March 2018 Athlete of the Month: Irina Karpenko

I was born in Siberia, Russia and grew up in a place high in the Tian Shan mountains called Kyrgyzstan – a Central Asian country along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Almost 20 years ago I packed my suit case, grabbed my daughter and moved to Canada to build a new life. In January of last year, I relocated to Toronto from Mississauga where I lived for more then 13 years. I work for one of the Canadian banks (and, no, I don’t do mortgages). I am one of the people behind the scenes ensuring your invested money does what it is supposed to do – make more money.

I got into Crossfit because when you have friends who are into crossfit, and over the years you observed their body transformation, at some point in time you start asking yourself a question – why not try?… Recovering from a serious illness, and wanting to get back to normal life, I was looking for a type of physical activity that would be different from a traditional gym. Crossfit is the best combination for me in terms of fitness program and discipline. There is a team spirit, competition, friendships and fun – all at the same time.

Even before moving to Toronto I explored the area and came across 416. It was such a convenient location that there were no other choices. But it took me a few more months before I actually pulled myself together and walked in. In May of last year, a week before my birthday, a rotating banner on Facebook caught my eyes.  There was a six weeks challenge for ladies at CF416. That was a true challenge: for 6 weeks 3 times a week lead by amazing coach Derya we all were at the gym at 5am in the morning (!). Considering I’m not a morning person, that was a life changing event.

My first impression of CF 416 was like “a love from the first sight” – I walked in and I remember the smell of the rubber and metal. That was all I needed. I stood there for a minute just inhaling… And almost a year later, each day before I get to the box, no matter how tired I am, once stepped in I get pumped and energized again.

I love people here, I love the atmosphere, I love the sweat I get during the workout, I enjoy the feeling of the accomplishments. It hurts. There are days when I cannot move some of my muscles. But that pain brings me back again, and again, and again…

Proudest moment at CF416? hmmm… I am proud each time I finish the WOD 🙂 Most recent that I am still feeling excited about is my first Open. 18.1 was the highest point of “I can do it!” (Big thanks to DK for pushing through it!). There is still a lot to learn and improve, but it is thrilling. And being part of the team, like being part of a big family, feeling how much every athlete supports one another is very motivating.

I have a list of things “to work on”… Crossfit is still fairly new to me. Continuing with balancing diet, enough rest, and preparing for the remaining Open. Getting my endurance to the next level and improving technique of the exercises to avoid injuries are my priorities.

If I were to create a WOD it will be simple – 9 deadlifts + 12 wall ball shots + 15 kb swings max number of rounds in maybe 12 minutes. I would call it a “hammer”  (wish that was on the Open 18.3 lol).

When it comes to my most favourite 416 memory I have to go with the most recent again –  cheering for my #Gymandtonics team at 18.1 and 18.2. Open occupies my mind these days. 🙂 It is a great milestone. For me it is more like a baseline, but I know now what to work on to improve to get stronger and maybe faster…