my pullups, bigger CFT numbers.  I’m perfectly fine with taking baby steps to get there.

Favorite sport or activity?  
My favorite activity is playing with my son, Rooster (whose favorite activity is coming to CFA to monkey around).  The 630AM Strength Days at CFA are a very close second!

Recent adventure you’re planning?  
James and I are going to see Liz and Cody lift in Fort Worth at their meet in February.  We are bringing a little CFA to Cow Town!

Tell us something we don’t know about you? 
I have 2 3-legged cats, Cleo and Stinker.  I got them that way from the shelter.  I guess I don’t believe in throwing something away because it’s not perfect.  Nothing wrong with the scratch-and-dent models.  I’m sort of one myself.

Longhorns or Aggies?  
Gotta be Longhorns.  I graduated from UT Austin in 1998.

Best quote that you’ve said within the walls of CFA that was never recorded on the quote board!?
Oh dear.  I said something the other day about not wanting to have Big Bertha between my legs…9am immediately pointed out how lucky I was that the quote board wasn’t up yet.  I know I was 3 shades of purple.

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words? 
I’m incredibly honored to be thought of as an athlete by a group of athletes I respect and adore.  WODs at 630am are not always pleasant, but every freezing cold morning I run to the car I know I will be seeing my friends.  And I’m excited every single day.  CrossFit has made me a better person in a million ways that have nothing to do with bands and bars and kettlebells.  I’m so grateful to have such a huge motley crew of new friends to rely on, and to cheer on every day.  You all make Fran tolerable.  There is no greater complement than that.

New Friday Classes Are Here!

We’re excited to announce that we have added two new classes times to our regular schedule – starting this week!
Members are now able to sign up for the following times:

Friday 5:30 AM – All Levels Group Class
Friday 5:30 PM – Level 2 Open Gym*

*Open Gym will last from 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM (1 hour) and you must sign up for it like a regular class. It will not be lead by a coach, but you will have all access to the equipment. Coach Shane will be around to monitor and make sure that everything is put back in it’s proper place.

**For a complete listing of class schedules, please click here.