Ashley Ward

Before we introduce this weeks Athlete of the Week, let’s check out these three words we hear about a lot:

Mechanics. Consistency. Intensity.

Yes, this is a lifelong process, but usually it is pretty smooth with the occasional set-back or bump in the road. Usually, we are improving enough that it makes every day seem exciting and new… which makes showing up to class a pretty easy decision. Sometimes, however, this turns into a pretty long and complex process. Sometimes, the results don’t just happen and the progress isn’t as evident. Sometimes, we hit a plateau or just take longer than we’d like to meet that next goal.

Sometimes, it even takes a few experts and a lot of waiting.

At that point, it is easy to look around at what the people next to you are doing and feel discouraged, and without the right coaching, community, and encouragement, it may even be easy to give up. It is easy to make excuses or say that “it isn’t working”.

This week we wanted to recognize someone who, in the face of a whole lot of adversity, has NOT given up and has not made excuses. She waited weeks and months to even grab a barbell, but when she did she knew it was the right time and that her body was ready for the task.

Ashley Ward, I hope you know that the time you put in, while it felt like a long time, was well worth it because you have greatly improved your quality of life, made a lot of new friends, and inspired a whole lot of people along the way.

Meet Ashley Ward, CrossFit PAX Athlete of the Week…

Ashley has had a tough road and despite her smiles and sense of humor, I know this hasn’t been easy for her. Not only has Ashley, from a medical standpoint, defied all odds and made some amazing steps, she has been an awesome teammate and friend to many at the Bunker. From coordinating Barbells for Boobs events to helping out the new folks and making us all laugh with her well timed sarcasm or jokes, she is a valued member of the family and we wanted to give her a shout out.

Ashley had a back injury from a combination of sports and some poorly executed weightlifting movements- bad enough to land her in the hospital for a week and immobile for a month, and bad enough for doctors to tell her that pain was a way of life and paralyzation could be in her future if she didn’t stop playing rugby. She didn’t settle for being sedentary though as was suggested, and looked for different opinions until she found a doctor that encouraged her to try CrossFit, and she joined CrossFit PAX in December 2012.

Ashley started slowly, and for months used a pvc or trainer bar for nearly every movement. No running. No jumping. Nearly every workout had to be adjusted pretty dramatically, but she always came early to ask what she could do and always did her mobility ‘homework’, worked with her coaches to develop a plan while on travel, and continued to work hard in the nutrition department to improve how she fueled her body. Ashley was one of the big winners of the 60 day challenge in Jan-Mar 2014. She is intensely competitive, driven, and one smart lady. I know it is frustrating.

Recently Ashley has turned some pretty big corners after a lot of hard work and patience. She is squatting to a much lower box and some days is squatting quite well, doing the olympic lifts, rowing very well, and even running on good days… She has gone back to see that doctor and he is impressed with her progress and says to keep doing what she is doing! She recently PR’d with a 185 deadlift and has signed up for her 1st competition. She does most of the workouts as written, now, and is more confident moving faster. She fuels her body well and follows through, despite frequent traveling. She is in class nearly every day when she is home, and has checked into the Bunker well over 200 times since she joined. From Ashley:


So how’s that back thing going for you? The doctor is impressed with the progress i have made strength wise and not killing myself lifting, jumping, and (kind of) jogging. It’s a place I have been able to get to that many “experts” said was impossible. So I’m pretty jazzed about that!

Things in my life that have changed since CrossFit: I don’t have to rely on other people to help me with simple things like carrying my own suitcase. I find myself doing the 4 step bracing in real life when my back starts to feel squirrelly and unstable. I don’t feel as broken everyday. There are still some things that scare me in the gym…handstands. Thats a deep seeded fear of falling and breaking my back and that “paralyzation” word again. Working through that though, and making progress little by little.

Favorite thing about CrossFit PAX and the larger CrossFit Community: Obviously, the coaches here and the community. The coaches are there to make sure i don’t kill myself with bad form, push me when i need it, but also throttle me back when I’m trying to hurt myself. The high fives, sweaty fist bumps, and “atta girls” from not only the coaches but everyone- its just the best. Keeps you going.

Favorite thing about CrossFit from a global stand point is still the community. I travel for work and life and drop in to boxes everywhere. I start with the shpeal of how I am broken and modify and never get a weird look. I think some new coaches even like the challenge. From FL to NYC to England everyone is nauseatingly friendly and accommodating , and I love it.

Advice for newbs: Don’t be scared. It can be intimidating to walk through that door or show up to a frightening WOD, but everything can be scaled and modified. No one will judge you if you have to scale or can’t do something yet, only cheer for you louder! So just show up and embrace the suck!”

Congratulations Ashley Ward, you rock. From your “Ashleyisms” and positive attitude to your determined and patient approach to progress, we love having you around and watching you progress. Personally, I have learned a lot from you and have loads of respect for your wise approach to this process and your commitment to the CrossFit Community. You focus on the team, on serving those around you, on taking steps forward. You are a fighter and have defied the odds and surely the best is yet to come.