CFLA Athlete Profile – Cheri Gross

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CrossFit Open Workout 14.1

AMRAP 10min
30 Double Unders
15 Snatches (75/55)


A) 4 RFQ (Rounds for Quality) :30:30
Ring Dips / Dips

B) EMOM 8 for Quality
2 Split Jerks (from the rack)

C) 8 Rounds on the 2:00
100 meter run
2 Front Squats at 85-90% of 1RM

CrossFitLA Image

Hometown: AZ
Age: 40
Occupation: Massage Therapist
When did you first start CrossFitting?: Jan. 2008
When did you first start training at CFLA?: Jan. 2008 at Petranek Fitness
Favorite WOD: Rope climb/C&J wod from Games, Filthy 50, Chippers 40+ minutes.
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with chest to bar pull ups. Really??? Please can I slam my boobs into a metal bar???!!!!! Come on.

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I was a basic tomboy growing up. I played every kind of sport out there (except weight lifting) and eventually settled on softball pitching and volleyball. When I was around 13, I started having a lot of health problems, which eventually forced me to drop out of high school for a year and ended any participation in sports. After many doctors told me these symptoms were “all in my head,” I was finally diagnosed with hypoglycemia, 11 food allergies, and a “liver dysfunction of unknown cause.” This began a long road of trying to get healthy and seeing every kind of doctor and healer out there.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I was introduced to CrossFit by Traver Boehm; a great gift. Andy did my base line. The 6 am class was the only time in my schedule that worked. Andy said the 6 am was a pretty tight, tough group and I might get overwhelmed because let’s face it, I didn’t know how to do anything. It was overwhelming and it was like being thrown into the fire, but it was an interesting kind of overwhelming; a challenge that I liked. I know I was out of place. I did everything wrong, a real Ms. Magoo. I’m fairly certain that tick Andy developed for a time was from too much eye rolling. But they all helped me get better. I don’t remember my first actual wod but I remember the warm up consisted of handstand holds. I hadn’t done that in YEARS. I remember going up twice and suddenly collapsing because my left hand/arm was crushed in a car accident 10 years prior and it was too weak to hold me. It was like that for some time and I even remember Andy wrote in my initial contract that he would let me go if my hand didn’t improve but CrossFit was a rehab for it.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? Well, this is a mixed bag. I wish I could say I have always been injury free and have gotten stronger everyday and have never had any “set backs” or “re-sets” as Kenny likes to call it, but that would be a lie. I started CrossFit with about 30 pounds of post pregnancy weight, couldn’t do a push up, I had to use the thickest band for pull ups, and I remember doing the Challenge “Helen” and coughing for a week because my lungs were not used to expanding that far. I improved, dropped about 20 pounds fairly quickly and then about 10 months later, I herniated discs in my back dead-lifting because I rounded my back. The back injury was mainly from me having too strong a will and not enough experience with maintaining good form but it affected my leg to the point that I couldn’t lift it more than an inch off the ground. I did a lot of rehab on it and now, it only bothers me doing squats.I tried the paleo diet in 2009, which really helped with energy, weight, digestive and acne problems. It helped me discover gluten allergy #12. By 2011, I was at the top of my fitness level. I was training for the CrossFit games, eating clean, at 14% body fat, ripped, and had finally reached my goal of doing man’s weight in wods. Ironically enough, I felt as if I was just starting to get beyond the beginner stage meaning my will, experience level, and strength were all starting to sinc. I didn’t feel imbalanced. But then I ripped my shoulders from over training, which made me take a year and a half off CrossFit. It was really disappointing to give up the dream of making it to the Games but even harder to give up seeing how far I could go. However, it did put me on another road of expanding my awareness of the human body and brought a whole new dimension to my work and life and in a way put me back on my path, (I guess we never really fall off, just gain more experience.) I spent another year trying to wod again but it was without the same fire I brought before. I was always so much into the self-improvement aspect of CrossFit, reaching goals, PR-ing, dreaming about a unique experience like participating in the Games. My motivation was gone and my shoulders hurt so much that I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. I was about to ask Michael to cancel my contract when Andy started asking people to do the triathlon with him. I started ocean swimming and fell in love with it. The added benefit, it opened up my shoulders and I have been able to train again, pain free, for about 2 months. Now, even knowing I may never PR, I have started to find my smile with CrossFit again (even though my favorite thing is to bitch about it). It’s about enjoying the moment or loving to hate it and I’m grateful.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? There are so many. I had no idea how it would change me and how much I needed it because it came at the onset of what would be the most difficult and painful few years of my life but necessarily so. That’s why CrossFit is so important to me. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it. I think I’ve learned to love my strengths and love my weaknesses even harder because they need the most nurturing not harsh criticism. The result has helped me to have more patience with myself and others. It has helped me to know I can handle what life throws at me; just keep going; one foot in front of the other. It helped me to know I can handle being a single mom with no family and failing at that was the fear that drove me so hard. “Do the Impossible” rang in my ears. Don’t let the words “I can’t” or “You can’t” rule you. Don’t judge others. Embrace their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Take them in. Accepting feelings that may be uncomfortable and being able to observe them, sit with them, rather than letting them rattle me and avoiding them.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments:
Andy’s laugh. Shirley teaching me how to do snot rockets on our runs. Michael’s gentle strength and the smile he flashed me at the end of my first Murph wod, then telling me I had to do 50 burpees because I didn’t clock in. Then he laughed and said half of the next class didn’t clock in either. Evil.Doing Franklin hill sprints with Jonesy and us coming to an understanding of one another.Learning how to ocean swim.Every time somebody told me I couldn’t do something, doing it and proving them wrong.Gymnastics lessons with Dusty Hyland. He taught me how to move differently. I got over my fear of heights. Once, I did a mid air handstand where I was so still and so perfectly stacked for so long, that it felt as if my body disappeared and my mind was free and floating in mid air.Doing the Crossfit Games tryouts in 2009, ripping my hands to shreds and having an unbelievably loud cheering section. Watching Dash and Jacquelyn fall in love at the 2009 games. Tee hee. Learning how to clean an #80 big bag for a wod and using Andy’s car as leverage. There was only a slight indentation and it popped back out…Every time I got schooled by the bar or somebody else. It made me better.The list goes on and on…

Any advice for people just getting started? DO NOT ROUND YOUR BACK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER!!!!!! If your back is rounded, you need to ask for help to correct your set up. Engage your lats! Your workouts are a reflection of you and how you handle yourself and your life. There’s no mistake in that. You can go just as shallow or as deep as you want. Learn to laugh at yourself because there are so many silly, stupid, and embarrassing things that you’re otherwise going to miss.Start thinking of your fitness goals in terms of months or years rather than days or weeks. Show up and enjoy the ride, you won’t be bored.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? Boxing, shooting, photography, art, philosophy, psychology, meditation, ocean-sunset obsession, Yogurtland, good wine. I would love to race cars and motorcycles and learn how to tango and ballroom dance.I will travel the world. I will travel the world. I will travel the world…



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