“CrossFit has helped me figure out who I am.”
That’s a bold statement– of a fitness program?!– but member Michelle Gates stands by it and backs it up with the proof of her own life.
The 44-year-old Annandale woman has faced some challenges, and keeps coming back, proving to herself just what her mind and body can do. The coaches at Hotova CrossFit see it, and support Michelle in her hard work and dedication.
“That lady,” gushed owner-coach Giane Tonev, “is one of the best examples of our community and what anyone can do. I am so proud of Michelle– not only of the progress she’s making, but just that she keeps coming back!”
Michelle, who shares her home with cats Shania and Butterscotch and dog Brandy, is the events and promotions manager for a company of CPAs. In her day job, she sets up seminars, determines events for members to attend, and chooses community service and team-building activities to get everyone involved. It makes sense that her professional skills would carry over into exercise enthusiasm.
“I started CrossFit in October 2016 by applying for a six-week bootcamp at (another box),” Gates explained. “My membership with Hotova started in August 2017. Typically, I am in the 5:30 p.m. class, although you see me every once in a while in the 6:30 a.m. class.”
Whichever class it is, the warm community and group support is what’s working for Michelle Gates. “I was stuck in my shell, and, through CrossFit, I have opened up, met great friends and have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to,” she said. “Switching to the Hotova community was the best decision– after CrossFit itself– I have made.”
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy: “I walked in with a knee injury and the coaches worked with me to get me a workout to not further injure my knee. Through a few mental breakdowns and thoughts of needing to quit, the coaches and other athletes kept me in the game. Hotova became my sanctuary while I was struggling with life,” Michelle testified.
Coach Giane acknowledged Michelle’s challenges, and said those make Michelle’s work so admirable, and her own work so fulfilling. “We are here for our members,” Giane said. “This is what the Hotova community is really about.”
“CrossFit takes mental strength,” Gates shared. “I always compared myself to everyone else and thought I wasn’t good enough. I would get frustrated if I was one of the last few done.”
Yet, with the support of her coaches and her friends, through the struggles, Michelle keeps at it, aiming for new goals and offering support to others. “Right now, my goal is to get the strength back in my legs and be able to do the actual workouts,” she said. “My goal is to complete a couple competitions a year while sticking with good nutrition.”
While she’s been unable to do the CrossFit Open WODs this season in Hotova’s Open for All team competitions, Michelle has still found an important way to participate. “I got my judging certification,” she said. “Even though I can’t compete, I figured I could still help.”
Coaches Dean Tonev and Giane are grateful for Michelle’s willingness to help out, and for the smile she always shares. Gates reflects back the love.
“CrossFit has helped me change my mind and thoughts about myself and what I am capable of doing,” she said.