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How Crossfit Changed My Life, And Improved My Mental Health - Leah's Story

How A Personal Trainer & The Sport Of Crossfit Changed Leah's Mindstate For The Better

Improving Mental Health & My Outlook On Using Crossfit

Blogging has given a vast amount of people the opportunity to express themselves, share various passions and to shed light onto a multitude of topics. I never saw myself as the blogging type, but I have always greatly enjoy reading other people’s thoughts and experiences. To me, the question I had to ask myself was this: did my personal story warrant a blog? Was it edging on the side of being self-important? Ultimately, I decided that everyone should have a voice, and that sharing my experiences could potentially benefit someone reading this. That reason alone was enough for me to brave an attempt at my own blog post.

How Having A Personal Trainer Changed My Life

Like so many, my fitness journey started when I was a child. Young minds are particularly impressionable, so for numerous children, their relationship with sport can be fragile. I have always been into sport, but I have not always had a great passion for it. My younger self was somewhat gifted athletically, so I was consequently pushed towards Cross-country. My older brother was gifted as well. In fact, I have a distinct recollection of my brother, myself and my Father coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in a local fun run. I also have a vivid memory of me being on the cross-country team at school. I would be racing up the final hill, simply trying to run in a straight line, not knowing if I was going to make it over the line or pass out on the floor, covered in my own puke! I was highly competitive, so any enjoyment I got from the sport was vastly overshadowed by the self-induced pressure I put on myself. 

A fit woman sat on the floor wearing jade leggings and a white sports bra

It was shortly after this that I ended up spending my weekends partying instead. Of course, growing up is inevitable. New distractions are a given, but how you prioritise certain aspects of your life can have lasting effects.  Certainly, at this stage, my mental health took a back seat. It was something that a 16-year-old Leah didn’t pay dividends to. I had immersed myself into the ‘popular group’ at school and this led to me to spend more time with people who loved to party. Once you start into this pattern you tend to end up with friends who want to do the same, who often care more about the partying than your actual friendship. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so its easy to look back and ask myself why I didn’t leave that toxic environment sooner.

The Day That Changed My Mindset & Changed My Life

One day I had that all-important realisation as to where I was heading, which resulted in me completely distancing myself. Afterall, you are the average of your friendship circle. This coincided with me moving to sixth form and to another town at the time. I chose a sixth form where I could not get immersed into that culture. Where I could study, and properly focus on my education. I’m happy to say that it was one of the best decisions I have made: a highly competitive job at JLR were the fruits to my labour.  

As my life was getting back on track, I decided that I wanted to give fitness a go again; I joined my local Pure Gym and off I went! Although, entering a gym for the first time was certainly be a daunting experience. Why are those big scary men in the corner grunting? Will people laugh at me attempting to do exercises in the weights section? Am I doing this right? All thoughts passing through my head, as I was trying to better myself. These thoughts and insecurities led me to spend my days on the cardio equipment and away from the ‘scary weights section’. Ultimately, not reaping the most reward. This journey changed when I was given some guidance. 

One of my friends started up as a personal trainer and provided me with some much-needed coaching. She introduced me to the weights area and built my confidence in the gym. I no longer had questions and insecurities running through my head and instead had focus, a plan and goals to work towards. This was a game changer for me!

A woman standing with her hand behind her head wearing a black sports bra and blue leggings

Why I started CrossFit & How It Helps My Mental Health

Through weight training, I learned how satisfying it was to do something you couldn’t before. As someone new to lifting weights, I was experiencing a phenomenon called ‘newbie gains’. 

Newbie gains – Rapid physique and performance improvements common in strength training first timers. 

Newbie gains are an amazing thing; however, they only last so long. After a year or so of bodybuilding style training, I began to become bored of the standard squats and deadlifts. I wasn’t seeing as much progress, and I wasn’t learning anything new. It just became monotonous. I needed something that was varied, played to my strengths and that I could learn from. This was the perfect time to give CrossFit a go! 

A woman wearing blue leggings and a black sports bra while doing an overhead split jerkHow has CrossFit benefitted me 

CrossFit gave me everything I needed; I fell in love. I remember driving up to the gym in apprehension each day, butterfly’s in my stomach with so much excitement to give my everything on the gym floor.  I loved the endless things I still had to learn, the friendly competition between my peers and I loved the people! The moment you walk into a CrossFit box you instantly feel welcome. 

The functional style of training that CrossFit utilises, not only provides a great basis in fitness, but also for every-day life. It has and will continue to teach me many things, but here are three things that CrossFit has taught me and how they transfer to life:

  • To appreciate what my body can do - CrossFit armed me with so many performance-based goals to work towards. I no longer focus on how my body looks, but what it could do! 
  • I am capable than more than I think - I can push myself through mental struggle in a workout, even when I don’t think I’m capable of it. 
  • Remain positive in all scenarios - Nothing is worse than having negative thoughts in a WOD, it just makes things worse. The same goes for life.

The next steps for me

  • I will keep enjoying the process of training, continuously improving and learning new things.
  • I will focus on building a life I am proud of.
  • I will start helping others find the joy and benefits of training - I have just signed up to complete a level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 personal training qualification

I hope you have gained something from this snippet of my experiences with fitness and what it has taught me along the way. Please feel free to comment below to just say hello or ask me a question! Have an amazing day and don’t forget to smile 😊 

 

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