Katie Decker

Katie looking tough at the challenging Paddleboard WOD 2015 

If you would have told Katie Decker, CrossFit PAX athlete of the week, that she would be in the best shape of her life after having two kids and working as a physical therapist, she probably would have laughed. But here she is, working out and having fun. Katie has accomplished so much in a year- first rope climb, a 95# clean, greatly improved mobility and flexibility, strength, power, new skills as well as reliving her gymnastics days and doing some back handsprings. This lady is having fun and improving every day. We love her cautious but methodical approach, and it is paying off. As a physical therapist, Katie understands her body and what it is capable of but needed the encouragement and expertise to know just how far she could take it. She is tougher than she knows and a great example to her beautiful little girls. We are so glad she is a part of the family and looking forward to seeing her grow as an athlete and help others as she comes alongside the new folks. Keep it up, lady! Next year at this we’ll be seeing #125 overhead and back tucks!

What or who brought you to CrossFit PAX?

Growing up, I was very active, involved in gymnastics and competitive cheerleading.  I went to college for physical therapy, and during that time got a job as a personal trainer.  One of the other trainers was a football player and he would train me with really fun and challenging workouts.  After college I tried numerous times to join a gym and get active, but got bored.  I always had a pretty good metabolism and when you are in your twenties you think you will stay that way forever!  Fast forward to age 35 with 2 kids, three cross country moves in three years, and a thyroid lobectomy due to a growth that luckily turned out to be benign…a cancer scare like that was a big wake up call that I needed to change my life habits and get healthier because I wanted to be around for my family for a lot of years to come!  When we moved back to Southern MD, I joined World’s Gym and went a grand total of once.  I was back in rut.  Then one day at a friend’s house, Meredith Gallagher started talking about CrossFit and how much fun it was.  I started asking her fifty million questions, because I had heard of CrossFit but didn’t know much about it; I thought it was way out of my league.  “But I can’t do a pull-up,” I said.  She told me how they scale the workouts using bands, etc, and I knew then and there that I had to try.  I accompanied her on a Saturday morning, dressed in workout clothes just in case they would let me work in.  It happened to be a day involving ring skill work, and Rachel Brandt let me give it a go…my arms didn’t work for two days and I knew I had found something that would change my life!  I couldn’t wait to get started…

What was it like getting started?

I didn’t take a fundamentals class; I opted instead to take the one-on-one training with Jade, schedule permitting, due to the general craziness of life with two young kiddos.  As a PT, I also had a ton of questions and was thrilled to see how strict they were regarding form and safety during workouts.   Jade was patient and answered all my questions and more.  We had already been eating paleo(ish) for several years since my daughter had some stomach issues, and this felt like the final piece to the puzzle.  I felt like a found a place where I could really fit.

How long have you been a member and what has changed in your life during that time due to your experience with CrossFit PAX?

I have been a member for one year and 3 months.  I feel stronger, more confident, and so happy to have a healthy physical outlet.  Every time we do the budget and I feel guilty about the cost, my husband reminds me that it is basically my “mental health” fund.  It is so true!  It adds more hours to schedule in to an already busy life, but for the first time in a long time I am making time for me.  And as the one who manages the lives of everyone and sets the tone of the household, it is a very good and necessary thing!  Also, my job requires lifting, such as transferring a child from their wheelchair to the mat, or helping a grown-up get up from their hospital bed.   That stuff has gotten much easier.  I had a back injury several years ago and everyday activities felt difficult, so I appreciate the ease with which I simply jump out of bed in the morning.  And – bonus – when I bought a massive trampoline from BJs, and they only sent one guy to help me load it… the look on his face when the thirty-some year-old mother gets down in a squat and helped him lift it up to the car…priceless!!

Also, I appreciate so much the people I have met through CrossFit.  It is an amazing community of amazing, like-minded people.  I love my 9:30 class and the friends I have made.  I have come to rely on Coach Jen and trust her recommendations for weights.  At the end of the day it is my decision but when you train with someone consistently they get to know your strengths and weaknesses, and when you need that mental push.  And the ladies (and occasional men) in that class are so supportive and awesome and everyone works together to encourage and build each other up.  It really is a community like no other.

What have you accomplished?

I participated in Barbells for Boobs last year.  We came in last, but we did it!  I also participated in the Open in March and did the Memorial Day Murph.  All scaled, but who cares?  Showing up is better than not showing up!  If you had told me 2 years ago that I would have been doing anything like this I would have laughed so hard!  I am closer to doing a pull-up than I have ever been in my life, and I can clean and jerk 95 pounds.   I am very happy about those things.

What are you most proud of accomplishing?

We had a worokout at the gymnastics center this summer and I did a back handspring.  That was huge for me.   So I would say that AND climbing to the top of the rope!!

I think the other thing I am the most proud of is role modeling a healthy active lifestyle for my kids.  They beg to do Crossfit Kids and tell me how proud they are of me.  That makes my heart happy.

What are some of your favorite workouts or experiences with CrossFit PAX and your family there?

Definitely Memorial Day Murph.  You look at that workout and think there is no way.  But everyone bands together, shares strategies, and cheers one another along.  It is very cool.  And the workout at the Gymnastics Center was probably the most fun I have had in a very long time.  Talk about reliving the glory days.  Ha!

Katie and some of her lifting buddies at the “Barbell Ball”. Yes, they are sitting on boxes and looking fancy!

What are your short term and long term goals?

Short term goals are to get a strict pull-up, get over 100 pounds from the floor to overhead, and to not stink at running!  Long term goals are to stick with it, stay healthy, and keep attending consistently.  And to improve my flexibility!!!

How has your diet changed since starting CrossFit (if it has), and what foods do you rely on most?

We already ate paleo-ish; more like the Perfect Health Diet…we eat clean, try to do organic if possible, grass fed local meat, stay away from gluten or any processed dairy, etc.  We do eat a lot of white rice; that works well for our family.  My biggest change has been personal accountability.  When you are doing something “for the kids,” sneaking the junk food after they go to bed seems fine.  But now I am trying to hold myself to the same standard; I am holding myself to “the kitchen is closed after dinner” rule.  Well, I am trying.  ☺

What advice do you have for our newer members or those thinking about jumping in?

Do it!  But do it with an educated approach.  Do your homework.  Trust coaches, but know your body.  Make sure it is a box that honors those principles and has educated coaches who take the time during EVERY SINGLE CLASS to demonstrate and answer questions.  Know that it is a long-term commitment and don’t get frustrated if the person next to you can do way more than you.  They got there on their own journey, and it is much better to make slow progress and focus on proper technique and form to avoid injury.  And remember that coming and getting out of your comfort zone is difficult, but every single person there has been through it.  So dig out your inner bad-ass and give it a try!

Katie and the PAX crew on Memorial Day 2015, honoring Lt Michael Murphy and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.