Community & Resilience: Catching up with Christina

Have you ever met someone who makes you feel a connection, simply by them saying hi? If you have met coach Christina, then you know what I am talking about! She makes everyone around her instantly feel welcome and accepted. She is one of SISU’s best community builders.  

Christina has been part of the SISU team since she moved to Minnesota in the spring of 2015. Some may recall when the Wodify desk used to be next to the glass door at Plymouth, and I happened to be standing there the first time she walked in! All 5’ 3″ comes through the door like a ball of energy…”HI I’M CHRISTINA!!!”

Not having any idea of her background or how she came to be at SISU, it was immediately evident that there was something very unique about her, and I was drawn to her. I felt a sense of familiarity, like we had been friends forever. There was no ego, arrogance, or friction. My guess is that everyone she encounters experiences the same feelings. She is open and easy to talk with.

It wasn’t until recently when we sat down and really talked about her background that I fully comprehended where her RESILIENCE comes from. Her childhood and transition to adulthood and finally her path to SISU is riddled with ups and downs, starts and stops. I was blown away. 

We all have stories of how we were raised, family dynamics, morals, values, etc. We are all products of our environment, it’s inescapable and unavoidable. It’s our childhood experiences that shape everything about us, how we love, how we form attachments, our perspective on world views and the way life fits together.

Her childhood experience growing up was really good at times and other times…not so much. Christina recalls times in her life where it felt like her family had endless amounts of money, big houses, fancy cars, and au pairs. She equally remembers moving around a lot and living in times of struggle.

Christina will tell you she is from South Florida, but she was born in Staten Island, NY, and lived there until the age of three when she moved to Atlanta. Her parents went into the restaurant business, opening an Italian restaurant called Crisalli’s named after her and her kid sister, Allee. Her father was very entrepreneurial and was not afraid to take risks, diving headfirst into new ventures. Crisalli’s was one of many ventures. The restaurant was eventually sold and the family moved to West Palm, FL – with a new baby brother having been added to the family – to start over…this time in the real estate business.

As she recalls, life during this time was pretty good. She played sports growing up but really excelled in fastpitch softball. She ended up playing all throughout high school and even went on to play in college until she dropped out when late nights and Jager bombs became more of a priority.

When her sister Allee was 18 years old, she had a heart condition that required major surgery. During this time, Allee applied for and was selected to receive a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation – a Mediterranean cruise for the whole family! It was on the cruise that Christina, at age 22, met her former husband.

Six months after the cruise, he reached out to her, and they started a long-distance relationship. After about three months, she packed up her car and moved to Kansas City to make a go of it. While aware that it was perhaps not true love, it was an opportunity for a new start and security.

They married not long after, though in her gut, Christina still felt that the relationship wasn’t founded in real love, an awareness that certainly made the big West Palm wedding bittersweet.

Though a fierce competitor and very athletic, Christina has also always grappled with food and her weight which is why she tattooed a donut on her arm! One day, she stepped on the scale, and it read 217lbs!!! Today, Christina weighs 130lbs for reference. She had gained 90lbs over a two year period! She tried everything – Slim For Life, paleo, Advocare, Hydroxycut, etc. Her coping mechanism of eating and drinking had finally caught up with her.  

At an emotional low point, she saw a girl walking through their condo parking lot who was JACKED! She stopped her and asked, “WTF do you do to look like that?” The girl answered, “I own a CrossFit gym a ½ mile away. You should come try a class!” So she did, and she never looked back. She eventually started coaching and managing the gym, starting a journey of taking control of her emotions, her eating, and her LIFE.

CrossFit actually drove the wedge a little deeper in her marriage, as her husband was a CrossFit hater. Though she loved it so much and was focused on making healthy choices in her life that were serving to improve her self confidence and body image, her husband was not in favor of the changes in their lifestyle. 

Meanwhile her husband accepted a job that required them to move to Minnesota. As a South Florida girl, Christina was not too excited with Minnesota winters. They moved nearby the Plymouth gym, and Christina found a job at Evereve where she met Courtney Randolph and later was introduced to her mom, Anne Randolph, both SISU members since 2013.

In an unhappy relationship and trying to settle into a new environment, Christina put her head down and dug into SISU, working out, coaching great classes and connecting with our members. But on New Years’ Eve 2015, everything came to a head. With all the courage and strength she could muster, she told her husband that she was going to move out. 

At that point, the only family she had was SISU and the Randolphs, and she leaned in hard to those support systems. Anne & John Randolph generously opened up their home to Christina, allowing time and space for her to get her feet on the ground and start down a new path. She lived with the Randolps for over a year.

Through the support of our SISU community, Christina was able find her footing again and begin building the life she desired. She had no money, no credit, and had never even lived on her own before. She was only 28 and the skills she learned growing up were not going to provide the life she wanted.

Christina was a diamond in the rough, but unlike the common definition – a diamond in need of cutting, shaping, and polishing, my definition of a diamond in the rough is “a perfect diamond that needs a place to call home”; that home is SISU!

Christina was already forged with RESILIENCE when she showed up at our door, and SISU gave her a place to express her authentic self and grow in the direction of her passions, helping people find the best version of themselves. 

This story has a very happy ending. She met the love of her life, Thomas McCarthy. As luck would have it, I was standing with her at the Plymouth gym when she saw Thomas McCarthy for the first time. She looked at me and said, “I am going to marry that guy!!!” I chuckled and said, “remember we have a strict policy where coaches can’t date clients”. She gave me her little “Schlitz scowl”, which basically said “watch me!”

Christina is my favorite human! She has a huge, grateful heart full of love and resilience. As we chatted over details and walked through stories, it became clear to me why she is at SISU. Our CORE PURPOSE at SISU is toforge resilient humans’, and I am grateful that she is here to help fulfill it.

When I asked her how SISU has impacted her life, she said, with tears in her eyes, “SISU literally saved my life”.  

The way I see it, the universe gifted us a “diamond”, and SISU is blessed to have her as a leader and role model. She exudes resilience.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes”