Monday, March 23, 2015

Meet Jess and Jim: CrossFit Power Couple

It's not every day you see two people with matching wedding bands working out together.... and sharing some witty banter about who did better in a workout.  Jim,  affectionately known as Jimmy, often screams the F word in the corner when he misses a lift,  while Jess cringes at his use of loud profanity.   Jess is fast,  Jimmy is strong--- Yang.

Meet Jessica and Jim Morrissey,  CrossFit Power Couple

Q:  Tell me what drove you to CrossFit.

Jim:  I used to think I was a pretty physically fit person.  I would get up at 5am and spend two hours a day in the gym doing more dumbbell curls, military presses, lat pull downs, and more than I could ever count.  I always felt “strong” but never really fit.  I avoided the squat rack and leg day for months because I hated the way it made me feel after.  Then we had kids, my workouts dropped from 5 days a week to maybe 2, then a few times a month, then to a waste of $50 for a gym membership that I never used.  Plain and simple I got fat, I got out of shape. I would get winded playing with my kids.  Something had to change.

Jess:  Like Jim, I feel like I fit the stereotype that non-crossfitters have; that all we do is talk about it, post about it on Facebook, and appear to be part of a cult. Quite honestly, I am totally ok with that. Hell, I embrace it. We started our CrossFit Solstice journey almost 2 years ago, and it has since permeated every inch of my life. CrossFit has made it easy to be dedicated to, easy to make a priority in my life, and has led me down a path of knowledge when it comes to health and fitness that has forever changed me. There are so many positive things that have resulted from joining CrossFit Solstice, I suppose I’ll start with the thing it has had the biggest impact on- which is my fitness and body acceptance, oh and shorts.

Q:  What were your thoughts when you first began CrossFit?

Jim: We finished our on ramp classes and started WODing 3x per week, that changed to 5x per week within a month.  We were both hooked.  People call CrossFit a cult and it is!  It’s a cult that promotes fitness and a community of likeminded individuals.  Jess and I are not religious people, but after joining CrossFit I often call the box our church and the members of the gym our congregation.  It really is a tight knit community and the people/coaches care about each other and want to see everyone succeed.  It’s a great feeling, one that we did not expect when we first joined almost two years ago.

I remember that first on ramp class like it was yesterday.  This young kid was showing us how to do a proper squat, what kipping was, and he introduced me to the dreaded burpee.  When we left that night Jessica and I were on a complete high about how much we loved it.  The next day stairs were our mortal enemy.  I don’t think my legs ever hurt more after a workout than they did that first class and we barely did a thing.  Here I was, this big tough guy who worked out all the time for a good portion of his life and some air squats, burpees and wall balls completely destroyed me?  I couldn’t believe it and at that point I knew Crossfit was for me.  Anything that can make you hurt like that during a trial workout has to work. 

Jess:   I have always worked out on and off (yoga, spinning, Body Pump, pilates) with the goal always being “to lose weight”. For all of my life I have wanted to look like those rail thin models Kate Moss made popular in the nineties. Throughout middle school and high school I had body image issues (ok, who doesn’t in high school?) and hated my thighs so much I never wore shorts, I mean never. It took 33 years and CrossFit to make me finally not care about what the scale says or about being “skinny”. I now want thicker legs, bigger muscles, and (gasp!) a bigger butt. I want people to be able to tell I lift just by looking at me. I love being surrounded with a group of people that value strength more than the size jeans you wear. I am more accepting of the body I was given and appreciate it more when I see what it can do given the proper training and time. I now own a drawer full of shorts.  

Q: How do you feel being a part of this community as a married couple who work out together?

Jim:  CrossFit has dominated the conversations in my house.  Jessica and I talk about our kids, work and CrossFit.  It’s awesome sharing the experience and the obsession with her.  I look at how strong Jessica has become and continues to become and it’s awesome.  I love sharing in her PR’s and rubbing it in her face when I beat her in a METCON.  Changing our diets and seeing how that has affected our overall fitness has been an amazing experience.  If we weren’t doing this together I doubt it would be even half as rewarding.  This is our obsession and we love it. 

Jess: Raising 2 young boys, trying to maintain a household, and balance an emotionally and mentally demanding job isn't easy. Finding time to get to the gym is an absolute priority, it has become a place for me to forget about the other stressors in life, if only for an hour. I love that our kids know how dedicated we are to fitness, I can only hope they grow up realizing how important exercise and nutrition are and make it a priority in their lives as well. Some of my closest friends, who I consider more like family, I have met at the box. I cannot imagine my life without them. The support of everyone at the gym, along with my closest friends, helped me through some of my toughest times last year.

Sharing this addiction with Jim makes it even better. The vocabulary, the pain, the competition, the community, and the fitness goals are that much better when you share it with someone who feels the same way you do and understands! I cannot imagine coming home and telling him about snatches, clean and jerks, PRs, wall balls, WODs, nanos, kipping, etc and having him not understand, it truly is a whole other language and I am thankful we share the obsession.

Q: What are your thoughts about how your nutrition has changed?

Jim:  I never thought I could love something as much as Latteria ice cream, but CrossFit has managed to weasel its way to the top of my obsession list.

Jess: It was during the first nutrition challenge in 2014 that we started eating clean and eliminated all processed foods and sugar. The changes were immediate and dramatic. We have continued this way of eating since then and I pride myself on cooking healthy, clean meals for our family. I truly believe that food is medicine and that many chronic ailments can be treated, if not cured, by changing what people put into their bodies. I have become so interested in this topic and read anything I can get my hands on about nutrition. Of course, I am still human, and will indulge in less healthy options from time to time (after all, I am married to Jim, and we all know how he feels about Latteria).

Q:  How has your feeling about CrossFit evolved over two years?

Jim:  I’m 35 years old and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m in the best shape of my life.  I do things in the gym that I never imagined.  I train in ways that used to scare the shit out of me.  I’m lifting weights and doing movements that seemed impossible before.  And I love every single second of it.  Joining CrossFit has been one of the best decisions we've made. 

Jess: I am not a naturally strong individual, it takes me a very long time to gain strength and put up higher numbers. After almost 2 years I still don’t often Rx Wods. The encouragement from the coaches and other athletes is unwavering. Patience is not my strong suit, but when it comes to building strength I now realize I have to give it time and it will happen. Small gains are still gains.