Struggling to lift heavy weight, doing burpees on the floor, covering yourself in chalk and laying in pools of sweat might not seem like the time in your life where you may feel most attractive. But often, feeling or looking your worst is the time that you are becoming your best. Case in point: the daily triumphs of finishing workouts at CrossFit Pushin Weight.
Day in and day out I have the pleasure of seeing women (and men) come through the doors of our gym and undergo transformations. It only take a few weeks for me to start witnessing slight changes in a new athlete/member. Although these changes don’t happen overnight, they are taking place each time an athlete opens our front door. It starts small— something like the cadence of their purposeful walk, holding their shoulders a bit more erect, or even have a millimeter-wider smile— and over time, these small pieces add up to monumental transformations.
We get praises on our tight-knit community on a daily basis. Are we perfect? Of course not. But is our community the one thing that I’m most proud of? HELL YEAH it is. I remember a conversation with a potential client who was nervous about joining. She asked, “But what are the women like?” I knew she was thinking of group fitness classes she’d been to before: the ones with ridiculously bitchy women who gossip, form cliques… and make you feel inferior about your clothes/technique/whatever. That world could not be farther from our world. Immediately I wanted to tell her that our women are awesome, supportive, beautiful, encouraging, funny, and most of all: NOT catty! But telling her all that just sounded like I’m trying to sell my gym. So my response was simple: “You have to meet this group to understand this group.”
Within the female membership at CrossFit Pushin Weight we have students and teachers, doctors and nurses, daughters and grandmothers, Olympic athletes and athletes who have never been called an athlete in their life, sisters, best friends, and partners. I wanted to figure out a way to showcase and celebrate the diverse, dynamic, accomplished women who support each other and sweat together every day. But how can I showcase all this beauty and badassery? I thought. How do I show the ladies the strength and grace I see in them everyday? How do I show them the beauty that they readily see in each other, but find more challenging to see in themselves?
Growing up in athletics and constantly being both behind and in front of the camera, I know the boost of confidence you can get from a photoshoot. And I have to admit, every time I have pictures taken of my own family, the undertaking is so stressful that I swear I won’t ever do it again. But it always works out that a few weeks later, I receive the gorgeous photographs and realize having documentation of that stage in my family’s life was well worth any stress beforehand. The same had to be true for my gym family. I realized a photoshoot would be the perfect way to showcase the beautiful badassery at CrossFit Pushin Weight.
A photoshoot for 30+ people is no small undertaking. Take the stress of a photoshoot for a family of 3 and go ahead and multiply that by 10…. or more. When I presented the idea of a photoshoot to our members, it was met with enthusiasm but lots of uncertainty. “What will I wear?” “What to do with my hair?” “I’ve never been photographed before!” “I’m camera-shy!” “I don’t know how to pose!” Meanwhile, I’m over here all like, “LADIES! We aren’t going to be on Vogue!!” But I had forgotten that being photographed (in fancy clothes, no less) was reeeealllly stepping out of a comfort zone for many of these athletes. But the girls turned to each other for support, just like they do in the gym. Videos, photos, and banter began within our closed FB group. People were sharing clothes, shoes, and ideas. Support came from within, and dresses and equipment were being hauled to the location. As the event approached, I was stoked to see that the girls were reaching outside their comfort zone just the way they do when approaching a tough workout.
I knew hiring the right photographer would be key. My friend Ashley Barnett (a beautiful badass herself) and her husband Jeremy (the nervous lady-whisperer) own Adroit CrossFit and a photography business called We are the Mitchells. Ashley B. speaks the same language as my athletes; she understands the beauty in strength and she celebrated it right along with us. As our beautiful babes stepped in front of the camera, we laughed and drank and even cheered them on as if they were finishing a grueling training session. Huge shoutout to my longtime friend and interior designer (Avery Frank Design) who lent us his beautiful house for the photoshoot.
A fashion photoshoot for a gym? But we wear t-shirts and sports bras and tennis shoes! Yes. And we can be baddass and beautiful all in one! The special part about a photoshoot with your training partners is celebrating our bodies for what they look like AND for what they can do.
I hope you all love the pictures as much as I do. I cried tears of happiness, joy and pride when I looked at each one of you. Thank you for coming along on this journey, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and celebrating yourself and each other. I hope YOU see the beauty I see, and that you continue to look for that beauty in yourself.
By combining the beauty of a fashion shoot with our supportive female community, I was confident this was going to be impactful. To my delight, I was right.
Love and lifts,