Interview with our first Athlete of the Month, Aruna Hekinian!
Congratulations on being selected as our first Athlete of the Month! To get started, can you share a quick bio?
I am 39 year-old working mother of three and originally from Toronto.
Tell us a little about your fitness background, and how you came to CrossFit?
I had twice belonged to typical gyms in the past and found I rarely used them. One gym was cost effective and value priced but not at convenient location. That resulted in limited use. The other one was closer but also had a bunch of restrictions and was not fun to wait for equipment. The personalities were not engaging either. Always felt like strangers there. It was costly and hassle to deal with membership issues once I left and was kind of turned off of conventional gyms.
When I was younger, in my twenties – I found for the most part, I was able to maintain my form without too much physical activity. I was not too knowledgeable about eating right and did not care much about making time to exercise. Then suddenly it seemed like years of inactivity and poor eating habits started to catch up with me. Three kids later and years of desk job lead to constant and chronic back pain and neck pain. It was getting hard to keep up with my kids and feel normal. I researched a bit and discovered that strengthening core muscles could help alleviate back pain and aid in reforming muscle damaged during childbirth.
Right around that same time, Shimi, Adam and Mike showed up and opened CrossFit Outbreak literally downstairs from me. Talk about the universe answering my prayers! I signed up right away even though I knew nothing about CrossFit at all. I knew so little about CrossFit that I remember asking Adam when the rest of the gym equipment was going to be coming!
And compared to typical gyms, it was on the expensive side – but really there is no comparable experience to CrossFit. It’s not the same; it’s all of the benefits of personal training with the fun and engagement of working out in small groups. And at the end of the day you feel more powerful and see results.
Do you have any advice for new Crossfitters or people on the fence about signing up?
I would say definitely take a free class or sign up for individual classes vs. monthly subscription, but monthly subscription is definitely best value and most hassle-free way to go. CrossFit is not for everyone. It takes at least 21 visits over three months to really give it a proper chance. Make sure it is convenient to either your work/school or home. Be realistic about goals and expectations. Try out classes with all instructors. Keep an open mind. Push yourself but don’t hurt yourself. It is tempting for new CrossFit people to want and or expect to perform at same capacity as some of more experienced people at gym. Just go at your own pace. Listen to your body but also trust the instructors – they see things you can’t. And finally, allow yourself to have fun!
Do you have any favorite moments in the gym that you’d like to tell us about?
Oh, there are so many favorite moments. It’s great to see people who have struggle with double-unders to finally get them one day. I love seeing people push themselves and PR (Latasha and Nick – like every time!) I enjoyed figuring out how to climb a rope. And nothing is quite like that first moment when I was able to get my chin over the bar and do a strict pull-up.
But…and I can’t believe I am admitting this – but I did enjoy the day I did 390 burpees (after a full WOD). I completely underestimated the task and wanted to quit but with Shimi’s help I got through it. It was a challenge that helped me overcome mental fear of doing burpees – because now I know where I can go having pushed myself to edge of it.
What’s your favorite CrossFit movement? Which one do you most struggle with?
My favorite CrossFit movement is the duck walk. No one ever picks it and I doubt it will ever show up in the CrossFit games, but if it does it will be me standing up on the podium!
I still struggle with double-unders – mainly because they make me have to pee.
What qualities do you think we should look for in the next Athlete of the Month?
The next athlete of the month should be shorter than me.
Okay… if you can’t find anyone shorter than 5′ 2″, then you should find someone with great attitude and enjoys pushing themselves in safe, smart way to achieve results.
Someone who shows up on the leaderboard a lot perhaps is an indication of their dedication. But it’s also important that this person emit great vibes in the gym by engaging others to do their best.
I will say it’s going to be hard choice. (Editor/Coach’s note: it was!) Of all the people that started when CFO opened in late October – almost everyone stuck with it – and everyone has improved immensely. I like changing up my workout times when I can in order to see different people and marvel at how much they have changed in a relatively short amount of time. Amazing – it’s like traveling in time or to another dimension and when you get out the people have noticeably lost weight, look stronger, sexier and fitter.
CFO is a very special place.
It was an honor to be selected as your first athlete of the month. Thank you Adam, Shimi, Mike and Brian for noticing my progress and helping me with my struggles.
See you in class : )
Thanks again Aruna, and congratulations! 🙂