It gave me a sense of strength,” Viviane, 44 yrs, London.

Team Powerful is a regular feature that celebrates women who have decided to make themselves powerful. Gerard, the owner of CrossFit North London, gathered some of his ladies to join the team: meet Viviane (44 yrs), Anette (42), Karen (57), Laura, Alexa and Gemma, six ladies from CrossFit North London.

1. When we talk about barbells, we talk about empowering women. How did CrossFit change or influence your life?

Viviane: It gave me a sense of strength. I cannot explain it but a few weeks into CrossFit I felt I could take on anything. It does take a good training team. I’ve done CrossFit in other countries but felt safest and most advised at our box.



Karen:  I have had personal training for some years with the owner of CFNL so felt relatively fit and healthy. However, starting to do CrossFit has been an absolute revelation to me. I am 57 years old, weight about 50 kg, so I am not your average weightlifter!

I never really thought about my ability to enter competitions or compete with younger, fitter athletes. However, CrossFit is so all inclusive it has really opened up a whole new world of possibilities and I have entered the CrossFit Open twice and I am soon to undertake the Scale the Heights Masterclass competition. Regular ‘Throwdowns’ and Olympic Lifting competitions at CFNL push all athletes to exceed their own expectations and are also a lot of fun. The fact that all WODs and competitions can be scaled means that I can compete alongside younger athletes and sometimes beat them! CrossFit has made me much more confident in my abilities, not just in the Box, but also in everyday life.

Laura: I have always been fairly disciplined about exercising but I have found that Cross Fit and weightlifting has pushed me further: It has made me more confident about my body. It has provided a real stress relief; work troubles and every day annoyances fade away once you start a WOD. I feel fitter, stronger and generally healthier. I have surprised myself on what I can achieve in the box. And I have met some great people at CFNL who help to motivate me and make working out just that little bit more fun.



Anette: Before CrossFit all I did was running, 4-5 times a week. I didn’t feel particularly fit or toned, definitely not strong! I used to think picking up a dumbbell let alone a barbell would bulk me up, make me look manly. But since starting CrossFit, I’ve never been happier! My attitude to fitness and my body changed. The number on the scale is no longer my goal! I now love how women look strong and toned and I can appreciate the hard work, sweat and tears it took to archive that powerful body.

Equally you learnt to deal with failure, picking yourself up, move on and grow- as an athlete, as a member of a box and as a woman. ~Anette

Alexa: I did not look to do CrossFit or to become a weightlifter, I stumbled over it and got hooked completely as I finally found a workout /exercise “style” ticking all the boxes for me:
– A coach who knows what’s right and who is there for me to ask questions (I do that a lot), to encourage, to correct, to challenge (all the time).
– A structure to my workout.
– Is never the same.
– People to do it with on a regular basis (you know, a problem shared is a problem halved type of argument).
– Consists of fundamental elements important for a healthy body and mind as in strength (weightlifting), endurance, gymnastics/stretching.
– Being a part of something bigger (people knowing my name, no anonymity on treadmills with headphones in ear type of stuff…)



It influences my life in a way that I can no longer not exercise or feel completely guilty if I do not do anything for more than 3 days in a row. I’ve never worked my body 3-4 times a week before I started CrossFit and now I am properly addicted to exercise: still moderate compared to others but heaps more than what I used to do.

Exercise used to be the first thing I dropped when work got busy. I no longer accept that to happen. It helps me with balance in my life. ~Alexa

2. What is the best thing about being a woman that lifts weights?

Viviane: I’ve always heard weightlifting is good for ageing and bone density. I truly believe doing weights increases strength and posture.

Karen: The best thing about being a woman that lifts is the confidence it gives you.

It surprises many of my work colleagues that I weightlift as I do not fit the stereotypical weightlifter image and I quite like that element of surprise too! ~ Karen

I also love the community spirit at CFNL and I’m proud to be part of that.



Laura: You are exercising to look strong and toned rather than fighting to lose weight. It also changes your perspective of yourself. I am less hard on myself, less judgemental; although the inner competitor does come out sometimes…

Anette: I think the best thing about being a woman that lifts weight is how it empowers you. Initially learning the lifts, mastering them, after many failures and being able to add weight, achieve PB’s… All these does wonders for women’s confidence. I’ve learnt how powerful my body can be and how much pain I can take and how far I can push myself before I collapse. It can be just as tough mentally as physically at times. I have never seen anyone train as hard as we do, never walked through a globo gym and seen anyone collapsed on the floor! (I have seen people read a book on the cross trainer though).

A woman who lifts weights is not afraid of doing things that traditionally may be more male activities. I think one can move that analogy into other parts of life. Knowing you can do that boosts confidence that you can do other things, too. Go women! ~ Alexa

Gemma: The best thing about being a woman who lifts weights is regularly surprising myself with what I am capable of, and the sense of accomplishment that comes after giving my all in a gruelling workout.

Each day at CrossFit North London is a test. Moments before each workout, a nervous feeling sets in and I can’t help but think “I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this” or “How the heck am I going to get this done?”.



After the buzzer starts, that quiet tension is broken and there is a brilliant, frenetic atmosphere where all the other strong women and men around me are also testing their limits. The doubt and fear go away because there is no room for any thought other than sheer focus.

Go for that extra rep when I feel like putting the bar down. Pick up the pace in the final minute despite the pain. After the workout finishes, it’s the best feeling to know “I did it”. ~ Gemma

It hurt and I felt like I might die, but I didn’t die – even better if I got a better score than last time or achieve a personal best. There is serious confidence building happening when week after week I can feel myself getting stronger. The feeling carries over into all other areas of life as well.

Tough situations arise at work, with family, friends, or elsewhere in life, and I’ve got a powerful tool for overcoming adversity in my back pocket from my experience with CrossFit North London.

3. What accomplishment, regarding training and sports, are you most proud off?

Viviane: My guns! Ha ha. I am not the strongest or fastest but the changes in my body are amazing to me. Much more definition visible. Deadlifting 75 kg, not to shabby!

Karen: I think the thing I am most proud of is coming in the top 3 of my age/gender category in the 2016 CrossFit Open Games, both in Europe and in the world. I certainly think I can still give my CrossFit buddies a run for their money – never judge a book by its cover.

I am probably healthier now than I was in my 30s. ~ Karen

I think I still have lots of room for improvement and the fact that CFNL runs specific classes for gymnastics, Olympic lifting and mobility as well as the general WODs and open gyms means that each athlete can tailor their training regimen to their own needs.

Laura: Winning the CFNL Throwdown twice! It may have been category B but it is still a win!

Anette: The thing about CrossFit – there is always going to be something to learn, master, improve or try.

But if I have to pick one; getting my first pull up was pretty amazing! Something I’d never thought I’d be able to do so almost didn’t bother trying. ~ Anette

I’d like to add that being able to train with the most amazing and inspiring people I get to train with every week makes training not just challenging but fun! Our coaches genuinely care and want us to be the best we can be and with their knowledge and guidance we continue to grow. I am very proud to be a part of the CrossFit North London community.



Alexa: Two years ago I could barely run a kilometer without collapsing – mostly because I approached it in the completely wrong way. Now I’ve signed up for my first half marathon. CrossFit has helped my strength and endurance but probably most important is that it’s given me a mindset of “keep going” and not give up just because it’s getting a little hard and starts to hurt. No one gets anywhere/no innovation gets discovered if we all stay in comfort zone mode.

CrossFit North London is located in Crouch End (N8) and is one of the largest CrossFit training centres in London. Gerard and Sarra are the founding coaches of CrossFit North London.