9’er Story: Nic’s open letter to moms

"I will always remember the year I joined CrossFit9 because it was the same year my daughter was born—2016. I sent my husband down ahead of our big move from Brooklyn to DTSP to find us the perfect home and gym. Instead he found Zack & the rest is history. 

I jokingly tell people I “inherited” this gym because thanks to my husband’s excellent gym-selecting-skills (and Zack’s gift of gab!), I truly felt like I walked in to a Carnation Instant community on Day 1 as a St Pete resident. 

I was 8 weeks pregnant when we moved here & I became a member. My coaches & fellow athletes were some of the first people to know that I was expecting. They literally watched and supported me as I grew a human. They were part of my transformation of becoming a mom—and I honestly felt like I was part of their transformation of becoming a more mama-friendly & adapting space for expecting athletes. I certainly was not the first ever woman to workout here through her entire pregnancy, and I am not suggesting I started the CF9 baby boom, but I STARTED THE CF9 BABY BOOM! 

I am proud to say that I was witness to the evolving care & concern of the coaches at CrossFit9 to the changing demographic of their female athletes. I always felt greatly SEEN & supported by this staff during the entirety of my pregnancy (& beyond!). I was pushed, but never shamed, as my strength and abilities gave way to my growing waistline. (Although shouts to Coach Megan who always called my bullshit & knew I could squat just a little deeper.) 

Over the past 3 years, CrossFit9 has proven to be more than just a gym to me. At times it has been: My Therapy. My Battlefield. My Sanity. My Mommy Group. My Place of Worship. My Frenemy. My Safe Haven. My Worst Nightmare. My Childcare. My Meditation. My Mental Health Center. My Accountability. My Clarity. 

The first time I left my kid—ever—was to attend a WOD. Showing up & putting in the work for myself became my non-negotiable, my most guarded form of self-care. I blocked it off on my calendar like a mandatory meeting or a dental appointment. 

Being a new mom can be lonely. In the early days, sometimes the people in this gym were the only adult humans I interacted with all day. As my new identity & body came to be, I was fueled by their sincerity & support. Thank you to every single person who asked about my kid, or most importantly about me, during that period. 

The biggest gift that pregnancy gave me (besides an heir) was a deeper, more positive relationship with my body. Not the body I covet, or my future body, but the one that I currently have. The one that allowed me to stay active & healthy while it was busy creating, nourishing & raising a life. That body is awesome. It’s a relief & a blessing to finally be able to say that out loud—at age 39. 

It also gave me a more keen awareness that my time is the most valuable thing I have/can give, which is why I have adjusted my fitness expectations, learned to listen to my body’s needs, & have embraced a mostly exclusive 9HIIT lifestyle. For me, personally, the mental health benefits (plus the obvious BURN) of a Chipper-like, aka short, high-intensity, workout has been extremely satisfying & restorative. 

One of my most memorable moments as an athlete since becoming a mom was the day I finally jumped on a box again. My kid was 20 months old. TWENTY. But with the encouragement & faith of my classmates I was able to finally take the leap. I will never forget the people & the faces who high-fived & attagirl’d me that day. 9ers: Your presence is more powerful than you know. 

And just this last week I reached another #Fitmom milestone. After being asked to share my “transformation” (for which I felt unworthy, but grateful for), I finally got up the nerve to make like one of the plethora of strong, ultra-badass females that I worship & work out next to every day, & put on a pair of Fleo training shorts & sauntered in to the WOD like the god damn body-confident warrior that this community (including my unwavering husband!) have believed me in to being. (Backstory: I am only half kidding when I say that I haven’t felt comfortable wearing a pair of shorts in public since the late ‘90s—so that was a huge, personal feat for my fitness journey.)

Nic Screws CrossFit 9 Parent St Pete FL
Rocking *The* Fleo Shorts!

Free tips for moms: 

- Zack is available for baby wearing during the WOD upon request (Babybjorn not included). Also: I recently saw Coach Richard take the helm of a stroller so a mom could concentrate on her Tabata undisturbed. In other words: LET YOUR CF9 FAMILY INTO YOUR VILLAGE. They. Got. You. 

- Give yourself grace. Pregnancy & motherhood is the triumph of a lifetime. It may take two months, or twenty, but you will get atop that box again. 

- Just wear the fucking Fleo shorts. Don’t wait for “the perfect moment,” or to lose those last 10lbs. Take the advice you would give your daughter/son & show up JUST AS YOU ARE. Because you are tremendous. You are a mom. (Bonus: Apparently confidently wearing barely-there, compression shorts to the gym is a cheap & cheerful gift to give your life partner. My husband reports 100 percent satisfaction with his “Father’s Day present.”)  

- Yes, postpartum incontinence is real. You will never be able to do a jumping jack  E V E R  again without the fear of pee in your activewear. (No, it doesn’t get better. BUT CONGRATULATIONS ON MAKING A HUMAN! YOU GOT THIS MAMA!)"

– Nic Screws, 9'er for 3 years