Teacher trades classroom for gym

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 3, 2012

By Jim Buice
The Clemmons Courier

For years, Lewisville’s Jessica Grimsland did everything she could to lose weight and get fit.
But nothing was working.
“I was beating myself up each day training for two hours in the morning and an hour at night running,” Grimsland said. “I was really working it, and nothing was happening. I actually went to the doctor. I was like, ‘Something’s wrong.’ I was eating right, working hard, but it just wasn’t happening.”
Finally, she got a groupon for CrossFit Winston-Salem last summer, and it has changed her life in more ways than one.
“I’ve lost about 25 pounds since July,” said Grimsland, who now weighs 140. “Really, my inches have changed the most.”
Not only is she working out at CrossFit, she’s now also working there as a personal trainer after leaving her position as a science teacher at Walkertown Middle School during the Christmas break.
“I taught for 10 years, and I’m done,” said Grimsland, who previously taught at Clemmons Middle School for six years. “I was offered a part-time job doing CrossFit, so I’ve had a career change.”
After only a few months of learning about CrossFit, she also is competing. Grimsland finished fifth in the Battle at the Border at the CrossFit in Charlotte in October.
“That kind of fueled me,” she said.
She then placed in the top 15 in the Garage Games at the CrossFit in Greensboro on Jan. 21.
“Here I am a mom doing competitions,” Grimsland, 34, said.
What is it about CrossFit that is so different? A promotional tag calls it “the hardest workout you’ll ever love.”
Actually, the program is based on varied functional movements executed at high intensity utilizing such components as weights, rowing, medicine balls, kettlebells, squats and running.
Just the other day, Grimsland did pullups and box jumps at a high rate for nine minutes.
“It was a great cardio workout,” she said. “I used to run on the treadmill for 45 minutes. It was monotony.”
You won’t see rows of treadmills or the like at CrossFit.
“All movements are parallel to everything you do in life,” Grimsland said. “What is does is round you as the whole athlete. And it’s for all ages. It’s total conditioning, and the key to it is the intensity. Every day is different.”
It didn’t take long for Grimsland to realize that CrossFit was for her.
“My clothes were fitting different,” she said. “People would comment who hadn’t seen me. They were asking, ‘What are you doing? I was like, ‘I’m CrossFitting.’ I would go and leave it all there. The workouts just foster something inside of you. It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m an athlete.’ ”
Trent Strickland, a former Wake Forest basketball player, was one of her workout partners when he was training to play overseas and has since gone to Spain.
“He would push me, and I would push him,” said Grimsland, who added that the workouts encourage a team spirit.
Her family has also embraced CrossFit as a way of life. Ryan, her husband, is an executive for Lowe’s Home Improvement and makes a long commute to Mooresville every day, but he works out each morning at 5:30. Their boys, Ryan, 9, and Jackson, 8, are part of CrossFit Kids.
And the family has also changed its food choices along with the exercise by “eating clean” with the Paleo diet.
“Basically, it is a Neanderthal way of eating,” Grimsland said. “It’s lean meats, fish, vegetables, little fruit, some starch and seeds. Anything that is processed or that has gluten, in it, we don’t eat. We’ve been doing it for four months.”
As for future goals, she hopes to drop another 15 pounds as she continues working out and working at CrossFit.
“That will help me prepare for the competition,” Grimsland said. “It is like another world now for me.”