April Member Spotlight: Cherie Smischney

This month we are highlighting our member of the month in collaboration with ThriveHQ (a physical therapy studio in Lake Elmo, MN). We have watched Cherie develop into an incredible athlete over the last year. Cherie is hardly recognizable as the member who started at Anthem so many months ago.

When Cherie started at Anthem she had back pain and began working with Thrive in addition to Anthem. She adapted the Thrive/Anthem philosophy of don’t slow down, change lanes. She continued to build strength and body awareness. Now, she’s obsessed with Olympic Weightlifting (it’s our favorite too) and attends 5 to 6 classes a week. She is getting stronger, her squat position is envied by many, and she’s on the brink of mastering toes to bar and handstand walks. But, don’t take our word for it….read Cherie’s journey in her own words.

What brought you to Anthem in the first place?
Two things brought me to Anthem. First, our neighbors David and Elizabeth O’Brien suggested for years that we should try CrossFit so the curiosity was there. Second, I was looking to join a gym right about the time Anthem opened because, after years of vertigo, I was starting to experience it less frequently and wanted to increase my workout intensity. David had convinced my husband Zach to be part of the Anthem Men’s Book Club when it was formed and Zach raved about the gym, people, and the fun workout so we took the leap and joined.

What was your first impression of CrossFit? How has that changed?
My first impression of CrossFit was that it was intense and best suited for super-fit athletes. I now know that CrossFit is highly adaptable. You can customize CrossFit to meet you where you’re at. That became especially clear after I aggravated my SI joint running and had to scale my workouts to work around the injury.

What was your first “bright spot” at Anthem and Thrive?
My first “bright spot” at Anthem was also a turning point. When I first started, I tried to avoid classes with barbell work. I felt uncoordinated and intimidated. After a month or so I decided to face lifting head-on and signed up for an evening class where several Olympic lifts were programmed into the workout. Coach Justin spent the entire class coaching me through the lifts. He was incredibly patient, knowledgeable, and encouraging. As a result, things started to click and I became more confident in my ability to lift and learn new skills. Now Olympic lifting is my favorite part of CrossFit.

I’m not sure what my first “bright spot” at Thrive was, but going to see Dr. Matt was always a bright spot. I didn’t anticipate how long the recovery would be for my SI injury or how much of a roller coaster ride it would be. There were times when I was very discouraged but Dr. Matt was always quick to point out where I had started and directed our focus to the movements I could do instead of what I couldn’t. Dr. Matt had great advice on how to continue to move through my injury. He was also awesome at pointing out wins along the way and getting me to acknowledge progress.

How has the collaboration between Anthem & Thrive benefitted you as an athlete?
The collaboration between Anthem and Thrive is incredible. I wouldn’t be where I am today without this collaboration. Dr. Matt had access to the Anthem workouts and was able to help me plan out scales for the workouts of the week. Hadley was in the loop on my injury and able to help me scale on the fly during the warm-up or workout. Plus, Dr. Matt’s familiarity with the gym allowed him to assign PT exercises based on the equipment I had access to at Anthem. This collaboration allowed me to feel fully supported in and out of the gym.

How has your view of what you’re capable of achieving change through working with Anthem & Thrive?
I wasn’t sure what I was capable of when I started at Anthem. I was worried that movements would trigger my vertigo. Joining Anthem has allowed me the opportunity to start to trust my body again and push it beyond anything I could imagine. Working with Thrive taught me that even with an injury, you are capable of achieving more than you think. Focusing on what you can do will help you continue to build strength while you heal. Plus, I now have the tools to continue to work through my injury flare-ups. This has shifted my view because what I am capable of may change day-to-day but showing up and doing what I can still creates momentum forward.

Has your mindset changed in working with Anthem & Thrive? If so, how?
Working with Anthem and Thrive has taught me to focus on the wins (big or small), acknowledge progress, and embrace the journey.

What are you working on now?
Toes-to-Bar – the arch position caused me back pain for months so I am finally able to work on this pain-free. Woo-hoo!

Most importantly: what is your favorite song for a lifting session and what is your favorite for a metcon? (include artist and song title)
Lifting: slow and moody like Lose Control by Teddy Swims or Don’t Blame Me by Taylor Swift
Metcon: dance party vibes like Because The Night by Cascada

Is there anything else you want to share about your journey with us?
Joining Anthem was a great decision. The culture and coaches are amazing and even on days when I don’t feel like working out, I know the gym will be full of smiling faces that I have grown fond of. That makes all the difference! Plus, it is so fun to watch everyone kick butt and get stronger.