September Athlete Spotlight: Jen Wielgus

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Tell us something about your life outside of CrossFit (career, family, hobbies, etc).

I’ve been a sports journalist for almost 20 years now – covering every level from high school to the pros, in markets from Chicago to Atlanta and now Philly – and had to evolve with the industry from strictly a print newspaper writer to now telling stories with video and social media. I work for the Bucks County Courier Times and Intelligencer newspapers, and my project – which I helped start from scratch – is a daily online high school sports show called “Game On.” I shoot, report and edit all my own pieces, as well as appear on camera as a panelist/pundit, which actually is kind of like being a CrossFitter because you have to try to be good at everything. It’s rewarding work, because I get to use my creativity and artistic sensibilities to tell stories that matter to kids and families and capture memorable moments in their young lives. But, FYI: don’t choose this line of work if making lots of money is important to you!

My favorite book or movie:

My favorite book is either “Take the Cannoli” by Sarah Vowell or “I Was Told There’d Be Cake” by Sloane Crosley. I so admire their ability to turn witty observations on real life into marketable literature. My favorite movie is “Fargo,” oh yah, you betcha.

My favorite local restaurant:

Isaac Newton’s, because long before we were married or moved to Newtown, my hubby JP and I would hang out together at the bar as friends. It’s where we celebrated the day we closed on our first house here in the township!

Tell us something that we don’t know or would be surprised to learn about you:

I used to have a blog about the NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser” that became pretty popular, both with viewers and actual contestants on the show. I got entrenched in that weird world. I would do interviews with people who were booted off the show each week, interviews with former contestants who were trying to keep their weight off at home, I covered a few local casting calls and one season finale in LA. I never took the show at face value, but being so close to it through the blog experience made me even more jaded about weight loss culture – still to this day I refuse to own a scale – and made me believe even more strongly in a sustainable, long-term diet and exercise lifestyle regimen. Don’t try to sell me any quick-fix shake programs!

How I was introduced to CrossFit:

Through my fitness blog, “Sweat Stains,” I got invited to try out a class at Sine Pari in Doylestown, and it was a crowded Saturday in a huge space, and they did “Fran.” I had to use a green band for pullups and almost couldn’t do a 65# thruster – I should show you the pics; it looks like I’m crapping my pants – but I just dug the energy so much, and I wanted to be like the girls who could do R/X pullups. As an intense, passionate person who was never afraid of lifting or getting big and strong, and who missed being part of competitive athletics, I felt like CrossFit was the exact right type of workout to suit my personality.

My fitness routine before CrossFit:

I ran every day on the treadmill at LA Fitness, did the elliptical and stairmaster, my lifting was bicep curls and tricep extensions…and I had zero core strength. I hurt my knee playing slow pitch softball, and as part of PT, it was literally the first time in my life I ever really squatted. That was (gulp) 2009. The fact I can even go below parallel now still seems like a miracle.

My thoughts after my first CrossFit workout:

Pretty sure I went online and looked for a cert course to sign up for, and within a few months, I had my Level 1.

My proudest CrossFit accomplishment is:

I think every time I do something I thought I couldn’t do, it’s my proudest accomplishment. I like looking at things that way because you have many chances to feel proud. But, what stands out immediately in my mind is deadlifting 300 pounds for the first time, in my first week as a CFN member!

My favorite WOD is:

I like the Hero WOD “Wittman”: Power cleans, kettlebell swings and box jumps, and the Benchmark “Christine”: Rowing, deadlifts and box jumps. “Helen” is also in my wheelhouse, although unbroken pullups still elude me.

My Favorite Lift is:

Split jerk! I can jerk more than I can clean. Go figure.

My next goal is:

To R/X “Amanda.” I have a long way to go.

How has CrossFit affected your life outside of the gym?

It’s helped. I mean, I’d probably be in a mental institution without it.

What I love most about CrossFit Newtown:

There are people here who like to sing and dance while they work out, which is THE SAME AS ME! …Also, the coaches, and proximity to home, and in-house comps, and the way we do the Open. Being part of Summer Slam 2017 was definitely a highlight.

What advice I would give to someone just joining CrossFit Newtown:

Don’t be intimidated by how other people look, or what they can lift or do, and don’t compare yourself to anyone. Don’t worry about fitting into groups or cliches. Be yourself. Work hard. Keep coming back, even after – especially after – a bad day. There is a place for everyone, there is much fun to be had and growth to be…grown?… and you are in control of what you get out of this experience, nobody else.

Do you have any diet/nutritional advice?

Eat real food.

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