Lori and Jennifer Gaudreau
Let me start by saying that for those of you who witnessed Coach Sebastian tell my mom we had both been nominated for June’s AOTM, shocked and flattered and humbled and speechless and shocked again were all words that come to mind to describe how we felt. Neither of us were ever considered to be athletes as kids or athletic or would ever dream to be recognized like this. It is such an honor and on behalf of us both, we really owe it all to this box and EFC community.
I started at EFC in September 2014. I had just graduated from FSU in May with big city plans to start a new career in a new place with new faces- all of which never included moving back home to Clearwater. It honestly was the last place I wanted to end up because coming home was going to be the ultimate defeat and failure to me. The real world was just about as real as it could get as both the new career and the new place plans continued to fall through despite all my efforts and endless job applications. My mom and I joke now that August was an ugly month, but in reality it was about as bad as it had ever gotten for me. Wallowing in that hopeless, stuck, “what is my life now” feeling is just awful and is a downward spiral when you’ve lost sight of what you want. I wasn’t happy with how I felt or how I looked, and I knew something needed to change.
I remember driving back home from Orlando, frustrated and defeated, after another promising job offer I had received fell through. I told my mom that I was done letting things out of my control dictate my life. I needed something that I was in control of, that I had the power to change and influence; an outlet for all of this post-grad stress, but hopelessly lost in finding one that I could afford with a “recently graduated and unemployed” budget. Tropical vacations, European backpacking, magic shopping sprees, gym memberships were all out of my league. She looked over a few minutes later and told me she had found a Groupon for this CrossFit box in Clearwater. She knew my best friend from FSU was big into CrossFit and had suggested I give it a try more than once. She said she would buy it for me because she couldn’t stand to see my September turn into another Ugly August. I could try it for a month, get back on my feet, and have something to do during the day besides staying in bed on another Netflix binge.
No expectations and completely desperate, I agreed. And for that I will be forever grateful to her and this EFC family.
Finding this box, that day, with that Groupon, was such a game changer. I found a sense of confidence and purpose I had lost somewhere between Tallahassee and Tampa, and had discovered this new empowering sense of self. I did have the ability and power to take control of my life and health again- making changes for me that I had never made a priority before. I did have the strength and courage to accept that though I couldn’t make the new place and new career plans happen right away, I could stop punishing myself for moving back home to Clearwater. It wasn’t the ultimate failure I had come to believe, but truly a way for me to find myself again and a blessing for me to find this box.
But above all, saving me from my post-grad struggle helped save my mom’s life and for that I am forever grateful. She has always been such a role model to my sister and I. Such a selfless, giving, thoughtful person to everyone she meets. All of our accomplishments and success we owe to her unwavering encouragement and support as such a strong, single mother. But she never quite knew how to put herself first, and her health was slipping away from her. Bad habits grew into bad reports from the doctors, and yet there was still always something holding her back from making a change. I remember coming home from my first few days at EFC, totally exhausted, covered in sweat and just raving about how ridiculous and amazing my workout was, and she would tell me just how proud she was of me or how happy she was to see me happy. I would always tell her that she needed to try it, to come to the On Ramp class with me, and just make that first step. She always had an excuse for why she couldn’t do it- too old, too scared, too busy, too expensive…
It was December, I had been going to EFC for a few months now, she had just started her 2 weeks of Winter Break, and the Toys for Tots drive had just started at the box- one toy donation for a FREE month of classes.I sat her down and asked what excuse she had for me now. I told her the Orientation class would be following day and she better be ready to go when I got home from work.
It was my opportunity to be the supportive and encouraging one. I got to be her cheerleader, like she had been for me for so many years, and show her just how life changing this all could be- that should could do it, that she too had the power to take control of her life again. I dropped her off at that first orientation 6 months ago, and we’ve been tackling ever nutrition challenge, grueling workout, and personal accomplishments as a team ever since.
These coaches, these people, this community, saved us both. In different ways, and perhaps under different circumstances, but saved us none the less. We were both lost and defeated and found a new outlook on life in finding EFC. Seeing her success and growth has been just as rewarding for me as my own, and I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d want to share this honor with. All I can say is thank you- for giving me a light at the end of the post-grad tunnel, for giving me more years with a healthier and happier mom, and for giving us a community to share our successes with. I know we were meant to find a place here, even if we both met it with reluctance and excuses at first. It has changed our lives, saved our lives, and I wouldn’t take back the last 9 months for anything.