Burpees, weight sleds, barbell lifts—Amelia Garris, 28, slays them all. She talks about the life-changing power of building serious strength.

By By Amelia Garris
Photo: Ellery Photos

One of my favorite CrossFit WODs is dubbed Grace: You do 30 clean-and-presses, lifting the barbell from the ground to overhead, then lowering back down. The standard for women is to be able to lift 65 pounds, and that's what I do, only I'm in my wheelchair. It's seriously tiring doing a workout like that, but I feel amazing.

If I can lift heavy, I feel successful. It ignites a fire in me. (And that's just one of the perks of lifting heavy.)

I like to say that CrossFit put my head back on after I lost the use of my right leg to nerve damage (I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome five and a half years ago).

When physical therapists told me they couldn't help me any further in my rehab, my mom looked at me and said, "You're going to the gym tomorrow." I couldn't run, and I couldn't walk without crutches, but the next day, when I went to CrossFit, people didn't look at me differently-because everyone has to modify things in CrossFit. So I just fit in.

Photo: Amelia Garris

Learning how to work out again was difficult, but once you accomplish something-even if it's a small milestone-it's like, wow. I wanted to lift big weights and do everything that everyone else was doing. I just kept going heavier and heavier, and the difference it made both inside and out was quite beautiful. (Related: How Lifting Weights Taught This Cancer Survivor to Love Her Body Again)

I started coaching track and soccer at the middle school and high school I attended in Rhode Island-the same sports I played when I was there. I got the confidence to apply for graduate school. Then I landed a great job at an aerospace and defense company halfway across the country.

I now do cardio daily and lift every other day, but CrossFit gave me a foundation to be the athlete and person I am. It has even taught me that I can surpass my old self.

Comments (1)

July 18, 2019
Over the years I've tried many methods recommended by both my friends and family but none of them seemed to work out for me until I chanced upon this holy grail where I've lost almost 33 pounds in just 1 month trying it out! I can now fit in dresses two sizes down and receive many compliments from not only my lovely husband, but colleagues and girlfriends about how great I look right now! I'm here to share with you guys because I am really thankful and hope someone who also needs this can experience similar results as me! Here is the link to my holy grail method! http://bit.ly/flatbelly14dayfix