April Featured Athlete - Sarah Ray

Name: Sarah Ray
Age: 52
Occupation: Family and all that entails
Which class do you usually attend? The best! 9:30
Favorite WOD: Anything that does not include the bike! On a strong day, a good mix of running, box jumps, burpees, russian twists.
Favorite Lift: Back squat.
How long have you been CrossFitting? : 7 months
What keeps you coming back?:
Continuing to maintain mobility, strength, stamina. I’ve suffered with joint pain and inflammation since my mid-30’s. In 2011, I was diagnosed w/ Fibromyalgia. Walking stairs, even blow drying my hair, became intensely fatiguing. Things I enjoyed doing, I was struggling with. We even sold our horse farm because I couldn’t keep it up anymore. Everyday was/is a battle over pain, weakness, lethargy, balance issues, brain fog. As an otherwise active, outdoors person, I hated becoming a couch potato. So I push myself everyday to show up at Aestus, or do some sort of exercise/activity.
How did you find CrossFit? : Through CFA’s Bootcamp with Angela. Slowly as my confidence and skills developed, I began comparing the WOD’s written on the board and finally decided to give CrossFit a try.
How did you end up at CrossFit Aestus?:
Derek was taking the Striking class in the evenings and kept talking about the Bootcamp and CrossFit classes that were happening simultaneously. He asked me to try Bootcamp with him. That was almost a year ago.
What is your athletic background? :
Typical 1970’s kid. Outside all day, riding bikes, playing kickball w/neighborhood kids, swimming, ice skating, skiing. Gymnastics was the only organized sport that I participated in. As an adult, I began golfing around age 22; then horses. I had never, ever, joined a gym until Aestus.
How has CrossFit changed your life, lifestyle and level of fitness?:
Wow. In so many ways. Psychologically. I’m doing things I never thought or even imagined doing. I feel more bold and able. I feel happier. Physically. I’m seeing muscles. That’s pretty cool. I still feel weak and clumsy from the Fibromyalgia, but my stamina is improving. My recovery time is improving. Even a year ago, doing this kind of exercise would’ve had me down for days with flu-like body pain.
What is the One Thing you have done here that you never thought you could do?:
So many. Everything. Even running an 800. The first time I did a handstand! I hadn’t done one in almost 40 years. That was a pretty awesome moment. Box jump. The first time I lifted the barbell. Pretty much everything we’re doing.
What motivates/inspires you?:
The family of Aestus. Everyone doing their best and striving for more. In their skills, their nutrition and weight, their commitment to themselves and their lives. The way everyone supports each other. Someone lifting 200# will cheer on me lifting 55#. Because everyone recognizes the grit and determination it takes no matter where you’re at. It’s truly inspiring.
What is your proudest CrossFit achievement?:
Probably when I was able to do the 135# deadlift in Open 18.4. I wouldn’t have attempted that in a regular WOD. But the energy and support of the Open motivates you to go for it and you learn that you’re capable of things you wouldn’t have believed.
Name one goal/personal achievement that you would like to achieve through CrossFit?:
Continuing to push through the Fibromyalgia. I want to be an active, strong, healthy 60, 70, 80 year old. That’s all it’s about for me. Getting all our kids graduated and independent so Derek and I can enjoy traveling and being adventurous together in our retirement years. We’ll need to stay in shape and be healthy to do that.
What goals have you achieved in CrossFit?:
Everything I stated above. Depression can be a big part of living with chronic pain as the life and activity level you once had slips away. CrossFit hasn’t reversed the condition or the daily battles of pain, but it has helped my overall happiness, personal satisfaction, energy level. I’ve taken back some control of my body and I like how my body is changing.
Hobbies/interests outside of CrossFit?
Derek and our family, and being a mom to a daughter living with non-verbal autism, our dogs and cats. Home. Away from that, my horse. Pleasure riding, trail riding. Doing cow work with her. On days when I feel weak and can’t lift the 38# saddle (which is happening less and less thanks to CrossFit), coming up with creative things to teach my horse from the ground. The most fulfilling is gifting non-traditional lessons and therapeutic skill building to people who express interest in horses. It is a great joy for me. Seeing people overcome fears, learn life strategies or enhance learning skills with the horse as a facilitator.
Tell me about your diet: Not too crazy though minimizing sugar and carbs helps my Fibromyalgia. Pretty basic: Protein shakes, meat, fish, vegetable, some fruit. Chips and dip.
Any advice for new members?:.
Know that everyone was a beginner once. Keep it up. Even when you don’t think you can. A little each day. Ask for modifications if you’re not ready for a movement. The more days you commit to CrossFit, the more rewards you’ll see. Enjoy it!
Coaches thoughts:
Sarah is another one of those that people is truly inspiring. She faces her challenges head on and with determination to be the best she can be. She has taught me much as a coach (including how to ride a horse bareback!) She always has smiles and kind words for everyone at CFA.


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