Athlete Profile: Anya Jones

Athlete Profile: Anya Jones

Anya gets the job done, with a humble smile. She comes in, nails some monster walks in the warmup, practices her pull-ups before and after WOD’s…and is always up for a run (least fave movement, apparently-lol) or some serious open-gym lifting…what more could we ask for in an athlete?

What’s your athletic/fitness background?

I didn’t really do any sports until college, when I took up fencing. I fenced on university teams, but never really trained properly. A few years into grad school, I took up rowing because it seemed like the thing to try. I ended up taking rowing very seriously for a few years. Rowing competitively was a great experience. It really got me started as an athlete and gave me a taste of what an athletic community can be. When I finished school and had to start holding down a real job, I decided I couldn’t keep up with a rowing schedule, so I took up CrossFit.

What was your first CrossFit workout and what did you think of it?

My very first CrossFit experience was a one-on-one intro session with Josh, where I did a “mini modified Cindy” (ring rows, pushups on a box, and air squats). I guess I scaled it too much (or just enough), because I remember getting to the end of the workout and thinking “Well, that wasn’t so bad. I think I can survive this CrossFit thing.”

What’s been the biggest change for you since starting CrossFit?

The biggest change I’ve experienced through CrossFit is my perception of what I can do. Most sports target a very specific skill set, so it’s common to be limited by something you can’t control. Taller rowers have a longer stroke. I’m 5’4” on a good day, and no matter how much I train, I can’t change that. In CrossFit, however, there are so many different movements that there’s bound to be some things that you’re good at, and yes, some things that you’re not so good at. What I don’t quite understand, however, is that those things that you couldn’t do eventually become things you can do. When I started CrossFit, I could row and squat. That’s about it. I never dreamed that in less than a year I’d be able to do pushups, pull-ups, or run a mile. Some of the new skills I’ve gained have taken me a lot of work (I’m looking at you, pull-up), but some things seem to have just come naturally through CrossFit. (I just ran my first half marathon!) I’m no longer just a lower-body-strength person, I’m also an upper-body-strength person, a fledgling gymnast, and even (gasp) a cardio person. Wait, does that make me a well-rounded athlete? I did not expect that to ever happen.

What’s been your favorite DCF moment up to now?

The Open! This year was my first Open. I was pretty hesitant to sign up for because I’m not a “competitive” CrossFitter. But I figured I probably won’t come in last in the world, right? So I signed up, and promised myself that I’d do the best I could in every workout, no matter what that was. 14.1 had double-unders. I can barely do single-unders, so doubles are just asking for trouble. Poor Sam was judging me and could do nothing but stand there helplessly while I managed to repeatedly get myself tangled in the rope. It’s a miracle I didn’t strangle myself. My first Open workout was a total of 10 minutes of work, followed by a mass DCF migration to the pub, where we proceeded to hang around and chat for hours. I got to know my fellow DCFers better that day than I had in the previous year and a half. 5 weeks, 5 workouts, a few PBs, later I’d finished my first Open, not come in last in the world, and got my first real introduction to this DCF community everyone keeps talking about.

What’s your favorite CrossFit movement/WOD?

Anything with a barbell. Throwing around a loaded barbell is, by definition, cool. I especially love snatches. Ground to overhead in one seamless movement? Yes, please. [Is it bad form to insert a shameless plug for Justin’s Olympic lifting class here? DCF girls, please join the lifting class! Barbells are awesome. You will be made more awesome.]

Least favorite CrossFit movement/WOD?

Running. O my, how I hate running. I don’t care if it’s 200 meters or 200 miles, please do not make me run.

When did you know you were hooked?

The first time I walked into DCF I found Tom sitting at the desk in the back of NW and asked him to sign me up. He gave me this really odd look and asked me if maybe I didn’t want him to tell me more about CrossFit before I signed up. I said, yeah, you can, but sign me up anyway. That was pretty much the end of it. I’ve been coming 5+ days a week since I finished my intro classes.

I suppose I knew I was hooked when I caught myself refreshing the DCF website at 8pm every day to check the next day’s workout. And those times when you think it’s past 8pm, refresh, and then look at the clock to discover it’s too early? Sad.

Any advice for people starting out?

First of all, don’t forget to have fun. Most of us started CrossFit because we had goals—lose weight, get fitter, get stronger, etc.—but we stick with it because it’s fun. The beginning can be tough because there’s so much to learn and you feel like you can’t do anything, but enjoy it. You’ll never improve as much as you do in those first few months. Everyone’s told you to keep a journal, so of course you do. Write down how terrible those pushups on a box are. In a few months when you’re knocking out sets of 10 on the floor, you’ll be really proud of yourself. Sometimes you’ll have an off-day. You won’t be able to budge the same barbell that felt light as a feather last week. Oh well. Take a deep breath, take off some weight, and enjoy what you can do today. It’s supposed to be fun.

Also, don’t ever think that anyone is judging you. No one at DCF has ever said “(S)he’s too slow/weak/uncoordinated/fat to be here, why does (s)he even bother?” Seriously, no one. That really intimidating girl/guy in the corner doing [something you don’t even know what it is, but you’re sure you’ll never be able to do it] probably couldn’t do that last year, last month, or last week. And they’re really happy for you if you can get three more jumping pull-ups in today than you did last week. Everyone started somewhere and everyone is just trying to make progress, whatever that means to them. Check out the PB board. There are all kinds of numbers on there representing all kinds of people, and they’re all equally impressive. So show up, do the best you can today, and see where that takes you. (You’ll probably get hooked, and then get suckered into spending your Friday night writing a profile for this blog. Hi Teresa! Thanks for this lovely opportunity!)

Describe your favorite part about DCF?

I really like the second squat rack on the right, past the white board. That’s probably my favorite spot. The pull-up bars are just the right height so I can jump up and reach them, and there’s a good wall ball spot right there without that lip that catches the ball and causes it to hit me square in the face. (Ha, I crack me up.)

Everyone who fills out this profile says the DCF community. That’s 100% right, but since everyone talks about that, I’m going to pick something else.

The thing I appreciate most about DCF is the quality of the coaching. The coaches at DCF really care that you move well, and that’s invaluable. I’ve visited a few boxes around the world, and watching people move at some of them is downright terrifying. No wonder people all over the internet are getting all worked up about how CrossFit is going to tear your limbs off and maim you for the rest of your life. CrossFit can be intense, so you really do want to learn to do the movements properly before you load yourself down with a lot of weight. Even when you think you know what you’re doing, you’ll want someone to be watching you and let you know if you’re moving sub-optimally. This will a) keep you from getting injured, and b) make you as efficient as possible; both of these will make you a better athlete. The DCF coaches are awesome. They’re watching you all the time, and they’ll correct you when you’re wrong. You’ll curse them under your breath at the time, but you’ll thank them later. CrossFit has brought me back from two injuries that physical therapy didn’t. I credit the DCF coaches and their strict attention to form for a good bit of that. (Thanks, guys!)