Name: Francine Stephens
Hometown: Great Neck, NY
Age: 45
Occupation: Restaurant Owner
CrossFitting Since: October 2014

What’s your favorite WOD or movement?

Cindy and Fran, but I’ve been obsessed with getting a solid (i.e. staying up there for a hearty amount of time) freestanding handstand for the better part of a year now.

And your least favorite?

Double unders.

What’s your WOD music of choice?

My musical range is pretty narrow and definitely outside the realm of what is played, so unless it’s super angry and aggressive music, I defer to the crowd.

What’s your CrossFit routine?

I am a morning workout person; I either take the 7:30 class or the noon class. I’m always up between 5:30 and 6:00, so I have time to have tea, make my kids lunch and see them before they go to school. Regardless of which class I take, I always arrive early to warm up and work on movements that I’m trying to improve upon. I have to arrive at least 15-20 minutes prior to class, otherwise I feel like I’m late. Half hour early is ideal for me though. If it’s a crazy hectic day for me, I still need to get in a few handstands before class to feel like I am progressing.

Is CrossFit your main way of being active or do you combine it with other forms of exercise?

I have been taking private movement classes at CFPH with John Kasten, where we focus on bodyweight strength training. This work has steered me away from CrossFit a bit, although I’m still taking classes at least twice a week (just enough to keep me humble around the barbell). I have just achieved a banded muscle-up and am working hard towards an unassisted one!

You run multiple businesses and have a family — how has CrossFit affected your work-life balance?

I am a highly organized person; my life is super regimented between my work and my family, there really isn’t time for much else. That said, I have prioritized my fitness since I started CrossFit in a way I never had before, so now I really don’t have time for anything else. And I’m sure everyone has seen my kids hang around the box while I’m taking class — which, by the way, has been amazing, as both my kids have been taking CrossFit Kids for over a year now, and if you ask my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, her answer is “a CrossFit gamer”!

What’s your fitness background? What were you doing before CrossFit?

I swam for many years and spent a couple of years doing workout videos like P90X, T25, which got me a bit informed on high intensity workouts. Nothing, though, prepared me for CrossFit.

How would you describe CrossFit Prospect Heights — what has your experience here been like?

I have never belonged to a gym and never had coaches before. Maillard, James, John Kasten — they are true teachers, ready to share and give of themselves in ways that I can only compare to the most noble of the teaching profession. Each of them has given to me in ways that go beyond CrossFit; Maillard is always at the ready with a life lesson, James will always take his time to massage my aching muscles with acumen, and John and I have shared in a mutual path towards achieving our individual goals through our training time. I also want to say that CFPH is a community of good people, in a world where this is increasingly disappearing. All of my peers at CrossFit inspire me to work harder, be better.

How would you compare CFPH to prior gyms?

I’ve no direct comparison, but any box is only as good as its coaches. I’ve stumbled upon greatness and I don’t take it lightly.

How did you get into CrossFit? What did you think of CrossFit before? And now?

My husband and I did the Elements class together; he had a friend who was doing CF in San Francisco and recommended it. I didn’t know much about it at all; only at the very beginning, when all of my muscles tore and I couldn’t straighten my arms, for example, did I know what I was in for. And now? CrossFit has changed my life, truly, in a few key ways, but I will highlight one here: I have spent the better part of my adult life being unhappy with my body and obsessed with being skinny. I equated beauty with skinniness. Sometime in my first year of doing CrossFit, this changed; I now equate physical beauty with being strong. For real. Difficult to describe a mental preoccupation of 20+ years being truly, truly gone. It’s been very profound.

What advice do you have for people just getting started?

CrossFit is a commitment, so make sure you are at a point in your life you are ready to meet the challenge. True change takes work.

Anything else?

Here’s my plug for the amazing movement coach John Kasten — anyone who has the opportunity to work with him should; he has so much to teach someone who is open to learning. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been through our work. And I want to publicly thank Maillard and James. I think the world of you both.

Feeling inspired by Franny? Learn more about what’s going on at CrossFit Prospect Heights on our Facebook page.

1 Comment

  1. heidi on November 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    congratulations to Francine. I am not one bit surprised she was chosen as athlete of the month. Fran is good at everything she does because she gives it her all. She is a true inspiration!