Our Story: Heather and Kelly Schwall
They’ve been married for 7 years according to Heather and 8 according to Kelly, but they agree they have a 3 and a half-year old daughter Ava! She’s a Physician Assistant in Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at St. Joseph’s hospital and he’s a Pavement Quality Manager for AJAX Paving.
You’ve probably seen Kelly’s funny CrossFit shirts and have been greeted by Heather’s smile… but did you know it was Heather that pushed Kelly to start CrossFit even though it took her nearly two years to get started herself? Since then they’ve been regular CrossFit Open and Brighton/Dexter Throwdown competitors and have really improved their fitness despite juggling the busy working parent schedules. They’ve even been known to pay babysitters to watch Ava more often than actually going out!
What made you decide to get started?
Kelly: Nearly 5 years ago I had been doing P90X videos and needed a change. It was actually Heather who gave the extra push to start CrossFit even though at the time she had no intentions of starting herself. At first, the whole experience seemed pretty intimidating. I mean you walk into this place, music is cranked, people are sweating their butts off and there’s all this lingo on a whiteboard that looks like a foreign language. However, Chris and everyone was very friendly and made me feel very welcome. I still remember the feeling of being exhausted after doing the foundations. I thought I was gonna die.
Heather: I started CrossFit about 3 years ago at a different gym with Pilates and Spinning. It’s sad how society puts things into our heads as to how we should look and workout as females. Ava was almost a year old and while I loved Pilates and Spinning, I was not not seeing the changes I wanted in my body. Kelly and I talked about it and he was very encouraging, but not pushy. When I wanted to focus more on CrossFit less on Spinning I moved my membership to Brighton. I was initially very frustrated with CrossFit and felt very awkward in my own skin, but slowly started seeing measurable improvements and was hooked.
What do you like most? Least?
Heather: I love atmosphere and the support from members and coaches. Juggling being a wife, mom and working in stressful environment is hard and I think CrossFit has helped me grow mentally to help balance it all. I hate what it does to my hands honestly, I try grips, repair lotions etc and my hands are still a mess. Having ripped hands and scrubbing in for the OR is not fun.
Kelly: Community keeps it fresh, entertaining and gets you outside your comfort zone. If the guy or gal next to me is pushing hard then I’m gonna try to push just as hard as they are. And CFB has the best community around.
I also like CrossFit for what it is at its core: constantly varied functional movements performed at HIGH intensity. It would take a lifetime and then some to master all the skills and movements involved. That’s why you have to take pride in how far you’ve come regardless of your fitness level and remember to enjoy the journey. I only dislike CrossFit when I can’t do it.
There are so many options for training, what keeps you coming back to CFB?
Heather: The challenge for sure, there is always progress to be made. I had a setback this year with my back and I think more than ever I appreciate what my body can do and will do. There really is no ceiling with CrossFit, I can always get stronger and faster. I am grateful that Ava can see that it is ok for women to be physically strong too. I also love talking to new members and helping them feel more at ease. I remember that horrible feeling walking in not knowing anyone and knowing you have no idea how to do the prescribed movements.
Tell us the truth, are you competitive with each other?
Heather: I would not say that we are competitive with each other on WODs. I admire the work Kelly puts in and honestly am so grateful I was open minded to try CrossFit when I did. Had I not, I think it would have created a barrier between us, if you are not in it, how could you understand working out 2-3 hours per session or putting so much money into gear or garage gym equipment. CrossFit has definitely brought us closer together, he corrects me when I try to make excuses and helps to keep me grounded as to how far I have come. This is where I think logging workouts and weights is so important. We also chat about PR’s and we are both pretty passionate about new workout attire and gear.
Kelly: I agree, especially with that last part!