STORY: How CrossFit is Beating Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Michelle received news that would alter the rest of her life... “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your life will be different moving forward - you have multiple sclerosis,” was what the doctor said, and Michelle’s world changed.
And a lot did change - doctor’s visits, medications, emotions, diet, family plans, and perspectives. However, something else found it’s way into Michelle’s life. Determination.
Multiple Sclerosis is a condition where your body attacks it’s own central nervous system, and can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms. Most notably, the possibility of loss in muscle strength, balance, and severe fatigue.
“For the last 5 years I’ve been told by doctors I’d continually lose strength and possibly normal functions like balance,” Michelle says. “And while that may have been true for some, I refused to let it define my future. I believed I could do something about it. I wanted to prove them wrong by getting stronger.”
CrossFit wasn’t on the radar for Michelle until the Spring of 2016 when she joined a local affiliate. Initially intimidated by the complex movements and high intensity training, determination was in her heart and she went all in.
“I was scared to join a CrossFit gym because I didn’t understand the lingo, and I had never used a barbell before. What was a WOD? What in the world does AMRAP mean? I felt weak, but I attended class regularly, scaled things to my level, and kept working out in my own lane. Over time, I got stronger as I daily did the work. I had never been somewhere that was so supportive or more excited to help me reach my goals. The gym wasn’t just where I worked out anymore. I was surrounded by my biggest encouragers and some of my best friends.”
I got stronger as I daily did the work. I had never been somewhere that was so supportive or more excited to help me reach my goals
One thing Michelle wanted to master more than anything was the pull-up. “I literally never thought I could do a pull-up—that it wasn’t even possible. You may think I’m kidding, but I didn’t believe in myself. I thought I was too tall, too weak.” Michelle recalls. “I worked two years for pull-ups, and the day I got a single pull-up was indescribably joyful!”
Despite having a terminal disease, Michelle has found a way—through CrossFit and cold-hearted determination—to make continual gains in her strength and mobility, while giving MS a roundhouse kick to the face.
CrossFit is more than a hobby, it’s how I daily choose to fight for myself, both physically and in the battle of the mind. I choose daily to defy the odds.
“I can’t believe how far I’ve come, truly. If you would have told me that a year ago I could string 10 pull-ups together now, or handle 30-40 at all, I would have laughed at you. To most, a 125lb clean and jerk and back squatting 175lb is a normal task, or even a walk in the park, but to me, it’s a mental and emotional hurdle that I am all too proud that I’ve even achieved. It’s amazing what the human body can do with a little determination and lots of hard work. Never give up on your dreams becoming reality. CrossFit is more than a hobby, it’s how I daily choose to fight for myself, both physically and in the battle of the mind. I choose daily to defy the odds.”
Thank you Michelle for being a powerhouse in the gym, and an inspiration to so many.