Each month we will feature an athlete that embraces the difficult feat of changing their lives for the better. We all come with our own set of challenges — whether it is work, family, or just a seemingly endless ‘to do’ list. Getting fit, making yourself a priority and finding that balance is hard work. And it is important to celebrate our victories and find inspiration in those who take on these challenges head first. As someone who embodies all of these characteristics, we are proud to introduce Irina as our first athlete of the month.
APRIL ATHLETE OF THE MONTH: IRINA KOLB
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I was born in Russia and moved to Colorado with my family when I was 13. I moved to DC in 2002 to pursue a graduate degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and finally settled in Columbia nine years ago. I’ve always enjoyed fitness classes, but I really fell in love with exercising when I went to my first Krav Maga class in 2004. I moved up quickly and enjoyed the benefits (both self-defense and the fitness) but I continued to feel that there was something lacking in my exercise routine. I tried CrossFit when my Krav Maga studio started offering CrossFit classes and immediately began to see changes that I was really excited about. I continued to practice Krav Maga for self-defense, but CrossFit became my primary source of fitness. Life and injury caused me to leave my previous gym and take a break from CrossFit. Fortunately for me, Marina and Brian opened up the Cove. Now with a family (and a rambunctious 3 and a half year-old), and a job in DC, CrossFit at the Cove is the ideal solution in my life to get the exercise I need in the short amount of free time I have.
What has changed since starting CrossFit?
I’m in best shape of my life (smallest/thinnest, strongest, fittest) without ever being bored with my workouts. Since I don’t have to spend hours at the gym, I am able to find that balance between family, work, and fitness. I also learned to embrace paleo eating (I don’t want call it a diet as I see it as a way of eating rather than the traditional view of a diet) to help me lead a more healthier lifestyle and help me recover better after those heavy WODs.
How has CrossFit affected your life outside the gym?
CrossFit has helped reduce my stress and cope with the demands of my work and life, and I have a lot more energy. Also my achievements in CrossFit inspire my achievements in other aspects of my life. Every time I PR on a workout or on a lift, or achieve my next CrossFit goal, the excitement of my accomplishment carries over into the rest of the day and gives me the extra spark.
What do you enjoy about The Cove?
I know it might sound cliché, but I feel like was really able to find a home away from home, my “happy place” at the Cove. I think everything just came together. The extended schedule availability really gives me the opportunity to train every day of the week and work on my technique during open gym. I can come in at 5:30 am, get my workout in and be at work in DC on time. The support from my fellow students and the coaches is incredible. The morning crew and their energy pushes me to work harder during the workout, Chris always keeps me honest about the integrity of my movements and always goes out of his way to help me get better with my technique, and Brian and Marina always make me feel so welcome and do everything possible to make it easy to be a mom, a wife, and be an athlete. I also love the kiddie cove, the babysitting services, and the family friendly environment.
Favorite movement? And why?
Olympic lifts. While I really enjoy most of the barbell workouts, the complexity and intricacy of the snatch and clean & jerk make it so rewarding when your body is finally starting to get it. I also really like burpees – crazy, I know. They have just always been pretty easy for me.
Least favorite movement? And why?
Wall ball and rowing. I’m short…I know I know, that shouldn’t be my excuse, but the fact is that I literally almost have to jump every time I throw the ball to reach that target, and I’m so much slower at rowing than most people that it’s just very difficult to enjoy those movements.
Any advice for people who are just getting started at The Cove?
Go at your own pace but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Push your comfort zone a little each time and remember to have fun. Be patient, but don’t ever sell yourself short. It may take you a year to start stringing your double unders or two years to get your first unassisted pull-up (that was me), but you will be able to master them if you keep working at them. CrossFit is all about you and everyone here at the Cove is really supportive and committed to helping you succeed at whatever your goals may be.
**After each climb spend 30-60 seconds in the keg drill**
Note: This is our first time doing rope climbs in a workout. Please wear high socks or long athletic pants that cover your lower leg to avoid irritation. With proper form it can be avoided, but for beginners there can be some friction with the rope!