Women at CrossFit Federal Way build confidence and community
Everyone has their own way to welcome the weekend. For Federal Way athletes RaeAnna Devey Riding and Amber Takara, their choice includes weights, reps and smashing personal records.
A few dozen individuals opt to sweat on Friday nights, participating in CrossFit Federal Way’s CrossFit Open 2019 Friday Night Lights.
CrossFit is a high-intensity workout of functional movements, founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Friday Night Lights is Federal Way’s spin on the five-week CrossFit Open event, which began Feb. 22.
Athletes from all over town battle an in-house competition of four Federal Way teams; individual scores are then measured up against CrossFitters around the world in hopes of qualifying for CrossFit Regionals, and ultimately, the CrossFit Games held July 29 through Aug. 4 in Madison, Wisconsin.
On a recent Friday night, Federal Way’s CrossFit gym is packed with adults putting in work.
A local DJ pumps a deafening, upbeat mix of today’s top music, drowning out most conversations — and any thoughts of self-doubt — as athletes quickly and skillfully put their bodies through CrossFit carnage.
The WOD (workout of the day) for March 8 consisted of a 200-foot dumbbell overhead lunge, 50 dumbbell box step-ups, 50 strict handstand push-ups, and finished with a 200-foot handstand walk, all to be done within 10 minutes.
Men used a 50-pound dumbbell and 24-inch box; women used a 35-pound dumbbell and a 20-inch box. Varying WODs are released Thursday evenings by CrossFit and must be completed by the following Monday evening. Due to this time frame, athletes aren’t able to prepare for any specific workout. Instead, individuals must be ready for whatever strength-testing workout is presented.
As you watch RaeAnna Devey Riding push herself through the various movements, you wouldn’t have guessed she gave birth to her fifth child just two months ago.
Riding, a CrossFit coach for three years and a personal trainer since 2010, moved from Utah to Federal Way in 2018 and said she has found new solace at CrossFit Federal Way.
Many moms bring their kids and babies to morning weekday classes, including Riding, which she said is sometimes the only occasion she gets to see anybody else besides her children.
“That right there is the number one reason why we need moms, women in the gym,” she said. “To get that other time with women and doing something you love together. There’s nothing wrong with having muscles …”
In 2012, Riding signed up for a CrossFit competition on a whim with no prior experience.
At three months pregnant and sore for a week after, Riding said she’d never do it again.
After recovering from wrist surgery years later, she began to ease into the CrossFit workouts, which is what gave her full range of motion back.
“Anything with weights, big weights, is my thing,” she said. “Power cleans are my favorite or any kind of squat. I just feel so accomplished … there’s nothing like lifting big weights.”
The best fitness tip Riding can offer?
“Don’t worry about the number on the scale. It’s not about how much you weigh, it’s about doing something you like and finding what you like to do for exercise.”
Whether it’s a sweaty CrossFit session, a Zumba class, biking, hiking or swimming, find what makes you move, she said.
“I strongly believe that there is form of exercise that everybody can love and you’ve got to find that for yourself.”
You often hear people refer to their gym as their “CrossFit family,” Riding said.
The mission of Friday Night Lights is to reach goals and accomplish things you never thought were possible, she said.
“It’s a chance for us to give max effort but the atmosphere helps us push beyond what we thought we could. Some of the workouts can often be repeats of workouts from previous years and in that case our goal is to show that we are more fit than the year we did it before,” Riding said.
Many athletes agree that the sense of community is what draws them back after even the toughest workouts.
“Just being here is the coolest thing, to have a community behind you,” said Amber Takara, a CrossFit athlete.
She’s been crossfitting continuously for a year-and-a-half, upping her dedication to the sport since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017.
“I did gymnastics for probably a total of 18 years,” she said. “I love the feeling of flying.”
At Berkeley, Takara discovered her leadership skills both in and out of the gym.
“The biggest thing I learned was being able to find my confidence,” she said, gesturing to the gym. “To be in a setting like this where it’s chaotic and crazy and being like ‘You’ve trained for this, so now it’s just go-time.’ Turn your brain off and let your body take over.”
Takara’s parents, Scott and Aileen, joined CrossFit Federal Way when she left for college and later convinced her to give it a shot.
“I think it’s cool to be such a strong female in a male-dominated thing. You see all the guys slamming all the heavy weights and now all the women are starting to be brought along,” she said. “I think it’s a lot of following your heart.”
In Federal Way, each Friday night event has been sponsored by local businesses such as Diana Morrow’s Diana Sells Homes; Budget Blinds of Federal Way, owned by Cassy and Paul Moorhead; My Suite Life, owned by Susan Greenside; and Nara and Rick Luna’s Mainline Plumbing. Last week featured sponsorship by Airrosti, owned by Dr. Blaire Bradley and this week’s event is hosted by Technical Cable, owned by Dustin Twiggs.
Friday Night Lights will run on Fridays until March 22, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at CrossFit Federal Way (33753 9th Ave. S.). For more information, class times, or pricing, visit crossfitfederalway.com .
By competing in the RX’d version of the workout, RaeAnna Devey Riding holds the weight above her head during the 200-foot lunges. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
RaeAnna Devey Riding laughs off her handstand push-ups at CrossFit Federal Way’s Friday Night Lights on March 8. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Amber Takara powers through her workout at CrossFit Federal Way on March 8. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo