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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you: CrossFit master pushes herself to success

Aug 30, 2017 09:43AM ● By Amanda Arnold

Just keep pushing, just keep going.

These are the mantras that drive Mary Beth Prodromides to excel in CrossFit, a heart-pounding exercise program that combines agility and strength training.

Prodromides, 56, likes to push herself almost to the point of giving up.

“You can’t get into better shape unless you’re at the point where you think you’re going to quit,” she said. “That’s when your fitness is improving.”

That very attitude has made her into a three-time CrossFit champion in 2011, 2014 and 2016, and “one of CrossFit’s most veteran masters,” according to the organization’s website.

Finding CrossFit

Growing up with three brothers encouraged an early interest in fitness. Even so, Prodromides would never have guessed that she would become a world champ. She has a background in bodybuilding and traditional fitness and is a dedicated P.E. teacher at Bookcliff Middle School.

“I’m really passionate about fitness, because I feel like you can learn a lot about yourself and who you become as a person. Sometimes it’s about the struggle, because the struggle makes us better,” she said.

Prodromides was introduced to CrossFit in 2010 by one of her fitness clients. Six months later, she tried it and discovered the exercise program was a perfect fit for her fitness goals.

CrossFit is a program that anyone can enjoy, she said.

“You could be next to a Colorado Mesa University athlete, a 65-year-old lady and a 12-year-old all doing the same workout, but it’s all scaled to your level,” she said.

Unlike basic lifting and cardio exercises, Prodromides found it impossible to get bored with the varied routines and functional movements of CrossFit. She also experienced results.

“Any time you add intensity to a workout, you see quicker gains and you get in shape faster,” she said.

But you can’t add the intensity until you have the proper technique and form.

“In my first month, the gains were amazing. I could see a difference,” she said. “By month three, I saw it was really working. So I got a little more serious. I saw others compete on teams, and I decided that I wanted to do that.”

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Upping her game

Hooked, she joined a CrossFit team at CrossFit Vex in Grand Junction, and the popular exercise became her sport.

Prodromides’ routine intensified with daily workouts of almost three hours to prep for the competitive games. Her coach began to send her workout routines to follow. Most can be accomplished in the gym, but some things—cycling, swimming and running, for example— she must do on her own.

CrossFit athletes must be good at many different things, and never know what’s in store during the Reebok CrossFit Games, the world’s premier fitness competition.

“You show up and have to do what’s programmed,” she said.

The 2017 games in August emphasized running, which isn’t Prodromides’ strength. She took second in this year’s competition. When the focus is lifting, however, watch out—that’s how she’s won her champion title three times.

Taking on challenges

CrossFit gyms have a warm, non-judgmental community, Prodromides said. Athletes build friendships and suffer through workouts together. The camaraderie spills into competitions.

“It’s not just the person who finishes first who gets applause. Everyone is cheering for the last guy because they know how hard it is. If they succeed, they make us better,” she said. “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. If you want to be better, you need to be challenged.”

Prodromides has also coached people in CrossFit, including her mom, 79, and dad, 86. She advocates adding intensity to a workout, but stresses the fact that “intensity” varies for each individual, depending on ability level.

She looks forward to teaching seniors classes at CrossFit Vex, as the skills her students learn can keep them agile and safe.

“If you can do a squat, you can get out of bed,” she said. “If you fall, you can get up because I taught you how to roll over to your hands and knees and push up.”

For more information about Prodromides’ classes, contact her at [email protected] or call CrossFit Vex at 640-9838.

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