Get to know Suzanne, a graphic artist who worked out only once before involving herself with CrossFit. Encouraged by her peers, Suzanne signed up for CrossFit in a snap of a finger. But there’s more – she was diagnosed with an illness which motivated her to do more physical activities. Learn more about her inspiring journey and how joining CrossFit – one of the best decisions she’ve made!
Name: Suzanne Carlino
Affiliate Box: Crossfit Viera
Tell us a little bit about yourself (family, job, hobbies, interests, etc.).
For 20 years, I have worked as a graphic designer. I am also an artist who recently got into fluid art and have been lucky enough to sell some pieces. In my free time, I love building/refinishing furniture and spending time with my fur baby who is a sassy, stubborn dog who thinks she is a human.
When did you start doing CrossFit?
I started CrossFit last June 2015.
What were you doing before CrossFit and how were you introduced to CrossFit?
Basically, nothing! I worked out with a trainer but only went to the gym once a week when I trained with him. I tried insanity with friends and we never made it past the first month and most of the time, I would sit down and watch instead of really trying.
I moved to Florida in 2014 and knew no one besides my family. I had three awesome friends back in New York who did Crossfit, and they suggested I try it because of the CrossFit community. I was hesitant because I wasn’t working out, I never lifted any weights with a barbell and did not think I could do it. They convinced me and told me that we all have to start somewhere and never compare ourselves to anyone.
I signed up for a free introduction class for a Saturday morning. I got there early and got to watch a team WOD, although I was intimated watching everyone, I was hooked. That day, I worked with the owner Coach Matt, he ran me through some simple things like step-ups, running and a few other movements. I struggled the entire way but at the end of it, I signed up on the spot.
How has your approach to CrossFit changed since first starting?
When I first joined, I thought I had to push myself to try and keep up with everyone. I finally accepted some of my limitations that I have and just because I am not the fastest runner or strongest all that matters is that I am putting the work in and giving it my best effort every WOD.
Favorite WOD or movement?
Anything with deadlifts. This is definitely my strongest movement. I recently hit a 3 rep max at 225# and a 1 rep max of 235#. I am hoping to hit a 1rep max of 250 in the next few months and by the end of the year 300#.
Least favorite WOD or movement?
My least favorite movement is the snatch, it is the most complex movement. When they are programmed in, I will work with a lighter weight to work on my form to get more comfortable with the movement.
What types of changes have you seen (mentally, physically, and/or lifestyle) since starting CrossFit?
There have been many positive changes I have seen both mentally and physically since I started my journey at Crossfit. Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I beat it and became a survivor but for 11 years. I let the fear that the cancer would come back control me. Mentally, it took a toll on me. My doctor told me I was suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression. For a short period of time, I tried anti-depressants and it made me feel worse, so I just continued on fighting the depression on my own. Physically, I put on a lot of weight, which caused joints to hurt and created a feeling of generally feeling like crap.
What started out as a way to meet new people because I was new to the area, and oh yeah, maybe I could find an exercise routine I could stick with to help me get in shape, turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I never realized how much Crossfit would change my life, but I found something that pushes me and keeps me coming back and here I am, 4 years later with amazing supportive friends and a strength and confidence that far surpasses what cancer tried to take from me.
The biggest change mentally is now over the last 4 years. I do not spiral down like it used to. And if for some reasons, I start spiraling down, I just go to the gym. I forget everything for that hour and it helps me refocus.
There are still health issues that have popped up over the last 15 years due to the course of treatment I received and that, I will need to deal with for the rest of my life but I know that I am giving myself the best chance mentally and physically for whatever is thrown at me.
What helps you get the most out of your CrossFit Workouts? What motivates/inspires you?
Crossfit has become a form of therapy for me and it motivates me knowing that mentally, my mind is clearer and I am doing everything I can to stay healthy. My friends also motivate me and push me every time I step into the gym. I get inspired by looking around my gym, we are all there for different reasons and are at different levels but seeing everyone put the work in inspires me to keep pushing forward.
What’s your CrossFit goal for 2019?
I have many goals but I really want to hit a 300# deadlift.
What would you say to someone starting CrossFit for the first time?
Never compare yourself to someone else, it is a process and trust it.
What’s your PR /pump up song?
Anything, but country!
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March is the founder of the Barbell Beauties. Her goal is simple… Empower every woman to grab a barbell and LIFT. She’s been an active CrossFitter for 7 years and credits that sport for turning her into a true athlete.