Aside from having a Masters in Physical Therapy, Coach Sarah is the gymnastics expert in the gym when it comes to CrossFit and has even done gymnastics at the competitive level and has even done Olympic distance triathlons! Furthermore, she’s been with the gym for the past 8-9 years and has 3 athletic kids, Zach, Luke, and Bekah who have all participated in CrossFit! Read all about her in our interview below!
1. What is your experience/ background in fitness and exercise?
I have always been an athlete, keeping up with my two older brothers, however, my primary competitive sport was competition-level gymnastics. When I started high school, I had to make a decision to go full-time into gymnastics training or have a normal HS life. I chose the latter and channeled my experience into being the primary tumbler in cheerleading, as well as a flyer and a base in our co-ed varsity cheer program. We actually placed 2nd in the state during my junior and senior years! I also carried over my gymnastics experience into soccer being a sweeper with a powerful front handspring throw-in, which was very advantageous to land the ball in front of the goal from the half field! 🙂 I continued my soccer in the Busch league during graduate school when I moved back to St. Louis and then co-ed rec leagues when we started “adulting” with real jobs. After having my three kiddos, I was determined to get my body back and got motivated through sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. I realized that I needed more strength training and something I could do with the kids at home, so I went through the P90X DVDs about 4 times! 🙂 As for experience and education, I earned my Bachelors of Science in Biology/Pre-PT with a minor in psychology from Augustana College, then my Masters of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Washington University. My very first job at age 16 was being a gymnastics coach for the “tumble-bees” class, then, I taught swimming lessons to little ones during my high school summer jobs as a lifeguard. I was a soccer coach for a youth team after college, during grad school and I was also a personal trainer before I got my first job as a Physical Therapist. So, coaching in various athletic realms has always been a part of my life experience and the knowledge from my past education has just helped fuel my passion in helping others improve their natural health and wellness!
2. How and when did you discover CrossFit?
I discovered CrossFit in Oct of 2012 when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to check out this place called CrossFit St Charles that was right up the street from our kids’ school. I went into the gym for the first time on Jason court intrigued but hesitant to commit to “classes” since aerobics and other class setting workouts had not been appealing to me in the past. Holidays hit, so I didn’t return right away, but I was getting very tired of Tony Horton’s P90X and knew every word that he would say verbatim to the point where I would turn off the volume but still hear his voice in my head!! I was needing a change and loved what I was getting out of P90X, but needed some variety and some community since I was staying at home with my kids at the time. So, in late March of 2013, I found myself back at CrossFit St Charles, (without my friend, who never went back) and since that time, I was hooked!
3. What are you most passionate about when it comes to CrossFit?
What I love about CrossFit is the variety of workouts that stimulate a functional and full-body response in different ways with every workout! The community is what would keep me coming back even when I was in a slump or life was getting busy. I also love to witness the evolution of confidence in people as they challenge themselves physically as they have never before, or they are finding the athlete in themselves that they have not seen in a long time. There is a definite carry-over from what athletes accomplish in the gym to how they apply themselves in life, often resulting in people having more confidence to try new things or start a new career, tackle a huge life decision, or just be more comfortable in their own skin. There really is a positive life change that happens as people live the “CrossFit Life”. 🙂
4. Why did you become a CF coach?
I actually did not want to become a CrossFit Coach because the last job I had as a personal trainer was not the most positive experience and I swore that I would not do that again after I became a Physical Therapist. However, at this stage in my life, I was staying at home, raising my children, so an option to use some of my backgrounds to help others was appealing. At the persistent encouragement from Kim, and the fact that she quickly signed me up for the Level one course over lunch with her and Terry without giving me a chance to protest, I earned my Level One Certification in 2013 and when it was time to renew, I earned my Level Two in 2018. It’s hard to believe that I have been a coach for Kim for 8 years now, but it has been an incredible journey and I have made so many great friendships along the way. This gym is like family to me… I have SO much love for this community as a whole! 🙂
5. What’s a big lesson you’ve learned from being a coach?
The big lesson that I have learned from being a coach is that every person is unique, so “one size does not fit all”. Each person is there for a different reason, with different goals and motivations. Each person responds differently to different cues and different coaching styles. Some people love to be “strongly encouraged” during a workout and others do not want to be spoken to at all. Each person moves differently and each person has their own limitations… mentally and physically.
6. What do you think is the most important part of being a coach?
I think the most important part about being a coach is to balance the needs of every athlete in each class. I try my best to reach each person where they are each day with what they can do, what they are willing to do and what they need to be “encouraged” to do. Every day is different, but I celebrate each person for showing up and putting in the work, at their own individual level. My goal as a coach is to be there to guide, encourage and make a difference that day for each and every person who shows up in my classes. I truly care about each and every athlete, and I hope that they feel that when they are around me. I want to see everyone live their best and healthiest life, so I am here to support that the best that I can.
7. What’s your favorite part about being a coach?
My Favorite part about being a coach is the opportunity to get to know so many great people in the gym and have the opportunity to help people with their overall health and wellness. I get to be a part of changing people’s lives for the better and watch their confidence in themselves grow over time. I get to be there to provide guidance, a sympathetic ear, a smiling face. Or maybe a helpful cue to feel more confident in a lift, to figure out the rhythm in a dynamic movement, to improve mobility for better movement, or even to PR a lift! The little things that we do for others can make a huge difference, so if it is just that they feel welcome and happy during that time with me in my class, that is my goal… to make a positive difference for each and every person in some little way each day.
8. What do you hope to do for others as a coach?
This was somewhat answered in the previous response, but my hope for others is that they learn more about their bodies and how to have a positive relationship with their bodies and their health. I absolutely align with the stance of the CrossFit community and I want others to understand that regular, consistent, high intensity, interval training with proper nutrition, rest, and mobility will serve their bodies well over time. I hope to be a positive influence and role model for others to achieve and maintain health, wellness and happiness in their lives.
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