Emily Martin lifts barbell above her head

The Evolution of CrossFit Coach Emily Martin

Emily Martin lifts barbell above her head

First there was Athlete Emily Martin. Then there was Intern Emily Martin. Now there is Coach Emily Martin.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a member of the Muncie CrossFit community over the past four years is seeing people change over time. People are stronger, more confident, connected, and supported. Emily Martin is all of these, but most of all she is louder.

“Come on Kelsey!”

I like to rest during workouts. It’s my way of preventing puking, passing out, and having a heart attack. But lately every time I bend over to catch my breath there she is–Emily–yelling at me.

“Get back on that bar, Kelsey!”

And she used to be so quiet.

“I could be loud”

Growing up, Emily’s life revolved around basketball.

“I always played basketball. In first or second grade we started a team. In second grade there weren’t many girls’ teams so we played on the boys’. I never really had a job. My parents basically paid for me to play basketball. I played all the time. I don’t play anymore.”

“I was a point guard, but I was always kind of a quiet person. But that wasn’t an issue on the floor. If I needed to be loud, I could be loud.”

“Freshman year, I was on the JV team. Sophomore year, I started JV and worked into varsity games. Junior year I was ready to kill it. I was ready to be a starter. But everything went to shit.”

Emily and the girls she had played with were overlooked by the coach for freshmen. All that she had worked for since grade school, a spot as the starting varsity point guard, a future playing college ball, was someone else’s. Freshmen started in the place of her and the girls she had played with for a decade.

Life off the court wasn’t much better for Emily.

“I didn’t really like high school that much. I didn’t have very many friends outside of school. It was mostly just people I played basketball with. It was kind of boring. Maybe I should have been more involved.That’s just me; I kind of keep to myself.”

A Competitor without a Competition

Emily was supposed to be playing basketball somewhere. She wasn’t supposed to be a freshman at Ball State just going to classes. She tried to look at her freshman year at Ball State as a time to rebuild, get to know people, and live a life after basketball.

“I don’t want to say ‘depressed’ because I wasn’t really depressed and I never got anything for it. But I felt unmotivated about everything. I was just kind of here. I kind of felt sorry for myself because I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing. The whole freshman year, was just…blah.”

“I was making new friends, going out at night, it wasn’t good. It was not who I was.”

Emily was a competitor without a competition.

“Sophomore year, I started CrossFit at Ball State. I’d never heard of CrossFit. I thought, ‘Oh this is interesting.’ I like working out. I like doing intense things. And then Iooked into it and saw you could do competitions. I liked that and the whole aspect of recording things and getting better. I kind of saw it as a way to make friends, too.”

Emily signed up for a student membership and began attending classes at Muncie CrossFit at The Arsenal. Lifting heavy made her nervous because she is small and in the past had struggled to gain strength, but soon she was leaving the rest of us scratching our heads when we stared at the leaderboard, saying, “Emily dead-lifted how much? That can’t be right.”

“I’m smaller so people underestimate me more.”

Athlete Emily became Intern Emily and a gym rat was born. She graduated from Ball State in December with a degree in Exercise Science, got her CrossFit Level 1 coaching certification, and became Coach Emily.

“Now most of my friends are from CrossFit. Megan and Ahmed are super good friends of mine. I workout with Kylie nearly every day and have gotten closer to her. CrossFit has definitely helped me get stronger mentally. Just something to look forward to every day. I have more confidence in myself. ‘I can lift this much weight. I can do this workout this fast.  Look at all this stuff I did today.’”

Go your hardest

During college Emily joined the National Guard to help pay for school. She was recruited by Emeritus Muncie CrossFit member, Brooke (Bailey) Winger, and has worked at the Guard with Emeritus member, Josh Winger. (Note: There is no such thing as an Emeritus membership, but if there were, Brooke and Josh who met at Muncie CrossFit, coached, and got married, would be granted one.)

I felt bad that I didn’t know that Emily was in the service, but she reassured me by saying, “I’m really bad at telling people about myself.”

Where Emily fails to tell her story, her six tattoos do not. I asked her to explain their meaning.

“The heart says ‘Love Yourself.’ That one is kind of like, I guess everything I’ve went through with disappointments, not ending up where I thought I would. I’m really hard on myself. This one is for my grandpa, it’s a fishing rod. He passed away in 2015. That’s what he liked to do a lot. My grandpa was always there for every sport, basketball, softball, anything.  He was always the type of person that said if you are going to do it, do it your hardest. He was always like, ‘Whatever you are going to do, go for it!’”

I think Emily’s grandpa would approve of her efforts at CrossFit.

“CrossFit has definitely helped me get stronger mentally. Just something to look forward to every day. I have more confidence in myself. ‘I can lift this much weight. I can do this workout this fast.  Look at all this stuff I did today.’”

Emily pointed to another tattoo and said, “This one is an equal sign for equality.”

In college, Emily came out to her friends and family. Some accepted her right away, others did not, making it harder to accept herself.

It’s obvious, though, that she’s accepted at Muncie CrossFit at The Arsenal. She has graduated and is still here coaching classes. It’s obvious that Emily loves what she is doing and is loved in return. I see it in the way her friends interact with her, the way our community embraces her.

I see it in the way she yells at us to overcome difficult things.

“Come on Kelsey! You are almost there. Don’t quit!”