Athlete Profile: Debbie Ashway

debbie kb lunge1How long have you been with CrossFit York? What’s your history with us?  This is my 5th year. Rusty used to be a personal trainer at Gold’s where I had been working with another trainer. My trainer and Rusty were experimenting with CrossFit and they started me on these crazy new workouts. Rusty would bring kettlebells, boxes, and all this other equipment to Gold’s and it was awesome. Rusty then opened CrossFit York, and I was really intrigued by the workouts he’d put together for me at Gold’s, so I signed up. After a year, Craig started coming with me. He was excited about what I was telling him and seeing my progress. We are now part of the steady 6am crew!

What do you think about the changes CrossFit York has seen since its beginnings nearly 5 years ago? I like the new developments. When I first started, there were no introduction classes. Sometimes the “class” was just me and Rusty, or there would be me and one other athlete. Sometimes the WOD was programmed during the WOD. I love the changes. I like the 2-parts, I think that’s nice. On heavy days, we have a little something else to make us sweat a little.

You live in Lancaster County. Why on earth do you come all the way across the river to CrossFit York? Yes, we do. York County is where we’re from; we work here, and CrossFit York is our home. It is worth the drive. And if we’re going to come that far at 6am, there are no excuses for any one else NOT to take the time and make the drive!

I know you’ve done a bit of travelling. What other exciting CrossFit boxes have you visited? The most exciting box was CrossFit London. That was the highlight of our trip! We managed to find one box to get some local flavor: we walked in and everything was the same, except that the bumper plates were in KILOS. I remember there were front squats in the WOD, so we just guessed and put plates on. I remember saying, “this is heavy,” but I had no idea what the weight was.

What’s your favorite WOD? Anything tabata.They’re fun: short, quick, and intense.

What goals or challenges do you face? I’m still not that happy with my pull-ups. When I first started, I told Rusty that if I got a pull-up I would have a party. (I’m still waiting for that party!) So I have a pull-up, but I’d like to string them together better.

What do you eat? I have really learned to love the paleo lifestyle. I’ve learned so much about food, and it’s really helped me with my performance, my sleeping, and my energy levels. I can tell if I stray a little too far off. I remain 80-20.

What would you say to someone who is on the fence about trying CrossFit? Give it a chance. If you’re sore (and you will be), just get up and go the next day. And the next day. Just keep going; you’re going to fall in love with it.

Any other thoughts or insight you’d care to share? Craig and I are definitely a team. We come and do this together. This place is truly our CrossFit  family; we’ve met so many great people and friends. And we are proud to be Masters! I’m going to be 50 in July. If I can do it, then YOU CAN, no matter who you are.  Training at CrossFit York makes us better at what we love to do: skiing, biking, kayaking. The conditioning makes us able to do whatever we want, and we’ll be able to do it a lot longer.

Rut. Slump. Funk.

Seems like I’ve heard these words, or some variation thereof, thrown around the box lately. See if this sounds familiar: you find CrossFit, you fall in love. The intensity, the people, the amazing results. Then, you try eating paleo or primal. You might participate in a nutrition challenge for a few weeks; you quit drinking beer and quit eating peanut butter sandwiches for every meal. You again amaze yourself: you feel light and strong and you’re killing WODs left and right.


A few months pass. You shop for new clothes. Your friends and family ask what the hell you’re doing and you gush about CrossFit and the evils of grains and legumes.


And then one day you wake up and things are not quite right. You take stock: Was it the beer, egg rolls and potato skins you ate the night before? Was it yesterday’s disappointing Cindy score? Was it last week’s missed deadlift – and the fact that your miss wasn’t even close to your PR? Was it the seriously horrible night of sleep – or lack thereof?


You look in the mirror. What happened? Where did all that hard work go… and why did it all of a sudden become so difficult to sustain?


Here’s the good news: for many of us, the above scenario is pretty common. The shock of lifting heavy weights, running as fast as you can, and giving all you’ve got in the box will make for significant (and significantly visible gains) in the beginning. The jolt of eating clean and recovering your metabolism will do the same.


However, at some point, the potential for a slump or plateau is nearly certain. Whether it’s stalling with lift increases, struggling to still get that pull-up, or cursing at the last 2 inches that refuse to leave your middle (to reveal those glorious abs that CANNOT WAIT TO BE UNLEASHED ON THE WORLD), we have all suffered similarly.


What to do? Here’s some ideas for busting out of a rut:


1. Check WHAT you’re eating. While your family might still refer to your diet as that “crazy caveman eating,” are you really still 80-20 like you say you are? How many beers are you drinking a week? (hint: if it’s more than 1, you’re NOT 80-20.) How many visits to Sweet Frog? (hint: fro-yo, while glorious, does not count as primal, especially when covered in brownie bites.) Do an honest-to-goodness inventory of your choices. You might surprise yourself.


2. Check HOW MUCH you’re eating. So if you’re still pretty much living on Brussels sprouts and grilled chicken – good for you! But are you eating ENOUGH? One egg for breakfast probably isn’t going to sustain you until your lunch, when you quickly shovel an apple and some almond butter down your gullet between meetings at the office. Find an estimate for how many calories your body needs (the Bod Pod, which will be at the box this Sunday morning, is a good resource for this), and see if you’re getting close.


3. Check HOW MUCH you’re eating (again). If you’re still living clean, but eating 8 chicken thighs and fourteen sweet potatoes all slathered in a cup of almond butter at each meal, you might be eating a little bit too much. Again, do a little research, check your numbers, and try to get closer to breaking even.


4. Resolve yourself to work on one of your “goats.” So, you missed deadlift PR last week. That’s a drag, sure. But how are your ring dips coming along? Re-focus on a movement or a challenge that you’re sure to see some improvement on.


5. Mix it up; try a new session. If you always come to 4pm, try the 600am. Each session has its own personality, which can affect how hard you work. New faces might shake things up a bit for you, re-igniting your competitive spirit.


6. Set some new, reachable goals. They can be load-related; they can be skill-related; they can be body-related. Write them down. Make a plan. And tell somebody so they can check up on you every once in a while.


7. Talk to a coach. This should probably be number 1 on this list, depending on the depth of your rut. The coaches can help you pinpoint areas of training and eating that, with small adjustments, will make a huge difference. Plus, it’s what we’re here for!


8. Take a short break. Overtraining might be the culprit for stalled progress. An extended rest period, for 3-5 days, can help, especially if you’ve been going hard for more than four months. Use the break to focus on mobility and relaxation.


9. And last but not least: DON’T QUIT. :) You’ll find your mojo, you’ll begin to see results again, you’ll climb out of your funk — as long as you keep coming back. I promise.

Athlete Profile: Joe Fullam

joefullampushpressHow long have you been a CrossFitting badass? About 3.5 years.

What brought you to CFYork? In February 2009, my wife Jackie asked me if I wanted to join her to check out a new gym. Rusty had invited a bunch of the employees of Advantage Physical Therapy to a free introductory session at CrossFit York. It was some “new” training approach and it sounded interesting. We had dabbled using personal trainers before, but I really didn’t know what to expect, I’d never heard of Crossfit.


Jackie and I both signed up, but I didn’t get hooked right away. I struggled with so many basic movements. The box was much smaller back then and I found myself doing sessions with big rugby guys who were way out my league. I felt very intimidated, and after just 5-6 weeks, I felt CrossFit was not for me, so I went back to biking, running, and fending off a slow death from sitting behind a desk by regular visits to the JCC.


After 10-11 months of “doing the same old thing” at the JCC and on my road bike, I saw my wife was getting stronger and having all sorts of fun. I felt just a bit left out! She kept egging me to come back. I decided to give it another shot, and this time, I found myself in sessions with some new members who were struggling with some basic movements, too. We all have our different struggles, but seeing people struggle who I could relate to — and to see them overcome some of their “goats” — inspired me to keep pushing. Things started to click my second time around and I began to truly embrace the competitive spirit and enjoy “the sport of fitness.”

As a longtime member, what changes have you seen in CFY? What did the WODs used to look like? How have coaching methods changed? The CFY membership community has grown rapidly, and with this growth, we needed more space, which resulted in the move into our present kickass box in the city! Now in our new space, we have an awesome pull up rig (with a second in the works), 24 ft ropes, a separate Olympic lifting area, and even a boxing ring… awesome stuff and there’s always new stuff happening! Back in the day, the WODs used to be pretty basic, no group warm up, no part A/B, no post-wod group stretch, (you did it on your own…or not…).  There is significant planning that goes into the programming that’s designed to push members to get stronger AND master good form and technique. Additionally, as the membership has grown, some great folks have earned Level 1 Certifications and joined Rusty, helping to expand the offerings of our box.

How/what do you eat? You had to go there, huh? ;-) Over the last 3 years, Jackie and I have done a few Paleo/Primal challenges, and with each one, I learn a little more about how foods affect me. Whereas I do now eat mostly only Paleo foods, my downfall is balance (or lack thereof).  I tend to find a good Paleo food that I like (like dates or nuts) and eat way too much of it during the week. Yes, dates are Paleo, but eating 12 dates and a few fistfuls of nuts a day is probably not gonna get my body to look like Rich Froning’s. I also like to kick back with a good Chocolate or Coffee Porter Beer now and again, but usually 2 is my limit (maybe 3). Finding that delicate balance between eating clean and enjoying the social aspect of food (and drink) is more of an art than a science.. Still working on just listening to what my body is trying to tell me. Truth be told, I’ve been in a bit of a food funk in the last month or two… I think I need some new inspiration, I’ve been eating a lot of the same meals week after week.

What’s your favorite movement or workout? What do you love to see on the whiteboard? I love cleans and pull-ups…And DUs…I struggled for 2+ years trying to get Double-Unders. I feel I have mastered DUs enough where I now look forward to them in a WOD. And if I haven’t said it before, I detest burpees.

Talk a little bit about what it’s like to be married to Jackie, who is one of the most-chased, most-amazing athletes at CFY. How does her success drive you (or not)? If it weren’t for Jackie joining and sticking with CrossFit, I probably wouldn’t be doing it today — I’m thankful for that; she’s my rock and she motivates me to push harder!


It’s awesome having a common interest like CrossFit to share with my wife, and because we both love CrossFit so much, we are eager to support each other to ensure we both get enough time to do what we love. Jackie will sometimes do a 6Am WOD, then I’ll go in later in the day and try to beat her time. This is usually followed by some trash talk via text…she mostly beats me, but once in a while, I eke out a small victory! We usually WOD separately during the week, but we try to do the weekend WODs together as much as possible.

I know your teenaged son, Tyler, is also a regular at CFY. How has crossfitting transformed your family? Your parenting? Your marriage? CrossFit has had a tremendously positive impact on our family and how we parent. Our involvement in CrossFit sets a great example of a fit lifestyle to our kids.


My son saw our excitement and dedication to CrossFit and asked to join. He now does Olympic lifting sessions twice per week and wants to start wodding, too. The CrossFit lifestyle and our Paleo eating changed the foods we buy and eat when at home and when we are out at restaurants. This affects the way our entire family eats — for the better. At first, there was resistance, but now we see our kids making smarter choices about what they eat.


Confidence, strength (physical and mental), tenacity, empathy, compassion, joy, triumph, enthusiasm, patience, honesty (you’re just cheating yourself) — these are just some of the virtues that, by simply practicing CrossFit, we have the ability to reveal and hone. And these virtues cross over into everyday life, making our relationships stronger, making our lives better. Was our marriage pretty awesome before Crossfit? Yup. Has Crossfit made our marriage even better?… You betcha!

You’re an athlete outside the box, too. What are your favorite local events/races? I’ve done the various Adventure/Extreme races like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and the Cap City Challenge up in Harrisburg.  They are all always fun events when you get a crew from CFY to join in.


Last year we did the Civilian Military Challenge (CMC) and we will do it again this year. The CMC is neat because it incorporates CrossFit movements in the “Pit” at the start of the race. I also like to try to do 2 or 3 CrossFit competitions during the year.


The Mid-Atlantic Hopper down in Baltimore is a favorite (Oct/Nov) and of course, the CrossFit Open in March-April each year.  Jackie and I also plan to compete in the Master’s Division at the Atlas Games at Titan Crossfit in Cockeysville, MD this June.  Fun stuff!