Joined EverProven: March 2014
Occupation: Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies at UNH
Favorite CrossFit exercises: Deadlifts, rowing
Least favorite CrossFit exercises: Running, anything involving foam rollers
Courtney Marshall is one busy woman. She goes to Alex Poulis’ fitness classes at The Works six days a week. She takes tap and hip-hop dance classes. She goes to powerlifting at Integrated Fitness at 5:30 AM three days a week. She swims on Sundays. She’ll sign up for pretty much any 5K involving obstacles, mud, and/or costumes.
Oh, and she does CrossFit, too.
Courtney’s fitness quest (don’t call it a journey!) began two years ago, when she saw Beyoncé in concert. “I live for Beyoncé,” Courtney says. “We have the same birthday. She is the queen, and the king, in my eyes.” Beyoncé sang and danced for two hours straight, and Courtney wanted to be able to do that, too. (Notice that her goal is not to look like Beyoncé. More on that later.)
She first set foot in EverProven to cheer on Alex Poulis in a competition. Courtney had heard about this magical land called CrossFit for a while, and once she finally got there, she thought everyone looked like superheroes. Specifically, Coach Scott looked like Wolverine. “Why are they all still here?” she wondered. “Aren’t they done?”
The WODs reminded her of powerlifting, and she signed up. She loved the On Ramp program. “I’m a teacher as well, so I really appreciate good teaching,” she says. She was thrilled to receive a tiny graduation cap when she finished the program, admitting, “I’m a whore for a high-five, a medal, a sash.”
Courtney has no qualms about scaling. “I’m quick to pick up a PVC pipe if I have to,” she says, joking that she won’t be carried out of the gym and into an ambulance. “You won’t find me on Seacoast Online: Tragedy Today at EverProven. No, ma’am.” She points out that for her, doing ring-rows is like other people doing ring-rows with a 150-lb weight vest. “I still feel accomplished no matter what I do,” she says. She would rather do knee push-ups and “make it look good” than struggle to do full push-ups with terrible form. When she rows, she makes up a whole story about where she’s going in the boat. “I just walk around with attitude in my head,” she says. “If I waited until I could do a pull-up to be happy… I’ll see y’all in 2020, I guess.”
As a women’s studies professor, Courtney has an academic interest in feminist fitness and what it means for women to be strong. She says the fitness industry tends to promote one kind of body and one type of goal. “It’s hard to explain to people that I don’t want to be small,” Courtney says. “I’m just not interested in it.” She also isn’t interested in body-shaming, and doesn’t want to be around it. She’s glad that she’s never heard women at EverProven complain that they feel fat. They want to be strong for their own reasons—not to get a man, or to be bikini-ready. And they’re definitely not exercising as a form of deprivation, or as punishment for eating that brownie earlier. “It’s a different relationship to your body than I’ve found at other fitness scenes,” she says.
EverProven CrossFit Owner and Head Coach Matt Michaud can’t be happier that Courtney joined the box. “The thing I like the most about Courtney is that she embraces every aspect of fitness and doesn’t let the typical misconceptions that many tend to but in to get in her way. She is never afraid to step outside of her comfort zone and do something when others say “I cant”. Matt adds “I love the fact that she breaks the mold of what people think the “typical” CrossFitter is and I can’t be prouder to have her as a member of our family.”
Courtney has already lost 100 pounds, and she’s been going to Alex’s classes for two years. Still, new people at Alex’s Classes invariably assume that it’s her first day, and total strangers offer unsolicited weight loss advice. It would be easy to get discouraged by comments like that, but she just dismisses them. She has found that other people tend to use her weight loss as an excuse to make negative comments about themselves. “I don’t like that inspiration porn that fat people exercising turns into,” she says.
Before she embarked on her quest to
So what’s next for Courtney? She wants to be on TV doing an Ironman Triathlon. She has begun riding a bike in preparation for the Marshmallow Triathlon in Laconia next year. She would also like to master squats and Turkish get-ups, and to get better at jumping. That will require overcoming her fear that she will fall and break all the bones in her feet. “It takes a lot to get all of this in the air,” she says.
When we asked her what advice she would give to newbies, she said, “Be kind to yourself no matter what. You don’t pay your rent or your mortgage doing double-unders.” Also, find a friend. When she meets new students at UNH, she tells them, “I don’t know you, but I love you. I’m glad you’re here.” She means it, too. If you’re new and feeling out of place, or just in need of a sports bra recommendation, find Courtney—she would love to be your friend. (She’s the one in the “May the WODs be ever in your favor” T-shirt deadlifting 303 lbs.)
Whatever you do, don’t feel like your life begins when you reach your target weight. “You can be 350 lbs and do CrossFit,” she says. “You don’t have to wait.”