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Meet Susanne Brothers

How old are you?

I just turned 46 on April 6th.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a licensed Realtor in the state Oregon. I have two wonderful children ages 9 and 12, and a supportive and loving husband who is the Head Brewer at a local brewery. We moved out here from NC about four years ago. I lost half of my left arm in a car accident in 2005. It changed the trajectory of my life, but I came out ahead and stronger.

Why now? Why did you decide to start?

I needed to take control of my health. My A1C (glucose) levels were creeping up and I wasn’t happy with my weight.

How did you decided to choose CrossFit?

With the encouragement of my husband and with Coach Barb at CFW (CrossFit Wilsonville) who coached my kids at CrossFit, I decided to give it a try. Coach Barb worked beside me until I jumped into the group classes. I can’t thank her enough.

Your coaches have said you are always the hardest working person in class. Where does your motivation come from?

I definitely worked hard when I started CF. My main motivator was the desire to fit right in with everyone else...1 hand and all. I knew it would take a lot of work to adapt and modify, and so I was determined to make it happen. I’m so glad I stuck with it.

Do you feel you are the hardest worker?

I’m definitely not the hardest worker there, but I like to work hard based on my level of challenges. I view it as challenging myself, not everyone else. We all have different goals when we walk into the Box.

Do you remember when you first started? Share how you felt in the beginning.

I was like a deer in headlights! There was so much foreign lingo and movements to learn. I was overwhelmed. I asked a ton of questions, and I required a lot of assistance until it became engrained and more familiar.

What does working out mean to you?

It means everything! After my accident in 2005, I was the perfect candidate for anxiety and depression. Certain situations unbeknownst to me would trigger these moments of sadness and hopelessness. I’m proud to say that I haven’t had an episode since I’ve started CrossFit. CrossFit is my kryptonite.

You have two small children. How do you prioritize your fitness?

Once I send them off to school, I head straight to CrossFit. I try to get in 3-5 days each week. I’ve also had to learn to balance my workouts with my job. I’ve learned not to beat myself up if I can’t make it to a class.

What is your most vivid memory during your fitness journey?

My most vivid memories are the ones where I get to witness the encouragement of the fellow athletes and coaches at the CFW. The sense of community is very evident there. I think you have to experience it in order to appreciate it.

In your own words, what’s an athlete?

I never thought of myself as a athlete, but merely someone who workouts. However, walking through the door at CrossFit and doing the work, I feel validates me or anyone else. An athlete doesn’t have to compete in competitions, or look a certain way. We come in all shapes and sizes.

Being an adaptive athlete, do the other athletes treat you differently?

Initially, many offered to help me out in every way they could. In fact, I remember shouting at an athlete who I thought was putting my barbell and weights away during my workout, but he was merely trying to tighten up my weights. I was overly sensitive to anyone who thought they had to help me. I got over that really quickly, though. I don’t shy away from asking for help. There are just some things I need help with.

What have you learned about yourself?

That I may be unique, but I’m not alone. I still have the same worries in life like everyone else. And, we can’t possibly know what the person next to us is dealing with. Because they have both hands doesn’t mean they grieve or worry any less than I do.

Self-talk is huge for every athlete. When you feel yourself struggling....what is the self-talk you use to get through it?

I don’t allow myself to feel sorry for my situation. It actually motivates me to challenge myself. There are days I just don’t want to do the WOD, especially if there’s running involved. I’m learning to go through the motions and always feel so glad I did.

Do you view yourself an an inspiration to others?

If I can get you to walk through the door of any gym because you had hesitation of the unknown, then I would feel like I’ve inspired you. We are surrounded by inspiration. Have you seen wheelchair bound athlete lifting themselves up on the rings with their wheelchair in tow? It’s quite amazing and lends itself to the “no excuse” attitude, and it is so powerful.

When someone looks at you working out, what do you want them to see?

Just someone who wants to be there and who embraces her challenges.

Has working out given you more confidence?

Without a doubt and in so many ways! My job performance and personal life are that much better because of the confidence and the community CFW has awarded me.

If you could give one person reading this some advice, what would it be?

Surround yourself with a community of people who support, encourage and laugh with you. The people I workout with at CrossFit Wilsonville are family. We hold each other accountable and help one another grow. Don’t give up after a month or two. It’ll take dedication and time to work through the kinks. Lastly, don’t be afraid or ashamed to modify movements. It’s a progression and no one has time for injuries.

Not sure where the following quote came from, but it works for all of us who talk themselves out of getting healthier and throwing up roadblocks.

“Let your ability be stronger than your disability.”

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