You may recognise CrossFit member Claire Ashall, as the always smiling, chatty, bubbly member, who’s fond of a handstand! But what you may not know, is that she suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. She chatted to us about the condition, and about her journey in CrossFit so far! Get ready to be inspired 🙂
How long have you been with us here at French Vanoli and how has your experience been so far?
I’ve been coming since January. From my very first class when people were helping me out with equipment and encouraging me throughout, to the “low” fives after class, I’ve felt welcomed. On the days when I’m not feeling up to CrossFit it’s the people and the real sense of community that keep me coming back for more.
You suffer with Cystic Fibrosis, can you tell us a bit about this condition and how it impacts your life?
Cystic Fibrosis mainly affects my respiratory system and I cannot absorb food without a little help from my friends – pharmaceuticals. This means that it is very difficult to gain and maintain weight. My health routine consists of airway clearance physio twice a day, and nebulizers three times a day. I take up to 15 tablets with each meal, depending on what I am eating, as well as additional tablets throughout the day.
And how does it affect your CrossFit training?
I’m sure most CrossFitters who have been in a class with me have heard me coughing at some stage. Well that would be my CF showing! My lung function is lower than your average person and my heart works harder to keep up with me. I wear my HRM every class to keep an eye on my ticker and when it gets to 180 I take breaks until it drops back down. So if you see me taking lots of breaks and checking my wrist I’m not slacking, just making sure my heart doesn’t explode, but don’t let this stop anyone from encouraging me to get moving all the same! I have some bad days where I am extra coughy or some of my meds are messing with me but another thing that is great about CrossFit – SCALING! On those bad days when I feel like I can’t do exercise it’s the supportive atmosphere that gets me going. And let’s not forget about the banter! I used to hear people talking about endorphins they got from exercise and I never felt that. I only ever felt wrecked afterwards. CrossFit is the first type of exercise where I have felt endorphins and let me tell you they feel great! I come home from class buzzing, tell my husband all about what we did in class while he smiles and nods, then I head out the garden to practice my handstands.
Has CrossFit had any positive or negative effects on your condition?
It’s all been positive. When I started back in January I wasn’t able to go for a walk without having to stop frequently to cough and catch my breath. I can go for walks now without having to cough much at all and rarely, if ever, stopping. Another major plus for me has been my increased appetite. I am really enjoying my food and delighted to have gained over 5kg. My resting heartrate has dropped from 90bpm to a very respectable 65. This time last year I was in the middle of a 3 week stay in hospital on intensive IV antibiotics and had also needed multiple oral antibiotic doses. Since starting CrossFit I haven’t needed any antibiotics other than my normal maintained does. I haven’t even had so much as a cold this year which is very unusual for me. SO I would say I am doing pretty darn well living the CrossFit lifestyle.
Have you set yourself any goals for the future?
I really want to do a pull up and I’m working on that (thanks Coach Donna!) and I’m hoping to up my CrossFit from 3 times a week to 4. I just want to keep progressing and getting stronger slowly but surely. I am coming out of the Cystic Fibrosis closet, so to speak. I have been very private about having CF only letting people who were close to me know. I realise now that I should be sharing what happens with my Cystic Fibrosis as the more awareness there is about it the more fundraising and help people are willing to give. I’ve set up a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CF4CFer) to document my journey with the hopes of giving other people with Cystic Fibrosis encouragement to get out there and start exercising.