Leigh Jaques


Leigh Jaques



Life in my 20’s- I ate healthy and exercised daily. I was a cardio addict. I taught aerobics at local gyms. I loved step aerobics and spin. I loved ellipticals. I loved to jog. I considered myself to be in pretty good shape. In my head, I knew that the more muscle you had the more fat you burned but the cardio kept me feeling good.
Year 2000- I started a job that I loved and gave all I had to it and in return, it consumed me. I worked all the time. Eventually, I quit exercising and just “let myself go”. I thought Ok, my focus needs to be on my job. I am protecting children from abuse and neglect. I have no time to focus on anything else. Yes, I knew I was underpaid and overworked (like all DFCS employees are across the state) but I learned from hard working parents over the years that you give 150% at your job in order to be successful. ( Looking back this last year though I realize that my parents worked so hard in their jobs that they didn’t tend to their own health and I wander if my Mom would still be here if she had physically taken care of herself and not worked under so much stress for so many years).
Fifteen years rocked on for me……30, 35, 40……43yo. Wow, how did I get “here” and how could I let myself get like “this”. I had a degree in Exercise Science/Health Education. How could someone with that kind of background look like me and feel like me? I had feelings of depression, anxiety and extremely low self-confidence. How in the world did I get to this point of feeling so low.
I realized I needed to do something or I was going to keep spiraling downhill to the point of being unable to even move. I had to do something so that I could keep up with my 8yo VERY active son! I did not want to go another year of being a fat “baseball Mom”. I tried the C25K and managed to work up to a 5k jog. I even finished the Leprachaun 5k in 2014. However, I never noticed a change in my weight or how I felt and my shin splints were so bad that I could never keep enough ice packs in the freezer. I finally realized I needed more than cardio. But I hated lifting any kind of weights. I had always been intimidated by weights. I walked past them at Fairview everyday while walking back to the aerobic part of the gym. That’s as close as I got to them. The other instructors there utilized weights but I had this great fear of them.
I start hearing more and more about CrossFit DGA. I started googling it. I started actually watching the videos some FB friends were posting. I was amazed at the strength these ladies had. I was intrigued. I wanted to do that. Deep down I knew they had to have started somewhere…..they didn’t just walk in to CrossFit DGA with that strength, power and confidence and start lifting like that. But I was intimidated by these girls. They were what I call “powerhouse beauties”. Denna, Amanda T., Karen, Natalie, Ranna, Jennifer A., Samantha, Catherine, Jennifer M, Jayne…..….and several others. I was afraid to walk in the doors of CrossFit DGA because I felt they would look at me- especially the ones who knew me in my 20’s and 30’s- and think…..”What has she done to herself”!
I eventually got the nerve to call Eric. I had seen videos and pictures of Eric and his wife Natalie and had initially what gorgeous people. Look at their physique! Look at their smiles! You could see happiness and content all over them. So I was even a little intimidated to meet Eric but I went for my initial assessment. I remember wanting Eric to know that I was not always this out of shape but I also wanted him to know that deep down I am not happy with myself and I know I am not healthy and that I was at my lowest point. I wanted to let it all out and be honest. That actually was the very first time in several years that I was honest with my weight.
I realized that this guy loves what he does. He is very knowledgeable and researches and reads about fitness and health on a daily basis. He appeared to me to be someone who wanted to learn all he could in order to educate others and help us cross fitters work towards- and reach- our own individual goals. I felt a sense of relief after talking with Eric. I knew that it was now or never b/c I had just dropped all walls and let my insecurities and fears show. And I felt he understood where I was.
The worst part of the assessment is I remember him writing on the white board next to my initials…..”cannot squat on command”. What!! A background of fitness and health and I can’t even do a simple squat!! And now everyone will see this and know this. After a week though, I did not care! I realized that box was going to be about me for whatever time I was in there.
Orientation began. I was still a little intimidated when I first walked in the” box”. It was not your typical gym I was used to. There were no mirrors (which I actually liked). I saw barbells, racks, wooden boxes and rowing machines. I could hear weights and barbells being dropped from lifts. I could hear a few grunts. I saw a bunch of sweaty people. So different from what I’ve ever seen in a “gym”. I was so worried that people would be looking at me and thinking of how bad of shape I was in. Well, after the first night of orientation class I knew the people at crossfit were there to workout and they meant business. There was no obvious socializing or sitting around staring at folks. These people were here for the business of fitness. I remember Eric and Natalie greeting me (and the other newbies) the first night which also helped put me- and others- at ease. I remember Denna taking such good care of us and teaching us the basics with respect for each of our levels of fitness. She was a great encourager! I felt welcomed as soon as I stepped in.
Forward 5 months in to CrossFit DGA….I can now squat! I get stronger each day! I can backsquat 135 lbs. I can do push-ups (knees on ground- but couldn’t even do one of those when I started). I can swing a 35 kettle bell over my head more than 5 times and control it without feeling like I have to go to the bathroom in an instant! I can do an overhead squat- a light bar- but I can do it without falling backwards! I can row 300 meters without feeling like I need oxygen! I can do many things I never thought I would be able to do. I struggle with the power clean but some movements were harder to learn than others. That’s okay though. I am improving each time! I cannot do a pull-up yet but they say that is the hardest and I will eventually be able to do one. I look forward to the day! The coaches never let you do anything with improper form. They are hawks watching over you as if you are their offspring. Our coaches are awesome. I have learned a lot from them. They help you modify/scale a prescribed exercise if you are not able to do it at the level or intensity prescribed. Any exercise or movement can be scaled or modified to whatever fitness level. Our coaches at Crossfit DGA are genuinely caring folks whom have your best interest at heart!
My journey has been slow but I see changes in myself- for the better! I no longer feel the level of anxiety I felt when I started CrossFit. My anxiety has also decreased outside of the box. I have gained self confidence in myself and find myself thinking, I can do that, I can do that…….I do CrossFit! I am a mentally stronger person. I feel my personality creeping back. I feel like I smile more and laugh more. I just feel better overall. Physically, I can now get up and down off the floor without groaning or moaning. I can jump up! I can bend over and tie my shoe without grunting and holding my breath. I can walk up the courthouse stairs without having to sit down once I make it. And I choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator! I can keep up with my son playing ball and playing other sports/activities.
I do still struggle with food and I admit to being an emotional/stress eater but I am slowly making better choices and changes. And I still have that job that consumed me some 10-15 years ago but CrossFit DGA has been a huge outlet for me and I even feel like a better employee, a better supervisor, generally a better person.
I am truly humbled by the people working out at CrossFit DGA and I admire every one of them and what they are trying to accomplish – no matter their fitness level. What I love about our box is on any given day when I feel like giving up someone is always there to encourage me or motivate me.
Before joining CrossFit DGA I heard all the talk of crossfit being a “clique” or “cult” and I’d hear all the jokes about it. Call it what you want but if it’s a cult it’s the best kind of cult to be in. One where you see your family everyday and are encouraged by your family to do and be the best you can everyday. I never walk out of the door of CrossFit DGA feeling defeated or distressed. I always feel like I am leaving a second home. I always feel that I was taken care of by the coaches and I always feel that I will see my 2nd family the next day.
I have such a long ways to go. I remember texting Eric in the beginning of my journey and asking what I could do to improve my endurance and that I was frustrated that I could barely do 200 meters on the row machine yet girls on each side of me were rowing and getting further faster and acting as if they could go another 1000 meters with no problems. Eric reminded me I was not 25yo anymore and that I had pretty much been immobile for the last year. He told me that each improves on his/her own level and that I should relax, sit back and enjoy my own journey. He was right. Once I “got it” right in my head I was able to be myself and start recording my journey and smiling at the progress I make each day. And to hear a coach say “good job” I know it is not just being said because they feel like they have to…..they are saying it knowing where you started at, how far you’ve come and that it’s justified.
CrossFit DGA has changed me in just 5 short months. But the biggest changes for me right now are on the inside! The outside changes will come!
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started”.- Mark Twain




1 Response