CrossFit. It’s got cult appeal, notoriety, opinions. More importantly, it has a strong, loyal and supportive community made up of people who enjoy using their bodies in new and challenging ways. It’s intense. It’s big. It’s powerful. And that’s why I like it. I go to Power by You: Crossfit West Kootenay because I like learning what my body is capable of doing. I’ve learned a lot. I really love experiencing other people learning about themselves, too. As a Nelson BC photographer, I immensely enjoy photographing that process.
Every year, there’s an international, online competition for anybody who wants to join. There’s lots of categories for ages and abilities, and there’s a new workout each week for five weeks. The main point of the CrossFit Open is to encourage everybody to participate. Gyms host their own events to do workouts together, and I took the opportunity to photograph the series. Doing so inspired something in me that I was not expecting.
The Crossfit Open pushed me to do the workouts with everyone, but it also inspired a personal photo story. The story goes way back to when I was a teenager.
Nelson BC Photographer – Personal Photo Essay
I grew up in a village of 700 people in northern Alberta. There was no internet. There were no gyms. There were no sidewalks. I lived on a farm seven miles out of town. The nearest competitive sports team was a 45 minute drive away. Even if I had expressed interest, I had no way to participate much less get onto a team.
Not that I wasn’t competitive. I played sports in elementary school, but people chastised me for being too aggressive or being too big or being too bossy or being too intense. And I believed them.
But at one point in high school, I got sick of people calling me names. I was crying in rage and I put on my shoes and I ran outside, as far from my house as I could. It was about 100 metres. But I kept crying and running and stopping and barfing and crying. I eventually returned home after two miles. I ran very little of it, but I had broken a sweat. And I felt better.
It was my first introduction to how powerful and how healing it felt to move my body. It was something to cling to, and it sparked a willingness to keep going.
Fast forward through an eating disorder and many sports later, I still work to heal my inner, searching, hurting teen. A huge part of that is through photography. I deeply enjoy telling people’s stories and I feel it’s my calling. Photographing the people, and especially the teens, in CrossFit hits a particular note in my heart. The 2019 Crossfit Open made me wonder what it would have been like to have a supportive sport community and coaches that encouraged power and strength and bigness and intensity.
So with the help of a Kirsten Lewis mentoring program, I’m starting a personal photo essay, a coming of age story inspired by two of the teens who competed in this Open. I’m utterly stoked to follow the Taylor sisters as they navigate their teen years, and to learn from them how pushing their physical potential impacts their sense of self. I’ll share their progress as they grow.
Below are some of my favourites from the Power by You: Crossfit West Kootenay 2019 Crossfit Open. See the full slideshow here.