This member of the month has been a long time coming. A lot of things learned in this life can be done so in two ways; The fast way, or the right way. Jenn “JSlo” Slowikowski is a shining example of doing it the right way. This perfectionist for movement is CrossFit Amoskeag’s September Member Of The Month.
JSlo joined Amoskeag in January 2015. I’d known her husband, Derrick, for years through work, but had never actually met Jenn before. He warned me ahead of time that she might not enjoy the CrossFit environment as she was supposed to be shy and a bit of an introvert. Clearly, his warning to us left us confused. If you see JSlo at the gym, whether it’s at a group class or open gym, she has a huge smile on her face and always a kind word or greeting. Her enthusiasm is infectious! And when she starts lifting, the smile doesn’t go away, but it’s all business. Jenn is going to do it and she’s going to do it right. We take great pride in our community at Amoskeag, and JSlo is a shining example of why our community is so amazing. Thank you Jenn for being so awesome. Thank you for demonstrating what it is to be #AmoskeagStrong!
– Bob and Coach Zach
When/How/why did you choose to CrossFit?
I first learned about CrossFit when my husband, Derrick , joined one of the very first on-ramp classes CrossFit Amoskeag offered. As he came home talking about each WOD, I started to get sucked in. I even tried to learn the clean from Youtube videos before I took the official plunge at CFA. I was fascinating by the barbell from the beginning. I came for the heavy complex lifts and discovered so much more.
What is your favorite thing about CrossFit Amoskeag?
One? Only one? It has to be the community.
No one at CFA will believe this, but I’m a I’m a huge introvert and have often been an exercise loner. I’ve tried gyms before, and even outside the exercise classes, I felt crowded by strangers. I prefer to zone out and focus on my body when I workout. I still do after rough days, but now, with CFA, I look forward to the group workouts during most of the week.
Here at CFA, we lift each other up with so much positive energy, and none of it is faked or forced. CFA is full of wonderful, supportive, strong, people – some who love to torture themselves with physical challenges, and some who get paid to torment us. I wouldn’t give up any of them.
What role have your family/friends played in your CrossFit journey?
My husband got me hooked, and even though he has moved on to other endeavors, he still patiently listens to me ramble on and on about the ups and downs of each workout. Once here, I made so many supportive friends who continue that journey with me.
The real story, however, comes from facing a friend pulling the “CrossFit is dangerous” routine. When I had to formulate an intelligent response to shut her down, I recognized the things I loved about Crossfit too.
It’s not dangerous…
- Bad coaching is dangerous, but I have kick ass coaches with a variety of extensive experience and a love for CrossFit that can’t be denied.
- Bad technique is dangerous, but I have kick ass coaches that teach me how to lift heavy safely.
- Getting cocky or ignoring my body’s warnings are dangerous, but I have kick ass coaches that know when to push and when to pull me back.
I already knew it wasn’t dangerous. Instead, I realized then that CrossFit isn’t really expensive when I think about all the guidance I get everytime I step foot into the box. I stopped thinking about cost and enjoyed each WOD even more.
That friend? She doesn’t say CrossFit is dangerous anymore. Instead she just looks confused and says, I don’t even want to know what a deadlift is. And that’s okay.
Who at CFA do you look up to, respect or admire and why?
Everyone! Seriously, everyone here has a story and a challenge. At CFA, we have Regionals athletes and people new to fitness. We have parents and grandparents and kids. We have people who are great at fast-paced Metcons and people who can throw around heavy weights. I can learn from all of them, and everyone of them is strong in his or her own way.
It might sound crazy, but I love the snatch right now. I hated it last year because it frustrated me to no end. It was impossible! I finally broke through that mental barrier, and now, it’s almost a comfortable lift. I love finding that point where something clicks and a move that has seemed impossible suddenly pops within reach. And I love that there’s always a new challenge awaiting me.
I have to give a shout-out to Barbell Club coaches Moonshine and Carissa for the snatch becoming my favorite. Moonshine had to physically separate me from the training bar when working on this lift during Sunday morning Barbell Club, and Carissa kept me focused on moving forward so I wouldn’t miss it. They helped me through a long-lasting plateau of, “I can’t!”
Least favorite WOD or skill (your “Goat”)?
Pull-ups. Insert crying emoji here. My back is stronger. My grip is stronger. I’m still struggling to string it all together in one move that gets my chin over the bar.
Biggest challenge so far (in CrossFit, health or nutrition)?
Tequila. I mean, nutrition. Actually, I know what I need to do for better nutrition and I choose not to. I like a good drink, and I know I’ll never have six-pack abs. So that’s probably a boring answer to this question. Let’s try again…
Cardio is my biggest challenge. I love lifting a heavy barbell. It’s very therapeutic. Running used to be cathartic too, but since I’ve had to stop running, I haven’t had the heart to keep up the cardio endurance. I go through short spurts of attending more WODs to work on my cardio endurance, and then I decide to B-side and lift for two hours three days straight. Oops, forgot cardio again! It might take another 20 minute AMRAP Open challenge to remind me I need to dedicate more energy to my lung capacity.
Proudest accomplishment so far (in CrossFit, health or nutrition)?
It sounds silly, but it has to be attending the in-box competition in August. I don’t like being “on stage”. The Open was very uncomfortable for me, but once I committed that twenty dollars I had to do it. It was hard to be the center of all that cheering and energy on Friday nights.
The In-Box comp was more nerve-wracking. Would I hold up my share of the work? Could I make my team proud? I had my doubts, but I pushed them aside, sucked up the discomfort, and had a great time competing. Maybe it helps, just a little, that my team won.
Best experience as part of CFA?
I’m strong! On and off through my adult life, I’ve flirted with having sexy shoulders. I love the curve of the shoulder and its little divot where it hits the arm muscles. Today, I may need to lose a few pounds, but I have strong sexy arms. I have thunder thighs that can squat more than my body weight. I am strong.
And best of all, I’ve become stronger mentally. Sometimes I have to tell myself, If I can jerk one hundred pounds over my head, then I can wrangle that difficult customer into a mutually beneficial partnership with a lot less effort. And I do. Non-CrossFitters doubt it, but CFAers will tell you — CrossFit translates into stronger leadership skills, better confidence in the unknown, and so many more day to day benefits. Functional fitness is not just physical, but mental as well.
Favorite quote or motto?
Get out of your comfort zone. It sucks, but you can’t improve in there. Leave it behind daily.
When you think it’s tough, difficult or impossible, what keeps you going?
Stubbornness and the support of the community. I can’t count the times I’d be sinking into a squat thinking about bailing instead of standing up,and I hear someone yell out “You got this JSlo!” and I do more times than not. That someone — no matter who it is each time — coach or athlete — helps finish that lift. That Metcon. That PR. That last damn set of burpees.
Back in the day (probably over a year ago), Jeff Licciardi coached an Oly class. He looked at me fighting to control the training bar with a couple of light plates and said “You should be snatching 90 pounds.” I thought he was crazy at the time, and for months after that, but now, that’s my number one goal for this year.
And, like any obsessed CrossFitter, I have many more goals: pull-ups, a triumphant return to running WODs, 53# kettlebell swings, to learn to pace long Metcons so I’m not sucking wind in round two.
Your message to readers:
You do remember I’m not comfortable being on stage right? 🙂
If you’re a CFA’er, I love you. Thank you to every athlete, coach, and owner for being a part of this wonderful community I love.
If you’re thinking about trying CrossFit, DO IT. Don’t let CrossFit intimidate you out of trying. It will be hard, but if you rise to the challenge it will be rewarding too. The only time I’ve looked back is to ask myself why I didn’t start sooner.