By Jennifer Wolfrom
Strength training was never a priority for me. I’ve been long-distance running and mountain biking since college and I always thought that was good enough to keep me in shape. Over the years, I haven’t seen much improvement in my performance and have been feeling the impact of my activities on my body. Taking a break never seemed like an option for me because I rely heavily on exercise for mental sanity as well as physical health – I’m one of those lucky individuals who can gain 10 pounds in just a few blissful activity-free days.
I first started dabbling in Crystal’s classes last fall. She was running the Ski Fitness program at the Rec Center and I would drop in when my schedule allowed. While I initially went for the social aspect, I liked the structure of Crystal’s classes – a mixture of strength training with bursts of cardio and endurance sets. My first day of the season sold me on Crystal’s training methodology. I felt stronger on skis than I ever had.
When I started, I was very new to strength training. I had never picked up a barbell, never done a box jump, and my experience using kettle bells was minimal. It was nerve-racking walking into a gym where I had no idea what any of the “moves” were, how much weight to use, or how hard I could push my body. The small class settings made it easy for me to learn – the trainers make it a priority to work with new members to break down each move in a set and advise you on how much weight to use. Thanks to constant encouragement, I grew more confident in class and saw an almost immediate increase in my strength. I began to see results not only in the way that I looked (leaner and more defined), but also in my performance and how my body felt on longer runs.
In March, I decided to train for an XTerra Trail Triathlon that was in June and I signed up for Crystal’s Bike Fitness class to help get me in shape. Going to Wright Training kept me on track physically and mentally. Each class, Crystal inquired about my training, educated me about which exercises were helping me prepare, and continuously motivated me with words of encouragement and belief in my abilities. On the day of the triathlon, in the middle of a panic attack in the first minute of the race during the swim leg, it was the mental strength and confidence that I had gained at Wright Training that kept me going, when all I wanted to do was swim to shore and give up. 1200 meters of swimming, 15 miles of mountain biking, and 5.5 miles of trail running later, I had completed my first triathlon in about three hours, finishing sixth in my gender and age group.
By August I was ready for my next challenge: the Teton pASS Kicker – a 25 mile mountain bike up Phillip’s Ridge and down Phillip’s Canyon on Saturday and a half-marathon (13.2 miles) also on the Phillip’s Ridge trail on Sunday. It sounded brutal, and I couldn’t quite commit until I casually mentioned the event to Crystal who immediately said, “You’re so strong – you have to do it!” You see, Crystal is like your high school soccer coach that you don’t want to let down, so after that conversation I found myself signing up for the dual pASS Kicker event. Training and competing in a multi-day event required, once again, a mental toughness that I didn’t have before working with Crystal. Pedaling my bike uphill as fast as I could, and then doing it all again on foot the next day required me to have faith in my training, confidence in my physical strength and endurance, and the attitude that I could get it done. Pre-Wright Training, I would have automatically mentally placed myself in the middle of the pack before the race even started and would have performed and finished as such. Post-Wright Training, I envisioned myself in the front, pushed myself to get there, and that is where I finished – First place in the Women’s 25-mile mountain bike race and second place in the women’s half marathon the next day.