I grew up a mile from the beach in Boca Raton, Florida with 4 brothers, my mom and step dad. I was either playing in the sand, out on my parents boat or in a gym rehearsing some kind of routine. I was tan, energetic and stick skinny. It was a combo of genetics and being an active gymnast/cheerleader in the Sunshine State for most of my life.
Tan and energetic were cool, but “stick” skinny never did anyone any good from a confidence or strength standpoint. It was all I knew and it didn’t really hit me until high school. Yeah, I could tumble and I was a main “flyer” who could back flip through the air, but the way I looked started to mean more than my talent.
Through years of all-star cheerleading and school cheer squads, I traveled a ton and experienced life in a competitive light. It eventually brought me to a generous scholarship on the Florida Atlantic University cheerleading team my freshman year of college (August 2006). It was the first year the football team hit division 1, so it was exciting to be playing against other top teams around the country. Though, I was easily tier 3 on a squad of tier 1 polished gymnasts and athletic cheerleaders, so I had a lot of growing up and learning to do. Cheerleading not only taught me confidence and teamwork, but it taught me how to work through my anxiety at a young age. I learned the true meaning of accountability, pulling your own weight, and the importance of commitment. I worked through some of my “body image” issues as I started to work harder and was eventually introduced to weightlifting. We had to be in the weight room with a trainer at 5am 3 days a week and then 8am on our practice mat the other 3 days for skill work. It was intense and pushed me out of my comfort zone every time.
Eventually, I realized that I wanted more out of my fitness and my how I spent my time- so I decided to NOT try-out for the team my junior year of college. I was ready to slow down, live a normal life and enjoy college. With that came it’s own set of personal identity challenges, but it was time for a change. I discovered Palm Beach County BootCamp (now CrossFit) in 2009 and it changed my life. I made some of the most amazing friends that I still have today, was introduced to what CrossFit is today and met my husband Chris! I competed (scaled) with teams and it gave me the boost I needed to fill the void of not having the weekly activity I once did for so long. I felt like a total badass learning how to lift real barbells with weights on them and how to kip on a bar for more efficient pull-ups.

The best part about the CrossFit community is that although it is a competitive sport, the members are in 100% support of your success and well-being. They push you and expect more out of you, but not for a “place” or a trophy. It’s because they genuinely care about you. Anywhere you go! I’ve dropped into many gyms on my travels too and everyone in the CF community has the same mentality. I even have a pic below of my dropping into the CrossFit Praha in Prague, CZ. I just love being a part of the movement to be healthy and push your fellow neighbors. You only truly compete with yourself in there unless you want to compete against someone else. I even trained to run a half marathon with some of the people from my old CF gym. That was intense and I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. And my toe nails fell off. But, I felt like a total gangster. I felt like I could do anything if I set my mind to and trained for it.

And then there was Yoga. Ahhh YOGA How you have completely rocked my world. If you asked me if I would’ve been a Yoga instructor back in the day I would’ve laughed…and said there’s absolutely no way I’m standing up in front of a bunch of people, touching them and telling them how to “stretch”. How will I know what to say? So much anatomy that I needed to study. I would be sweating just thinking about publicly putting myself out there for something like that. I cared too much about other people’s opinions of me and didn’t want to be judged. I wasn’t super comfortable in my own skin and I didn’t know how I could possibly help others if I barely felt secure to help myself at times.

 

Until I met Chris. Good ol’ Chris from Batavia, IL who went to my grad school in West Palm Beach. I met Chris back in 2011 and naturally I gravitated towards him. Because, he cute.

We ended up working out together all the time and pushing each other and life just kept getting better. I felt more confident through his validation and through my own progress. We eventually made it official and started following our careers wherever they took us. We followed the higher paycheck. We followed the adventure. And it was totally worth it. I woke up and found my Puerto Rican, Sicilian, Floridian self in flippin Minneapolis, MN in 2014. What an AMAZING, active city filled with the nicest people and a million things to do all year round. When FL is all you know, anywhere else seems cool. I learned to embrace ALL of it. And that led me to wanting to make new friends and try new things. I had done yoga before back home, but really got into it on our travels. There was always a place to do it and it was neat to take classes in different cities with different teachers. I got super into it and loved the way it complimented the weight lifting. I loved the mental aspect more than the physical at first. I would always leave feeling completely restored. So, I decided to join the 200hr 9 week Yoga Teacher Training at Core Power Yoga studio in downtown Minneapolis. I can honestly say, it was one of my favorite, most challenging experiences yet. Yep, completely out of my comfort zone and insanely nerve wrecking. So much memorizing, but active creativity at the same time. And I met beautiful people that helped me become even more comfortable and confident in my own skin.

Fast forward a thousand days, a French Bulldog and a cheeky baby later, this momma still loves improving her CrossFit skills. There is so much room for improvement which is exciting and I already feel stronger than ever before. I have some baby weight left that I’d like to burn off with a torch, but I’m on my way with Kayla’s new nutrition program! And last, but not least teaching your Yoga classes has changed my life. You were the first group of people I’d ever taught a real class to. You were the first group of people who welcomed me into this gym with open arms when I permanently moved away from everything I knew. You were the first group of people who allowed me to continue to teach and grow and learn more about my passion. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help make my journey worth telling.