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Jennifer: When I started CrossFit three and half years ago, I had no strength training experience. I had never participated in sports, and the last time I had seen the inside of a gym was for my PE class in high-school (over 20 years prior). Fortunately for me, when I met Dave, he chose to see me as a blank slate–no bad habits and only room for improvement! After two years of careful instruction and continual encouragement by Dave and the other trainers, I amazed myself with my first pull-up, and about six months ago, my first dip! Granted, these are just baby steps, but I never imagined doing these skills just a few short years ago.

Perhaps the most surprising part of my experience at CrossFit has been recognizing the confidence I have gained in the gym and seeing how that has carried over to other aspects of my life. Not only have I gotten physically stronger and thereby feel more comfortable participating in recreational activities with friends, but overcoming daunting challenges in the gym has given me greater confidence to tackle challenges in my daily life as well.

BJ: I was always active – started as a semi-hardcore skateboarder, shifted into snowboarding and rollerblading later on, got heavily into racquetball and ultimate frisbee in college and graduate school, and regularly went to a gym to “lift heavy things.” However, I never had any formal coaching. Truth be told, I came in to CrossFit Seattle in 2005 (then CrossFit North) with a bit of an ego, and didn’t expect that I would improve my fitness in a real and tangible way. I was wrong.

The first month at CrossFit Seattle was hard. The coaches noticed my idiosyncrasies and made adjustments right away. Not only were there techniques I had to relearn, essentially fixing what Dave called “sloppy” movements and bad habits, but the coaches also emphasized more balance to my setup. They had me drop bodyweight, incorporate drills to increase my power and explosiveness, implement daily mobility work, rest more, and taught me what it means to actually engage a muscle. I tore my ACL in an ultimate frisbee tournament in 2006. Dave spent a lot of time with me on rehabilitation and I think that’s where it all really clicked. I realized there was more to just “lifting heavy things;” that building real strength required developing a program that supports a lifetime of fitness. This is something Dave, perhaps through his direct experiences recovering from injury, has dialed in and relays consistently at the gym. 6 years and 2 gym moves later and I’m still a regular.

CrossFit Seattle takes a truly personal commitment to its clients. I have found that there are two ways to approach fitness: either to put fitness into your life or to put your life into fitness. Typically, people put fitness into their life in an attempt to “fix” bad decisions – poor sleep, poor nutrition, poor preparation, etc. However, people can bring their life into a state of fitness when they recognize that their decisions impact their overall health and well-being, and then set realistic goals to bring about measurable change. I believe that CrossFit Seattle’s forte is helping its clients through this process. They have both the knowledge and the dedication to help their clients create a lifestyle that supports a lifetime of fitness. Of course, they do all of this without ever forgetting that people also want to have fun. It has been good to see CrossFit Seattle’s community grow and evolve, and know that I’ve been a part of that evolution in some small way.

Cara: I’ve been coming to Level 4 CrossFit Seattle for over two years now. I was nervous before my first class — sometimes I still get nervous! — but I have never been to a gym that is so supportive, as well as so challenging. The workouts can be scaled to any fitness level; I might be in a class with people lifting less weight than me, or ten times more, but all of us will be working hard and testing our own individual limits. When everyone is challenged this way, it generates an overwhelming feeling of, “We’re all in this together!” That camaraderie and encouragement help me do more than I ever imagined; the progress is tangible, and addictive. Best of all, I know there will always be a new way for me to challenge myself, the Level 4 coaches will see to that.

Erika: By the time I appeared on CrossFit Seattle’s (then CrossFit North) doorstep, my body had experienced the gamut of fitness extremes.  From a physically comatose youth in whom factories of Oreo’s went to die — I would have to go home sick from PE if we had been made to run the length of the gym– to transforming into a treadmill psychopath in college, I thought I had achieved some degree of conditioning.  I could spin transfixed on the gym machines for hours, like a rat on a wheel, but I was going nowhere, getting nothing but thin and exhausted.  I felt gross and didn’t look much better.  And then, like some kind of divine fitness intervention, I read an advertisement from Dave & Nancy’s gym: “Get Strong…” it said.  Those two words stood out like a beacon for me.  That said it all, and that’s what I wanted.

To be honest, the first year was awful.  I suffered.  But here’s the thing about CrossFit — it gives you a goal, one workout at a time.  A pure crystalline end state, 30 of this, 20 of that, just get through these few moments and then life gets better.  If you’ve got a work ethic, even better!  A workout becomes exhilarating, and even if you’re the last to finish, you won’t be the last for long.  Each time you get a little better.  Also, you engage your brain!  If you thought calculus was mental, try lifting weight properly.  Simple is not easy.  And finally, you will meet great people who will teach you, befriend you, and push you.  Because they know you can do it.

TJ: Shortly after my wife, Alison, and I decided to move to Seattle, I stumbled upon Dave Werner’s bio on the web.  I told Alison, “That is the guy I need to go see when we get to Seattle.”  Soon after we arrived, I made my way over to Level 4.

Dave started teaching me things I thought I knew.  He slowed down my movements, corrected my form and mistakes. Dave pushed when necessary, but more importantly, he often made me back off and focus on form.  The path has been bumpy and there have been struggles on the way, but I have not been stuck on the floor for days in back pain since I started with Dave.  I have not had to rely on chiropractors and medication to keep me moving.  I am as strong as I was as a Division 1 athlete 20 years ago, but now I understand how to be safe and how to work with my body.  Dave looks out for me, checks in with me frequently, and answers my numerous questions with aplomb.

Tascha: What I’ve realized from eating Paleo is that the process of weight loss and maintenance truly is a marathon and not a short-term fix. Once I broke the process of “eating right” down into manageable pieces I also realized that it didn’t have to be difficult. I will admit that this journey has not been without its bumps along the way.  However, by looking at this as a journey and not a destination it’s been easier to maintain.

The changes that I have made are lifelong. It’s about making smart food choices daily. Losing weight was almost the easy part. In part, because it was easy to keep doing what I was doing as long as I saw the pounds melting off. Maintenance has been more difficult for that exact same reason. Without seeing the pounds coming off I had to find different incentives for making smarter choices. I had to draw from the other things that I realized once I started to eat better. I realized that I felt better, I slept better, I had more energy and had fewer cravings for processed foods. I am not a 100% full time Paleo eater, however it provides a very good base from which I build my daily meal plans.

Tawn & CB: I just want to say how wonderful it has been to watch your business grow from the small pole barn behind the Traveler to the amazing mega gym you guys have now. Through it all, the dedication and professionalism of your staff has remained the same. So many times as people's businesses grow they lose the personal touch they had when they started. But your staff has never strayed from what seemed to be your goal...getting people stronger by doing things right without all the attitude and machismo that so often go along with gyms. You guys have created an atmosphere where everyone is welcome and able to work out no matter your fitness level, size or age. 

When CB and I first started CrossFit, over 5 years ago now, we were broken, weak and facing some serious disability due to injuries and lack of proper strength training. I'll never forget the first training class with Dave when he told me to do a squat and I laughed and said I couldn't because of my knee. He said, you can't do a squat the wrong way..but I bet you can do it correctly. That was the start of my addiction to Crossfit. I am in better shape physically and strength wise now than I ever have been in my life. I can snowboard longer, better and with more athletic ability than ever before. Strength and agility has made me pain free and it makes just everyday things easier. Work has become far less painful and I just move better in general. I'll never be a "skinny" person, my Nordic genes just won't allow it...but I can be a fit person and look and move better. You guys just don't provided a "workout" but an education to better ones body both physically and nutritionally. 

Jon: After damaging my back twice when I was much younger, I began to experience episodes where the muscles in my back would seize up when my back was positioned in a certain way, causing pain and difficulty in movement.  I had tried numerous different practices to alleviate this condition, including yoga (which I enjoy immensely), tai chi, motion therapy, weight lifting to strengthen the muscles, etc.  Nothing appeared to solve the problem.  My son, who had started CrossFit earlier, challenged me to try CrossFit as an approach. 

I now have two years of CrossFit experience and at no time in the past two years have I had any repetitions of the episodes with my back.  My overall health and fitness has improved drastically and I am confident that the debilitating back pain is a thing of the past.  Besides eliminating the back problems, CrossFit has become a continual exploration of muscle reawakening and awareness, and a redressing of the imbalances that developed over years of neglect and stress.

Gail: I’m 61 years old, and I have arthritis and a hip replacement.  I had chronic hip pain and I thought I was doomed to a life of decrepitude.  I really didn’t think I could improve my mobility or strength.  Then I heard about CrossFit and made an appointment with Dave.  He identified my weaknesses and said I needed to get my hips moving properly.  I could barely squat to a high stack of mats!  Now, four years later, I feel great!  I’m fitter, stronger, and more mobile then I can ever remember.  Dave has always been very generous with his advice and time and I have learned so much from him.

Tom: I have had chronic lower back pain for as long as I can remember. As a 56 year old man, the only time my back didn’t hurt was when I got regular exercise. Maybe it was the stretching? The problem I faced was I could not get motivated to go to a gym regularly and I didn’t know what to do when I did go. I really like to ride my road bike but Seattle sucks for winter rides.

My wife had been going to Level 4 CrossFit Seattle for about a year and always was coming home telling me the different stretches, weight work, kettlebell swings, (whatever that is) and then what the work out was for that day. It was always different and she would be so excited and tell me how much she hurt and couldn’t wait for her next visit. Didn’t make sense to me. For me it was too much money for a gym with kids telling me what to do. After constant and quite annoying exhilaration from Nathalie, I agreed to the four personal training sessions which was way too much money. A year and a half later, I have learned that spending money on myself is the only way I will be able to be as flexible, active and feeling great.

I have come to love the constant feed back regarding technique from all the trainers. They are truly caring, knowledgeable in all aspects of fitness and fun to be around. They are also great motivators. This expert training has kept me from getting hurt as well as keeping things interesting and I'm getting much stronger. Stronger than I thought possible. My body actually looks different in a good way. Sorry for too much information. CrossFit is the greatest concept for health I can imagine. CrossFit Level 4 with your team can have no rival. Get Fit or Die Trying.