My favorite part of doing Barbell Shrugged is meeting people. Really, we are fortunate to encounter so many amazing athletes and coaches. I consider it a privilege and an honor to feature their stories.
The week ahead will be busy. You’ve got lots of work and training to do, but before you get to all of that take the time to read Stephanie’s story. She’s helping to define what it means to be an Adaptive Athlete, which is something we seriously admire.
We are all privileged. Individual capabilities vary greatly, but in the end that doesn’t matter very much. Rather, we are only rewarded and satisfied when we give our very best effort, both to better our own life and the lives of other people.
Thank you for sharing your story, Stephanie. I see now why they call you ‘The Hammer’!
We are impressed.
As athletes and coaches one of the first things engrained into our thinking is the term “Rx.”
That’s how we all judge the WOD, right? The thought runs through every athlete’s head as they begin their fitness journey, and that’s okay. But what if you knew you could never physically Rx a workout?
Does that really make you any less of an athlete or coach?
It took me a really long time to look in the mirror and see the beauty that the rest of the world would tell me they saw, but with confidence comes acceptance. Big thanks to my gorgeous cousin @adeener17 for the #20beautifulwomen nomination! Love yourself and all that makes you beautiful, unique and sexy! #LikeAGirl #BossLady #YoureStaringAtMySexy #TheHammer #IAmAdaptive
From the moment I was born the odds were against me. I was three months premature, with compromised oxygen and blood flow to my brain. No one thought I would stay alive for very long, but here I am. Lucky for me, I was born a fighter.
I believe that I’m here to set the world on fire.
My official diagnosis is Cerebral Palsy, but that doesn’t define me or how I live. If it did I probably wouldn’t be writing this at all. In simple terms CP is a mild stroke that causes muscle spasticity, as well as balance and motor skill impairments. The messages from my brain don’t fire as fast as I would like them to, so I have to move a bit different than most.
Doctors once told my family that I might be completely dependent. They said I wouldn’t be able to read, speak or even write. That must have been crushing to hear, but they never let me believe any of that for a second.
As far back as I can remember I’ve always had the choice. I could live the life the doctors had prescribed for me, or l could create my own Rx.
I did my own thing.
“Are you doing anything fun for your birthday?” 6 workouts+ @hinshaw363+ @tysonold + my boys and I doing @CrossFit… Ya so I guess you can say I did! ☺️ #Grateful #wheelchairgang #TheHammer #BirthdayBossLady A photo posted by Steph “The Hammer” Hammerman (@stephthehammer) on
Despite those early fears I’m now 25 years old. I have a Masters degree. I’ve completed in 4 full marathons and about 10 Crossfit events. I’m the world’s very first Level-2 CrossFit Trainer with Cerebral Palsy.
I’m not all all finished, but it’s safe to say that I have surpassed those doctors’ initial expectations.
I started doing Crossfit in 2012. I didn’t know what it meant to be an adaptive athlete, I just enjoyed the process of training. I loved getting better. Each day I would roll into the box on my power chair, grab my crutches and then start warming up. I was just like any athlete. I stretched, lifted, and felt like someone was trying to kill me by the end of the WOD.
But I also loved returning the next day to see what new sorts of torture I would endure. I loved learning new skills and getting better at something that used to be extremely difficult just weeks before.
Check out Stephanie’s full story…
I’ve made a lot of progress in my training, but it hasn’t been easy.
I have to give my coaches a lot of credit for sticking with me. Little by little we’ve figured things out. We’ve found some strengths and many weaknesses along the way, but giving up wasn’t an option. When a movement adaptation didn’t work we tried something else. When we found something that did work we recorded it and shared it online.
Those videos were just fun to watch at first. They were also an easy way to visualize my progress, but soon I started publishing them on social media as a coaching resource for other adaptive athletes. The response has been so positive.
This is now my daily routine, my purpose, my fire. Training and coaching is where I found my true passion and purpose. More and more adaptive athletes are getting into CrossFit every single day. And for the first time I really understand why I was placed on a much different path than most.
I was supposed to use what made me different to make a difference in the world.
A photo posted by Steph “The Hammer” Hammerman (@stephthehammer) on
With time I’ve realized that Cerebral Palsy has been one of the keys to my success. This experience allows me to see training, coaching and life much differently than most people, and for that I’m grateful.
The prescription matters. You have to hold yourself to a very high standard during your workouts. But it should be your standard. The only thing that really matters is that you give it everything you have.
You might be brand new, training for the Open, or maybe even an adaptive athlete like me. It’s all the same. In the end the only thing that matters is that the effort is Rx.
Do your own thing,