My Crossfit Success Story doesn’t read much like most of the others I’ve read so far, which makes writing it a little tricky. I wasn’t fat, unhealthy, or inactive when I started. I played rugby for the three years while I was in college in Chapel Hill, doing two-a-days about three times a week, and worked at the campus gym for a year and half. My body fat percentage when I started Crossfit was probably somewhere around 17-20%–nothing to write home about, but not a red flag for eminent heart disease either.

I started doing Crossfit at school at Carolina but I was never serious about it. Once I moved to Wilmington, I went to the gym automatically but I kept going out of vanity. It worked and I started looking a little tighter.

Stepping in to CFW can be downright scary. My first introduction to the gym left me completely intimidated by what I saw. The sheer number of countable abs on both the men and the women inspired me to forswear Crossfit entirely. I was convinced I would never EVER look like those girls, and I already had a guy, so. No longer in a competitive sport, I would content myself with ab workouts and my favorite study buddy, the elliptical. My frame lends itself to being thin, which was traditionally my goal in life. That was the first impression. Were I not dating one of the trainers when I moved to Wilmington, I doubt I would have ever looked back.

The more I worked at Crossfit, the more I realized I was able to do. I am not naturally positive or confident and I’m even less so when it comes to working out. But every time I tried to give up on something, there was someone else with another suggestion or another tip, and eventually I did learn to kip, do double-unders, and even did a couple workouts as prescribed. Each thing I learned gave me a little more confidence and kept me from walking out. I went to a competition in October (on Tony’s suggestion—I was still terrified of him back then, so probably would have jumped off the top of the building if he’d told me to) and did horribly but it was fun. I learned a lot at the competition including my own limits. I’m really glad I went. I learned how much father I could go if I kept at it. I came back more motivated and determined to get myself healthier and stronger. After months of listening to everyone drone on about the evils of grains and the merits of the paleo diet I finally bit the bullet and gave up my bagels, chai lattes, and baked goodies (well, mostly… let’s say I made an effort).

I made considerable progress until February of this year when I hurt my back doing an infamous “stripper deadlift.” It was 220lbs, which was a huge gain for me, but it was also the last deadlift I would do for four months. That back injury was the most serious and limiting injury I think I have ever sustained. I was in constant pain and couldn’t even tie my shoes without having to sit down. Putting on pants was a whole different challenge. I went to a chiropractor, and it got worse. I tried working out anyway, and it got worse. I finally went to physical therapy where they misdiagnosed it once, then figured it out and began to help me correct it. I was in physical therapy from March through late April. You would think that a back injury would have kept me out of the gym, and at best I would be writing this post to say I would like to get back into it. I’m too high stress not to work out, so I went hunting for an alternative, in the form of some good advice from Tony. When I asked (somewhat sheepishly) if I could do the lean out challenge, even though by all measure I am and always have been thin,  he didn’t laugh at me and say “Why would you want to do that?” like plenty of other people did. Rather, he told me to meet him for lunch and came up with a strength program and supplementation regimen for me to do (that took into account pretty substantial limitations based on my back). I followed it, and gained about 7 pounds while losing a couple percentage points off my body fat. People noticed, and it felt good to have people tell me they could see the progress I had made. For the first time I wasn’t just thin, I was strong. I actually ended up complaining to Tony that I had to do something else because I can’t afford to replace my wardrobe to accommodate my thighs and shoulders. He suggested his Olympic Lifting Course, which has been an endless source of frustration for me, but nevertheless I can see myself improving. Each little bit is enough to keep me coming back the next day.

My success story doesn’t boast impressive weight-loss, overcoming a disease, or any trophies. My before and after pictures do not jolt the viewer. I think my story is more demonstrative of what CFW can offer the average individual– someone who doesn’t have any real problems, or any seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but who wants to improve herself, her confidence, her image…who just wants a challenge. CFW and the staff have offered me chances and strategies to do all those things. I’m not done, but I never will be. I can always work harder, eat better, and train smarter. I know Tony and the rest will never let me get complacent. That’s what I love about the gym, you can always do better.

– Sara Clark

Top, Sara the summer before joining CFW, 118 lbs and roughly 17% bodyfat. On the bottom Sara this week and at the Brave Soldier Challenge, 135 lbs and just under 13% bodyfat.  A gain of 20 lbs of lean body mass. Congrats!


Myofascial Release – Posterior Chain
Band Stretching – Shoulders, Pecs and Hamstrings

14 thoughts on “Sara’s Success Story

  1. No GOOD says:

    Great post Sara!! Like a lot of us at CFW I did not think you actually worked because you were always in the gym. Keep it up. I will say that the lower left pic should be placed side by side with a pic of Hank’s Mom (Amanda), I think they could pass as the same .

  2. Albert Steed says:

    Way to go Sara! You are an incredible person to work out around. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work. 🙂

  3. Gloria says:

    Sara, really good read. Nice writing skills :-). This kind of stories is close to my heart as mine is similar (though I’m not 13% BF) in that I come from the same kind of place and have never been fat or had any probs. Don’t ever think you don’t have a story just because you don’t feel like it doesn’t involve trophies or 150lb wt loss. MAD PROPS! Keep it up!

  4. Sara Clark says:

    T– in the interest of full disclosure, I can add the 2nd place at Brave Soldier AND a whole bunch of “most improved” awards from middle school… haha. And you scared the shi* outta me when I first got to CFW. So did Melissa. You didn’t have to do anything. just stalk around the gym intimidatingly.

    No Good– I do indeed work, but I don’t think having a job is ever an excuse not to take care of yourself physically, which is why I make a point to come in to the gym, even if it has to be squeezed in during lunch.

    Thanks all!. 🙂 and sorry for the book. Being concise has never been a strong suit.

  5. Sensei says:

    Excellent read Sara,

    It’s a pleasure to see you grow and it inspires me to do more as well. Thank you!

  6. Taylor says:

    Very inspirational Sara! I have noticed, and heard about your HUGE gains; so don’t feel like your story is not compelling. I have been trying to mentally modivate mysef for a workout today, with not much progress. After reading your story, I have to say, I am ready to get in that gym and lift some weight. Every time I see you in the gym, you are doing more than what is perscribed for that day. You are constantly working on skills and strength. You are a great inspiration.

  7. Whitney says:

    I love any story that involves a 20 lb gain of lean muscle mass! Incredible! Congratulations, Sara, on your success and strength. You look awesome.

    Anyone who plays tennis might be interested in Aces for Orphans which is a charity doubles tennis tournament on Saturday 07/28 and Sunday 07/29 at the Althea Gibson Tennis Complex at Empie Park. There are 4 skill levels and it is $40 per person. Proceeds benefit my friend’s adoption agency which is a family run non profit that serves local birth mothers as well as placing orphans from around the world with local families. I am leaving registration forms on the counter if anyone is interested. CFW, if you want to be a sponsor please email Erica at CAHadoptions “at”

  8. Meagan says:

    Sara you are so strong girl….always have been since you walked into the gym. Being strong is not always about how much weight you can lift or if you win every competition….being strong is all about conquering things you never imagined you could before…it’s coming into the gym after that long day of work and pushing through a workout even if you feel you have nothing left…it’s about finding a goal and sticking with it and then exceeding it….so by everything I have seen from you girlie…you are the strongest of strong. Keep up the awesome work girl.

  9. Jen S. says:

    Sara you are awesome! You so inspired me to finally get into the strength training program because of the way you were shaping up…and I am so happy I took your lead! I LOOOVE it and I can really tell that my body fat has decreased even though I still weigh about the same. It’s pretty awesome and I feel so strong! Thanks girl! Keep up the great work!

    PS…the stalker thing really had me roflmao!!

  10. Meagan says:

    Hey sara! Just read your post and it really got me inspired! I actually also had a major back injury from the same type of DL in may and still waiting for recovery. I coach at CrossFit invoke in Raleigh and would love to talk to you a bit more about this! Email is Awesome story girl!

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