Steps Towards Freedom – Adaptive Athlete Alexis Uses CrossFit, Yoga and Tenacity To Uncover PossABILITIES

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Steps Towards Freedom – Adaptive Athlete Alexis Uses CrossFit, Yoga and Tenacity To Uncover PossABILITIES

By Alan Shaw, Co-Owner and Head Coach of Rhapsody CrossFit in Charleston

We were half way through a classic CrossFit couplet – 10 calories on the Assault bike and 15 wall balls for as many reps as possible in 15 minutes.

Alexis finished her third stint on the bike and stepped towards the wall – two steps. We both stopped for a second before she started into her wall ball shots.

I saw it. I knew it. Alexis knew it.

After finishing her last toss, she turned to get back on the bike. Three steps. We locked eyes and both of us burst into tears.

Adaptive Athlete Alexis at Rhapsody CrossFit in Charleston, SC.

Three Years Ago

Three years ago, Alexis fell from a rope swing breaking her back and damaging her spinal cord. Her injury resulted in partial paralysis from the waist down and a prognosis of being wheelchair bound for the rest of her life. She was 21.

If you know anything about Alexis, however, you should know that she’s not one to take any sort of line in the sand lying down. Vibrant, vivacious and tough as nails, this girl was bound and determined to live her best life prognosis be damned.  

In 2017 she found My Therapeutics at Mission Yoga with a fervent focus on mobility, balance and boosting her emotional health. In November of 2018, she tried her first Adaptive Training session with me at Rhapsody CrossFit.

Over three short months, Alexis and I worked to reestablish a relationship with her body and how it moved. Built on a foundation of strength training, much of our work consisted of establishing new neural pathways and relearning how to do essential movements.

As a coach, my job is to see possibility, not limitation. Every adaptive athlete presents a complex puzzle brimming with potential – I just have to find the right piece and put it in place at the right time to spark progress.

Progress, for Alexis, was taking her first unassisted steps in three years. These were steps towards her plans to travel abroad. Steps towards dancing again. Steps towards independence.

Steps towards freedom

Among the CrossFit community, you often hear about the sprint to slay a benchmark or commitment to hitting a new personal record. These are worthy endeavors, but the most important element of CrossFit – why I do what I do – centers on functional fitness.

It is all about enhancing your ability to move and move well throughout your day. Based in functional fitness, CrossFit programming is incredibly flexible with infinite adaptations and progressions designed to meet you where you are, which makes it an ideal strength and endurance tool for adaptive athletes.

Considering what Alexis was able to accomplish in just 90 days, imagine what she will achieve given 90 more. This fundamental mission fuels my fire for Rhapsody CrossFit’s Adaptive Training Program and makes me proud to be a part of the only CrossFit gym in Charleston offering Adaptive Training.

Whether you are recovering from trauma, injury, illness or finding your fitness alongside a congenital disorder or motor/sensory dysfunction, Team Rhapsody is committed to helping you adjust your approach, adapt stimuli and achieve your goals.

I want you to see and believe in your opportunity beyond limitations. Learn more about our Adaptive Training Program today.

Alexis and Head Coach Alan Shaw at Rhapsody CrossFit in Charleston, SC.