Hi, I am Caren Hunter. I am a coach here at Tradewinds Health and Fitness, and I absolutely love that. It’s my part time job. In my rest of my life, I have four kids. I homeschool one of them. And certainly for this upcoming pandemic coronavirus homeschool situation, I’m going to be running air traffic control, I feel like, with my wall calendar. I am married to Drew for 20 years and in our other rest of our time, we really like cooking. I like learning about food. I really care about nutrition. If I go to the beach or I can hike the mountain, I’m going to maybe do that in any spare time that I have, or even if it’s not spare time I’m going to prioritize that time. What I loved about my fitness journey is that I feel I can’t do those things and that anything that I’m up for trying, whether that’d be a headstand on a paddleboard, that my body’s going to be like, “I’ll go with you at least for once.” And that’s been really encouraging to me at 43.
How did I start my fitness journey? In high school, I did not do any fitness at all until my senior year of high school. When one of my good friends asked if we wanted to try out for the swim team. And so we did. And then I swam in the same lane with a bunch of sixth graders because that was my speed. And, I always viewed myself as not fit and I struggled with that. I wished that I could figure out how to crack that fitness nut. My brother just seemed so naturally athletic, and I would try to figure out with a three mile loop that was pretty easy from my house. And I just wanted to be able to run the three miles. I just never could. And try it and just try it and not have a go.
My freshman year of college then, I walked down to Boston University’s campus, and I’m 5’11 and I met the freshmen rowing coach. And she said, “You should try out for rowing.” And, the first week of tryouts, one of the things that we had to do was a timed three-mile-run. And it was just one of those walls that I was up against. I was like, “I can’t do this.” And then I did, but I had no idea how or why. It just was one of those things you just did. And because you were with a bunch of other people, you just did. And then through the rest of my life, I rode for four years, but I don’t feel like I learned much about movement or fitness or about why things work, you just did because you had a coach who told you to keep doing it.
Before we moved back here to Massachusetts, which was in 2015, I had been running. I was training for a half marathon and I fell down the stairs and hurt my back. And I pretty much thought that fitness was over at that point. And then Drew had been doing CrossFit and we stumbled into, at that point, what was it, CrossFit? [inaudible 00:03:08] Was that what was it called? I don’t even know. But there was something there about the teaching of movement that was really helpful. And understanding that movement could be broken down into a bunch of different composite parts and that you really could… You could Learn them. And that anybody can learn them. And that was really exciting for me to realize that this thing that’s felt like a mystery forever was something you could break down into pieces and then that anybody could learn it.
What struggles did I face with starting a new fitness journey? I think some of the struggles that I faced were… A lot of it’s all the past failures. I feel I struggled with weight after pregnancy or just getting injured and not being able to move the way I wanted it to or feeling so sore after trying something. So, I feel I was more up against a bunch of demons in my head than I wasn’t against anything else. And so, it was lots of that, “I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can.” You read a workout the night before and it names a bunch of movements that feel super intimidating and I thought there’s no way.
And, what I loved about being a part of Tradewinds is just that encountering coaches who make it possible and have over the course of time have helped me to believe that whatever we name, that we’ll be able to find a way to do it. And we’ll be able to get at the stimulus. We only get at the movement and that eventually, if I really wanted all the movements that I’d be able to break down and get the strength that I would need to be able to do that. But it really fuels the fitness of the rest of my life. And so, that’s the part I love the most. It’s really like the hour that I spent here, it means that I can go attack the rest of my life, whether that’d be like the physical components or the mental components or the emotional components, that those all helped me to be the best version of myself.
What are some of the physical and mental aspects outside of the gym that this helps me tackle? I didn’t know anything about nutrition ahead of time or figuring out what does food look like? And so, understanding that I would want to fuel my body so that I would be able to have the performance in life that I want. And again, not super detailed about a lot of those things, but I want to feel good when I finish dinner. I guess I don’t like hurting, and the same rings true after workouts. If, I learn how to take care of myself, soreness is one thing, being injured as a different thing. And so, learning about those differences has been really helpful.
Feel the breakdown tasks. So, to look at something that feels like it’s big and impossible. How am I going to homeschool my kids this fall? And being able to say, “Okay, there’s this many minutes and this many hours, and here’s the tasks and here’s how you break it down into these small enough bites, so that I can accomplish the things that I need to. There’s also something about that mental place that taking three breaths and knowing that the club ticks down. And then you’re just going to start. And I feel, I use that skill for myself and for my kids that we say, “We’re going to start at eight o’clock and then it’s eight o’clock, and then we go. But there’s just something really helpful about deciding, “This is when we go.” And that’s been a skill that’s felt really transferable.
What are some physical skills that I never thought I’d be able to accomplish that I should accomplish now? The biggest one for me is actually being able to do pull-ups. When I was in college, I was on the rowing team. It was one of those skills that… It got thrown out there. It was part training sometimes. I could never do it. I can remember being in middle school for the presidential fitness tests. And that was part of the things that… It was named.
You should do a pull-up or girls could do a bent arm hang. And now I’d do a four second bent arm hang and fall down. And, I just remember walking in here and looking [Indi 00:07:07] in the eye and saying, “I want to be able to do a pull-up”, and having him say, “Okay, great. So, here’s how we’re going to break this down into a series of different tasks.” And so then, just… I don’t know. A month before my 40th birthday, I was able to do a pull-up and now I need workouts that they’re in. I can do pull-ups. And that just every time it feels like a small miracle. Pull-ups feel like flying.
What made me want to become a coach at Tradewinds? I actually think becoming a coach at Tradewinds was really a difficult emotional and mental hurdle. To go from thinking of myself as not an athlete and not feeling this was something that came naturally to me to deciding that I actually… That, that journey that I’ve gone on of going from not an athlete to being able to view myself as an athlete, was one that I could walk other people through. And so being able to say, I can look at somebody else in the eye and see all of their self doubt. And feel all those emotions that they have that go with “I can’t do this.” And looking around the room and comparing yourself physically to people and emotionally to other people and feeling that, that just disqualified you. And to realize that I’m not disqualified by the things that I’m capable of or not capable of in this moment.
But that journey was something that I’ve… I’ve walked that road. And so, that qualified me to be a coach, was to be able to walk that road with somebody else. And I absolutely love that. That is so fun to be able to sit with somebody else and say, “I believe, I see this in you, even if you don’t see this in yourself yet.” And so, that’s why I love getting coached here and treatments. If there’s that little part of yourself that’s always looked at other people doing physical things, and that “I want do that. I wish I could do that.” The one thing I would say to you, It’ll be like, “Come in the door, give us a chance, set yourself up for six weeks, eight weeks. And we’re going to help you find an inner athlete that you didn’t know was there. Or maybe you knew it was there, but somebody who’s just needed a lot of encouragement. And we want to come alongside you and encourage you to make friends with that athlete.”
I think the thing that I’m most grateful for on this journey is the people I’ve gotten to walk with and the different characters I’ve gotten to meet here and the different people I’ve gotten to work with. It’s the thing that keeps me coming back. I recognize it myself at this point that I can do fitness in my driveway. But I would much rather prefer to do fitness with you because it’s so much more fun when we achieve things together. And I love the different conversations and the things that we laugh about as well as watching athletes accomplish things that they never thought they could before. And so, just keep coming with us. That’s what I would say. Thanks for listening to my story. And I hope that my story encourages you to listen to that little athlete inside yourself and come out and try it with us.
Coach Andy is an Owner and Head Coach at Tradewinds. He grew up in traditional martial arts and uses that rigor and discipline in his CrossFit training. The more technical the movement, the better, with his specialty being the olympic lifts, especially the snatch.