THIS week I would like to introduce make up artist and owner of Glow ‘n’ Go, Aoibheann Walsh. I have known Aoibheann for a few years and find her to be one of the most self-motivated people out there!
She is a great example of someone who does not let her busy schedule deter her from her training commitments. Aoibheann is a keen CrossFitter and has loved the sport since her boyfriend Neil Barrett, owner of CrossFit Letterkenny opened a centre in Donegal.
There has been a surge in popularity with the sport in recent years due to the extreme nature of the training. People were bored with regular gym workouts and needed something new and exciting to sink their teeth in to. Crossfit more than delivered. I spoke with Aoibheann recently and asked her to share her Crossfit experience.
How long have you been a CrossFitter?
I have been a CrossFitter since June 2013.
What drew you to the sport initially?
Initially, it was my boyfriend Neil, he owned the CrossFit gym, but the sense of community among the people I have met, the satisfaction of lifting things most boys struggle with and the amazing results are what have made me stay.
Can anyone join or is there an age limit?
Absolutely anyone can join. There are kids classes that start with 5-year-olds and senior classes for older adults. I think the oldest CrossFitter turns 70 this year, very inspirational young woman. The great thing about it is how inclusive it is of age gender, ability (or lack thereof). I think it is the only place I go where every person feels equal to the next.
What do you say to those who claim women are becoming too muscular as a result of CrossFit?
I really do laugh sometimes. How muscular you can get (naturally) is genetically predisposed, so it wouldn’t matter if you did a bootcamp with weights, weight lifting or CrossFit you would still look more muscular than most other women.
When you Google CrossFit women you tend to see these very masculine women, but, these are the top 5 per cent in the world who are professional athlete’s & being genetically predisposed actually helps them get to the top of the sport.
The rest of us mere mortals would have to give up our day jobs to train twice a day to come even close to that.
Most female fitness models and bodybuilders have to pump themselves full of hormones to look how these girls look naturally, if only they did CrossFit they would save themselves a lot of money and heartache.
Have you noticed a big change in your own physique since you first began CrossFit?
Absolutely! All I did in my early 20’s was run and eat very little and yes I was skinny, but I had no tone, no ass and was always hungry!
I used to run six days a week and eat very little to be a size 6, now I CrossFit three times a week (and do one spin session at Fit-Hub, Letterkenny) and I’m a happier size 6-8, much leaner looking than the skinny earlier version of myself and I have an ASS.
I am nowhere near as conscious of my body as I was, I eat more but healthily and feel genuinely happy in my own skin!
Coming from a modelling background, in an industry obsessed with skinny women and with my own business (Glow N Go) which is still firmly fixed in the beauty and fashion industry, it was very difficult to change my way of thinking when it came to food and exercise, but persistence, hard work and results have made me a believer.
How does it feel to be stronger?
Feels great. I mean I lift weights that most guys struggle with, all the girls do, the guys up here give so much respect to the girls, not like in commercial gyms where they ogle over you and have a canary if you pick up a barbell. At CrossFit gender is not an issue, a girls personal best (PB) gets high fived just as much as a boys.
What differentiates CrossFit to other sports out there?
CrossFit to me is not a sport, it is a very effective training regime that I use to stay strong, fit and healthy. There are a few who like to compete throughout the year in other gyms, but most of us just like lifting heavy stuff, drinking coffee and hanging out.
What makes CrossFit different to everything else I have ever tried, is the range of activities involved. No two workouts are the same, one day you could be top of the class and the next struggling to finish.
When people ask me why I do it, I don’t really have an answer for them, it’s tough but rewarding, and sure, there are other ways of staying fit, healthy and strong, but this is my way, this is what I do. I can honestly say I’ll be a CrossFitter for life, how many other people can say that about their fitness classes.
As you can see Aoibheann is passionate about her training regime and her enthusiasm is infectious. I attended the Navan CrossFit Games last year as a spectator and I completely agree with Aoibheann in terms of the sense of community that surrounds Crossfit.
I recall watching a competitor struggle to finish his workout while one by one the other competitors successfully finished theirs.
In a regular competitive environment it is every person for themselves but it is very different with CF. The guy that finished first walked straight over to the guy that was struggling and stood their shouting encouragement which in turn encouraged the crowd to do the same. When the struggling competitor eventually completed his workout the crowd went crazy!
The feeling in the room was electric causing the hairs on my arms to stand on end. I remember thinking how surreal the moment was. The poor guy that came first barely got a look in!
Exercise first and foremost is about feeling good about yourself and I think you will agree that Crossfit certainly ticks that box. I would like to thank Aoibheann for taking the time out to speak with me. If you are interested in finding out more about Crossfit please visit www.crossfitletterkenny.com for more.
Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59