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“I’d go on the treadmill with my eyes down…I wouldn’t have the courage to even do a jog…at the gym I’d look over to the weights section and think ‘I wish I could lift those’ but the only ones doing that are all big scary guys…. I didn’t think I was worthy to be over there…”

Laura is a 37 year old mum from Durham who currently trains at CrossFit Jacana in Durham. She trains nearly every day. But Laura wasn’t always so active… We met up with Laura at her CrossFit Box to have a chat….

Have you always been sporty/active?

At school I always took part in sport, but I always thought that PE teachers were thinking ‘look at that fat lass, she can’t do it’ and I like to prove people wrong. I remember school cross country, it was two circuits of the field, I was last, and they said ‘stop’ and I said ‘No. I will be last but I’m not stopping’. I am a bit stubborn! But actually, it’s often me that says in my head I can’t do something and since I’ve been doing Crossfit, I’ve learnt I can do it. Even if it’s just been baby steps to start with.

What influenced you to get active?

I just decided I had to do something, I had a fear of being disabled – it was that strong a motivation – I had hurt my leg and hip and came up and down stairs like a nana. My daughter was an 18-month-old at the time, I was self-employed and the sole provider for my daughter (I’m a single mum). I had to get fit and strong and make sure I am around for her. I’m passionate that your children deserve the best version of you that you can be.

I used to take my daughter to Beamish and I’d be on the tram and I’d say to myself that I’d walk from the top of Beamish, with my daughter in the buggy, down the hill and half way round and then get the tram back up. I built up the courage to do that.

Once my daughter had gone to nursery, I joined the gym. I’d go on the treadmill with my eyes down, no running, just walking…I wouldn’t have the courage to even do a jog. I spent two years in the gym, it was death by treadmill and cross trainer. At the gym I’d look over to the weights section and think ‘I wish I could lift those’ but the only ones doing that are all big scary guys who look like they have facial tattoos’, I was scared as they looked like they’d done hard time! I didn’t think I was worthy to be over there

It took two years to give me the confidence to then walk into a ‘weight lifting place’. Near to me was a CrossFit gym and I just bit the bullet and went in and said that I want to learn to lift weights. It probably wasn’t the best place for me as it was a bit focused on ‘going heavy’ rather than working on technique, so I found somewhere that helped me get my technique right so that I wouldn’t hurt myself. I’ve now been here two years.

What keeps you coming back to CrossFit?

There’s always something new to work on, something new to get better at. I’ve got the confidence to know when I’m doing something correctly now. And there’s always room to improve. It’s also a great community, I have done things with people in here that there’s no way I’d have been able to do before. A group of us climbed Helvellyn and there’s no way I’d have been able to do that before without the right people around me believing in me. I’d never climbed a hill in my life! The people in here make me think ‘I can do that’.

I believe that I can do the challenges I set myself, I remember walking around Gibside with the buggy and saying to myself, one day I’m going to come back here and do my little mam-run around here. And I did it last summer. I set myself a challenge to do 100 burpees for 100 days; I learnt that despite being rubbish at burpees, I have mental strength and discipline. I’ve achieved a 100kg back squat this year and I plan to work on a 13-week specific squat programme…. just to see what I can achieve. I’ve bought myself a weighted army vest (no one will buy me one for Christmas, they keep trying to buy me a telly!) so you might see me with a weighted vest walking around Hardwick park.

Would you recommend CrossFit? Why?

Yes! I know it can be scary to walk in for the first time, you have no idea what you are doing, you feel like you are at the mercy of strangers who could be all cliquey and think you’re ‘not one of us’…but it’s not like that here; You get in and everyone has a story…everyone has that internal dialogue “I couldn’t do that’ – you just have to just do it, do those baby steps.

CrossFit has been good for my mental health and my self image. I used to think that ‘If I lose some weight my life will be better’ I think that’s a female thing. Society bombards you with images and you believe that you’ll only achieve success by losing weight…. and it’s the wrong way round. Find something that you love, something you enjoy and if a by-product is weight loss then that’s OK, and if it’s not – then that’s alright too. You’ve found something you’re enjoying.


Has Laura inspired you to give CrossFit a go? Do you want to improve your functional fitness? There are loads of opportunities and venues across County Durham, if you’d like help finding somewhere then feel free to contact us