Member of the Month – Erin Peterson!

What were you doing for fitness before you joined?

I’ve always been pretty active! I was a competitive swimmer growing up and on the rowing team when I was in college. Before joining 5 Valleys, I had been doing CrossFit for about a year at two different gyms in New Orleans (I moved to Missoula for grad school in Fall 2017). I maybe went 2 or 3 times a week but at the time, was mainly focused on running. I wasn’t very consistent and didn’t fall in love with CrossFit until joining 5 Valleys!

What was your absolute biggest challenge prior to joining?

My biggest fitness challenge was becoming a well-rounded athlete. I’ve always been a cardio buff! I love long distance running, swimming, and cycling. Anything at an easy or medium pace for a long time (I still prefer WODs that are 20 minutes or more!). At the time, I barely focused on strength or mobility until starting CrossFit. Squatting was (and still is) a challenge for me, especially at the beginning. I remember when I couldn’t even overhead squat a PVC pipe! My mind knew what I was supposed to do but my body literally couldn’t put itself in that position. That was just one of many movements that I had no foundational strength or range of motion to accomplish. In short, I think it was coming to realize that fitness I thought I had, was actually really limited and that there was SO much more out there that I could be working on.

How did that challenge make you feel?

At first, that realization made me frustrated and embarrassed. My ego would get in the way and I wouldn’t want to try things that I knew I wasn’t good at. I wouldn’t try to go for PRs on lifts or I’d scale workouts more than I needed to because I was afraid of failing.

What changed after joining?

5 Valleys has the best community and atmosphere of any CrossFit gym I’ve gone to. Everyone, the coaches and other members, are so encouraging and supportive while also pushing you to go outside your comfort zone and really get after your goals. My mentality towards fitness and the challenges it presents has changed a lot. I’ve learned that, as cliche as it sounds, consistency and hard work really do pay off in the end. I’ve also realized that if I hate the movement, I should probably just be doing it more (looking at you, front squats!). I’m stronger, more flexible, healthier, and happier after joining the gym and I couldn’t be more grateful!

What specific results can you share (Improvements/accomplishments in the gym and life)?

Well, I can squat below parallel now (seriously, that’s an accomplishment for me)! I also have gotten significantly stronger at literally every movement. Even thinking back to 6 months ago, I realize how much better I’ve gotten. Physically, I’m more toned than I’ve ever been! I also completed my first ultramarathon last year and I attribute a lot of that to crossfit! It had a ton of elevation gain and all of the focus we put on strengthening our legs, butt, and core really paid dividends during the race. Actually, now that I think of it, I’ve improved in all of the other sports and activities I do because of crossfit. My running, yoga, cycling, and swimming are all better because I’m both stronger and more spatially aware now. Also, a few weeks ago, my partner, Charity, and I competed and placed 2nd in my first ever crossfit competition. It was amazing to see that our hard work really was paying off! And finally, one of the best things about joining 5 Valleys is all of the friends I’ve made there. Getting stronger and looking and feeling better is really great, but I don’t think it would be possible (or any fun) if I didn’t look forward to seeing the people everyday! Nothing like having buddies with you to suffer through painful workouts. Come for the workouts, stay for the people! Oh and last thing, now I can stand and walk on my hands!!!

What would you say to somebody on the fence about joining?

Just do it! It took me like two years to finally just bite the bullet and commit to doing my intro sessions and I really wish I would have started when I first got the inkling. I can’t even imagine how much better I’d be now with another two years under my belt! I was scared and intimidated by the idea of crossfit before joining but it truly is for all ages and ability levels. Every movement is broken down in every class and the coaches and other gym members are always around to answer any questions!

Anything else to add?

Because there are so many different movements and lifts and skills in CrossFit, I feel like I’m constantly learning something new and it makes me feel like a kid again! I mean, where else are you going to be able to walk on your hands or swing around on a bar? I look forward to going to the gym everyday. And even if I’m in a bad mood, as soon as I get moving all of the negativity disappears. Crossfit makes fitness fun and exciting and I can’t wait to see what I’m capable of in the future!