September’s Athletes of the Month: Michael & Mary-Ellen

Congratulations to our September Athletes of the Month: Michael & Mary-Ellen!

mary-ellen and michael

Michael Carnahan

Name:  Michael

Age:  55

Hometown:  St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

How long have you been CrossFitting?  8 months

What is your favorite WOD/Exercise?  My preferred workout is short and intense:  Tabata or Fight Gone Bad style.

What is your least favorite WOD/Exercise?  Long chippers like Filthy Fifty.  I’m not crazy about large volumes of push-ups or pull-ups as they are my weaknesses.

What is your previous workout/athletic background?   I enjoy windsurfing, paddleboarding, volleyball, skiing, tennis, yoga, but nothing very regular.  I’ve tried but never been able to stick it out at a gym (until now). We tried boot camp on the field at CIS which I really enjoyed until they moved inside – it was a lot like CrossFit minus the weightlifting, but for the last couple years my major activity has been limited to weekly beach volleyball.  Needless to say I was constantly injuring myself.

What was your first experience at CrossFit Cayman like?  Nikki was super supportive and made us feel welcome from the start in spite of our lack of fitness.  In our first week, thrusters, push-ups and one-arm dumbbell snatches did my arms in.  I couldn’t lift them for days and couldn’t do more than 2 push-ups for weeks.

What results have you seen since CrossFitting?  I used to dislike running (bad knees) and couldn’t stand push-ups or pull-ups.  The regular work outs and strengthened muscles have changed my feelings completely.  Now I kind of like them all in limited amounts.  Running no longer hurts my knees.  I no longer get injured playing volleyball.  General fitness has improved 100%.

What do you do to get yourself through a tough workout (mental thoughts, tips and tricks, etc.)?  I tell myself I can stop anytime if I want to, but never do.  I also remind myself how great I’ll feel when it’s over.  And it does.  The last rep is so sweet.

What’s your favorite aspect about working out at CrossFit Cayman?  The support and encouragement of the coaches mainly.  I love how Matt or Nikki can point out the one thing I’m doing wrong on a movement which makes a huge difference.  Also that there’s no pressure to exceed your abilities and technique comes first.  I feel like my hour a day at CrossFit means I don’t have to think about how to stay fit.

What advice do you have for someone thinking about joining CrossFit Cayman?  Don’t be intimidated! I used to think CrossFit was for fitness fanatics and that I would never be able to do it.  However, we decided to give it a shot aiming for 3 or 4 times a week. But then, since we were getting up at 5am for those days, we figured it might be just as easy to do 5 days.  Don’t kid yourself – it’s not easy!  But surprisingly, we’ve pretty much stuck with 5 days a week ever since and have become a little bit addicted.  It really is accessible to anyone of any age or fitness level.  And everyone at CrossFit Cayman is patient and friendly with us newcomers.


Mary-Ellen Carnahan

Name:  Mary-Ellen Carnahan


Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

How long have you been CrossFitting?
Michael and I joined CrossFit Cayman in December 2016 and this is the first time either of us have done CrossFit.  We are relative newbies!

What is your favorite WOD/Exercise? I am not sure I can come up with a favorite WOD/Exercise.  One of the things I like most about CrossFit is the variety in workouts. I also like CrossFit because I don’t need to think about what exercises I am going to do – and I know I’ll get great coaching when I forget how to do a particular exercise.  Starting out, I didn’t think I would like the exercises with the barbell, mostly because they intimidated me, but as I have learned proper technique and been coached, I am no longer as intimidated with these exercises and can probably say that the Power Clean is my favorite barbell exercise.

What is your least favorite WOD/Exercise? Push Ups are my nemesis.  I find them very difficult but I have to say because I have kept at them, I have seen improvements so even though I don’t like them, I still get satisfaction in seeing improvements in doing them.

What is your previous workout/athletic background?
Prior to CrossFit, I have dabbled in various types of workouts and sports over the years: yoga, running, Bootcamp, swimming, paddleboarding, skiing, canoeing and occasionally tennis.  I feel as though I am more of a “Jack of all trades, master of none” when it comes to sports and athletics.

What was your first experience at CrossFit Cayman like?
My first week at CrossFit Cayman was challenging but Nikki was very encouraging and supportive and provided excellent guidance as I fumbled my way through the first few workouts. My muscles were sore and tired but it was a satisfying soreness knowing that I had challenged myself.  Near the end of the first week, everything was sore but getting up to work out again seemed to minimize the discomfort – if only to change the muscles groups that were sore from the day before!

What results have you seen since CrossFitting? I feel stronger, fitter and feel as though I stand taller and my clothes seem to fit better J.

What do you do to get yourself through a tough workout (mental thoughts, tips and tricks, etc.)?
Hmm…I think I just get on with it  – I do a lot of counting in my head and just sort of visualize the end number and try to remember that once I am done I’ll be glad I didn’t give up.

What’s your favorite aspect about working out at CrossFit Cayman?  One of my favorite aspects about working out at CrossFit Cayman is how the coaches take a genuine interest in each member and honor where they are at, while at the same time encouraging each one of us to do our best and push a little further. I am also grateful for the coaches’ emphasis of wanting us to be ‘members for life’ thereby taking the time to teach and remind us about the importance of proper technique and scaling workouts appropriately without any judgment. The other thing I like is the variety or workouts, everyday is different and every day is a new challenge.

What advice do you have for someone thinking about joining CrossFit Cayman?
Try it out! I was skeptical and even after the foundations course I was not convinced that CrossFit was going to be for me.  I was intimidated but everyone (Matt, Nikki, the other coaches and members of our class) was so encouraging and friendly we soon became hooked. The coaches at CrossFit Cayman really do respect where you are starting from and will challenge you appropriately.

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