Alissa and Chris Cole – A Family Affair

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

Alissa- I’m turning (gasp) 35 this month.  I’ve been married to Chris for almost 11 years and we have 3 children.  I’m a stay at home mom.  I love photography and traveling anywhere. The coolest place we’ve been is Gozo, a tiny island off of Malta, where we lived for 8 months after having our first child.  We hope to travel further distances when our youngest is a bit older and out of the “kicking the seat in front of you” in flight stage. Chris and I plan on traveling when the kids are grown too, which is a big incentive to stay healthy, strong and fit as we get older.

Chris-  Alissa and I had our first date when I asked her to Junior prom. We now live in Hingham with our three kids (ages 8, 6, and 2). I own a small online marketing company, and we’ve been doing CrossFit for almost a year.

2. Tell us your CrossFit story (where were you before RCFBC and where are you now?)

Alissa- I was involved in team sports throughout my childhood. I wasn’t expecting to continue in college since my school was Division 1, but jumped at the chance to join the crew team when I found out it was the one sport you could walk on without having been recruited.  Ninety percent of the girls who tried out along side me dropped out after day two due to the physical demands of the workouts.  It was the first time I had really pushed my limits physically and discovered just how much of my physical limits were set by mental ones.  I learned so much about myself during those four years.  I loved exceeding my own expectations and feeling strong. Since then I’ve always looked for similarly challenging physical workouts; kickboxing, boot camp, and other group fitness programs.  The ‘RCFBC’ sign caught my attention every time I passed by it, but it took me a while to look into what exactly it stood for.  When I finally found out what CrossFit was and that strength training was a big part of it, I put my marketing degree to good use to convince Chris to try on ramp with me.  CrossFit ended up having everything I was looking for in a fitness program and more. 

Chris- Fitness was never a priority for me. As a teenager, my after school activities were working at Burger King, video games, playing guitar, and being captain of the math team. That stayed with me through college and adulthood, so before CrossFit I had never lifted a barbell, participated in a sport, or even tried out for a team. “Staying fit” to me meant being able to fit in my clothes from season to season…and that didn’t always happen. CrossFit has been a big wakeup call for me, challenging me both physically and mentally. Last year, I asked Alissa if she wanted anything in particular for her birthday, and out of the blue she said she wanted us both to try CrossFit. I resisted because I started having flashbacks to gym class, but I could tell she really wanted us to try it so I went to the free trial. The idea of “functional movements” clicked with me because getting up and down from the floor to play with our kids was starting to become a challenge. At the time, I was rationalizing it to myself that it was just me “getting older,” but deep down I knew that I was too young to be feeling that old.

3. What does being part of RCFBC community mean to you?

Alissa-  I love working out with all of the members here.  It is such a welcoming environment. It is easy to say hi and cheer on whomever happens to be working out next to you. It feels like a team to me without the pressure of performing for anyone but yourself (with the exception of the coaches, who work so diligently to make you better and stronger).  Having a community like this adds a level of fun and motivation to the workouts and challenges.

Chris- The community at RCFBC is amazing. I can remember how nervous I was pulling into the parking lot to do my first WOD by myself, but none of that mattered once we all started moving. The coaches do a great job making sure that new people get the attention they need and having patience for those of us who have been around a while and still need to be reminded of the basics. It’s always great to have people cheer you on as you’re finishing the WOD or hitting a PR. I am also amazed by the caliber of athletes that are at RCFBC. It’s inspiring to learn from and work out right next to people who are on another level from you.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Alissa-  Besides getting Chris to sign up for the year with me, being able to climb the rope and do pull ups are by far my biggest accomplishments. I really don’t like not being able to do something and when I was younger and working out for 2+ hours everyday, I could not do either of these movements.  It is encouraging that age isn’t keeping me from achieving things yet!  I feel like I’ve gotten most of the strength that I’ve lost over the years back and my arms are stronger than they’ve ever been.  

Chris- Honestly, I’m proud every day that I come to RCFBC. As someone who has never done anything athletic before, CrossFit was extremely intimidating to me. If you told me a year ago that I would be waking up at 5:30am to deadlift, press, and do burpees I would have no idea what you were talking about. When I think back to when I first started, I remember on one of the first days of On Ramp, I was told that I should use the 35lb bar because I was struggling to press the 45lb bar. That was the first of many humbling moments for me, and I still think about that day now when I’m doing overhead work with weight on the 45lb bar. I also remember the first time I did a strict pull up. That was something that I just never thought I’d be able to do.

5. What are your challenges and goals going forward?

Alissa- Honestly, just getting to class is my biggest challenge now.  Working around 4 other schedules and having a busy 2 year old makes it hard for me to get in as much as I’d like to.  Coming in 4-5 times a week is my next goal!  After that, it is getting to 10 strict pull ups, getting past 15 double unders and increasing my endurance so I can do the workouts faster.

Chris- If I could wave a magic wand and get better at one thing it would definitely be squats! All the coaches and even some members have helped me to improve my technique, but this is one movement I still struggle with. It’s a key component of so many other movements so I’d really like to be able to squat with proper form. I’d also like to build up the strength to do 10 strict pull-ups and continue working on my endurance to finish the METCON WODs before time runs out.   

6.  How has CrossFit had an impact on your family?

Alissa- One of the best parts about CrossFit is sharing it with Chris.  It is the first time in our lives we have participated in something together outside of our marriage/family.  It’s given us something fun to talk about at the end of the day besides the kids.  It’s also huge having someone encouraging you to go and helping you accept the less than perfect days.  I am proud of him and so thankful for the extra motivation.  It also comes in handy knowing which muscles are sore when I need to keep him in line! CrossFit has even benefited our kids.  We’ve only been a few times so far, but we all love the family WODs on Saturdays!  There’s nothing more fun than playing with the kids while getting a workout.  My two year old (who started walking just a few months ago) dropped and did a burpee the last time I brought him to class!  I hope all of my children develop the same love of physical fitness that I have so they remain healthy throughout their lives.  

Chris- CrossFit has changed my family life tremendously. I have more energy with my kids and can play with them differently than I ever could before. When we went sledding this winter I was able to walk with my six-year-old on my shoulders, uphill, through knee-high snow. I know that would have completely winded me if I tried that a year prior. I’m also able to throw my two year old around like a Wall Ball, which he really likes, and our oldest enjoys coming to the family WOD and the kids classes. It’s really great for me to see our kids getting exposure to fitness at such an early age. 

The Cole family is a great addition to our RCFBC family.  Chris and Alissa have very inspiring stories and come from different backgrounds.  Planning to make fitness not only a priority in their own lives, but also their kids sounds like a recipe for success to me!  We look forward to seeing the whole Cole Crew getting stronger and reaching their goals!

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