“The captain controls everything on the ship”

Almost a year ago I walked into Crossfit Chicago (CFC) for my first class.  I learned how to put a barbell over my head using a push jerk.  I reveled in working out with other women who wanted to move weights.  I chuckled to myself at my coach’s “I heart Nasty Girls” t-shirt.  I had a fire for competition reignited that I hadn’t even realized I’d lost.  I found a family and a community.

We all rolled through the Crossfit Games Open together, spending Saturday afternoons hitting the Open WODs with friends cheering in the balcony overlooking the lifting platforms.  When I landed in the top 60 competitors in our region, it was a couple of heart to heart conversations with people at CFC that lead me to the decision to compete at the North Central Regional as an individual.

Crossfit Chicago holding down a section of bleachers at the 2011 North Central Regional

I’d like to say I wasn’t intimidated or nervous going into the Regional, but I was.  I had no idea what to expect, and leaned heavily on the support and comfort of the CFC community who literally surrounded me with encouragement and energy.

I stood on the Regional podium, held back tears, received my medal from one of our coaches, and celebrated a ticket to the 2011 Crossfit Games.  I had no idea what I was even signing up for, I just knew I wanted to be part of it.

Over the next two months my coach took me, a person with some raw athletic ability but little/no Crossfit skill, and prepped me for the biggest stage in the sport.  He was literally with me every step of the way.  Literally.  Every metcon.  Every run.  The week my double unders disappeared.  The day I got my first strict muscle ups.

So now I’m a “Games Athlete.”  Less than a year into the game, but I can’t claim novice status anymore.  That’s ok, because I don’t feel like a novice.  It’s time for me to take responsibility for my training on another level than I have in the past.  As a result, I’ve selected new coaching for myself, which comes with a new training environment.  My desire for change in my training means having to leave what I consider to be my Crossfit family and the community that has always been the center of my life as a Crossfitter.  By any measure, this is a phenomenal group of people.   They’ve opened their arms and embraced both me and my family.  I’m forever grateful for, and my life forever changed for the better, by being a part of CFC.

Following the final 2011 Regionals WOD

All that being said, it should be evident how strongly I feel about my decision to train with my new coach http://outlawcoach.wordpress.com/ , at my new box http://cfconstruct.com/, and the road I need to take to develop as a competitor.  As tough as this transition is, I’m incredibly excited and feel so fortunate to have found both a coach and training environment that I feel are the right fit for me at this stage in my training.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;  I will guide you with My eye.   -Psalm 32:8

Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love you like a sister, EA. You’ll be missed by not only myself, but everyone else at CFC. Here’s wishing you the best of luck and success in your new training environment. I’ll be sure to swing by Construct every now and again to make sure you’re still kicking ass. 😉


    • Little Sis! I vividly remember saying, “we’ve gotta get her Crossfitting,” and look at you now- straight addict! I love your enthusiasm and your pure joy in the process. Don’t you ditch me on the box tour now…

  • That’s you and me hugging! I would love a copy of this pic if you have a chance.
    We will always be your community and your family, Elisabeth. I can’t wait to see the good things that are in store for you, and you can damn well bet that I will at the Games cheering you on! You will always serve as an inspiration to all of us, no matter where you train. Family is not defined by where you are. Rather, those bonds transcend physical distance, time, and space. We are always with you. :=) xoxo.

    • Thanks for being such a dedicated training partner Anj. I have so much respect for the work you’re doing and it’ll be great to see you reap the benefits in the coming years. You will always be my go-to source of inspiration for a calm, caring and respectful approach to life. Love you!

  • They said it all but I’ll add that I’m going to miss you too even though I haven’t been around as much lately. I’m planning on seeing you kick ass in person at the Games this summer 🙂

  • You have been over the last year, and will always be, an vital part of our community. Do not for one second think that the loss is not felt by all of us. It’s been so cool to watch you evolve over the last year. I know how much you value our support and please know that it won’t change.
    The hardest part is losing you and what you contribute on a daily basis. You support and cheer for everyone equally at our box. I’ve seen it every time I’ve worked out with you. For me the daily interaction is going to be the hardest to lose.
    That said, I fully believe you have to trust your intuition when it comes to making decisions in life, even if the outcome is not what you had envisioned or hoped for. In the end you only have control over yourself and knowing what is best for you. Unfortunately, sometimes what’s best isn’t the easiest path to take.
    Just know that we all love you and I’m so thankful that I know you and call you a friend.

    • You hit the nail on the head Ali, “sometimes what’s best isn’t the easiest path to take.” I know we’ll be in touch, but I’ll miss the daily interaction, too. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  • I was suprised and bummed to see you were leaving. I have always admired your belief in yourself and your willingness to put in the work to better yourself. You set a great example for others. I hope this decision works out great for you. Take care.

    • Thanks for the well wishes Brett. I was definitely looking forward to training with you this year, but I know this is a good move for me. I can’t wait to see how you do this year! I’m sure my son will miss your playlist, too…