CFLA Athlete Profile – Maddison Gan
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Occupation: Social Worker
When did you first start CrossFitting?: January 2013
When did you first start training at CFLA?: January 2013
Favorite WOD: In general, I prefer the longer, metabolic workouts that require lots of running or rowing with barbell work in between. They’re never as bad as they look and I always feel really accomplished afterwards.
Least Favorite WOD: Currently double unders and pull-ups (both strict and kipping…I don’t discriminate) are the bane of my existence. I’m also not a huge fan of having to throw heavy weights over my head.
Tell us about your sports & fitness background: Welllll…there’s really not that much to tell. Unlike many of the individuals who have written before me, sports and fitness were never really big parts of my life. I did gymnastics and dance throughout elementary and middle school. In high school I played on the JV tennis team for a few years, but then quit when I became more interested in non-athletic extra-curriculars. In college I frequented the gym, mostly using the treadmill or elliptical and never daring to pick up a dumbbell or barbell. It wasn’t until I joined CFLA that I really found the time or desire to fit fitness into my life.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I spent two years at USC in a dual-masters program that sucked the life out of me. Although it was an incredible experience and I wouldn’t take it back, all of my time and attention was spent reading books, writing papers, attending classes, or working at various internships. When I graduated and got my first real world job I found two things: 1) I really hadn’t taken care of myself and 2) with nights and weekends being mine again I had tons of free time to do just that. All I knew of CrossFit was that it looked super intense and was totally out of my comfort zone. But I also recognized that anything I had tried within my comfort zone (the gym, yoga classes, running) never really stuck. I needed to make some changes in my life and noticed that CFLA was only a few blocks from my apartment. Everyone I talked to about it told me I was crazy and that if I tried it I would probably injure myself (both a reflection of how inactive my friends are and how little faith they had in my athletic ability), but I told them I felt like I needed to be a little crazy and would check it out for myself.
After recovering from the baseline workout (I swear no workout has made me as sore since) I showed up to my first real class where we did a WOD that involved intervals of rowing and running. I remember frantically trying to take my shoes out of the straps on the rower while trying to catch my breath, running down Santa Monica, turning around at Berkeley and thinking to myself…Do. Not. Puke. You just signed yourself up for four months of this. How will you ever come back if you’re the girl that pukes the first day?! Luckily…I didn’t puke and never had to answer that question.
What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? Really, the question should be what hasn’t changed since I started CrossFit? I’ve lost about 15 pounds since I began almost two years ago and currently fit into clothes in sizes I never thought I’d see again. My relationship to food has completely changed. Eating is no longer solely about what tastes good or what I’m craving in the moment, but what will nourish and fuel my body. I’ve become someone who really enjoys going to farmers markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and not just to eat tamales or chocolate croissants! Although [like most women] I can’t say I love everything about my body, for the first time in my life I’ve started to find things I really like. I’m proud of its strength and find myself amazed with what it can endure. I smile a lot more when I look in the mirror than I used to. Exercise has become a part of my daily life. Whether it’s working out at CFLA, running on the boardwalk, biking through the streets of Santa Monica, or trying a new hike, I’ve tried to take on Under Armour’s mantra of “No Matter What – Sweat Every Day.”
What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? The most unexpected thing that has come out of taking on CrossFit is the effect it has had on my relationship with my dad. Although he was skeptical at first, and quite often reminds me not to do anything that will injure myself, my dad has been my biggest cheerleader through this experience. CrossFit has given us something to bond over. Quite often I’ll call him as I walk home from the gym and he’ll ask for a rundown of that day’s workout. Then he’ll share with me what his personal trainer made him do and we’ll commiserate about our sore bodies. When he comes to LA or I go to Tucson we’ll make time to get some exercise in together. He even came to a class with me two summers ago during “Bring-A-Friend Days.” He made it through wall balls, slam balls, plate carries, and even jumping rope. I’ll never forget when we walked out of the gym and he turned to me and said: “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”
Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: My first Whole Life Challenge – can’t thank you enough Andy and Michael. Running my first half marathon. Competing with so many amazing women at the Femme Royale – especially watching my awesome partner Maggie hit a dead lift PR and jump up and down and clap like a little girl. The sugar high before the crash that came with tasting over a dozen cookies at the Chili-Cookie Cook-off. Handstand push-up practice at Shirley’s Strong Woman Gymnastics Clinic. The Ride with Core documentary showing was pretty frickin’ inspirational. Kicking Noz’s butt on the Urban Course when we were the only two to show during Testing Week. The purple tutu exchange throughout Ragnar Napa Valley. Watching the adorable CrossFit Kids do air thrusters and push presses. Wearing a ridiculous red garter on my leg with Steph as we rowed, lifted, and burpee’d through Buddy Battle 2014. Pre-WOD sewing session with Shirley to make our incredible Technicolor flag for the Twilight Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier.
Any advice for people just getting started? Trust the coaches. They watch. They pay attention. And if you show up to the same classes they really get to know you and what you’re capable of. For the most part I’m someone who is overly cautious – I’m constantly being told that I can handle more weight. For a while I was weary of the insistence on adding another plate or going up another size kettle bell. I worried that this was just a crazy CrossFit thing – lift heavier, run faster, do more reps. Yeah, yeah…I’ll look real tough until a barbell comes crashing down on my head. But I still remember the day when we were doing an EMOM with dead lifts. Like everyone else, I was trying to progressively move up in weight when Matt told me my back didn’t look straight enough and that I should take some off my bar. He helped me remove the plate, modeled the correct posture, and watched to make sure I could mimic it at the new, lighter weight. I knew then that the coaches had my back – literally in this case. Sure, they want to see us get stronger, move faster, push ourselves harder, but not at the expense of our physical wellbeing. They’ve never asked me to do something I couldn’t handle. When they tell you to kick it up a notch, know that they are never setting you up to fail. You can do it.
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? My day job is spent playing a social worker at a nursing home in the Valley. As much as I love kids, there’s something about the old folks that really gets me. When you spend enough time with the 85+ crowd you often feel like you’re working with kids, but every so often they hand over a nugget of wisdom that only someone with decades of life experience could provide. On the weekends I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible – hanging at the beach, running, hiking, biking – whatever will keep me in the sunshine. But if I’m gonna be indoors you can usually find me in the kitchen. I love checking out food blogs and trying new recipes. I recently bought both a veggie spiralizer and ice cream maker and have been having a lot of fun experimenting with my new gadgets…zoodles or non-dairy pumpkin ice-cream anyone?
Max Effort Bench press (BW / ⅔ BW)
Max Effort Pull-ups
And Coming Monday
Old School Week!
5 Clean and jerks (185/115)
5 Clean and jerks (185/115)
120 Double unders
5 Clean and jerks (185/115)