I love that we're seeing more and more CrossFit engagements in the wedding world!
As the sport grows in popularity, it's great to put faces and names with those numbers. I don't think many people realize CrossFit is a co-ed activity and, so naturally, couples gravitate to it! Such was the case for Niki and Mat who actually met long before they started CrossFit; however, they both fell fast in love with it and like most CrossFit couples will attest, it's been great for their relationship.
A coach at CrossFit Providence, I got to talk to Niki a little about how CrossFIt has changed her life, her view of her body and abilities, and her marriage! The lovely photos are courtesy of Samantha Marie Photography. Enjoy!
Meet Niki & Mat:
When did you start doing CrossFit?
My husband and I started back when we were just dating in the Summer of 2011. I had tried it a bit in college but it just didn't fit my lifestyle at the time. We had a girlfriend who opened up one of the first boxes in our area (Bangor, Maine) so there was no on ramp! We were ALL in on ramp! No one in the area had ever really done it before!
What box to you belong to?
CrossFit Bangor back then. I eventually ended up coaching there and doing PR work for the gym, as well as running the intro program. Now I coach at CrossFit Providence in Rhode Island, and my husband is a member there with me :)
What prompted your interest in the sport?
A girlfriend of mine contacted me and told me she was opening the gym. 1 - so that I could join, because she knew I was interested, and 2 - to see if I could cover it on the news, since I was working as a reporter at the time. She's an amazing woman who juggles owning the gym and coaching classes, with being a full-time firefighter paramedic... and she's in the air guard. She's an inspiration, to say the very least.
Did your fiancé/husband participate too?
He did! I was surprised he joined so easily! When I asked him if he wanted to try it out with me he said yes right off the bat!
Did you two meet at a box, or meet before you started CrossFit?
Beforehand, playing trivia at a local bar.
Do you have an athletic background? if so, what sport did you play?
Matt was always a runner. I dance and I and played volleyball in college. We were both also regulars at the gym, but never really into lifting or anything like that all too much.
Did you participate in the 2014 Open?
We did! I came in third place in my gym - thanks to some awesome coaches and friends who didn't let me quit. I also helped with the media coverage of Regionals as part of the CrossFit HQ Media Staff.
Have you participated in the CrossFit Games in the past?
Yes! Most everyone at our gym in Maine was encouraged to participate in the games.
What are your CrossFit goals for 2014?
Consecutive Muscle Ups! Come on come on come on!
When you first started Crossfit, what was your initial reaction?
I definitely remember thinking that I was never going to not-be-sore ever again. Pain was just a constant in life now! And I remember how hard the act of sitting down was. I wondered... is this how it's going to be every time I go to sit in my car? At my desk at work? On the toilet?! It got better of course! But every time we're really, super, extra sore... Matt and I describe it to each other by referring to it as "First month of CrossFit sore," for emphasis.
What was your aim in doing CrossFit? To get stronger? Lose weight? For pure enjoyment?
I always wanted to lean out some... but I never expected my body to change as much as it has! I couldn't be happier! Matt on the other hand... was dying to put some weight ON. Everyone should have such problems!! :p
How has CrossFit changed your body? Are you happy with those changes?
I've dropped about 3 sizes and gained a whole lot of muscle. Sometimes I struggle, especially in a professional setting, with looking relatively "jacked" (at least according to some people), but I'd rather look healthy and strong than soft any day. I actually wrote an article about this for the upcoming October issue of RI Fit Magazine.
Is Crossfit a big part of your relationship? In what ways?
It definitely is! For starters, we prefer to work out together. It's more fun! Also, it allows us to have similar goals, which carries over into other parts of our relationship. We cook together because we like and appreciate similar foods. We cheat and feel guilty together when we have junk food! :) We understand the excitement of PRs, and the annoyance of not being able to get to the gym. And it doesn't hurt that it makes it easier to coordinate our schedules too!
Do you relate any elements of Crossfit to marriage?
Well there's a lot of cleaning in marriage. And sometimes someone can be a real jerk! ;) But in all truth, I think they can be similar in terms of strength, goal setting, and balance. You need GPP for any good marriage, since you never know what life is going to throw at you!
What's your favorite workout to do together?
We really like partner workouts and doing competitions together! We also prefer workouts with quick body weight movements like pull ups, toes to bar, and box jumps. But as for full WODs... we have different favorites because we have very different strengths.
Do you add any CrossFit touches to your wedding day?
The best touch of all... all our closest friends from the gym! They came in pretty handy when we did a traditional Jewish dance that involves being carried around the room while sitting in chairs....
Do you have any advice for newbie CrossFitters?
DON'T BE INTIMIDATED. We were all scared when we started! But the community is so wonderful, you will feel right at home. That, and don't give up! You WILL see changes if you stick to the program, I promise!
I heard you recently got certified to coach - congrats! Can you tell me a little about your decision to do that and what the process has been like?
I've been coaching now for nearly 3 years and I love every minute of it (even the 5:30 am classes)! I originally decided to coach because I wanted to bring people into the on-ramp program and show them how and why CrossFit has worked so well for me. I loved the program so much I just wanted to pass it on!
Do you have advice for other women interested in doing CrossFit prior to their big day?
Stick with whatever program you have AS BEST AS YOU CAN but DO NOT FRET if you can't get all your workouts in! YOU ARE A BUSY LADY leading up to your wedding day! If you skip a workout or two you will NOT look fat in your wedding dress! So relax, there's plenty of time to get to the gym in this life.
ALSO don't practice lots of MU transitions the week before your wedding - you will get big bruises on the backs of your arms and freak out about them not healing in time! (even tho they do!) hahaha live and learn :)
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you about your diet, too. Paleo seems to be the diet of most CrossFitters - do you eat paleo?
We're pretty paleo during the week (it's easy when you pack your food for work!) but we tend to do whatever on the weekends. For about two months before our wedding I was wicked strict with my diet - no cheats. We must have had more free junk food at work in those two months than EVER before, but I stuck with it. And you know what? I don't even think I noticed a difference really! Hahaha
Was that way of eating something you learned about through box? What were the results of eating paleo? Did you lose weight? feel better? get stronger?
When I first started CrossFit, I dropped a pant size almost immediately. I felt great, strong, happy, and I thought "no way am I restricting my diet that much, this is already working for me!" Well then wouldn't you know we organize our first paleo challenge at the gym... and nearly everyone at our small box signed up. SO I did too. And I hated it for about two weeks. Then I loved it. I felt better, looked better, and everything just seemed to fall into place. So I stuck with it! We've been about 805 ever since!
What's your favorite paleo snack?
Care to share your time on a favorite benchmark WOD? (So we can be jealous!)
I'm pretty happy with my 4:19 Grace!
What's your favorite CrossFit move, exercise or WOD?
Power Cleans are my favorite! But I've been working on my snatch and it's really coming along!!
Thanks for the interview, Niki and for sharing these awesome photos with us! Best of luck to you and Mat! CrossFit on! :)