Name: Thea Schlendorf

Hometown: New York… Ok, I begrudgingly admit I did most of my growing up in Wyckoff, NJ. Ew, Jersey.

Age: 35

Occupation: Marketer for the wine industry — I work on getting people to buy more wine

CrossFitting Since: December 2014

What’s your favorite WOD or movement?

At the moment, I’ll say toes to bar because it’s a recent acquisition (the new toys are always the most fun, aren’t they?) and I really enjoy swinging from the rig.

And your least favorite?

There was an epically brutal combo of burpees and goblet squats a while back that still haunts me. Neither of those movements is high on my list — burpees especially.

What music do you prefer to WOD out to?

Honestly, once things get going I have very little idea of what is playing. There is generally a lot of counting going on which takes all of my concentration not to screw up.

What’s your CrossFit routine?

5:00am crew practices during college completely cured me of the desire to ever wake up before the sun again, so I am generally a 7:30pm kid. I am routinely early to that class; usually 30 minutes. I really enjoy this because it gives me time to stretch or mobilize, and unfortunately I can’t seem to make time at any other point of the day or week to do these important things. Doing it only just prior to the WOD is perhaps not the best long-term strategy, but it’s something, and I have actually seen improvement in my flexibility by just chipping away at it like this. Never thought that would be the case.

It seems like you’ve checked out a lot of other CF gyms when traveling. Why is it important to you to keep up your WODs on the road? What have you learned from visiting other boxes?

Checking out other CF gyms while traveling has been fun because I feel like it gives another glimpse into what that city is like, what the people are like. I think I’ve enjoyed my experiences at the smaller places better because they invariably feel more personal. More like CFPH, really. A big part of the appeal of CrossFit for me is that it’s not an entirely individual pursuit.

Can you talk a little about your #3000milestoDUs c]’

A friend of mine was moving from NY to LA, and I joined her on a cross-country road trip. Knowing we’d have long hours of driving I was hoping to find excuses to move around and counteract the sitting. Double unders are a movement I struggle with, but a jump rope would be easy to pack. So I thought if I made myself publicly accountable and really focused on this one movement for a set period of time I could conquer it. And I’d get some fun photos to remember the trip by in the process. I definitely got the photos, but unfortunately didn’t quite master the DUs. They are basically my Everest, but eventually I will get them!

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

I was a rower in college. The most translatable bit from that to CrossFit is a masochistic streak. That crew program was just transitioning from club to a varsity sport, so by virtue of sneaking in when they needed bodies and then refusing to quit, I can call myself a former D1 college athlete. I was really too short to be terribly successful at it, unless I wanted to compete as a lightweight. But I love food too much for that. In fact the one race for which I attempted to make (light)weight only worked out thanks to a bout of food poisoning…

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

What I love about CrossFit and CFPH compared to previous fitness regimes or gym experiences is twofold: 1) People really keep doing this because they enjoy it, not just because it’s something they feel like they need to check off on a to-do list and 2) Because the nature of the activity fosters a community feeling, and CFPH in particular does a great job of sharing everyone’s stories and successes. You’re never toiling away in anonymity.

How did you get into CrossFit?

Margaret Lewis brought me into the fold of CFPH. I had been considering trying CrossFit but wanted to be sure to find the right place and the right people. CFPH is not necessarily the closest box to my apartment, but the community more than makes up for some extra time on the bus. She was the key to making that happen and it has surpassed any expectations I might have had!

What advice do you have for people just getting started?

I find myself getting caught up in what’s on the white board as much as anyone, but I’d say don’t get distracted by those numbers, because it’s a Monet; they don’t tell the whole story. When you look closer, you find that everyone’s got their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it was a particularly great workout for one person, but another really struggled with those movements. If you were great at everything immediately it wouldn’t be any fun; it’s the range of challenges that keeps us all engaged and motivated. So focus on yourself and the little things, and it’ll all come together in due time. And also that there will be some slumps, don’t get disheartened by those. It’s all just part of the process, you’ve got to go through some suc(k) to get the success.

Anything else?

I knew I’d like CrossFit and that I’d benefit from the program health- and strength-wise. What I didn’t expect was just how much benefit there would be. I thought I’d never be more fit than when I spent 15 hours a week rowing. But now I feel a bit like I’ve been driving around in a Corolla and someone just made me aware that I could have access to the keys to a Maserati if I’m interested. The body and its capacity to change is a pretty incredible thing.

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