Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
After her brother passed away in 2007, Julia DosSantos knew she needed to get healthy. She would work out off and on, and her dietary habits would fluctuate. In order to establish a stronger routine, she began boxing.
However, Julia’s self-confidence took a hit when she received a black eye during an exhibition match. She began to doubt her ability, and boxing was never the same for her. Between the low self-esteem and the loss of her aunt and her father-in-law, Julia decided not to return to the ring.
She went back to her unstable home workout. In 2019, her doctor suggested she join a gym with classes. “I like being with other people. Shared suffering [is what] they call it,” she laughs.
Julia decided to try the CrossFit classes offered at her new gym, but when she tried to lift the barbell, her weak wrist made the task feel impossible. The coach immediately began to show her alternative exercises, and Julia was encouraged by the directions she was given.
Again, her self-confidence started to become a barrier, but when she learned that several of the women in class had done CrossFit during their pregnancies, Julia was inspired. “Slowly, I started improving. It’s a tough workout, but [there’s] a feeling of accomplishment afterwards. It’s addicting!”
One of her favorite accomplishments has been strengthening her wrists enough to pick up the barbell. “The feeling of holding the metal in my hands made me feel so strong.”
Julia continues to attend classes, push herself, and conquer her fears. Ask her what she’d say to someone thinking about starting their own health journey and she’ll tell you to “get out of your comfort zone. You don’t know what you don’t know.” She didn’t know there were alternative ways to do the exercises in CrossFit, when she first started, and she didn’t expect to gain a new family, ready to motivate her. “Through shared suffering, you find a family you didn’t know you needed.”