Athlete Spotlight For December 2014 – Melissa Dolabela

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How long have you been CrossFitting?
In a real CrossFit gym since Luna opened back in July this year. But I did run through some WODs and movements since late 2013 in a regular gym with my trainer back in Brazil that gave me a great start to the world of CrossFitting.

Tell us about yourself… Where are you from?
I like to say that I’m accidentally from Brazil, I was born there (Rio de Janeiro) and my family is from there. Being born there was an accident of the circumstances, really I’m a citizen of the world. When I was one month old I moved to Switzerland (Zurich), then Spain (Madrid), then Long Island, NY. I only lived in my home country from when I was 21 and had just finished college, till I was 31. Tried it, didn’t like it, send literally over a hundred resumes until someone finally took the risk and offered me a job here.

What’s your occupation?
I’m a software developer for a cellphone recycling company. Nerdy job, definitely not a nerdy person.

How did you hear about CrossFit Luna and why did you decide to join?
I live right down one street and work right down the other so it was only time before I actually payed attention to what was around me and saw the building. Needless to say I called in the same day and waited patiently until they were ready to open and I was able to start!

How have you seen yourself change – mentally or physically – since being a part of CrossFit Luna?
I’ve become so much stronger both mentally and physically. I have this horrible tendency to psych myself out from the workouts, thinking I can’t do something before I have even tried it. It’s been a journey trying to stop doing that because it only makes things harder. Your body can do so much more that your mind thinks it can. It’s an eternal battle against some of the thoughts and fears inside my head and a wonderful experience being able to finish and fight through workouts and movements you never thought you’d be able to perform. Handstand holds, timid handstand push-ups, banded pull-ups, box jumps are the types of exercises I never thought I would be able to do! But with great coaching I’m slowly catching up to them and hope/know they will only get better with time. Removing the bands for the pull-ups and getting real handstand push-ups is just that, a matter of time and a lot of patience from Dhenmark! And hey, who knew I could ever back squat 170lbs, or dead lift 230lb?!?!??!

What is your favorite exercise?
Tire flips are just too much fun to handle! And I have this weird easiness with split jerks that makes me enjoy the workout every time they are present!
What is your least favorite exercise?
Thrusters and Snatches! The first one because it is just hard and exhausting since it basically involves your entire body, and the second one because I have an extremely hard time getting down to the full squat it requires, that and the fact that I tend to fall every time I try it!

What has been your favorite WOD so far?
I was going to say any partner WOD because I love the energy that working along with someone brings to your workout, you really want to do good for the other person! But then I remembered the 100 burpee box jumps for time, which will sound weird since I don’t particularly enjoy burpees and have this weird extreme fear of box jumps, so being able to finish that WOD prescribed and in what was for me a decent time (17m01s) feels crazy and good. I still hear Dhenmark’s voice in my head, think of it as your 5K runs and just keep going, he really helped me push through it! He always does!

What has been your least favorite WOD?
There have been some killer WODs around. But I don’t know if I could name a least favorite WOD. Every WOD is a battle for me, specially the tougher/harder/longer ones. But they all teach me something different, they all aim to better my body and my mind, once we are done we feel 100% better. Yes there are those that I wish I would’ve been able to finish better, faster, but hey, that only leaves room for improvement!

If you had to name a WOD, what would you name it?
It would definitely have to be the phrase that makes me laugh and reminds me most of CrossFit: “I hate you, I hate this place, see you tomorrow.”

What are some of your goals for the coming year?
My main goals are to get leaner and stronger, both mentally and physically. I want to be able to perform unbanded pull-ups which I have never been able to do in my life and go through a full snatch balance movement without falling on my behind. Yes, I’m that type that gets bruises almost weekly, specially when we do burpees, it’s a fact that my right knee will wake up bruised the next morning!

How do you see CrossFit being different than other fitness programs?
CrossFit workouts are never the same, with that you don’t get bored and so used to the exercises that the body won’t respond anymore like you would in a regular gym. Every workout of every day brings a different challenge. We work skills, aerobics, and weights in a one hour class! But even more special is the CrossFit family and its energy. In what other fitness programs do you see that the people that “struggle” the most are the ones getting the most cheers? We CrossFitters are always there for each other inside and outside of the gym, helping and cheering each other through roadblocks every step of the way.

Did you think the sport of fitness would ever be for you?
I still don’t! I’m clumsy and not fitness built yet! But with CrossFit we can scale our workouts so we don’t feel unmotivated. With hard work and giving it the time it takes I think I will be able to say that the sport of fitness is for me!

How can other people relate to your story?
You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to start CrossFit but you do have to be willing to work hard every day! CrossFit is for people of all fitness levels and all body types, it doesn’t discriminate, and your fellow CrossFitters won’t give you the weird looks you might encounter at other gyms. It is not always easy, but it is always worth the try! The rush we get when we hit a PR, learn and correctly perform a movement we never thought we’d be able to, or finish a killer WOD in a decent amount of time is out of this world and totally worth the time and effort we put into it!

What is something that others may not know about you?
Even though it might not look like it sometimes, I am extremely shy to the point people think I’m stuck up. It takes the other person to open up to me so I can feel comfortable, lose the shyness and show the real me! So if you ever see me around the box come and say hi 🙂


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