The narrative goes that a mother of three should strive to have the physical capabilities of college-aged woman. This narrative got flipped on its head when Ball State student Kylie Mennel walked into The Arsenal.
“The first person I saw was Staci [Anderson], and it was crazy because she was doing a pull-up, and I had always wanted to do a pull-up. I was like, ‘Ok, she’s a badass!’ I was in weightlifting class in high school, and we always had tests where we’d try to do pull ups and dips. I could do dips, but never pull ups, and it was always frustrating.”
Kylie has played sports her entire life. In high school she was a post player and in volleyball she was a right-side hitter. But Kylie, twenty-year-old Kylie, could not do a pull-up.
Kylie’s introduction to CrossFit was through an Arsenal class on campus.
“I signed up for the semester [on campus] and really liked it. When I visited The Arsenal gym [off campus] and saw all the weights, I really wanted to go there.”
The Arsenal offers a student membership rate, but Kylie didn’t have enough money.
“I was like, ‘Hey mom, do you want to help me out here?’ She asked if I would go every day. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to waste your money.’ After I got into it, my mom realized that it was a huge part of me now, like I would be super stressed without it. My roommates are even like, you haven’t been to the gym yet today, have you?”
Kylie needs CrossFit
“I get stressed really easily. I’m super into school, and I’m a perfectionist. But I’m really bad about balancing my time. I like to think that I can do more than I can.”
Adulting is hard. And for many, college is our first swing at adulting. College can spit out the perfectionist just as easily as the slacker. Kylie would make long to-do lists that would freak her out to the point of tears.
“CrossFit has made me a lot stronger in every aspect. It helps me in school. I’m not as stressed out. It’s my time to drop weights.”
Kylie is studying dietetics, a field which can be tough to move on in unless your grades are nearly perfect. Dietetics wasn’t her first pick. She started out majoring in radiography. Her freshman year in the dorms she got really into eating healthy at the dining halls. Her fellow students noticed.
“I lived in the dorm for two years and I was always looking at all the food they offered. Some of the dorms just have like gas station food. It’s not what I would want to eat on a normal basis. I would always eat healthier, and people would ask me, ‘Can you help me eat well?’”
Kylie is competitive but she finds joy in the success of others whether that’s a healthy food choice or an in-the-gym accomplishment. (That said, she didn’t shame me for eating a snickerdoodle during our interview. Did I mention adulting is hard?)
When I asked Kylie about her best days at The Arsenal, she talked about her friends.
“I’ve worked out with Brette since the beginning, and seeing her accomplish and improve over time has been great. Neither of us could do handstand pushups. When we finally got the kip, we were like, ‘Wow! Ok, not that bad!’ When Emily got her first strict muscle-up…that was cool.”
Kylie enjoyed high school sports, but she prefers the camaraderie built around CrossFit.
“I just like the environment because everyone is competitive, but at the same time, they are able to cheer everyone on. In high school, everyone wanted you to be better, but they didn’t want you to take their spot. Here, everyone wants you to get PR’s, get faster times, they are all about pushing you.”
“CrossFit has changed me a lot personally. I’ve always been very self-conscious. I don’t like that about myself. And going into dietetics and nutrition, you want to be confident. Your job is to make those people feel confident about themselves. So that’s really helped me. I’m glad this is leading me in the right direction.”
Confidence is earned. Kylie puts in the work. When she told her mom she would do CrossFit every day she wasn’t lying. In 2015, she went more than any other member of The Arsenal, winning the “grinder award.” And her hard work is paying off.
“I may not be the best at CrossFit, but I’m a better person because of CrossFit.”