Athlete Feature: Audrey Mueller

What changes have you noticed in yourself since starting your personal fitness journey? Physical changes? For sure. What about mental? Some of our favs are the undeniable increase in confidence and an improved body image that many of our members undergo.

Audrey Mueller is a prime example of these gains. Not only has she seen physical changes, like toning and increased strength, but she’s also enjoying the amazing feeling of being comfortable in her own skin, which we think is priceless. We’re so proud of Audrey and how far she’s come over the years. Take a few minutes out of your day to hear her story in her own words!

What do you do for work?

I’m a paraprofessional at Pleasant View Elementary School. I’m with 4th graders. I LOVE it so much.

Sounds like a combination of challenging and rewarding.

Yes! Definitely a lot more rewarding than challenging. I used to work at Country Manor for 15 years, that’s where I met Tonya Maciej. And that’s how I joined CrossFit was from knowing Tonya.

That’s good! A positive career change then. So you and Tonya, did you do Boot Camp together?

We did. She was the reason I found my way to Boot Camp. So, she did her first Boot Camp and told me, “You’ve got to do this!” The gym had one of their Friends & Family Days and I signed up for my first boot camp that night on the spot. I knew that if I would have waited for the next day, there’s no way I would have done it.

You would have talked yourself out of it?

Yes, and I was so sore. I remember being so sore from that Friends & Family workout and thinking the next day, “This is terrible!”

Do you remember that first workout?

Not so much that first workout, but I remember my first WOD when I joined regular classes. It had cleans and wall balls.

That’s a rude awakening, going from Boot Camp to that as your initiation to CrossFit!

It was! So I actually did two Boot Camps because I was too afraid to jump into CrossFit right away. And then yeah, my first workout was cleans and a lot of wall balls.

You must have learned to embrace the suck along the way.

It’s funny you say that. I remember someone saying to me during my Boot Camp test-out, “Just embrace the suck!” And I was like, “This does suck!”

LOL! So did you work out at a traditional gym before joining Boot Camp, or were you leading more of an inactive lifestyle and knowing you needed to make a change?

I didn’t do anything. When Tonya started Boot Camp and started running and stuff, she challenged me to start running. Now, I’m terrible at running, but I said I’d try. Since she was telling me to do this, I made up my mind to try. And I watched her transform and lose a bunch of weight by totally changing her lifestyle, joining CrossFit and taking up running. And I knew that I wanted to do what she was doing, because whatever she was doing was working. So she challenged me to start running and invited me to every possible thing she could think of to get me to come here [to the gym]. And finally, she told me about this Friends & Family Day and I was like, “Alright, I guess I’m doing that.”

How many times did she have to invite you before you got in the door?

That entire week, she said to me, “You’re coming with me, right? You’re coming with me.” I was like, “Yeah… Maybe.” And the next day, I said, “I’m not sure if it’s gonna work for me…” And then she was like, “So I’ll see you Thursday, right?” And I’m thinking, well I work with you so yeah, I’ll see you. And then she asked, “Should we drive together?”

It’s like she knows you really well.

Hahaha, yes! I told her it was ok, I’d follow her. So now I really had to go. I remember walking in the door for the first time and I felt sooo nervous. It’s always nerve-wracking to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone. Tonya told me beforehand, “It’s fine, you’ll see a bunch of people working out hardcore and you’ll be scared as shit.” And yep, that’s pretty much what I walked into. I remember because it was Tash, Niko, Patty and a whole bunch of other competitive athletes all working out. I walked in and my immediate thought was, are you kidding me? I’m here for Boot Camp, right??

The workout was really fun. It was a partner WOD, and the energy in the place was awesome. I said to myself, “Yes! This is where I want to be.” So I was in! …And then I was super sore the next day and thinking I was crazy for signing up!

Well thank God you signed up before the soreness hit!

Totally. And I remember that experience every time I’m sore from a WOD the next day; I make myself get to the gym. Otherwise I’m super sore and can’t move. Once you move again, you’re good. But if you just lay there… it’s terrible.

It gets ugly for sure. So, do you still run now, or are you more focused on CrossFit?

I’m more focused on CrossFit. I never felt good when I ran. I always felt tired. But I love the bar. When I don’t have a barbell in my hand, I feel like I’m not working out. But even those days when there’s not a barbell, I leave here feeling amazing.

I also never got sweaty when I ran, because I would always run at a pace I could handle. And with CrossFit, I push it to where—you feel like you can’t handle it anymore but you just got to keep pushing through it because you’ve got to finish the WOD.

Right. You can’t let your partner down, your Coach is shouting encouragement at you…

Yes! You only got 10 minutes—it’s only 10 minutes. Just push a little harder. And then you’re done and you sit there and think, “I just did that.”

That’s seriously the best feeling. So, could you pick a favorite movement?

I love Romanian dead lifts. I actually just PR’ed on the standard dead lift. Haha so yes, dead lifts are my favorite. I’m also working super hard on my clean now, keeping the weights lower and trying to perfect the technique so I can build on it. I’ve picked up a few tips from John and Laura and Connor and Rachel on what to think about when I’m doing a lift. Before, when I first started lifting, I’d just watch as the coach would explain technique and then try to do what they did, but never really followed what they were doing. Now I go through it and think, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing, this is what it should look like, what it should feel like.” And of course how to do it properly so as not to get injured.

That’s a great goal!

That’s important to me, staying injury-free. I’ve fought a few injuries; I’m actually still fighting one right now. I remember, I hurt my back about a year ago and didn’t come for a while. Then I got a phone call from Coach Rachael asking, “What the heck. Why are you not in the gym?” And I said, “Well, I have a back thing.” And her answer was, “That’s why you should be here! Build those muscles, feel good again.” And that’s what I absolutely love. No other gym would ever call you out, whether it’s on Facebook, by text or by phone. I could go to another gym, clock in and go tanning (like I would normally do), or say I’m gonna go for a run, get on the treadmill and start sweating and turn it off because I don’t like the feeling of it. But here, you don’t even think about what you’re doing, or how it really feels. Because you do feel it, but the energy around you and the friendships you build… I remember being the newcomer and having people inviting me to be their partner or showing me where the equipment goes. No other gym would do that. It would all be foreign to you, and not one person would come up to say hey or help out. And you’d retreat to the treadmill.

It seems like you’ve had a shift in perspective since you’ve been here. Do you think your outlook in general has changed as a result of CrossFit?

Oh, definitely. I went from being extremely introverted and having body image “stuff” to approaching things like wardrobe choice like, “No, you know what? I’m gonna rock it. I’m gonna wear a skirt if I want to.” Or now, I only wear skinny jeans, whereas before I would think, “I’ll just wear a pair of dress pants that are big enough to go over my waist.”

I absolutely know what you’re talking about. I didn’t even own skinny jeans before CrossFit.

Right! And I hear all the time, “God, you have nice legs,” and I’m all, “CrossFit!” It’s like the part of my body I’m most proud of, and I don’t mind showing them off anymore.

That’s awesome! Have you seen physical changes here, too?

Definitely. For one, my legs are awesome now. And I’m so strong in the arms. When I first started CrossFit, I could only lift the bar. Now, just this week I dead lifted 250 lbs. as a new 1RM. That was a 20 lb. PR actually, pretty sweet! So yes, most definitely there have been changes. I like to flex in the mirror—who does that? A girl especially. Girls don’t flex. But it’s fun!

Not only do you not hate the mirror, but you’re actually showing off in it.

Yes! I was showing my husband and saying, “Look at this!” And he’s always like, “Ok…” Hahaha he’s not a member here, but he supports me and wants me to come in when I need to.

That’s so important. This process we’re all going through is so much easier with the right support. I wanted to ask, too, aside from being peer pressured by Tonya, what was your underlying reason for doing this? There must be something personal to you that’s helped you stick with it for several years now.

So my major “why” has always been—my whole life—that I want to look sexy naked. I want to feel good without my clothes on. And I know I’m not the thinnest or most athletic person, but I feel good naked now. I feel like I can walk around my house—not in front of everybody, but at home!—without having to wrap a towel around myself. That took a long time, because of body image changing, and there’s still parts of me I’m still working on, but I feel like myself. I finally feel as though I am who I am, and I’m ok with who I am.

That’s my biggest “why.” Another reason I needed to change my lifestyle is that my husband and I have been working through infertility for 7 years, and my doctor had always told me, “Lose weight, lose weight.” So I’d lose weight for him and then I’d gain it all back. It wasn’t working.

That kind of yo-yo’ing can wreak some major havoc, huh?

Right! I didn’t want to just lose weight for this. Since joining CrossFit, I haven’t even stepped onto a scale, unless they’ve told me to. I actually think the scale in our house is out of battery life. I might have tossed it when we moved our floors… The numbers are meaningless to me now, because I weigh probably as much as I did when I started, but my body’s changed. I’m strong, I have muscle where I didn’t have any before. Especially in places where your average gym-goer might not, because they don’t focus on the technique of all of our lifts, or on using those 10-minute AMRAPs. When I tell one of my non-CrossFit friends about a 10-minute AMRAP I’ve done recently, she might scoff and say, “Well that’s easy!” And I challenge her to try it. So she’ll do it for 2 minutes, then call me back and say, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this!” And I tell her that’s what we’re doing every day at the gym.

Of course I’ll invite her to come with me, and her response is that she can’t do it. And that’s what we all said once. Tonya would come to work when she started at the Factory and talk about the workout the night before, and I’d think, “I can’t do that.” Now, I can and I know that I can. That’s the cool part, that shift we were talking about—I know I can do these things. Maybe I’m not that good at it right now, maybe it’s not very easy at all (or never easy, ha!), but that feeling of getting done and thinking, “I did that” is just amazing. It just makes other things in the day seem so much smaller.

Want to start your journey the same place Audrey did? Join our next Challenge!

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