One of the reasons I blog is because of the people I meet! Even though these "meets" often happen virtually (via email or Twitter), I've made instant connections with some really awesome and inspiring people. And, I'm a people person! I love getting to know people and especially their stories -- what's your story? Are you a new mom, newlywed, or bride? Are you a wedding planner or photographer? Oh you CrossFit!!! Haha. Just kidding! (Actually, that is usually my reaction! :)) But no matter who you are, if you're on a fitness journey, it's likely I'll be inspired by your story, and such was the case with Corrie Childers, who photographed the CrossFit engagement session I shared yesterday. Corrie's known for being behind a camera, capturing weddings, engagements, and birth stories, but guess what I found out? You might also find her behind a barbell!
I'm excited to share a look into Corrie's life as a photographer and CrossFitter as part of my Industry Fit series (sharing the untold fitness stories of wedding industry professionals). Thanks for these awesome photos Corrie, and CrossFit on!
How long have you been a professional photographer?
Sitting here thinking about it, I realized I have been shooting for other people for about 4 years now. Whoa! Time flies when you’re having fun!
When did you start shooting engagements?
About a year ago. The first few years I was shooting, I shot anything and everything I could. Families, newborns, engagements, kids, etc. I knew I loved photographing people, but had very little direction other than that. Just last year I really fell in love with engagement sessions and decided to narrow my focus to engagement photography and birth photography! I have a very photojournalistic style and something about those two types of shoots just work beautifully with photojournalism. It’s been amazing and so de-stressing to have a clear direction.
What's your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is definitely when I show somebody’s photo gallery to them and see the love and joy in their eyes. I’m a self-confessed hardcore people pleaser and literally nothing makes me happier than making someone else happy! I have always thought it is so amazing and rewarding to be able to give a gift such as photographs, which are basically beautiful memories. That might sound a little cheesy, but it’s truly how I see it! I feel extraordinarily blessed to have been given the abilities to make this my job.
What's the hardest part?
The hardest part for me is balance in my business vs. personal life. My husband works full time and travels and I’m a stay-at-home mom with a 7 year old and 2 year old, both homeschooled. In years past, I have sort of swung back and forth between wanting to go full-force into building my business and then wanting to have a ton of time to spend at home with my family. I kept finding myself either with a ton of photoshoots but no time with my family or a ton of time with my family but no photoshoots, and neither way is ideal for me! Both scenarios drive me crazy. So I have to remember to only take a certain number of shoots per month and only spend certain times of day editing or working on marketing, and really stick to that.
You mentioned you do Crossfit - when did you start?
My husband and I started at the beginning of June 2013.
What box do you belong to?
Crossfit Northwest Arkansas - we love it there!!
Who introduced you?
Honestly, this one girl from my pre-teen years that I only had contact with through Facebook (Hi Brittney!!). I sat on my butt in front of my computer screen and watched her amazing journey unfold over the past several years (and yes, sometimes got irritated at how often she talked about Crossfit… something I’m probably guilty of now! Ha!) and always thought “good for her, but I can’t do that.” Then after I had my daughter in 2011 and developed this crazy miserable grain allergy out of nowhere, I sort of unofficially started the Paleo diet when I realized how much easier it was to find grain-free recipes when I searched with the term Paleo. Since Paleo and Crossfit kind of go hand-in-hand, I started seeing Crossfit stuff in front of my face all the time in the groups I joined and having the constant reminders kind of ate away at my determination that I couldn’t do it. One thing led to another and after nearly two years of resisting, we finally went for it and never looked back!
What did you think after your first class?
I thought it was crazy! I had hopes that we would be able to stick with it, but I wasn’t sure. My legs were so sore I couldn’t even get up and down on the toilet without hanging onto something! But our coach was incredibly awesome (Hi Josh!!) and had just the right balance between listening to how we were doing and being conscious of it vs. encouraging us to push ourselves farther than we thought we could go. And he never once made me feel stupid or embarrassed for not being able to do something (and trust me, there were a lot of those moments)!
Did it help you in the way you thought it would?
Oh yes, and so much more. I went into it wanting to lose weight, and I have lost weight and inches (went from a size 12 to a size 8) and gained muscle. But another, totally unexpected way it has helped me is in my mental/emotional health. Leaving my comfort zone in such a big way and stepping out in total faith not knowing what to expect has done truly amazing things for my life. It’s like a switch has been flipped in my mind. I have gained confidence and lost most of the shyness and insecurities that have held me back in life. Even my business has been directly effected and I have seen huge growth since realizing that I really CAN come out of my shell and go out into the world and make contacts and meet people and even pick myself back up when I fall.
Do you have an athletic background?
No. Not even remotely. In fact, when I wanted to be thin in junior high and high school I went down the path of an eating disorder rather than exercise.
What do you like about Crossfit?
I like just about everything about it. This is the first fitness program I have ever stuck with in my entire life (and I tried many in the years I’ve been married) and that says something huge to me. I really love the way Crossfit is set up to have classes. Joining a conventional gym and telling myself I’d go every morning at 6:30am was a HUGE fail for me because I had no contacts at the gym, no real direction to go in my workout, no workout partner, no coach, nobody texting you saying “missed you today!” when you don’t show up. Same with trying TapOut or Zumba in my living room by myself. I love being a part of the community and I think that their sense of community is one of the biggest reasons why CF is so successful! And good for them!
What's your favorite movement? WOD? Lift? (I love kettlebell swings and clean & jerks!)
I like goblet squats a lot because I struggle with squatting in any other way (I have weird spine/pelvis tilting), but for some reason can goblet squat pretty well! I also love Clean & Jerks, especially split jerks. I’m not that good at them, but there’s something about them that makes me feel so strong!
How often do you go?
I go 3x/week when I can. Every once in a while our babysitter won’t be able to make it here for some reason or the weather will be bad, but I do get pretty antsy when I don’t make it 3x/week so all effort is made to get there!
You mentioned your husband does Crossfit too. Do you enjoy sharing the sport with him?
YES. We love going to the same class and talking about the WOD and comparing our battle wounds afterward. Ha! We married in 2005 and for many years we had very little in common other than our children. He’d talk to me about his work and I’d talk to him about mine, but we had nothing to really collaborate on. That’s just how it goes sometimes! But having this in common has been great for our marriage and, of course, I love that he’s hotter now than ever ;)
Do you have any Crossfit-related goals for the next year?
I have small goals. I will be happy to see each of my lifts go up in weight, even if it’s just a few pounds. I can be too hard on myself and end up getting frustrated and performing badly, so I’ve found that small goals work for me! I would also like to improve my breathing. I feel like I can do all the conditioning in the world and it still never really gets better! So searching for what might be going on and how to improve it is pretty important to me.
How do you juggle Crossfit and your photography business?
The one and only way we have been able to make it work is by finding an early-morning babysitter (our box doesn’t have child care) and going to the 6:30am class before we do anything else for the day. My husband and I both know that if we put it off until the later part of the day, we’ll be stressed/tired/cranky/rushed/
Do any of your clients know you do Crossfit?
Yes! Some of my clients are members at my box, in fact. But a lot of times in conversation with other clients it just comes up and most people want to hear more about it. And of course I’m happy to oblige them! It’s kind of funny the misconceptions that people have about CF.
Has Crossfit changed the way you view/feel about your body?
Oh yes. I have always struggled with body image and I mentioned already that I struggled with an eating disorder years ago. Crossfit has a lot of great bodies among it’s ranks, but I have always found that really Crossfit’s emphasis is on mental strength and endurance. It’s about working hard and not quitting, even when you want to. And I don’t quit!! That amazing realization has taught me that even though I might not ever deadlift 300 pounds or have that “Perfect 10” bikini bod, my mind and body has strength and beauty and can do things that I never thought it could. I don’t have to have a perfect body or lift a zillion pounds to be amazing.
Finally, do you have any advice for other wannabe-active professional photographers?
I think what it comes down to for anybody, not just photographers, is making your health/fitness a priority. I didn’t make it a priority for years, and I suffered for it. What is holding you back? Is it childcare? Find a sitter!! Is it shyness? Find a personal trainer and learn how to workout with just that one person, and not in a class setting (though I bet once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to be around others while you’re working out). Is it a lack of time? Go to bed a little earlier and get up at the crack of dawn to get your workout in. Whatever it takes, just do it! One of my favorite quotes pertaining to fitness is this: “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” Wow, right? It might seem intimidating or overwhelming right now to find a sitter or add to your busy schedule or walk into a gym where you think everyone is more fit than you, but nothing will ever change if you don’t go for it. It will get easier. You’ll get into the swing of it and in a few months, you’ll be thinking of how far you’ve come and how glad you are that you took the leap.
Do you recommend Crossfit to others?
Um, that would be a resounding YES! I recommend it to literally everybody that doesn’t have a fitness/exercise system that works for them. It’s hard not to suggest something that has made such a huge difference in my life. I haven’t made any converts yet, but hopefully soon (I’m looking at you, mom)!!
Thank you for answering my questions, Corrie and sharing your CrossFit journey with Fit for a Bride readers! Good luck getting your mom to CrossFIt (I'm working on my dad)! And with all your goals!
Are you a photographer who does CrossFit?
Have you had a similar experience with CrossFit boosting your confidence, professionally, personally and in your marriage? Share your story with me!