BEAST goodr gets the scoop from proud CrossFit mama Kenzie Riley.
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to feel like you’ve found “your calling” in this life. Feeling like you’ve found the one thing that sets your spirit on fire and makes you wake up every morning excited to live is a powerful thing, to say the least. This is how CrossFit has always made me feel. Ever since I stepped into my first box in the summer of 2012, it was a whirlwind romance from the start. I became obsessed with the challenge and pushing myself to surpass physical and mental limits I felt I had. I began to see progress and over time, a linear progression toward achieving every goal I ever set. I fell in love with the process and season after season I saw my progress and it fed my hunger to keep pushing my limits to achieve more. I felt purpose and passion and in time, I had made a hobby into a profession; I was living my dream.
The 2019 CrossFit season was one with more hurdles than I had ever had. Physical ailments and a complete change of the competition landscape left me frustrated and unsure of my future as an athlete. I remember a phone conversation with my sister a few weeks prior to the Games and she asked me “Is this the last one?” and for the first time I truly wasn’t sure. We talked briefly about the future and I remember her telling me “Look down the road, 5-10 years from now. What do you see? Where do you want to be? What do you want to have? And is another Games, or two, or three going to support this short term vision?”
I realized I had to start creating for myself NOW what I wanted to have THEN. I turned 32 the week after the 2019 CrossFit Games which makes me not quite old, but also, not quite a young spring chicken anymore either. I knew at this juncture, “coming back” to try and compete amongst the open division was a highly unlikely reality. I know the up and coming, hungry young athletes and I know the demands of motherhood. Realistically I couldn’t see myself being able to train enough to contend with the young and hungry talent that is able to prioritize training first. My husband and I knew we wanted a family but we wanted to ensure I got everything out of my CrossFit career as possible. I wanted to leave no room for “coulda, shoulda, woulda” or any resentment of a career ended too soon, especially toward any children we might have. I weighed the pros and cons a few times, but more or less, I just had a feeling in my gut that God would help us decide. I was at peace with what I had achieved in my career and was ready to look toward building upon that success into a new chapter.
Another factor in this decision was the prevalence of fertility struggles I saw all around me. We were not naive to the fact that some parents wait a long time to be able to hold a baby in their arms, so pressing that timeline was not a game we wanted to play if that happened to be our situation. But luckily, God had other plans for us. We were blessed to get pregnant right away- letting Jesus take the wheel was absolutely the right move because he said “YES! NOW IS THE TIME!” and we were pregnant within weeks from my last event at the Games.
Through pregnancy I was able to maintain my fitness and because I truly LOVE working out so much, it was easy to want to do...even when I had a big ol belly! I worked out up until the day I left to get induced at 40 weeks and 6 days; I even did an “AMRAP” in the hospital to try and get baby boy moving (walking the halls, bouncing on the labor ball, air squats, yup, it’s true.) Coming back from childbirth is nothing to rush. READ THAT AGAIN, MOMMAS! Too quickly and you can find yourself with issues that set you back long term, even further down the road. Personally, I took 2 weeks completely off besides walking and breathing exercises. Started slowly adding things in every couple weeks, a new movement; intensity stayed low for a solid 6-8 weeks. Around 3 months I was able to push intensity and lift some heavier weight. I worked with an amazing DPT who specializes in women's health; she was an integral part of my recovery! By 6 months postpartum I was officially able to do everything safely and soundly! During this return to fitness my training sessions look very different than before. Five hours a day is now 60-90 minutes. Some weeks I take an extra rest day and swap a nap for a workout. Some days I’m too tired to “hurt,” so I do some light biking or rowing and burpees, just to get blood flowing and a little sweat. I have done more affiliate classes in the last 6 months than I have since 2013 and it is SO much FUN! My priority is to move and to feel good moving my body; I still like to push myself and always will, but it’s for ME, no one else. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore.
My absolute favorite thing about how I train now is that I get to share it with my son, Race. He LOVES being in the gym and is absolutely mesmerized by watching double unders and pull ups; I even get some belly laughs out of him when I do box jump overs! He will grow up knowing the value of health, strength, and hard work. I will always want to train because it still is a calling I feel in my soul; it just feels RIGHT. And I probably will compete again at some level, just because I enjoy it. There is no longer pressure or expectations around the outcome of my daily grind and that is most often when I thrive. So WHO KNOWS what the future holds or where this mom life fitness will take me, but I do know I’m living my best life being a mom first!
THE SUNNIES THAT STARTED IT ALL
THE STORY BEHIND THE SHADES