Beyond the weight room

Western student Erica Chapman uses the CrossFit motto to find success in all aspects of her life

STORY BY SAMANTHA ROGERS | PHOTOS BY KJELL REDAL

(Above) Erica Chapman, Western senior, kinesiology major and CrossFit enthusiast, performs a snatch lift on May 3, 2016 on the Wade King Recreation track.

One percent. That’s what you see painted across the back of Erica Chapman’s shirt as she walks into the gym, her blonde ponytail swinging behind her. She puts her bag down, and tapes the blisters on her calloused hands as an attempt to salvage any skin she has left. She inhales, bends down to grip the bar and exhales loudly as she lifts the 225-pound weight.

One percent is a CrossFit motto and the motto that Erica has adopted as her own. She pushes herself to be 1 percent better in all aspects of her life, every single day.

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program designed to increase a person’s physical fitness in 10 categories. Greg Glassman and his wife Lauren created the sport in 2000 as a way to hit each of those categories, but it wasn’t until the first CrossFit Games in 2007 that propelled the sport into the limelight, according to CrossFit Journal.

Since attending her first CrossFit class six years ago, Erica, a senior at Western, credits the sport with igniting her hunger for success. Whether it’s pushing through one more pull up or reading an assignment an extra time, Erica says CrossFit was her first glimpse into accomplishing whatever she put her mind to.

Erica began training at i1uvit in 2014, a CrossFit gym in Lynden, Washington, where she eventually started coaching. Pronounced, “I love it,” the number “1” in the title represents bettering yourself one percent every day. Kaylee Lovelady who believes that CrossFit is more than just an hour workout owns the gym. Kaylees says that CrossFit brings out the best in people both in their physical fitness and on a personal level.

Since Erica walked into i1uvit two years ago, Kaylee has seen Erica grow as both an athlete and a coach. By redefining her own fitness and the way she approaches her workouts, Erica has enhanced her coaching and the way she trains her clients.

Staying true to lower-body muscle development as well, Chapman executes a weighted lunge on May 3, 2016 on Western's track.
Staying true to lower-body muscle development as well, Chapman executes a weighted lunge on May 3, 2016 on Western’s track.

She smiles and exposes a slight gap in her teeth, laughing at the fact that she hasn’t always had the CrossFit mentality. Erica remembers how focused she was on being skinny in high school, doing whatever it would take to be one of the small girls. “I always felt like I didn’t fit in. I was always the one in the picture that wasn’t like the others,” she says.

She would downsize her weights in gym class so she wouldn’t stand out as a strong girl. She was ashamed of the way her body looked, her broad shoulders, her muscular legs and always felt different from her friends. Erica never pushed herself beyond her comfort zone, both in the gym and in her everyday life.

“[CrossFit] taught me how to own what I’ve been given and be exactly how I’m supposed to be,” she says.

In college, Erica started off experimenting with every diet in the book. Since overcoming her obsession with dieting, she has found more of a balance. Erica’s mindset toward life has shifted especially when it comes to food. Erica now knows what is best to fuel her body before and after a workout using what she learned as a kinesiology major. CrossFit has allowed her to tune into her body’s cravings and not be so caught up in the way her body looks or the number on a scale. It goes back to the 1 percent mentality, Erica says. Everyday she has been able to distinguish between what her body wants and what it actually needs, which hasn’t been easy.

“[CrossFit] made me own who I really am and be really proud of it,” she says.

Every morning Erica looks at her day ahead. She remembers 1 percent. She asks herself how she could make herself just a little bit better than she was the day before.

Chapman runs a sprint on May 3, 2016 at the Western track's turf field.
Chapman runs a sprint on May 3, 2016 at the Western track’s turf field.

CrossFit is both a physical and mental sport, she says. The mental aspect is harder to push through than the physical, which is where the 1 percent motto comes in. There have been so many instances in Erica’s daily life where she’s told herself that she’s tired and can’t keep going. But at the end of the day, you have to tell your mind to get out of your body’s way, she says.

“Everything that I go about in life now, I don’t just want to be a face in the crowd. I want to stand out. I want my name and my face to be unforgettable in this moment,” Erica says.

What she has taken away from CrossFit is what she cherishes the most. Erica will always remember her motto: 1 percent.

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