Testimonial Week: Jessica “Shug” Sanchez

I reluctantly went to my first workout at CrossFit Austin in May 2011 after my co-worker nagged me for months to try it out. She had great success with their programming and frequently talked about her workouts. As she described them to me, they sounded very intimidating so for months, I sat in silence wanting to go but coming up with an excuse to wait one more month. I finally realized that it wasn’t the workouts that were holding me back, it was me.

A little apprehensive but determined, I arrived at my first workout not really knowing what to expect. The class before mine was finishing up their WOD which consisted of lifting some heavy weights, running, pull ups, and box jumps. I sat in the car wondering what I had gotten myself into but then I heard someone in the class cheer on another person who was struggling to finish their last run and shortly after, the whole class was joining in. I decided at that moment that while this gym definitely had a lot of brawn, it also had a lot of heart and I wasn’t going to get the results I wanted by sitting on the couch wishing myself fit. The workout that day was hard (for me) but I finished it and never once felt inferior or weak. The coaches gave me great instructions and encouragement that left me leaving with a great sense of accomplishment.

I have now been crossfitting for just over 9 months and CrossFit is the only workout/gym/fitness routine I have ever followed consistently. The great thing about CrossFit is that it can be scaled to any fitness level from beginners to advanced and everyone gets a great workout. All the coaches really care about you and want you to succeed. They give you the tools, training, and encouragement you need to meet your goals.

Since working out at CrossFit Austin, I have lost 35lbs but have gained strength, endurance, flexibility, confidence, and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Testimonial Week: Michael “Mikey” Muna

About two years ago, I decided to leave my profession as an orchestral musician in Houston in order to pursue a longtime dream of attending law school. I upended my life, deposited my two dogs with my parents in California, and moved to Austin to begin anew. Law school was a jump into an abyss that I had to do on my own (my partner of 7 years is still in Houston), and the consequences were a disastrous lack of sleep, an abundance of stress, and a diet that was almost laughable had it not been so dire. By the end of my first semester, I was a mess. “New Year’s resolution time,” I said to myself, which led to my researching CrossFit gyms in the Austin area. With the thought that hopefully this time I would stick with the workout program (unlike every other one prior), I signed up for my first class.

In my lifetime struggle to attain that elusive state of “being in shape,” I couldn’t seem to make that permanent “lifestyle change” that diet gurus and television personalities spoke of that would lead to the mystical land of fitness and washboard abs. My whole life I had enjoyed being active, and I kept trying my hand at different sports and regimens. In junior high school I played volleyball. In high school I joined the swim team. In college I became a runner and trained for—and completed—the San Francisco Marathon. In grad school, I joined up with a boot camp run by the SWAT team of Houston. Post-grad school I did P90X. The common thread running through my attempts at fitness is that there was no common thread; I would go through a period of fascination with something that would last anywhere between one to two years, followed by a reversion to old lifestyles and habits (which included lots of wine, pizza and television). I had pretty much given up completely on being able to commit to becoming fit, partially because I didn’t really have a real sense what being fit meant.

My first on-ramp (now Level 1) experience at CrossFit Austin was quite a shock to my system. At the apex of my various athletic endeavors, I considered myself in pretty good shape. In this new gym, though, I struggled with a single pushup. I was winded after a 400 m run. I couldn’t get into a full squat position. I had let my fitness go down the tubes in just a few months of law school, and my bruised ego urged me to quit. Thank God I didn’t listen. With the support of the coaches at CFA, I pushed through that initial difficult period, and I started seeing some changes pretty rapidly.

Fast-forward to the South Central CrossFit Regionals in 2010. By that time, I had been CrossFitting for five months and begun to see some significant and positive changes. Watching these athletes, though, was an eye-opening experience and exposed me to the possibilities of CrossFit. Here were some of the fittest people I had ever witnessed, all performing feats of strength and athleticism that would be described by anyone (except maybe other CrossFitters) as either impossible or insane. This was pure fitness in a visceral form, and I knew I had finally found the way (or at least the metric and vocabulary) to define my own fitness level. Even more, I felt the love and respect rippling through the crowd as I cheered not just for the hot-pink awesomeness that was the CrossFit Austin team, but for all the athletes doing things that I knew—from experience—were excruciatingly difficult. On that day, something clicked. I pulled together my diet and upped my workout attendance and forgot about trying to get those washboard abs. I decided that I wanted to be the strongest I could be. That’s when the changes in my body and my attitude kicked into high gear.

Almost akin to the feng shui belief that if you clean and clear your living space, good energy begins to flow, when I cleaned and cleared my body by strengthening and taking care of it, good things began to happen. After just one year, my performance has improved, not just in the gym but also in law school. I have lost about 35 pounds, and I dropped an entire suit size. Jeans that were tight on me (and by tight, I mean I couldn’t fit in them) are now loose. My tailor LOVES me. A year ago, I couldn’t do a single pullup, and I would have laughed at the notion of doing more than two at a given time. Now I can do “Fran” (which requires a series of 21, then 15, then 9 pullups) without any assistance. Now, when I get my butt handed to me by the WOD, instead of letting my ego chatter away, I push forward. Struggle, I have come to realize, is not a talisman of weakness or failure, it is just a reminder that there is plenty of room to grow. I am proud of today, but I will always push for more tomorrow.

I wake up every morning ready and excited for the day because I know CrossFit Austin will be a part of it. All the coaches bring their personalities and expertise to every workout, and I know I can count on them to push me when I need it, to kick my butt when I deserve it, and to be encouraging when I’m down. The members of CrossFit Austin are supportive, friendly, loving, and dang competitive. Most of all, every single person who steps into that gym is a true inspiration. Awesomeness.

I get asked all the time, “is there an endpoint in sight for this? Are you training for anything?” For the first time in my life I can honestly say, “No. I’ve just made a lifestyle change.”

Testimonial Week: Carissa Stith

Someone once told me that my potential as a CrossFit athlete was limited. I could compete in the Open, earn points for the gym, but the chance of making it to Regionals as an individual was too far-fetched. Heading to Regionals on the team was plausible — that is, if I even earned a spot. Clearly, the Open workouts would need to fall in my wheelhouse. Any WODs involving heavy lifts, rowing or long distance runs would surely knock me over to the sideline.


Because I am small. I was never a college athlete. I have the Khalipa mentality — fast out of the gate and then flail around like a crazed person on the verge of death. Fortunately, I have a pretty awesome pain face so it works to my advantage.

As much as I wanted to push past these thoughts, they continued to linger in the back of mind. I questioned my abilities and if I wanted to simply CrossFit for fun, or continue striving for what others deemed to be impossible.

Steve Prefontaine said that, “Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” I believe I lost that mentality a year into crossfitting. I needed someone to show me the way … to show me what I was truly capable of with some bumper plates and a barbell.

Enter Blake Johnson. Blake — our resident strong man and coach with the killer warm-ups — saw the potential in me. He knew my CrossFit Total numbers, did the research and knew I could make a name for myself on the powerlifting circuit. For my weight class, I was strong. But looking at the record boards in the gym, this thought never truly crossed my mind. I was 30 pounds away from making the majority of the boards on the strength side.

But Blake didn’t see it that way. He put together a program, coached, and prepared me over a six-week period for my first powerlifting competition. He never asked for anything in return. He saw me as an athlete and simply wanted me to succeed.

With his coaching efforts, and the support of JerBear and friends, I became the state record holder in the back squat and the bench press for my weight class. At 120 pounds, I have a 222-pound back squat and a 125-pound bench press.

I know that a 185-pound clean and jerk may never happen. But I am ok with that. I can throw my bodyweight over my head and deadlift twice my weight. When I stopped focusing on what everyone else was accomplishing, I found my own sense of achievement. I know my own potential. And perhaps I’ll never stand on the podium at Regionals, but at least I know that when you break it down to body percentages, I am stronger than some of the competitors out there.

Women with the small weights on the bar and the extra gas left in the tank, I dare you to grow some cojones. Not literally. But figuratively. Stop thinking of yourself as weaker than you are. Banish those “slow” or “old” thoughts from your head. Throw some mother****ing weight on the bar and make the lift happen. And run faster. And try for the extra pull-up and the handstand push-up. Maybe it won’t be perfect. Maybe you’ll fail. Maybe you’ll fail a bunch. I don’t care. That’s okay. You won’t die from failure here. More importantly, you’ll be living.

Someone kinda famous once said to me: “You’re going to misstep and you’re going to find success. So what. I love you no matter how it turns out and most things are fixable (or not, so ****ing what).” This is the way to live life — with these thoughts in your head. Be bold, be brave, be invincible.” – CrossFit Lisbeth

Testimonial Week: Chaz “Chazzy D” Darling

DefinitionAn exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something.

I can’t believe I just defined “definition” but it has a point, I swear. Joining CrossFit Austin has been one of the, if not THE, single greatest things I have ever done for myself. Let me explain…

Before joining CFA, this is how I defined myself:
Chaz: Tall, chubby, not athletic, smart, lazy most of the time, not genetically gifted, “something good will happen if I wait long enough” mentality, timid, unconfident, quitter.

As a kid, I was more interested in video games, television, and sodas than physical fitness; in middle school I got a little adventurous and tried football. I figured “Hey, I’m kind of fat, I can probably play lineman.” Well apparently you also have to be either strong or kind of fast (preferably both), of which I was neither. After quitting half-way through 8th grade, it wasn’t until sophomore year of high school I would exercise again with wrestling, but I wasn’t all that great at that either thanks to what I would describe as my “in between frame” (think potato with toothpicks coming out of it for arms and legs).

One day during my junior year of high school, I was tired of being overweight and wanted to get in shape, so I joined a Gold’s Gym and started 3 sets of 10 bench (with a spot, bro), iso-arm curls in the mirror, and blasting my quads on the leg press. I also started eating “healthy” meaning low-fat everything. I ended up staying with it through the rest of high school and even into college when I also started playing intramural sports.

Even then, in spite of all the activity I was doing, I never saw the results I wanted. During sports and sometimes life’s little tasks like lifting something or bending over to pick something off the ground, I didn’t know how to MOVE properly.

A year after college is when I felt like I really hit rock bottom. Desperate for fitness motivation, I signed up for a half-marathon, but even after all the training, I didn’t feel (or look for that matter) in shape. I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone about my fitness and health woes one day and she suggested I do CrossFit since a couple of her coworkers did and enjoyed it. That night, I gave Wes a call and scheduled an introductory assessment.

For so many years, I felt like I wasn’t coordinated or strong or flexible or this or that and something about it said this is a second chance to redefine myself. Not as a clunky, uncoordinated, overweight person, but as a driven athlete. A classification I had never been able to give myself.

After the introductory assessment, I went to the beginner’s classes where I learned not only about proper form and technique for most movements, but also the way to eat better (fats are good, don’t eat processed crap) and live better. I jumped into the advanced classes and haven’t looked back since. I’ve done things I thought I never would or COULD do. Examples: overhead squats, front squats, cleans, jerks, clean and jerks, snatches, muscle ups, double unders, toes to bar, 375 deadlift, squat my body weight, etc. etc. It sounds like a lot, and if you told me I’d be doing all of those things, I would have thought you were crazy, but they happened!

Today, I define myself much differently:
Chaztall, strong, confident, smart, goal-oriented, driven, athletic, “get it done” attitude, slim, defined (in some areas J), happy, work in progress

Joining CrossFit Austin hasn’t just changed the way I look, it has changed the way I live, work, approach obstacles, and, most importantly, view myself.

Thanks CFA!