Member Spotlight – Cathy Ollerhead

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Name: Cathy Ollerhead

Nicknames (in the gym): Jesse likes to call me Pain Face ☺

Age: 48

How long have you been CrossFitting? How long have you been a member at CFNC?
I’ve been CrossFitting since January 2013, when I first joined CFNC.

Were you a member at the original gym on Journey’s End Circle? How does it compare/contrast to the current gym(s)?
When I joined CFNC it was still in the old Journey’s End Circle location. It was a much smaller space but I really liked it. It felt pretty intimate and really had the “community” feel that I had read about on a number of blogs. That being said, the new gyms are awesome with lots of space. I really like the new Aurora location. It’s about a minute from my house and full of shiny new equipment! That being said, I’m not a fan of the turf and sleds at Aurora …for some reason it is so much harder to push the sled on that turf. I may have cherry picked locations when a WOD had a sled push in it last summer…I just couldn’t face that turf in Aurora! (This was before Ryan changed sled push to half body weight in Aurora!)

What did you do (athletically speaking) before CrossFit? What was your background?
Before CrossFit, and even still now, in the summer I golf in a ladies league Tuesday nights, and I play ball hockey once a week. In the winter I play Ice hockey once a week (CFNC members Nikki Bissett and Pam Agawa are on my team too!) Other than that, I wasn’t really doing too much “working out”. I used to run – a lot (ran about 7 or 8 half marathons and 1 full marathon) – but I really hated it. Around the same time that I joined CrossFit, I had signed up for a half marathon. I made it about 2 runs into my race training schedule when I finally admitted to myself that I really didn’t like running and decided I was done with it. The thought of 12 weeks of running just didn’t seem as much fun as CrossFit, so I stopped training, sold my bib to the race, and now pretty much only run when I have to in a WOD. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! Running made me miserable. CrossFit makes me happy! ☺

How often do you train?
I do class 4 times a week. When I first signed up I was only 3 days a week, but when I renewed I bumped up to 4. I’d love to go unlimited, but I don’t think I can physically get here more than 4 times a week with all the other stuff I have going on. Plus, I’m not sure my body could take more than 4 times a week!

When time of day do you typically train? Do you like to train at this time or it because of work/schedule?
During the week, I’m usually in the 8:30pm class. I’d like to come earlier, but during the school year, 8:30pm classes give me enough time to get home, have dinner with the family, deal with kids/homework, etc and not feel guilty leaving the house. Also, I like the 8:30 class. It’s not usually that busy, so you get a lot of attention from the coaches.

What’s your favourite thing about CrossFit? Why have you stuck with it for as long as you have?
My favourite thing about CrossFit is that it’s a well-rounded hour. I like that we get warmed up, stretched out, work on strength, and then the MetCon. I also like that I don’t have to think about what to do. The programming is set and the coaches will warm us up and stretch us out. I basically just have to do what I’m told and I know I will get a good workout in.

What are you known for? What’s your identity in the gym?
Hmm…not really sure. I’d like to think that I’m known for just working hard. I’m not the strongest, and definitely not the fastest, but I never quit. I certainly want to sometimes, but I just keep pushing through.

Who is your favourite coach?
This is a tough question. All the coaches are fantastic. I don’t hesitate to take a class with any of them. I actually like when I get a variety of coaches in the week, since each one has different pointers for lifts and moves that all help me improve. I will say that I really like when I can get to a class that either Michelle or Ryan is coaching – they are tough, but I like that!
Regardless of who is coaching, I learn something new in the gym every day…and that’s awesome!

Do you prefer Strength or MetCons…or both equally?
I think I like MetCons better. I love the feeling of making it to the end of the workout and being an exhausted, sweaty mess. There are days when I’m amazed I did it, but it’s a great sense of accomplishment.

What’s your favourite workout (benchmark, style/type, movement/lift…)?
I really like double unders. I can do them not too badly, and since Ryan suggested I use a longer rope I’m getting even better at them. And in line with that, my favourite workout is Annie (50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders and Sit-ups). I like that it’s moves that I can do, and each round there are few reps. My time has gotten better every time we do it. I haven’t done it for a while…maybe Ryan should program it soon so I can see if I can beat my best time!

What’s your least favourite workout (benchmark, style/type, movement/lift…)?
This one is easy. My least favourite move is Thrusters. There is just something about them that I find so hard – both physically and mentally. Plus, I’ve hit myself in the chin twice coming up out of the bottom and chipped a tooth bad enough that my dentist had to repair it! I cringe every time there is a workout with Thrusters.

What was your best and/or worst day at CrossFit?
I have 2 days that come to mind and both days were the best and worst day at CrossFit at the same time. Both were during the Open Friday night Throwdown in 2014 and 2015. The first was Open Workout 14.5 (21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of: 65-lb. thrusters, Burpees). Back in 14.5 there was no scale option, so I had to do 65# Thrusters. This workout terrified me. Up to that point, I hadn’t done a 65# Thruster, so the thought of doing 84 of them was just so overwhelming. I had a mini-meltdown and may have shed a few tears before it was my turn to go. I remember Simon, my judge, talking me through the whole workout, keeping me going and just getting me through it. I did that whole WOD in sets of 3 thrusters. It was awful, and took forever, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to finish a WOD.

The second best/worst day was Open Workout 15.5 (27-21-15-9 reps for time of: Row (calories), Thrusters 65#). Again, since it was thrusters I was dreading this workout. I was debating about whether to go Rx or Scaled and by the time it was my turn, I had settled on scaled 45#…but Alannah, who was my judge, said “Nope, you are doing Rx” and changed my bar to the 65#. This workout was not fun. It was hard and long, but I finished. This time my tears came after the WOD. When I finished, Alannah gave me a big hug and I just started to cry. Thrusters test every fibre of my being!

What are some of your accomplishments (weight loss, PR’s, overcoming injury, other personal goals, competitions, etc.)?
Getting pull-ups and lifting 100 lbs over my head are two specific things that stand out for me. But really, the fact that I have stuck with this for over 3 years now and faithfully go to class is a pretty good accomplishment too.

What are you working towards right now? Do you have any goals?
I’d like to be able to string together 10 pull-ups. So far I’ve done 5 in a row, but most of the time I can only get 3 in a row before I have to drop off the bar. I haven’t really being doing anything extra to help me with this, so I can’t be too surprised I’m not getting any better. I guess I really should do something about that ☺

Tell us about a funny/embarrassing CrossFit moment.
I would say chipping my tooth doing a Thruster was pretty embarrassing. Also, I passed out once during class, and coming too with everyone huddled around me was a bit weird and embarrassing. Other than that, nothing really sticks out. I learned a long time ago not to be embarrassed about finishing a WOD last…which I do a lot of the time.

Do you do any athletics outside of CrossFit currently?
As I mentioned earlier, I golf, play ball hockey and ice hockey. I ski a bit in the winter, usually just on our family trip to Vermont every year for March Break. Between work, kids, and CrossFit I don’t have time for much else!

Is there anything you look forward to (The Open, heavy squat days, in-house competitions, eat after your workout..etc)?
I mostly just look forward to coming to class. CrossFit really is quite often the best part of my day…especially now that I’ve finally convinced my husband, Rory, to join and we now workout together.

Is working out a priority for you? Is sleep more or less important (than training)? Does sleep/nutrition affect your workouts?
I do make it a priority to get to the gym 4 times a week. I usually have my classes scheduled out for the week and in my calendar so I can schedule other things around them. I’m finally learning how important sleep is and really trying to make that more of a priority and get at least 7 hours a night. Getting a good night’s sleep impacts my workouts, but also my day in general. When I’m tired, I don’t do as well in the gym and I tend to not eat as well either, which doesn’t help at all. I find I’m at my best when I have planned my meals for the week, prepped some things ahead, and don’t have to worry about food.

Have you changed your eating since you started CrossFit?
Yes and no. Even before CrossFit I was eating clean most of the time. Doing a few Whole Life Challenges changed the way I ate (for 8 weeks at least) since there were so many restrictions (no wheat, dairy, sugar, etc). Now I’m trying to do the macro thing, but not being too strict about it. I find that just by thinking about what I’m eating I tend to keep things within reason.

What do you typically eat on a Rest Day and/or Training Day?
I don’t really eat that differently on rest versus workout days. On workout days I do have a protein shake and some dates after my WOD, but other than that, I don’t really treat them differently food-wise. Maybe I should??

Have you learned anything new about yourself/fitness/health since starting CrossFit?
I think the biggest thing I learned is that I wasn’t eating enough and that I need to eat for fuel so I have the energy to do the workouts. I’d like to see more changes in my body – less fat, more muscle. I’m working out just about as much as I can, so these changes will have to come from getting better with my nutrition. I know I can do it, I just need to plan and be prepared so I’ve got healthy options available whenever I need to eat. If not, it’s just way too easy to eat crap. And when I eat crap, I feel like crap, so I need to avoid that.

Do you have friends/family who also CrossFit at CFNC? Did you drag them here?!
I do! My friend Pam Agawa has joined, my friend Suzanne joined last fall, and I finally got my hubby to join. I’ve been working on getting Rory to come for 2 years. Finally, with the 2 week trial I got him into the gym. Once he actually tried a real class and saw what it’s all about, he finally understood what I have been talking about. He officially joined last August, and is really enjoying it. He’s seeing the benefits of CrossFit, plus we get to spend a few more hours together each week now that we are both coming to the gym.

Do you come to socialize (take your time before/after class, stretch) or are you just business (in an out in an hour)?
I tend to come to class a bit early to do a bit of stretching and to chat with folks, but I’m pretty quick to leave after class most days.

Are you into CrossFit as a whole (Games, Open, Apparel, Competitions, Watching YouTube Videos) or do you just come here to get in a good workout?
I’m all in! I do the Open, I have the gear, and I will do friendly in-house comps. I also read and watch YouTube to find tips on how to get better, or to learn what a movement is. This was especially true when I first joined. I would go to the CFNC site and see what the WOD was, then search YouTube to figure out what it meant so I had some clue when I showed up to class.

Has your mindset changed since starting CrossFit (perception of CrossFit versus current Reality)?
I didn’t really know what CrossFit was before I started. I had read about it on blogs and just decided to try it. I called for a free class and Michelle got me set up for the Baseline test. It didn’t take very long for me to decide that I loved it. All my early workouts were hard, and all of my workouts now are hard. I think that’s one of the best things about CrossFit. It can be challenging for as long as you do it. Lift heavier, go faster, and always improve. It’s awesome!

Have your priorities changed since starting CrossFit?
I would have to say yes. I pretty much schedule the rest of my life around my CrossFit classes. I do everything I can to ensure I get to the gym 4 times a week (and just recently added Andrew’s Strength Foundations into the mix). I have never been so dedicated to a workout routine before. I’ve had other gym memberships, but stopped going after a few months, and definitely never renewed 2 years in a row.

Has CrossFit changed your life?
Definitely! I’ve still got some work to do, but I’m in the best shape of my life, and hoping to improve more! I know if I keep showing up at the gym and work hard, and keep my nutrition on track, I will get there. At this point, I can’t imagine my life without CrossFit. CFNC/CFAC is my happy place…and I can’t wait to get to class tonight!