Tessa-m97bysqkw7grjklyx1g09ar5o7y9uf8ihv2shbk3pmWhen most people think of CrossFit, Schwarzenegger-like men throwing barbells around come to mind. Watching the YouTube videos alone can be enough to scare off the average person. That stereotype does not stick at CrossFit Vacaville, owned and operated by Andy and Marcia Gensheimer.

I have been a member of CrossFit Vacaville for three years and I have a physical disability called spina bifida. It is a neural tube defect that has caused me to have nine brain surgeries and three spinal surgeries. A good amount of the nerves in my left leg became there for decoration only, which gives me a bit of a limp.

Most of the twelve surgeries were done when I was very young, but my most recent two took place in junior high and high school. There is a certain feeling I got after waking up from those surgeries. After the haze of the anesthesia wears off, I wake up feeling ready to fight through the pain and recover.

Not unlike Bruce Banner after he turns into The Hulk, I become a machine. Like The Hulk is only focused on smashing things, I am only focused on recovering and getting the hell out of there. Going through something like brain surgery was the only thing that could bring out that kind of reaction out of me, until I found CrossFit.

Pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion, then going harder, at the gym brings up those thoughts and emotions that I experience during surgery recovery, on a smaller scale. Now, instead of only getting those feelings of strength and fierce determination when I wake up from surgery, I get them whenever I work out.

It has become therapeutic for me because when I have a bad day, I know there’s a place I can go where people care about me and want to see me succeed and where I can get all of the bad feelings out and embrace those feelings of power. Even if it means collapsing on a mat and bursting into tears after a “bad day” workout (which I may have done, twice), I love it because it is the only sure-fire thing that turns my bad days around.

Although I have physical limitations, I have successfully transitioned into doing the full workout almost every day. I have Andy and the rest of the CrossFit Vacaville staff to thank for that.

If these psychological benefits of working out at CrossFit Vacaville were the sprinkles, the physical benefits would be the chocolate cupcake (that no trainer would want me to have).

Since starting at the gym, I feel like a new person. My balance has improved and the people around me can tell a difference in my walk.

At one doctor visit, I was told that I would probably never have muscle tone in my legs. After about six months at the gym, I proved them wrong. The ten pound weight loss was also a nice perk that I got to take advantage of.

The CrossFit Vacaville trainers have found the perfect mix of tough love, motivation, and a genuine care for every client’s well-being to get them working hard. The whole staff has worked with me and modified workouts to ensure that I can safely and effectively get stronger, while still pushing me to work my hardest.

Starting at CrossFit Vacaville completely altered the way I live my life and continually shows me I can do thinks I didn’t think I could. Every time I go in for a workout, I come out feeling like I improved and that I did something good for myself. Those feelings are addicting and I plan on feeding that addiction for as long as I can.

If a 5’2, 22-year-old woman with spina bifida can CrossFit, anyone can.

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