AOTM: “Rise and Grind” with Erica Johnson

Erica Johnson

First off, I’d like to say how incredibly honored I am to even be thought of as “Athlete of the Month”. Seriously, the Manta Ray team has been the most supportive group of athletes I’ve ever encountered, and have made me the athlete I am today. Our Coaches are awesome to have brought such a great Box to our hood.

Let me tell you a bit about me… I’ve always been an athletic type. I’ve participated in all the sports (except soccer), and did pretty well at most of them. I’ve always been interested in outdoor activities as well: cheerleading, dancing, running and swimming, and pretty much anything that involved exercising when I was younger. Then, I joined the Air Force. Do you know I started to hate exercising after that (ha!). They will wear you out in the military, and the Air Force isn’t as strenuous as the others, but had the strict guidelines you couldn’t escape. I guess it’s mainly because I was forced to do PT (physical training) and I didn’t like being told what to do…

So that happened, then 9 years later I left the good ol’ Air Force and decided I wasn’t working out anymore. Silly, right?. I guess you can call it, I rebelled a bit. I love food, I love to chill with friends, I love being active, and I just wasn’t interested in the gym. Fast forward a couple years, a couple pounds, and a chubbier face…I started to trip! I was 29, looking like I was trying to be some thickums on VIBE magazine. Then I decided I wasn’t about to turn 30 looking like who did it and why. This is the reason I introduced myself back into the gym.

I was doing 2 a days heavy, fixed my diet, and stayed consistent for a bit. My friends and co-workers called me crazy with the regimen I was on. However, I wasn’t seeing a big difference, not the difference I wanted to see that is. Maybe it was because l still liked the same foods, and didn’t explore other exercising techniques as I could’ve. Let’s talk about food though, I kind of lost track of food. But Texas food is soooooo good (I was living in Dallas at the time)! I LOVE TACOS & QUESO!! Needless to say, I turned 30 and I look alright, lost fat and whatnot, but wasn’t at my best. I also had heard of Crossfit thru some co-workers and decided to try it out and was intimidated right off top. Didn’t go back.

Few months later, moved to Clearwater and still trying to figure out what’s going to work for me as far as an exercise routine. I used my apartment fitness center, which is what it is, but not the best. Went to LA Fitness that’s right down the street but they didn’t open early enough for me. Then I see the Crossfit Groupon. Yes, I had to think about it for a bit because I was still kind of leery from my last encounter. I discussed with my girlfriends too, and they were supportive. Also did a bit of research online to see what it’s like. Um….the women were HUGE! I did not want that! I’ve always been self-conscious about my upper body, arms, shoulders, because I know they can get a bit muscular and broad. No one wants a super beasty muscular boothang….I’m just saying.

Obviously, I purchased the Groupon, made it to orientation, fell in love immediately! I loved the vibe, and everyone is friendly. That’s important to me. I told myself I was going to take advantage of the 30 days in exactly 30 days. The end of Jan 2014 I started, and signed up for unlimited classes after that Groupon expired. I’ve been a DIE HARD CROSSFITTER since day one. I can’t get enough of telling people about it. All my friends hear me talk about it, my family, and co-workers. I promise everyone who knows me will at least try it out once lol. My aunt thinks I’m too big, my dad thinks I’m a beast, my brother is trying to be like me (he’s an athletic 19 year old with stupid muscles), and my sister likes to clown lol. It’s great.

It’s been a year and I still love every class. I enjoy the people I meet, and workout with. I get inspired each and every day by you all. It’s amazing the kudos you get from other athletes, I think it’s great. I’m super competitive with myself and only try to push myself more and more. Coach Chris and Sebastian have really given me more confidence then I could describe. I know I can go to them for any critiquing and it’ll help me out for the best. I appreciate the way Crossfit has changed my life. I even see the results I’ve always wanted, and it happened a lot quicker than going to the gym. Crossfit isn’t just a physical sport, you use so much of your mind it’s incredible. Learning how to pace yourself, learning your endurance, learning your strengths, weaknesses, and abilities are limitless. Again, I thank everyone for being new friends, a new family, and a great Box! I’m here to stay…if I don’t move.

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