/var/www/html/wp-content/themes/Divi/single.php Member Spotlight - Sammy Rijos | CrossFit Strength Haven

Growing up, I have always been active with some type of sport. In high school, I participated in basketball, soccer, weightlifting, football and cross country. After high school it became harder and harder to stay as active.  Flash forward many years and I saw myself here in Austin, TX. I liked the energetic lifestyle that Austin had to offer, but I had a tough time trying to figure out what I wanted to do to maintain that lifestyle. I joined a few meetup groups such as long distance running, hiking and softball. However, it didn’t last long because I kept getting injured.

A doctor’s visit completely changed my life when I went in for a physical and had blood work completed. Normally, the doctor will call with the results of the blood work, but my doctor wanted me to come in. It was unusual, and the doctor told me that my bad cholesterol level was 217, which was a big problem. He then prescribed me some medication and recommended that I see a nutritionist. I started taking the medicine but noticed I wasn’t feeling well and started to get depressed. It was in this moment that I knew I had to make some serious changes.

As I was trying to figure out how to lower my cholesterol, I knew I needed to get out of town. I went to visit my friend in Houston, TX, and learned they were doing crossfit. I never understood the hype surrounding crossfit. It seemed like such a “bro” atmosphere: where people would stack dumbbells and try to do a handstand on them, or some other crazy exercise to impress people. Turns out that’s not the case. I died at the end of that workout and struggled to walk. More importantly, I had fun. Once I got back from Houston, I decided to find a crossfit box. I looked for a couple of days and then I came across CrossFit Strength Haven (CFSH). CFSH stood out to me because the gym was only open for 3 months at the time of my discovery. I felt that if I was going to grow, why not with the box? They also allowed dogs which was a huge bonus.

During my lunch break, I went to CFSH where I met up with Tim. He was very informative and encouraged me to do a community workout that same weekend. Yet again, the workout was killer, but I felt good about doing it. On my next 3 visits, I was fortunate enough to have Keelee help me through the elements classes. After that, I was hooked and part of the daily classes.

Since then, I have enjoyed my time workouts, seen major improvements with my health, and have improved my self-esteem. Within 6 months of starting the classes, my cholesterol dropped from 217 to 147. My doctor was very impressed with those results but still recommended me to take medication. I kindly declined because I knew I was going to continue to improve. Also, I have always been very self-conscious about what other people thought of me physically. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I’m happy and proud of myself both, mentally and physically.  

When I first started doing crossfit, I was barely able to lift 45 lbs on the clean properly. I couldn’t even do wallballs at 10lbs. A year and half later, I’ve been able to do double unders, clean 185, split jerk 195, squat 265, front squat 265, handstand push-up, bar muscle-up, ring muscle-up, complete many hero WODs, especially Murph with a 20lb vest, rope climb, 5k rowing, Wodapoolza qualifier, Athlete of the Month and completed a few RX workouts. I’ve even competed in a few competitions, but most importantly, I was able to meet wonderful people.

When I talk about crossfit with people who haven’t experienced it, I normally don’t get the best reactions. Most of the time it’s a negative comment about crossfit and some dumb movement that they saw on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I can relate. As I mentioned before, I had the exact same views prior to joining. I just happened to ignore those views and give it shot. I’m so grateful I did. Crossfit is more than going to the gym and working out. There is something much deeper involved. It’s the community that makes Crossfit. It’s an experience that I can’t really explain, but it’s something everyone trying to find a way to better themselves should experience.  

When I did the Wodapoolza qualifier, I had to record some of my workouts for score submission. One workout in particular really sums my whole experience at crossfit. It was the first workout for Wodpoolza, and it required to clean and jerk 165lb for 3 mins, rest 2 mins and 3 for a max clean and jerk. My max for a clean was already at 185, so this was going to be a heavy task. That’s not what’s important though. What’s important is the last min and a half of the video.  As you can see, that is what crossfit means to me. The support and cheering from everyone involved at the box drives us all get better. I can honestly say that was one of the best highlights of my time at CFSH.

Members of CFSH were there for me when I lost my dog, Honey. It was one of the hardest moments in my life, and I can’t thank them enough for trying to lift me back up.  I would first like to thank the owners, Coach Keelee and Coach Tim, for opening this box and welcoming me in with open arms. Secondly, I would to thank all of the Coaches: Jon, Matt, Tyler, Alex, Jennifer, and Rich. Lastly, thanks to every member at the gym for not only supporting me, but supporting others like me who are trying to improve. This has been a great experience and one that I will never forget.