Athlete of the MonthNovember

Fran Smorada

Career: U.S. Army Occupational Therapist

Years at CrossFit Kennett Square: 2

"Loving my body hasn’t always been easy, but since starting CF, I’ve realized that I love looking and being strong and I think that’s the most powerful thing a woman can be."

When did you first start training at CFKSQ? July 2021

Favorite WOD: Any WOD with handstand push-ups and heavy single Olympic lifts!

Least Favorite WOD: Anything with the bike and high rep barbell cycling

Tell us about your sports & fitness background:

Being active has always been a huge part of my life. I started with ballet lessons and attended various gymnastics and horseback riding camps growing up. I was a competitive figure skater for about 16 years and within that time, I also earned my black belt in Tang Soo Do. Aside from CrossFit, I also trained and competed in Olympic weightlifting for three years.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD…what was it, and how did it feel?

When I went away to college, I became interested in keeping up my physical fitness since I wasn’t skating nearly as much as before. However, the typical bodybuilding “gym routine” never appealed to me. I ended up doing a few sessions with a personal trainer who happened to be a CrossFit coach, so I was introduced to a lot of the familiar CrossFit movements and workouts. I really liked the high intensity cardio-aspect of CrossFit because it felt so similar to how program “run-throughs” felt in figure skating. I always left the gym feeling super accomplished! When I  transferred colleges and moved home, I found my first CrossFit gym and signed up right away.

My first WOD ever was the “CrossFit Baseline” which consisted of a 500m row, 40 air squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, and 10 pull-ups for time. I remember feeling super intimidated at first because I never did that many push-ups and didn’t have a single pull-up.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)?

I remember during one of my skating lessons when I was just starting CF, my coach made a comment about how fast I could cover one end of the rink to another. I’ve noticed how much more endurance I have when I’m walking for a longer period of time and how I don’t get as winded walking upstairs. Loving my body hasn’t always been easy but since starting CF, I’ve realized that I love looking and being strong and I think that’s the most powerful thing a woman can be.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected?

Before I started CrossFit, I never went to the gym with the intention of making friends. I’m pretty introverted and I just saw the gym as somewhere to “work out and leave”. But since joining CFKSQ over a year ago, I’ve met so many amazing people and have made so many memories! Being a competitive athlete for so long, I’ve always held myself to a ridiculously high standard. So when my performance didn’t match up to my expectations, I’d get super down on myself mentally. CrossFit has taught me that I can have fun without caring about how I did the day before.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFKSQ moments:

I love the vibe of partner/group WODs and working out with my friends at the 7:30AM class!  I also had the privilege to judge in this year’s CrossFit Open and got to  experience “Friday Night Lights” for the first time. Even though I didn’t do the Open this year, I loved how the community came together to cheer each other on! I am sad to announce that I will be leaving PA this month to start my OT career in WA but I will never forget CFKSQ and it has easily set the standard high for what I will be looking for at my next gym! I will be back to visit, I promise!

Any advice for people just getting started?

You don’t have to be crazy athletic to do CrossFit. Remember to be kind to yourself and your progress is the only progress that matters!

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?

I definitely have a tattoo addiction! I love traveling to different artists to get one-of-a-kind work on my body. Aside from tattoos, I love eating good food with friends, exploring new places, and I always love my alone time binge-watching the latest Netflix with my dog!