My name is Joe Poulson, and my CrossFit journey began in November of 2013. It was a very tough time in my life, and I was broken in every way – mentally, physically, and spiritually. I decided that major self-changes were needed, and I had always been curious about CrossFit, so I looked up boxes in Lake Mary. I found CFLM, said what the hell, and made an appointment via their web page for the free trial class. The class started at 0900 on Thursday, November 7th, 2013. I had NO idea what to expect, but I didn’t care because I knew this was going to be a positive change for me. I walked in, and was instantly greeted by Jennifer Sheppard. She welcomed me with open arms, and I knew then I had made the right decision. I was given a tour of the box, and was introduced to other coaches and members, who were all very friendly and courteous. Then I was put through a workout to determine my fitness level, and to give me a taste of what was to come. I won’t lie, it was a difficult workout because I was so out of shape. However, I didn’t care because I was all-in, and I knew I had to start at the bottom, in order to work my way up.
I survived my trial class, and immediately committed to the 6-month plan. I scheduled the four “Foundations” classes for the following week…starting at 0600 the following Monday! Those four classes were so incredibly tough, due to the time and my fitness level. I was so sore after the first class that it was almost comical…if it hadn’t hurt to laugh. Still, I pushed my way through it because I could see how beneficial CF was going to be, and I had the encouragement of not only the Foundations coaches, but the other coaches and members as well! I couldn’t let them down, but more importantly, I couldn’t let myself down. At the end of the last class, I was so excited to be done, and so proud of myself for having completed Foundations. Now it was on to the real classes!
I started the regular classes the following Monday, after resting and sleeping for three glorious days. I began with the 0900 class, and once again, was welcomed by everyone. I was very excited to be a part of the real classes, but also a little nervous as I wasn’t sure how much more difficult they were going to be. My nervousness evaporated immediately, however, once I realized how each and every workout is scalable. From then on, I attacked each workout I attended, working as hard as my body allowed. I had set goals, and was determined to reach them.
Before I finish my story, I have to mention a few things. First, I have a pacemaker. The first one was implanted in October of 1993, when I was 19 years old. So for over half of my life now I’ve had a device in my chest. I’m also fortunate in that I don’t require its use 100% of the time. Still, it was a concern for me, as I wanted to be sure CrossFit was something I could do with a pacemaker. I spoke with my cardiologist, and he gave me the green light. Of course the CFLM coaches were also concerned, so I provided a letter from my doctor saying I was good to go. That brings me to my second point…safety.
There’s a lot of talk out there about how CrossFit can be dangerous, and how injuries are piling up due to CF’s ever growing popularity. This was also somewhat of a concern for me before I started, but those concerns were quickly cast aside. ALL of the coaches at CFLM preach safety first. They care about form and discipline long before how much weight is moved. If the movement isn’t being done properly, there’s no reason to do it. Drop the weight, learn the proper form first, increase the weight later. I’ve NEVER felt unsafe while performing a workout, because I know my limits, and I know there are multiple coaches watching me at all times, ensuring my safety.
Lastly, I have to mention how incredibly positive CFLM is. When you walk in, you are greeted with enthusiastic hellos and handshakes. Every coach encourages and pushes you to be your best. Every member does the same. When a new person walks in, everyone walks over to greet them, and they are treated like old friends. I needed this positivity when I started. I got more than I could ever imagine.
I’ve now been at CFLM for nine months, attending at least four classes a week. In that time, I have lost 46 pounds of fat, have gained muscle, and am stronger now than at any other point in my life. I have learned more about physical training, weightlifting, and nutrition, and am now easily in the best physical shape of my life. Also, due to how CF workouts are “you against yourself”, I am in much better place both spiritually and mentally. Having to reach deep inside yourself, to see exactly what kind of person you are, in order to finish some workouts, really does wonders for the self.
The best part is I am not even where I want to be! I mean, I love my new self, more than ever, but I have goals and visions, and I know that by being consistent with my CF training and diet, and always pushing myself to be better than the day before, I will reach those goals. And when I’m there? It’ll be time to set bigger and better goals!
Without question, joining CrossFit Lake Mary has been one of the best decisions in my life.