Athlete for the month of April is Julie Browne Kelleher. This is her story.

Since Perry told me I was selected as athlete of the month for April, I have been a little apprehensive about what to write as I’m not comfortable talking about myself, but here is my story.

Growing up I was not at all athletic.  As a teenager I managed to stay thin without exercise primarily with unhealthy eating habits.  In college, I exercised as needed to counteract the effects of a college lifestyle, but it consisted mostly of walking for miles and sometimes going to the athletic center and using the weight machines.

After college, I began a career in public accounting at a firm that highly valued long work hours.  My focus on my career left me with little free time for anything else, and my health and fitness was not a priority.  Adding three children to the equation did not improve the situation.  When my youngest child was two I lost over 45 pounds and started exercising on a regular basis again.  I tried various exercise programs that I could do at home and work around my commitments, but never really enjoyed them-it was more like a chore.  I thought I was in pretty good shape but was looking for something more interesting.

A good friend mentioned that her trainer Dino had just opened a gym at the Auburn Sportsplex a couple miles from my house and recommended I try a class for free.  I had never heard of CrossFit, never picked up a barbell or kettlebell, and really had no idea what I was getting into.  I can’t remember exactly what my first workout was back in February 2011, but I remember it involved box jumps and power cleans, and despite the fact that I had no experience with any of the equipment or movements and the workout was so much harder than anything I had done before (and I may have found Perry a little intimidating), I thought this could be something that could work for me and joined, and have been with them ever since.

One of the best things about CrossFit, especially when you are new to it, is the ability to scale just about every workout or movement to adapt to your fitness level or physical limitations, so that everyone in the class can challenge themselves even if they are not able to perform all the movements or handle the prescribed weight.  Every class at Crossfit AC has people of different ages, fitness levels and with different strengths and weaknesses, and the atmosphere is supportive and fun.  Crossfit AC has a strong sense of community, with encouragement and support coming from both the coaches and other members.

On a personal level, I am proud and amazed by how far I have come in my fitness journey with Crossfit AC.  For example, I had never seriously attempted pullups when I started.  Although it took a couple of years to get my first unassisted pullup and I’m still not great at them, I managed to get through 45 chest to bar pullups in the last Open workout this year.  I had no prior experience lifting weights in any form (beyond maybe a 10 lb dumbbell), but have been able to work up PRs that I would not have thought possible when I started in 2011.  Although I still have a lot to work on, the coaches at Crossfit AC have helped me to become stronger and more fit in my 40’s than I ever was in my 20’s.  Thanks Perry, Dino and Nguyen-I’m looking forward continued progress in the coming years with Crossfit

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