There are probably a lot of really fun milestones between a mom and a daughter… the first time she calls you “Mommy,” helping her tie her shoes, watching her put on her first lip gloss and even watching her graduate from high school. But the best milestone in our opinion – encouraging your girl to join you for the first time at CrossFit!

For Dawn Mathews, it took some convincing and even potentially bribing to get her daughter Jodi Polito to check out CrossFit Brighton!

Dawn – a retired Radiologic Technologist and mother of two daughters and grandmother of 4 (soon to be 5!) – thought Jodi – a wife, mom to Atlas (4) and Eli (2), former software analyst turned toddler chauffeur, chef and professional cuddler – would enjoy the fun and challenging workouts. But what was it that got Jodi here? Read on… 

What got you interested in CrossFit in the first place? When did you start with the nutrition program? (just Jodi?)

Dawn: I have a close friend whose husband owned a Crossfit gym in Ohio, so I knew a little bit about it. When I turned “a certain age” I was determined to start this portion of my life on the right path. Here I am!


Jodi: My mom took the plunge first. What started as gentle encouragement with a lot of “You would like this” turned into a repetitive daily Nike commercial with basically a contestant “JUST DO IT.” Finally, she scheduled my intro session for me and I didn’t have a choice. As always, she was right, I loved it.

I started the nutrition program out of curiosity and my general need for accountability. I was not prepared for the increase in appetite that came from training 4-5 times a week after being nearly sedentary. It’s also easy to justify terrible food choices when you feel so great about working harder than you ever have. Turns out, it’s not a great plan. Almost immediately after cleaning up my diet I found that my endurance, energy, and performance at the gym skyrocketed. 

What did you think about CrossFit when you first started? What keeps you coming back?

Dawn: Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I was having trouble figuring out how I’d make it from the small gym – I called it “the nursery” – to the big room with you beasts! But I kept coming back. There was something about the methodology and structure that made sense to me. Every time I finished a class I was so amazed at what my body just did. It was fun!

Jodi: I was terrified at how out of shape I was at first. I was happy when I simply survived in the beginning. I felt so proud of myself when I made it home alive. When I described the workouts to my husband, Lucas, his general sentiment was “nope, that sounds crazy”. (Teaser: he’s a 5-days-a-week-crazy-6am-guy now)

What keeps me coming is the fact that I simply couldn’t accomplish the same level of pay off and intensity in an hour anywhere else. Time away from the kids is precious and it would feel like wasted hours trying to get a workout done on my own in a typical gym setting. I need peer pressure and I need to be told what to do. In the past, I’d spend an hour on the treadmill more focused on the talk show playing on the giant ceiling-mounted TVs than what I was accomplishing for my health (which was absolutely nothing). 

How do you make time for it given your busy schedule with the kiddos and such?

Jodi: Lucas and I trade morning and afternoon workouts and childcare. He takes the red-eye 6am and I get to go in the evening. It’s simply a non-negotiable part of our schedule. I need that time to get out of my head and away from tiny sticky hands in order to be able to have a chance and being a patient mom. It took me 3 years after our firstborn to figure out that I need to take care of myself first. It’s a huge “duh” but it’s hard to reset the family schedule to include ourselves as a priority. The boys now see exercise as a simple part of everyday life. 

Recently we began trading childcare with another mom at the gym, Emily Kocienski. This has been great because it’s a break for Lucas on some evenings and I get to be home around dinner time more regularly. Any mom’s want in on the rotation, let us know

Dawn: My schedule isn’t too busy. So… But Jodi knows if she needs me to babysit it needs to work around my Crossfit schedule. 🙂

I hear you both got your families involved too? tell me about that. What’s it like working out together? 

Dawn: Jodi and I are alike in many ways. I knew she would enjoy this community and thrive at Crossfit Brighton. I am still hoping my husband Mark will join. He gives me the side eye but has never said “no.”

Jodi: I can’t thank my mom enough for getting me involved. Thanks to her, now Lucas is going and loving it too. 

Working out together is really fun. It pushes me to work harder because my mom can sniff out my BS from a mile away. Most of the time we don’t make it to the gym together but we always chat after workouts to commiserate, share our reps/weights and have the conversations that no one outside of CF can tolerate. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a CFB coach?

Jodi: I think every single coach has helped me with my form in a different way. They all have different styles and different ways of communicating.  Is like a lightbulb goes on and you’re like “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh I get it now.

Being partnered with someone who is light years above your current level of conditioning and strength is a particularly effective (evil) way of finding out that you are capable of more than you think…. “But did you die?” 

Dawn: Very early on I was in a class with coach Jill. I don’t remember what we were doing or how this statement fit in but she said “IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY!” I repeat this to myself at almost every class.

Tell me more about your experience with the nutrition program.

Jodi: Making a clear correlation between food, timing, macros, and my physical and emotional well-being is something I accepted in theory but not in practice. Feeling so good and energized was a great motivation to keep it up for myself and my family. 

The best part of the nutrition program was that I never felt like I was on a “diet”. I wasn’t so focused on what I wasn’t eating, I was focused on trying to get enough of the right stuff. 

What else would be helpful for someone to know who is new to CrossFit and anxious about getting started?

Jodi: No one is looking at you, counting your reps, paying attention to the weight you use. Most of the time I couldn’t even tell you who is standing next to me. Everyone is focused on doing the best for themselves. I felt really self-conscious at first, especially when I FELT like I was the only one in the room who had to modify movements. There’s a different language on the board and I didn’t understand the words coming out of anyone’s mouths. I often felt like I didn’t belong there. None of it was true, just excuses to quit. 

Everyone I’ve met has been nothing but encouraging. Everyone has “been there” and getting over the initial mountain of fear and exhaustion is worth it. You will feel like you are going to drop, you will feel like you want to drop, but you survive and do it again tomorrow.

Dawn: You CAN do this. The payoff is huge. Everyone here was in your spot and understands completely. I really enjoy watching these amazing athletes and do not feel intimidated. Only impressed. I keep my expectations realistic. It’s only one hour!

“Are your workouts unmotivating?  Maybe you don’t vary your workouts or exercises enough.  Kettlebell exercises are a great tool to implement in your training.”