Bonnie doesn’t take no for an answer. While most people would decide the deck is stacked against them and give in, Bonnie steps up to the challenge. As you will read below, Bonnie has a spinal deformity. She does not use this as an excuse to be sedentary. She faces her obstacles head on and lives her life the way she wants to through CrossFitting, snowboarding and enjoying other activities.
You can constantly find Bonnie in class supporting other members of the community and putting in lots of extra work before and after class. We are honored and privileged to have Bonnie as a part of our community and hope you all get the chance to get to know her and see her smiling face around the box. We love you Bon Bon! More from Bonnie herself…
1a. How did you get involved in CrossFit?
My curiosity about crossfit first began in the summer of 2011 when recovering from fairly significant spine surgery. I had advanced from working with my physical therapist several times a week and been cleared to start doing some independent strength & conditioning work. I have always been involved in some form of physical activity my entire life. I love being outside in the sun and air. I welcome any fitness opportunity combining all of those attributes particularly after spending just about one solid year in a hospital in 2009. As the deck of cards would deal me I was born with a spinal deformity, which remained stable for most of my life with limited progression. This held true until my deformity started to shift taking on a mind of its own. It left me with severe scoliosis, a large left thoracic kyphotic curve, stenosis throughout almost my entire spine compressing the nerve roots causing me to lose function and feeling of my legs. All of which brought me to face multiple staged surgeries for reconstruction of my spine. Biting at the chomp to continue advancing my recovery I thought I would be thrilled to make my way back into a conventional gym. Indeed I did return to working out inside at the gym I previously belonged prior to my reconstruction. As I am with most things in my life and having a “Type A” personality I was very committed giving nothing less than 125% to my rehab. I know at times driving my medical team crazy always pushing to do more… I truly was happy with my progress and thankful for being given the opportunity to stand, walk, and breath without my left lung being compressed. I served my time getting stronger finding as many ways to build my strength training into outside activity. I even moved weights and fitness equipment onto my patio space next to my pool. I began getting frustrated when needing to go inside for work I could not substitute without equipment located inside the gym. The thought of being cooped up inside was a daunting task. I also found it frustrating being surrounded by many folks who appeared to be working out for vanity purposes only. Certainly we all want to look and feel good about ourselves. For me, fitness had become about much more. Following my reconstruction the onus had fallen and remains on me to keep myself physically and mentally strong. I was not only trying to prevent myself from landing back in an operating room, I was also focused on trying to keep my rheumatoid arthritis under control. Unfortunately while at the tail end of my acute rehab I surfaced with aggressive diffused RA.
With all this said I started exploring fitness programs not leaving a stone unturned. I checked out just about everything. It did not take me long to become drawn to CrossFit. The principles and philosophy felt like it would be a perfect fit for me. I loved the idea of not changing a work-out but scaling things to one’s individual abilities. Given my limitations, I felt this form of fitness would allow me to accommodate if my body was not behaving as well as it could on any given day.
After waiting for my fusion and cement to harden a bit more, 2011 came to a close. I remember going in for follow-up thinking about asking the surgeon about joining CrossFit. In some ways I thought how much more selfish could I get? Most folks with my reconstruction never return to work let alone many forms of day-to-day life and I’m asking to join CROSSFIT? Being true to myself and always pushing the envelope…I asked. I got as close to a green light I could have possibly hoped to get… I was told the following: “Bonnie, only you! Be careful, the worst that will happen is you will break a rod or screw and I guess we will just have to fix it!”
I thought, score! Onward to checkout CrossFit! Yea for B!!! J
2.When did you start coming to CrossFit Southie?
I first explored CrossFit Southie shortly after the New Year in 2012. I recall very clearly, the first night when I checked things out. In fact, it was that very evening I knew CrossFit Southie had something very special going on… It was raining out. I had walked in as one of the last classes of the night was getting started. Several members were chatting, gathering their things following their class, and making a run for their cars. A very lovely member stopped and introduced herself as Leann. She was kind, helpful, answered my questions and was more than generous with her time. She introduced me to one of the owners of CrossFit Southie, Goose! Chris was very helpful, informative, and encouraging. He was more than willing to listen to my situation and discuss tailoring any skills to accommodate my limitations.
What was your first WOD/experience?
Following some email communication I made my way in for an intro class with Amy and Miss Christina. What an experience! If Amy and Christina did not run for cover after working with me the first time I confidently can say they can work with anyone!
First WOD? Hmmm… Oh Yes, remember it well…Let’s just say the WOD involved a PVC Pipe that did not even come close to making it up over my head and an irrigation box that I had NOT a snowball’s chance in Hell jumping onto. I could not tell if the look on Amy’s face was fear of me injuring myself or OMG this is one big fat liability accident waiting to happen. Amy and Christina with perfect coaching etiquette and so sweet encouraged me every step of the way. I remember driving home saying to myself, “Amy and Christina must think I’m nuts! Trying to CrossFit with such limitations….” The funny thing is, for as challenging as the CrossFit moves were for me all I wanted to do was try that much harder. Following a brief hiccup with my health in March 2012 I started working with Amy in some private sessions. She taught me most of the basic CrossFit moves. Many moves needing a scaled version accommodating for my limitations. Following some private sessions just like a mother bird teaching her baby bird to fly, Amy kicked me out of the nest! She said you are ready! You’re ready for a class! I remember saying to myself “ready for what? She has to be kidding! Me, in a class?” Certainly I was a bit intimidated but okay. Here I go…Skills from Amy tucked under my belt…Later that same week I was into my first Lando/Beretta class. J
3a. Is this the first CrossFit you’ve worked out at /3b. how long have you been CrossFitting for?
Yes, this is the first CrossFit I have worked out in. I cannot imagine working out in any other CrossFit Box. CrossFit Southie truly is unlike any other gym or fitness program I have ever been involved in. Amy and Goose make Southie a very special place. This box has a heart, soul, and a pulse that breathes life into its members… Thank you for pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into building/providing such a gift for your members. I have now been CrossFitting for a little more than a year. Loving every moment…. J
4.When did you realize that CrossFit was right for you?
Physically it has taken time. Some days are better than others. It can often be a bit challenging with my RA for all my joints and spine to be clicking on all cylinders. It has taken me the entire year to get my body to play nice. Mentally I knew CrossFit Southie was right for me straight out of the gate. I knew if I could learn how to walk again, and regain my life, sacrificing some fundamental movements we often take for granted, I was not about to let a PVC pipe or an irrigation box beat me. Most important, I knew CrossFit Southie was the correct place for me. Christina, Amy, and the entire coaching staff have never given up on me. Just when something throws me a curveball someone is right on it… Lending a suggestion or word of encouragement. When all else fails I can always count on TJ to breakout into one of his crazy stories bringing a smile to my face, lifting my spirits and causing me to dig a little deeper and keep plugging along…
5.What are you short-term and long-term CrossFit goals?
My short-term goal is to get back a regular legal CrossFit box jump. Not an irrigation box or stack of irrigation box’s. I’m talking plain old 20” wooden box…I had it going into the fall and lost it. I need to get this damn box out of my head! I would also like to get double unders. I’m working on it! J Long-term goal: I would love to one day get some form of an unassisted pull up. I know for me this might be a pipe dream without having the ability to kip. Who knows maybe…One can always dream! Honestly I am thrilled with every day I am given and being the best CrossFitter I can be each day….J
6.What is your biggest accomplishment?
For sure my greatest accomplishment in the world of CrossFit is getting a barbell over my head. I would never have been able to achieve this goal without the guidance from Coach Berretta. Following weeks-month of stretching and positive reinforcement from Berretta that PVC pipe finally made it over my head making way for getting an actual barbell over head. Some days it does not look pretty but I did it. Thank you Chris!
7a.What is your favorite / 7b.least favorite WOD/movement?
My favorite movement is just about any kind of squatting. Front squat, high bar/low bar back squat. I enjoy working on all of them. It is one of the moves in the world of CrossFit I can do without modification. I depend upon my legs because my fusion forces the axial load from my lower back into my pelvis and upper legs.
My least favorite movement is split jerking. The complexity of skills needed to carry out this move has not faired well so far on my body. I do not enjoy the torque feeling I get in my low thoracic/lumbar spine when working on this move. I am still trying to figure out if it’s a mechanical issue or flexibility… I will keep working on it!
8.What do you do for a profession outside of CrossFit?
I am a Nurse Practitioner at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I work for the division of Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation. I transplant people for hematological malignancies, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc. and some non-malignant disorders. My inpatients are cared for at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and I see my outpatient clinic at DFCI’s Yawkey outpatient building.
9.What are your hobbies outside of CrossFit?
I truly love spending time with my family and friends. They are what matters the most to me in this world…
I also love baking; Pies, cookies, pastries, all things definitely not healthy or paleo. I enjoy trying to find ways to alter recipes finding modification to provide a healthier variation. Who am I kidding…Nothing is better than full throttle butter, sugar, and fat…A true baker’s guilty pleasure… J
I will take any day on Nantucket with a book and sunset out at Madaket Beach. Truly heaven on earth…
Other things: Grilling, reading, snowboarding, dancing, and skating.
10a. Do you eat Paleo or Zone?
I am a fairly strict vegetarian. I have been from the time I was seventeen. My father worked in agriculture research. I grew up spending lots of time on farms with early exposure to all kinds of vegetables and fruits at a young age. I thank powers greater than I everyday for being his daughter loving all fruits and vegetables. It certainly set the foundation for healthy eating habits. Not eating any meat I am very mindful of my protein sources. I eat a tremendous amount of fish and seafood. I do eat a small amount of dairy but very limited amount and extraordinarily selective in my choices. Same holds true for sparing amounts of health grains.
10b.What is your favorite paleo meal?
One of my favorite meals is actually fairly simple. Grilled salmon with a little kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper over a bed of mixed baby greens, with grilled asparagus or green beans, walnuts, fresh raspberries, small amount of crumbled gorgonzola cheese with fresh balsamic raspberry vinaigrette. Simple, easy and takes no time to toss together.
10b. Favorite non-paleo meal?
With out a question, hands down, fresh baked straight out of the oven french baguette or sour dough bread with a triple crème brie cheese, fresh strawberries, apple slices, if in season some pear, and grapes. If in the winter, a glass of red wine with big bold dry and robust flavor; summer, a glass of clean, crisp dry white wine or champagne.
Not really a meal but certainly some of my favorites.
Favorite non-paleo meal would have to be Sushi. Love It! Can never get enough of it…
I love doing my own manicure. I know silly…But indeed I do. I don’t get the time very often with work/life balance but when I do I truly enjoy it.
I grew up as a dancer. Actually fairly serous at one point. Well before my spinal deformity took on a mind of it’s own. I danced ballet and other forms of dance. I even had the opportunity to travel for two years. When I was in nursing school one of my professors who mentored me was certain I would audition again and one day not return for class…
Simple Act’s of Kindness…
One of my favorite things to do in the world is a simple act of kindness. I love brightening the day of people who fill my life to the brim. I have even been known to carry out an act of kindness to someone I know only from a distance. I am not looking for anything in return other than know I made someone’s day a little more fulfilled, put a smile on ones face, or made a difficult day a little easier. You see, we as human beings are truly blessed to have the opportunity to live this life on earth. No matter how short or long our journey we get one shot at this place. It is our jobs to make the most of it!
I thank Amy, Goose, Christina, and all the Coaching staff at CrossFit Southie from a deep place in my heart. You certainly got far more than you ever could have bargained for when I stepped foot into CrossFit Southie. Thank you for your time, patience, guidance and encouragement. Thank you for not treating me any different than any other member. For the members I have come to know over the past year thank you for making me feel welcomed and lending your own words of encouragement. It has made all the difference in the world to me. Yes, CrossFit Southie is a very special place, changing lives and nothing short of being amazing. Coaching Crew, members, and even my little four legged friend I have come to know over this past year…You have all brightened my days and help to fill my life to the Brim! J
We are working towards creating a fundraising WOD to honor the victims of Monday’s event. It is the least that we can do. Stay tuned…
Every minute on the minute for 12 minutes
3 Clean and Jerks (165,110)
20 Double Unders
Level 3- (135,95)
Level 2- (115,80), 10 Double Unders
Level 1-(85,50), 30 singles