#LiveBig at Windy City Strength & Conditioning: changing the way you work out, set goals, travel and attack life
At Windy City Strength & Conditioning (formerly Windy City CrossFit) in Ravenswood, they believe the quality of your health determines the quality of your life — and nothing is more important than that. Real fitness is about strengthening and conditioning your body and mind in the gym so you can get out of the gym, explore the world, seek new adventures and be the person you were meant to be. That’s why they started LiveBIG Adventures — to travel the globe, seeking the most adventurous ways to get out there and use your fitness, and then share your stories and experiences with others.
What follows are four WCSC members sharing their stories of progress, both in the gym and out of it.
What I’ve accomplished since joining: I started Windy City in the fall of 2010 and only had a modest idea of what was in store for me. Six years later, I’m still here… still cursing some movement or another, and still pushing myself. While I have certainly overcome physical challenges along the way, the biggest transformation has been mental. I would see people do pull-ups, double-unders, handstand push-ups, etc. and say, “I can’t do that.” After a few months at the gym, that changed to, “I want do to that.” To now, inevitably, “I can do that. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I’ll do it.” Understanding that most of the barriers in our lives are mental and that we have the ability to change has been such an eye opener.
How you like to #LiveBig: The #LiveBIG mentality has also permeated my house. My son, known as “The Dictator” on social media, accompanies me to the gym and asks, “What adventure are we going to take today?” which I’m extremely proud of. I’ve opened my eyes to new ideas of vacation and have even written about it for Windy City with a recent trip to Belize. I’m trying new sports and classes like rock climbing and Aerial — those silks are harder than they look, people! I’m even branching out in other areas of my so-called free time to try new art projects; they test the limits, but mainly of my patience. But I think that further helps me with my patience in the gym as well. It’s amazing how what we do while lifting those heavy-ass weights affects us physically and mentally, in ways we would have never imagined. I’m so very grateful that I popped in for a free Saturday class six years ago. My life hasn’t been the same since.
What I’ve accomplished since joining: I was struggling to maintain my fitness levels within the military in 2011 and 2012. I get tested once a year for the Air National Guard and just barely passed with a 70.2% grade (passing is 70%) in 2012. I had always belonged to a big box gym, performing the same routine for two months on and six months off. Then I went on a military trip that was very active, and I was sucking wind the entire way and had a very hard time maintaining what I needed to do. So I decided I needed to up my game and looked into other fitness options. That is when I heard about CrossFit and the benefits it had. I joined WCSC in January of 2013, and when I retested in August of 2013, I jumped up to a 93.8%. Since then I have tested in the 90% range every year.
How you like to #LiveBig: I am an avid outdoorsman. I love hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping, rock climbing. You name it, I enjoy it. Another big reason why I train at WCSC is so I can keep doing the things I love to do. I enjoy pushing myself to see what else I can do and how far I can take it. Without WCSC, I know I would not be as active as I am. This year alone I am planning an adventure each month. My next trip is hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Smokey Mountain National Park with a group. I have been training with the help from Justin (Marcis) for the past month, and I still have four weeks to go.
Being a photographer and filmmaker, these adventures are fantastic stories to visually tell. Sometimes my adventures seem secondary to the opportunities to tell stories. ScottThompsonPhoto.com
What I’ve accomplished since joining: Joining in 2010 reinvigorated me. Since joining, I have accomplished so much more than I could even imagine. Physically, I’m stronger than ever and in the best shape of my life. I’ve developed a sense of confidence that I can tackle any physical challenge I want, and I’ve found a community of wonderful and supportive people.
With the support of Windy City’s weightlifting coach (and a little nudging), I traveled to New Jersey to compete in the 2013 Masters Weightlifting National Championships. To my amazement, I won. Finding Windy City Strength and Conditioning has made me feel like a competitive athlete again.
How you like to #LiveBig: I continue to compete and have traveled around the US, to Canada and to Denmark for meets. I am currently training for the Masters Pan-Am Weightlifting Championships in Puerto Rico in June and the Masters Weightlifting World Championships in Germany in October. Sometimes I just can’t believe how my life has changed since walking into Windy City CrossFit six years ago — Living big as an athlete traveling the world to competitions!
What I’ve accomplished since joining: Since joining more than three years ago, some of the most enjoyable parts of WCSC have been the programming, coaches and the community. The programming consistently challenged me day in and out (still does!). I never knew 30 seconds could be so long and yet be so short during interval workouts. After the first few months I witnessed my body completely transform, then topped it off with the 28-day challenge and permanently changed my diet. I had a blood test done during a routine physical, and my results were comparable to a professional athlete — and this after just six months at WCSC! I love progress! I have learned that pacing myself during workouts and practicing form during functional movement gets me further faster. WCSC has given me the confidence to tackle things in my life both physically and mentally, and it has become therapeutic for me.
How you like to #LiveBig: I believe the #LiveBig mantra is huge and is such a phenomenal concept. Leveraging our fitness to explore this amazing world and live life to its fullest is the most epic goal in my life. I am a true believer in participating in as many new experiences and adventures as I possibly can. I am so thankful and proud to be part of a community where this balance is valued, promoted and shared. Before turning 30, I traveled to six of the seven continents in the world seeking adventures. The travel bug hooked me early, and I never looked back. I think it is extremely important to take trips and to see the world. Long or short, these trips open your mind and heart to so many new experiences and ideas and give you new perspective on life.
Some of my recent excursions include a scuba diving trip in Belize; paddle boarding in Puerto Rico; skiing in Whistler, British Columbia; and a seven-day, 250-mile mountain bike trip from Telluride, Colo., to Moab, Utah. It was the adventure of the lifetime. I completed the seven days with a feeling of euphoria and self-respect, knowing that I am truly capable of doing what I set out to do, that I moved past self-imposed limitations and found meaning far greater than I could ever imagine. Biking gives you time to both think and not to think, time to be social and reserved, time to meditate, time to laugh and time to cry — and time to put butt butter on your bum for the next ride!