Today we celebrate Lydia M., one of the strongest women we’ve ever met. Sure, she’s strong with the barbell and can crush a WOD, but the strength this woman has goes far beyond what she does in the box.

Denisse W., Lydia’s dear friend, had been trying to convince her to come for months and months, but couldn’t get through. “Naturally, I’m an extreme introvert. Denisse had been trying to get me in since she joined over a year ago. I don’t do crowds. I get anxiety. I didn’t think I could do it. But she was getting stronger and growing muscle at such a rate I had to at least think about it. I don’t want to be skinny, rather I want to be STRONG.   I want to show my girls they can be STRONG.”

Many of us can relate to wanting to be a good role model of strength for our children, but for her, it means so much more.

“I came from an abusive relationship. I was broken. I had lost all confidence in myself. I was a young single mom, not getting child support and things were really, really hard. But I worked hard and got a job and ultimately bought my own home.   Coming out of that relationship I wouldn’t have thought I could ever own a home. Or be smart enough. Or strong enough. But I did it.”

“I still have low self-esteem. I play it off well, but it’s an issue that’s always there. And I didn’t have real confidence in myself until I met Brian (her husband and fellow Cove athlete). He made me feel special. He constantly tells me I can do amazing things. He always tells me I can do anything I put my mind to. He’s my rock. He’s my everything.

This gift of confidence helped bring her to the Cove five months ago. “After kids, fitness took a backseat. But now I feel like a person again. When I do a new movement that I couldn’t’ do before, I feel great. Even if I’m not doing them perfectly, I’m doing them. I started getting double-unders and it was the best thing ever. I love how I don’t have to think about planning a workout, but I can think during it. I love being kept on my toes.   Every time I do anything here I’m thinking about my movement. That I’m doing it the right way. It’s amazing how this has all helped with my confidence.”

“When I’m here, its like family. Everyone is so nice and supportive. If anyone is struggling, there’s always someone there to help. I remember a time there was a new woman in class who was struggling to get out of the bands on her pull-ups. I ran over and pulled her feet right out. I did it because I knew someone would do that for me.”

“That’s what I love about the Cove. This place… it feels like home. I don’t have to be feel self-conscious. No one is judging me. The Cove has played a huge role in making me the person I am today. I would tell anyone that this place will change you and make you a better person.”

And her hard work is having ripple effects at home. “My girls want to be more active now. I went for a swim this weekend and my daughter wanted to do laps with me. When I read the WODs religiously at 8p every night, the girls want to know what the workout is. And if it’s something they haven’t heard of, they ask me to demo the movements. And when I do WODs at home, sometimes they join in. And they even give Brian a hard time. They’ll say things like “You better listen to mom, because she can beat you up.”

Not for long though! She’s gotten Brian to drink the Kool Aid too. Brian is so happy to have his fit wife and her booty gains, but now he’s becoming a regular too. “I was so worried when he couldn’t come in with me when I started. He works in DC and getting here was really hard for him, but he’s made it a priority. We wanted to do this for our health, and now that he’s coming in regularly, he’s getting his confidence back too. Every night we discuss the workout and our lens on the workout couldn’t be more opposite! He’ll say things like “ You have to go knowing you will crush this workout”. And I’ll say things like “You need to go in knowing you’re going get your ass kicked. We have completely different approaches but we are loving it the same.”

“I love working out with him. It makes me so happy seeing him do things he normally wouldn’t do. I look at him and think “There’s my strong man”. It’s awesome.

Her own transformation is nothing short of amazing. “Everything has changed.

I was up to a size 16 after I delivered Jaycelyn.   I put on 50lbs with the pregnancy.   When I came here I was a size 10. Now I’m a size four.”

Her scale has gone down by 15 to 20 pounds in the last five months, but it looks like she’s lost twice that because of all her muscle gains. “I started counting macros right around when I started working out. I was doing weight watchers prior to that, but started counting macros because with Weight Watchers I was starving myself. Now I’m a path to get to my maintenance track and I feel great”.

What’s on her list? “I want a very muscular, lean look. I’d like to improve my lifting. I want to do the Open next year. And I may want to compete in a local competition. Growing up I ran track and did hurdles. So when I do box jumps I find myself launching one leg up because of all my years of training. So yeah, I want to fix that.”

She’s one of our most regular athletes at the Cove. “I HAVE to come in. I have goals for my fitness. And if I don’t come in on my routine basis, I feel like I’m letting myself down. “

I asked her what she would have told her former self if she could go back in time. “I think about this everyday. But I remind myself I wouldn’t have what I have now if hadn’t gone through these life trials. If I could talk to the old me I would tell myself that a relationship where you are in pain is not worth saving. If you unhappy every day, that’s not the life for you. Trust in yourself. You can always make your life better. But you have to CHOOSE to do it. You have to do it for YOURSELF.

Lydia, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for inspiring us all. And thank you for choosing us.