Ever heard of a little thing called “girl power”? Liz Mellen, owner of Crossfit Medusa (1957 Mass Ave.), has been serving it up since she opened the gym, or “box”, earlier this summer. and the fitness-savvy ladies of Cambridge just can’t seem to get enough. Despite mornings full of practically back to back, fully booked workout sessions, Mellen and fellow Crossfit Medusa coach Beth Bryant sat down with Scout to talk about “the box”, how fitness applies to everyone from archaeologists to EMTs, and why every story can be a success story.
How did you come to get involved in, and love, Crossfit?
LM: “About 3 years ago, I went to a Crossfit in Charlestown and I loved it. It was very intense, and I had signed up for 30 days. Crossfit is expensive, which is part of what keeps people committed to it too- if you spend ten bucks on something, you don’t really care about it. We want you here, 5 days a week at least, and we expect you to come, so we work on this system of accountability, unlike those bigger gyms where they hope that you don’t come, we want you here. So I signed up for it, and in 30 days I felt completely different. I also had been thinking about functional movement for a long time. I had worked as an archaeologist before, and I saw sort of functional fitness and the lack thereof in the world, because we had to carry a lot of things for a few summers and actually dig, and I felt like it oddly applied to Crossfit. iIt became my hobby, and I decided to, instead of getting Ph.D., do the thing that I loved the most.”
BB: “I’ve been pretty into the fitness world for a couple of years, and I joined a Crossfit box last October, and it was the same thing, within a couple weeks I felt completely different. It was the first workout that I felt like instead of focusing on how many calories I burned, it was all about what my body could actually do and how much I could life and how much I could move something. I actually work in an obesity lab, and I study nutrition, so this kind of place tied right into it. [Liz] was my coach, that’s how we met.”
LM: “She would come every morning really early, and for someone so young, I thought, ‘Beth is solid.’ (Both laugh) That’s how she ended up here.’
How do you think that Crossfit has affected your clients?
LM: “It changes peoples’ lives completely. You could talk to one of our coaches, Danielle, she’s not shy about it, she lost a ton of weight Crossfitting, 100 pounds or something…It completely changes your relationship with your body, instead of you being at odds. There’s this quote by my favorite author Christopher Hitchins, as he was dying, he wrote- “You are not in your body, you are your body.” I think it completely changes people’s relationships with themselves, instead of eating and feeling bad about it, we call it ‘eating to perform,” and it changes your relationship with yourself in every way. You eat better, you sleep better, you feel better, you look better but you’re happier, and you’re proud of your achievements. That goes for everybody who Crossfits.
BB: “I think the big thing is that you feel confident, and you feel empowered. Across the board when women come in and they don’t think they can lift, and it’s just amazing to see their faces when they see that they’re stronger than they think they are.”
What’s the best client story that you’ve seen so far?
BB: “We have a client who [Liz was] doing diet work with, and she lost 30 pounds in 2 months or something.”
LM: “One girl already who’s an EMT lost like 25 pounds since I started coaching her earlier this summer, and we were working out together. I put her on a diet, I mean I’m not a nutritionist, but Beth is, ad together we could come up with something. We believe in coming up with a plan that works for each individual, we ask for a food log to see what we’re working with, and then we make recommendations- healthy fats, lean proteins, I mean it’s nothing that people haven’t heard before. But now she can do her job better- because she’s an EMT, she has to carry people, among other things. But we’ve had so many [success stories], and a lot of our clients are people that I coached in Jamaica Plain who have changed a lot. Mostly it gives people a chance to go that’s healthy and inspiring, as opposed to other after work options.”
Any final thoughts on what makes Crossfit so relevant?
LM: “We work on this idea of ‘universal scalability’, so anybody can Crossfit. I know it looks sort of intimidating, but whatever we do, we can scale it down to fit any ability. Instead of shying away from it, it’s the idea of scalability of a task- if you can’t jump on to a 20” box, we’ll have you step onto a 12” box, and we’ll go from there.”