CrossFit: Purpose & Belonging in the face of life’s untold challenges, a Truly Inspiring Story.
CrossFit creates better lives. We have all heard, and will continue to, stories of phenomenal will, commitment and happiness brought forward by a commitment to better health and fitness within the incredible CrossFit community.
But not all stories are so easy to tell.
Carey Hulme, of CrossFit YO4, has one of those stories.
YO4 opened late December 2017 and the first person to ever step through the door was Carey. Intrigued yet wary, Carey was looking for positivity. What she found, and her story within it, should be heard by all.
Carey, now 61 years old, was faced with many more challenges than the stereotypical less than ideal lifestyle and lack of fitness new gym member. In fact making it to the gym for the first time took every ounce of courage and strength available.
Carey’s story goes further back than the year she has spent at YO4. There have been numerous battles with mental health, including ADHD diagnosed in 2012 & Asperger’s disease diagnosed in 2017, that make the typical social setting an almost insurmountable task. Focus, social interaction and difficult internal dialogue were a day-to-day part of what Carey was dealing with. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to the difficulty of these challenges and how they can make you feel in any given scenario.
However, this is not Carey’s only challenge.
Carey is also facing an even bigger physiological battle, with cancer, specifically Malignant Melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. This, understandably, is something that nobody ever wants to hear. Having gone through a terrible miss-diagnosis six and a half years ago, with the correct diagnosis and major treatment 15 months later. She was then told the cancer had spread and was ‘advanced’ – 3 courses of immunotherapy, 2 courses of radiotherapy, countless surgeries and operations (plus the side-effects) followed and Carey is still fighting to this day.
That fight would likely have ended this January had CrossFit not come into Carey’s life as the thought of going back to the hospital again was just becoming too much! During March of 2018, a struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) began ‘I tried to get help but nobody came I knew I was only getting worse’ Carey said, ‘ I couldn’t go out or use the phone, I slept & ate very little, spending all of my time doing puzzles to try take my mind away. I was completely isolated. I had to try and figure out a way to make myself better and I knew if I could get to Michael at CrossFit YO4 I would be safe.”
The thing that Carey wants everyone to understand is that this isn’t a sob story. This is a legacy. One that can hopefully reach people all over the world, whether challenged with mental health issues, personal mortality or the simple challenges of everyday life and have the kind of impact her courage and effort deserve.
Carey has embodied everything we aim for at CrossFit YO4: effort, hard work, understanding and the desire to be the best you can be for yourself and for others.
Starting out with 1-to-1 personal training, Carey has completed more physical milestones than she ever thought possible including deadlifting considerably more than her own bodyweight, running 400m and constantly bettering herself on the air bike! Remarkably, the physical side of CrossFit has never been too much of a big deal, but the results have been astounding with surgeons, physicians and peers all recognising the magnitude of her efforts.
It was the mental side, however, that proved to not only be the biggest challenge, but also the biggest victory. The initial visit and subsequent trust in what was going on at CrossFit YO4 was overcome with an innate desire for true progress in the face of adversity. The day-to-day challenge of training, eating well and maintaining motivation was achieved through the support of the coaching staff and clear progress and enjoyment of the process. The impact was clear to see.
It was when Carey then joined the regular CrossFit classes that an even bigger transformation unfolded. The challenges of mental health were played out on a daily basis and the support received changed a life forever. It is natural for the majority of people to feel some nerves and trepidation walking into a CrossFit class for the first time, we all remember that. But to do that each and everyday, feeling self-conscious and dealing with tremendous amounts of doubt, takes more than just fortitude and courage alone.
And this is where the CrossFit community stepped up.
Carey not only received huge levels of support and encouragement, she truly felt like she belonged. Friendships, trust and happiness all started to develop an hour a day as a group of people all tried to be the best version of themselves and it was this feeling of being a true part of something that has been revelatory. Stepping out of the shadows of mental health and all of the personal battles faced, Carey now has a purpose and personal drive that helps her to be stronger than ever in the face of life’s greatest challenges.
Having spent years dealing with this on her own, Carey has finally found her place and she no longer feels the need to hide away in solitude. She has never told anybody her remarkable story as she wanted them to like her for who she is rather than just ‘being nice’ due to cancer.
CrossFit has been the light in her life and she now, after much contemplation, wants her story to be heard.
This is a call to all people, no matter the circumstances, to move forwards and face the challenges in your life. Your challenges are personal, but that doesn’t mean you should go through them on your own. Acknowledge your challenge, find the right place and change your life.
For Carey, that was CrossFit.