As a growing CrossFit Box, we are all getting to know each other and building that tight community we always envisioned.  Each month, we profile a CrossFit Grail Athlete that is interesting and inspirational. A person that demonstrates a positive attitude, shows up every day and puts their heart and soul into their workout, never gives up, cheers everyone on and is passionate about the CrossFit Grail Community. And someone who is pretty cool! Although we think everyone has these qualities, we can only pick one.

March 2018 Athlete of the Month: Lauren Pietrek

Why we chose Lauren:
We instantly liked Lauren and her Mom, Nanette when they came in and interviewed for our 6-Week Kick Start Challenge. We quickly saw how dedicated Lauren was by showing up consistently at the 6:30am class, cheering on her Mom and everyone else. She is always upbeat and positive and is willing to take on any new challenge in the gym. January started with the 6-Week Nutrition Quest Challenge and Lauren went all in. Not just for herself, but also helping, pushing, and supporting her Mom and everyone else during the challenge – losing 10# of body fat along way and placing 5th on the leaderboard!

When it came time for the CrossFit Open 18.1, toes-to-bar was on the menu. Lauren had never done toes-to-bar but was challenged to try one. Since she tried and succeeded with one, she was coached and encouraged to tackle the workout Rx, instead of scaled – which is a big deal in CrossFit! Lauren proceeded to get a total of 9 toes-to-bar during the workout and although her number of reps seemed low, she actually placed higher than anyone doing a scaled workout. It took her a long time, but she never gave up – blistered hands and all! It is that grit, determination and drive to never give up – all with a smile – that makes Lauren an inspiration to everyone around her!

Check out Lauren’s video interview here.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am the middle child (if you can’t already tell) with one older sister (and brother-in-law) and one younger brother (and sister-in-law)… I live with my forever roommates (my Mom and Dad) right now and depending on who you ask, we have a lot of fun. 😉 We bopped around all over the Midwest growing up because of my Dad’s job at UPS. My path goes from Minnesota -> Iowa -> Kansas -> Colorado -> Illinois -> Minnesota -> Iceland -> Minnesota -> Illinois -> Michigan -> Utah -> Colorado -> ???

I completed my undergrad at University of Minnesota (with a year at University of Iceland) in Sociology and my graduate work at North Central College in Illinois in Professional Leadership. I worked in collegiate athletics at Minnesota, North Central, Michigan, and Utah State before I started my job at Girls on the Run of the Rockies… which I love. My boyfriend, Jackson (who lives in Michigan), just applied to graduate schools for Speech Pathology so ideally, we will close the distance when he finds out his fate with school.

How long have you been doing CrossFit and what got you started?
I started CrossFit at the end of July 2017. My mom and I did the 6-Week Challenge together because we were both looking for something to really see change in ourselves but also looking for a community.

What did you do for your fitness before CrossFit?
For the first 25 years of my life, I was pretty sedentary. I have little to no hand-eye coordination, so sports were never my thing. But being around college athletes all the time and eventually dating a total work out freak, made me warm up to the idea of fitness… and there was that time I cried at the doctor’s office because of the scale…. Anyway, I did some Tabata workouts that Jackson wrote for me in the park after work and some group fitness classes while living in Utah and eventually lost nearly 30lbs on my own. Then when I moved home in April 2016, I started running with a goal of running the Big Ten 10K.

What do you like most about CrossFit?
I like how badass I feel. I was so intimidated by weights before and now I feel so much more comfortable around them. I also love the whiteboard. I don’t think of myself as very competitive, but it really motivates me to do my best when I “report” to the whiteboard.

How has doing CrossFit changed your life outside of the Box?
CrossFit has become a part of my routine, especially after the 6-Week Challenge. I plan things around working out instead of the other way around and I actually look forward to the gym (most days) because it starts my day off right. When I am out to eat or out with my friends, I automatically make smarter decisions because I am thinking about how that slice of pizza is going to make me feel. I never was able to “listen to my body” before and CrossFit has helped me put sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise all into one harmonious balance… which I used to think was nonsense because I valued cheese fries over feeling good.

What motivates you to keep WOD-ing?
Nanette Pietrek! She is 52 and kicks my ass on the regular at our 6:30am workouts. It is so nice to share this experience with her and motivate each other along the way. Also, once you’re really in a rhythm and feeling good about your body and how you’re performing, it is hard to stop!

What are your 3 favorite CrossFit movements?
Well I love an EMOM, so any workout that is set up that way is my favorite. But, Rope Climbs (just a few at a time because these are so dang hard), Russian KB Swings, and Goblet Squats are probably some of my favorites… with a RUN in there somewhere, too. 😛

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Graduating college! I am so proud of my diplomas because I worked really hard to get them and I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today without them… even when my job sometimes requires me to do silly things like makes tutus and ring cowbells and be covered in glitter.

This month: Give it my all in my first CrossFit Open
This year: Run a race a month and continue working on my nutrition to make this my healthiest year yet. It would be cool to get double-unders and pull-ups! Also, ending the limbo of long distance is a goal for me and Jackson. *crossing fingers he gets into grad school*
This lifetime: I love my job at Girls on the Run because I get to help girls know and activate their limitless potential. I want to be able to continue that sentiment throughout my life in different capacities whether that is through work, as a partner, as a parent (if that’s in the cards for me), as a daughter, friend, etc. It feels good to help others feel great and it starts by living by example!