Nicole’s Story

Nicole Woods
Joined Crossfit Invoke in November 2011

I was never what you would call an ‘athlete’. Not even close. My sports were band camp and calculus. I definitely throw a baseball ‘like a girl’.  After having two children at ages 35 and 37, I started running to get back in shape. I was running quite a lot (40-50 miles a week) and I’ve completed one full marathon and several halfs. As conventional running wisdom would advise, I would carb load before a race and drink chocolate milk for recovery. During a long run I would eat these sugary blobs that runners call ‘fuel’.  In spite of all my activities, I still had belly fat (no wonder, right?!) and no upper body strength to speak of.  I was spending a lot of time exercising just to stay ‘skinny’.

In 2011, when my youngest son Lincoln was one year old, a wonderful friend started pestering me to join in her a Foundations class for this thing called ‘Crossfit’. At the time, Invoke was on Salisbury Street and one of only two Affiliates in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. I have so many amazing memories of that tiny space (Harvey and Brandon spending 30 minutes trying to teach Christina and I to fireman carry each other while the rest of the class looked on, unappreciative of the delay – sorry guys).  But I digress.

The amazing Anna Johns was my ‘Crossfit Mama’, leading my Foundations class. I could tell she was remarkable in talent and in spirit from Day 1. I busted through Foundations over a weekend and although I could barely walk for 3 days afterwards, I was hooked.

I’ve learned more than a few things about myself through my experience at Invoke over the last 3+ years. In my opinion, Crossfit is for everyone and it takes all kinds to build a community. For me, a WOD is for fun and to relieve stress. If I a score a PR or Rx the WOD in the process, bonus points. But I’m pretty non-competitive when it comes to training.  Everyone’s path to getting strong is different – the points below are a bit about my personal journey.

  • For ME (maybe not you), slow and steady wins my race – I’ve gotten busy at times and couldn’t get to the gym as often as I’ve wanted – but I’ve never gotten ‘burned out’ on Crossfit. It will be a lifelong activity.
  • I know myself physically and mentally. Sometimes I will sandbag a WOD because I’m tired or sore. But I’m still there in body and spirit. And I’m 100% OK with being an occasional sandbagger. I don’t feel bad about scaling a WOD or being last to finish. I used to stress about this, but I’ve moved beyond that.
  • I don’t push myself past my limits and I don’t attempt crazy PRs because those things are not part of my goals.  I want to stay fit and active but not injured. Thankfully I’ve never been hurt in spite of logging more WODs than I can count.
  • My progression has been slow and steady – but consistent when I look back over the years.  Moral of MY story:  You don’t need to kill yourself training. But results DO come with ongoing commitment.
  • Abs are made in the kitchen. No matter how much I train, a lot of my body comp is dependent on what I stuff in my pie hole. I’ve gone the 100% Paleo Zone route and it’s hard but really, really effective. Now I try to be a bit more moderate because it’s a lifestyle that I know I can stick with.
  • I TRY to stay off the scale and I TRY to not concern myself that my size 27 jeans are now tight in the butt and quads. When I started crossfit I weighed 115 pounds and wore a size 0. A stiff wind could have blown me over. Over the last 3 years I’ve put on 15 pounds (I’m sure some is fat!) and now weigh in at 130 pounds.  Remember ladies, skinny girls look good in clothes. Fit girls look good naked. Don’t worry about the scale if it goes up because you’re adding muscle.

I love that many of my fellow athletes are competitive and are in the gym to win. I love to watch the Games and marvel at how amazing those badass ladies are. But that’s not me and it will never be me. But it’s important that other, not-so-competitive athletes or newbies know that IT IS OK to just want to have fun, blow off steam and enjoy a WOD for what it is. Because when all is said and done, Crossfit really IS for everyone.

Here are some photos that document my Crossfit journey. Every year, on the 4th of July I run the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. It’s the largest 10K in the world and so much fun.  I’m on the right in the first two photos. The left in the third photo. I don’t even recognize myself in the first picture. Who IS that slouching, scrawny chick?  Even my posture has improved.  Yay for muscles!

2012:  39 years old. Ran all the time. Slouching, scrawny chick.


2013: 40 years old. Crossfitting for 1.5 years.


2014: 41 years old. Crossfitting for 2.5 years. Shoulders and traps FINALLY!  I worked so hard for those.