If you’ve ever taken one of my CrossFit classes you probably noticed I’m loud, positive, and full of encouragement. But I’ll also push you outside your comfort zone! My mom voice comes out (which I’ve dubbed as my commanding voice). I’m part cheerleader, yoga teacher, and tough coach. I’m your biggest supporter and if you walk through our doors, I’ll be there along-side of you cheering you on but also giving you tough love along the way.

 

The way I teach and coach is simply a reflection of how I coach myself in workouts. As a former runner, I would constantly drive myself into the ground. Tell myself to push hard, go further, never giving up, never letting up, and push past the pain. I was a drill sergeant to myself. During those days of running, I was also a spinning teacher at several gyms. If you found one of my old students, they’d probably say I was relentless as a spinning teacher. Often getting off the bike to turn up the resistance on people. But my classes liked it and everyone got a brutal workout—wasn’t that the goal? To work hard and sweat? Pushing through the pain? Yea, that kind of coaching and mentality is what got me two knee surgeries! I was on crutches for a month with each knee; non-weight bearing exercises during that time and PT for 6 weeks, twice a week. Then the news came; no running for 9 months or it could risk undoing what was done. See, running was all I knew and it was my form of escape, my form of exercise, and if I’m honest, it was how I allowed myself to eat what I wanted. If I ran, that meant I could eat the calories I just burned off or was about to burn off (compulsive exerciser? Yea, it’s called an eating disorder and disordered eating! More on that later). Fast forward a few months, after pulling myself out of a pity party, and I finally gave yoga a shot—reluctantly!

Looking back at how I worked out, what I told myself, my whole mentality, it’s no wonder that my early days of teaching yoga was identical to how I taught spinning—just get on the mat and do the pose and follow what I say, right? My yoga classes I taught were always power flow. I was fast moving, always cueing, always picking the most difficult poses to teach and without props! Because isn’t the use of props a sign of weakness? Looking back, where was the compassion? Where was the understanding that this was peoples’ bodies AND their experience I was dealing with? I wonder how some of my early students felt when they would leave my yoga class? Ugh! I was only serving myself, not thinking of others. I basically taught as if I were the student—which looking back isn’t fair to do because not everyone moves the same way I do. And at that time, I thought I moved well with a text book body (more on that topic another day!). As the years went on, pregnancies, injuries, tough life experiences, I found my yoga practicing starting to really evolve from all power and exercise to appreciation for the body and compassion. My goals were changing. One day in my spin class, I can remember laughing at myself because I had started to bring more “yoga lingo” into my intense spinning classes. My most common phrases were “listen to your body,” “back off if you need to,” “breathe!” Ask anyone now in my CrossFit classes and I’m sure I still say the same lines!

Life happens, Shit happens (Thanks Coach Heather), and we need to learn to change with it! I view my classes as preparing you for life. We prep in the gym and practice moving through uncomfortable movements. But really, the real work is done outside of the gym.

I view my experience, as everything in my life, as it has happened for a reason. Knee surgeries forced me to slow down and forced me to listen to my body. By becoming more in tuned and compassionate with myself and body, it has allowed me to evolve as a teacher and coach which in turn comes out in my coaching style. Empathy and compassion are essential! Those two things combined with knowledge will make you a better and stronger person, teacher and coach!

 

-Coach Meredith