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Columbus Circle Athlete of the Month

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Three cheers for CC athlete of the month Annie Carney. Annie is not just an awesome athlete, but an inspiring presence in the gym. She upholds movement standards, dedicates herself to getting better and consistently supports her fellow athletes — whether they finish first or last. Congrats Annie!

How/when did you get involved in CrossFit?

My older brother introduced me to CrossFit. At that time, he was training for the Marines by doing Mainsite WODs in our garage. I was “training” for nothing by obsessively and ineffectively running on the elliptical every morning. My brother told me to join his WODs, but I was pretty certain that CrossFit was for big shirtless grunting bros, so no thanks.

At some point, though, he showed me old Youtube videos of Annie Sakamoto doing double unders and snatches, and those changed my view of CrossFit — at least enough so that I was willing to visit a CrossFit gym in Brooklyn. I’ve been doing CrossFit on and off ever since. I took some time away from CrossFit during law school, but I joined EVF last September, and it’s been my haven ever since.

Do you remember your first workout? How was it?

I don’t remember — I was too busy drowning in my own humiliation. I’d always been in pretty good shape, so I had the hubris to think “C’mon, how bad can this really be?” Really bad, actually.

What were your goals when you first started? How have they changed?

For the first year, I didn’t understand the point of CrossFit. I didn’t want to lift heavy weights, I didn’t want to work on Olympic lifting technique, and I was scared of the pull up bar. I just wanted to be a cardio bunny and call it CrossFit. I liked to WOD-shop: I only showed up if the workout involved 1,000 sit-ups and a 5k.

But over time, that changed — mostly because I watched (and marveled at) the other women at the gym. Before CrossFit, I didn’t have female friends who could do strict pull-ups; these women could. Before CrossFit, I assumed that women couldn’t lift as heavy as men; now, I was on a squat rack next to women who could. These women were powerful, strong, and feminine, and I wanted to be like them. I had to adjust my goals accordingly.

How have you grown in that time — health, body, mind, etc.?  

Well, I can’t find dresses or suit jackets that fit my traps, so that part of me has grown. But so has my sense of self-worth: I’m happier, I’m more confident, I’m less anxious, I sleep better at night, I have more friends.

I hate make this a trite testimonial, but here goes: CrossFit has made me better at accepting and appreciating failure. No matter how many times I kick up on the wall, I cannot string together HSPUs, but I still show up and try them, even if I fall over. I failed about 30 times trying to get a bar muscle-up during the Open, and the one I finally “got” required me to swim and kick up to the bar for an entire minute until I just eked it out. It was the ugliest muscle-up this gym will ever see. But I’ve grown enough as a person that I was willing to try 30 times to get that ugly MU. The old Annie would have stopped after one attempt and then left the gym for a 40-minute jog.

What do you enjoy most about CrossFit?

The 5:30 a.m. crew. For the past year, the best part of my day has been rolling in half-asleep at 5:32 a.m. to find Garen gyrating to Bruno Mars or Guthrie asking the class, yet again, whether cookies are better than ice cream. (The answer is no.) Even on days when I hate the WODs, I always smile during class and afterwards. Thanks to this crew, I don’t spend class berating myself or thinking about calories or wondering whether I’m wearing the cutest pair of Lulus. I spend an hour each day with supportive people who just want to sweat and be a little better than they were yesterday.

Favorite lift and WOD?

Deadlifts, double-unders and runs are the dream trifecta.

What about your least favorite?

Everything else? Primarily squats. OH squats, front squats, back squats, squat snatches, goblet squats, side squats, squat jumps, squats holding-a-plate-uncomfortably-in-front-of-your-face-for-balance. I’ve gotten marginally better at squatting since I started CrossFit, but I still struggle with flexibility and stability in the squat. I dropped in to a box in D.C. and the coach told me I had “the ugliest squat” he’d ever seen.

What motivates you?

The people in this gym. I’ve tried to do WODs in hotel gyms or in my apartment, and I never complete them. I need this environment: I need a coach yelling at me, a friend doing burpees next to me, an “Ignition-Remix” playing on the speakers.

Do you have any advice for new members?

Just keep coming back. And really, truly, no one cares how fast you do a workout, and no one cares what weight you’re holding. We care that you try hard and that you cheer us on if you finish before us. Also, don’t cheat or cut reps because wtf why.