Get inspired and put these guys’ favorite CrossFit tips and WODs into practice to make your own body transformation.
K. Aleisha Fetters 1 / 7
1. Dusty Ashford
All through high school and college I thought I was pretty fit. I was 5'6" and about 145 pounds. I traveled racing BMX, which kept me pretty lean. Then I had my daughter and took about four years off from fitness. I got up to about 155 pounds and what my daughter called “chubby.”
Then, one day I was mowing the lawn and I got an invite to come to a BBQ and pool WOD. I thought, “Awesome! It's hot out and I can cool down with a pool workout. How bad could it be?” Well, little did I know I would be introduced to burpees and kettle bells. The pool was at 93 degrees and these psychos were treading water, doing burpees and kettle bell swings. It was the worst day of my life. When we finished up the WOD, they proceeded to grill up burgers and popped open some adult refreshments! Meanwhile, let’s just say I was feeding the flowerbed. The WOD kicked my ass, and I was addicted.
Now, I’m 176 pounds, heavier than I’ve ever been and by far in the best shape of my life. I have more energy than my two-year-old son and feel like I'm 16.
Favorite WOD: Grace—that’s 30 reps of the clean and jerk for time, lifting 135 pounds. Apart from being a great workout, she’s special to me. I was introduced to her as part of a WOD to benefit a close friend of mine who had breast cancer. My mother and grandmother had also battled with breast cancer, my grandmother having eventually passed away from the cancer. So, in my mind, Grace has always been tied to the fight against breast cancer. It inspires me to push myself harder.
Before CrossFit, I wasn’t doing much to exercise—unless you count stretching out my stomach with overeating.
My cousin, though, was a big CrossFit fan and encouraged me to check it out. I immediately began losing the weight. Initially, I shed a good 20 pounds of fat and then as I progressed, I put on 10 pounds of muscle. My entire body—and especially my core—is so much stronger than it was before. Besides looking and feeling better, I’m now able to run circles around my two daughters and kick butt in sports like basketball and volleyball.
Top CrossFit Tip: Push yourself, but focus on carrying a solid pace so you don’t have to take rest breaks in or between movements.
For the first 22 years of my life I never lifted a single weight. I played soccer, and my workouts were almost entirely cardio-focused. Occasionally, I would throw a set of pushups or sit-ups in there, but I never thought weight training would be of any benefit to my game. I thought that packing on muscle would slow me down, so I refused to lift.
After my final year of eligibility playing collegiate soccer, my fitness dropped off huge. I played in a couple of men’s league games once or twice a week, but wasn't getting nearly the amount of cardio that I was when I was playing competitively. Coupled with the fact that I was still in college, eating fast food every day and drinking a lot, I gained probably 20 pounds in a single semester.
When I went back to my family over the summer, they were nice enough to tell me how “healthy” I looked. I knew at that point that I needed to start working out pronto. I started lifting with my brothers but wasn’t accomplishing a ton. About a year into lifting, we met a trainer at our gym who did CrossFit and all of that changed.
Now, after four years of CrossFit, I’m not only leaner than I was during my pudgy days, but I’m stronger than I was even during my soccer days. I’m still improving, but I can honestly say that my body is capable of more than it ever has been before. When I started CrossFit I was like, "How do those guys do that?" Now I can do muscle ups, climb ropes, walk on my hands, do a standing back flip—it’s awesome.
Words of Wisdom: Know that every workout is going to suck in it’s own special way, but push yourself to do your best at whatever it is. Don’t get discouraged—not by yourself or by others. Just because someone started CrossFit three months after you and can push press more than you can doesn't mean he’s any better than you. Keep working, and you'll keep improving.
I used to work out occasionally at a big box gym, but it was cigarettes, prescription pills, and drugs that really kept my weight down. Actually, they kept me sunken in. And when I finally started to get clean, the weight just packed right on. Depending on my extracurricular activities, or lack thereof, my weight would shoot up a good 10 pounds in a month. Meanwhile, my depression and anxiety were out of control.
Since then, I’ve gotten hooked on CrossFit. Apart from having gained 35 pounds, almost entirely of muscle, I’ve been able to stop taking antidepressants, using drugs, and binging on alcohol. I feel better than I have in years.
Favorite Fast-Blaster: Double unders, when the rope goes around twice for every jump. It’s so hard at first, but it is amazing for getting my heart rate up and torching calories.
A few weeks after moving across the country for work, I came down sick. First, I figured it was food poisoning, then maybe a stomach bug. After about 2 weeks I started seeing doctors and they still couldn't figure it out. I was seeing specialist after specialist. Maybe it was liver failure. Maybe my gallbladder had burst. Maybe I had Crohn’s disease. Meanwhile, I had lost nearly 40 pounds. I was eventually scheduled for an endoscopy and we had the answer: I had Celiac disease.
First things first, I had to get my eating habits on track. But once I did, I was ready to get into the gym. I had gotten hooked on CrossFit not long before relocating, and was eager to get back to it. I started hitting the gym two days a week for about six to eight months, and then ramped it up to five or six days a week.
Now, I’m proud to say I’ve gained back all of my weight—and then some—in muscle. I have surpassed all of my goals. I’m actually in better shape than I was when I was a personal trainer in college.
Try This WOD: Amanda. Do nine, then seven, then five muscle-up reps, then follow them up with nine, seven, and five squat snatch reps, using 135 pounds. I sweat just thinking about it.
Before CrossFit I was playing baseball and doing the stereotypical globo-gym workouts, hitting legs on one day, chest on another, and blah, blah, blah. I was also teaching spin classes to "get my cardio and lean out."
Then, about five years ago I got into CrossFit when I saw people at my gym doing what looked like a hard workout. I asked if I could work out with them and nearly passed out during my first WOD! I’ve stuck with it though and am now a coach at Brick New York. I’m in the best shape of my life. I am more flexible, stronger, and my overall health has never been better.
Safety First: Always chose a weight with which you can complete the workout with proper form. If the workout is meant to be a fast one, make sure you scale your weights. Otherwise you won't get the results you want and you'll wind up getting hurt.
I’ve always been into lifting, but I never got as much out of it as I should have. When I was younger, I even screwed up my shoulder trying to bench way more weight than I should have. It’s still messed up to this day.
But after working with a trainer, I was getting more on track. Then, a couple of years ago, he started his own CrossFit gym and told me I needed to be doing the workout. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I would get in 15 minutes. I thought I was in good shape, but these workouts took it to a new level.
I’m still never the first one done at any exercises in my gym, but I’m in the best shape I’ve been since high school. I’ve gained muscle while shedding body fat, and it fits my lifestyle. I like something where I can go all out for 15 or 20 minutes a day and I know I’m set.
Plus, my shoulder mobility has greatly improved since starting CrossFit. It works joint muscles I didn’t even know I had, but allows me to tailor my workouts so I don’t ever put my shoulder in a bad position.
Find the Right Gym: Visit a couple of gyms before you pick one. I’ve been lucky to have a great trainer I can trust, but not everyone gets that. Make sure your gym’s trainers are knowledgeable, well trained, and that you can get a lot of one-on-one with them. That’s what you need to get the most out of your workout.