Mary Helen

Mary Helen looking looking focused with 168# for 5 reps!

Athlete Profile: Mary Helen Gillen

Hometown: Kensington, MD

Occupation and/or School: Site Director at Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps in Watsonville

When did you start with CFW? June 2011, started training with Chris in Sept 2010!

How did you initially get into CrossFit? Chris made me do it! 🙂 I moved to Santa Cruz in 2010 after doing a few short-term/seasonal jobs. I wanted to connect to fitness in a way that I hadn’t when I was moving around. Chris introduced me to Crossfit WODs and somehow I started loving them…

Favorite WOD/movement: Hmmm… deadlifts 🙂 I like interval WODs with a lot of 7s!

Least favorite WOD/movement: Overhead squats.  Or bear crawls. Yuck.

What is your prior fitness background? I have dabbled in a lot of sports in a non-competitive way. Karate, tennis and running to name a few. When I served in AmeriCorps NCCC in Colorado we did team “PT” which was a lot of Ultimate Football and “ab-ladders.” I also practice yoga a few times a week. 🙂

Do you remember your first WOD? I’m sure I have it written down, but not with me! It was probably like 3 rounds of 5 pull ups (weight assisted) 10 sit ups 15 airsquats; haha. Cindy on repeat?

How have you improved in CF? I’ve gained strength, flexibility, overall fitness and health! Mentally, I had a block around going to the gym before I started Crossfit. Now I can’t imagine not going!

How often do you usually CF? 2-3x a week

Any athletic activities outside of the gym? Yoga and hiking!! I also like other athletic outdoor activities- rock climbing, kayaking, whitewater rafting whenever the opportunity arises!

Any special diet you follow? I avoid super processed/packaged carb/sugar loaded stuff. I try to just eat reasonably.

Have you had any particular challenges you have struggled with in CF, injuries to work around? Once I brought a bar down on my head during a jerk and it freaked me out. Luckily Chris was there to calm me down! I still have a hard time sometimes mentally with putting a lot of weight over my head and I’m a little shy so I don’t love throwing weight with all the noise it makes. Haha! But I’m working on it!

Favorite CF/CFW moments you’d like to share? I just love the group aspect of it every time. People cheering each other on makes it such a great atmosphere! Also, I loved the boxing day last year!

Any advice for our newbies? Keep track of your workouts! It is fun to look back and see where you’ve improved in strength and time!

Pre-Workout Routine? A little bit of foam rolling/stretching

Post-Workout Routine? Sometimes I go to yoga after class! Otherwise, a bit of stretching and drinking lots of water!!

Share two things you are working on inside the gym: double unders and real pull ups….

Favorite non-CrossFit past time: Being outside as much as possible and yoga! My favorite hike in the area right now is the Saratoga Gap/Ridge trail loop at Castle Rock SP! I love going down to Big Sur and camping at Andrew Molera. Hooray for California!

Mary Helen it has been a real joy being able to work with you and getting to know you over the past couple years. Your warm smile and positive attitude are always a pleasure to be around!



On the minute for 10 minutes of:

3 Front Squats @ 60% of your 1RM (focus on moving the bar fast)


On The Minute For 12 Minutes Of:

3 Burpees

Sprint 30 yd

2 Heavy Power Cleans

Sprint 30 yd