Sheena Howard is competing in the Open --at seven months pregnant.
Many believe once a woman decides to start a family, certain aspects of her life must be put on hold. Sheena Howard and her husband Billy, co-owner of Sin City CrossFit, think otherwise.
Last week, while seven months pregnant with her first child, Sheena PR’d her snatch. She had made it through the 60 reps at 45 pounds and 75 pounds. She switched out the plates and in the remaining time set a new snatch PR at 100 pounds — and did it twice for good measure.
Yes, a woman in her third trimester is competing in the Open.
“I wasn’t planning on trying the 100 pounds,” Sheena says. “I thought I’d take my time and get my 60 reps and then go home. But I had so much time left, and there were so many people cheering me on that I decided to go for it. I can’t believe I PR’d.”
Sheena isn’t a sports junkie. She danced and did cheerleading in high school, but didn’t continue either sport in college. It wasn’t until after college graduation, at the urging of her sister, that Sheena tried CrossFit.
In time, Sheena not only fell in love with CrossFit, she also fell in love with the gym’s owner, Billy. Her life has changed since starting CrossFit—and not all the changes fit neatly on a benchmark stat sheet. Last year, as the box raised money with “Fight Gone Bad,” Billy proposed. A few months later, she found out she was pregnant.
Pregnancy hasn’t slowed Sheena down. In addition to working full time in a Las Vegas law office and training clients at Sin City, Sheena has continued to workout. She intends to stay active up until she gives birth in late April or early May.
“I try not to scale the WODs if I don’t have to,” she says. Yet she does try to avoid max effort lifts and movements that strongly tax her abdominal wall. As she has gotten into her last trimester, rowing has become uncomfortable and yet to her surprise jumping rope has gotten easier. “I think my double-unders have gotten better since I’ve been pregnant.”
How does she keep her training safe? She listens to her body.
“Doing CrossFit teaches you about your body,” Sheena says. “You know your limits. Because of that, coming into the pregnancy, I know if I am pushing myself too hard and I’m not going to do anything that makes me uncomfortable or endangers the baby.”
Sheena’s doctor, an athlete and marathoner, supports her training. “When I first started going to my doctor, she was familiar with CrossFit and she has never said that there is anything I should change. She tells me that everything looks great and that I am making pregnancy look easy so there is no need to worry.”
Not everyone agrees with her doctor. “I still have people that question me,” Sheena says. She lets them know she has had a healthy pregnancy and is adjusting her training in response to her changing body and the needs of her unborn child.
“It is not a selfish thing,” Sheena says. “I am not going to endanger my baby. If there is something I need to change, I will change it. But as long as everything is good, I am going to keep doing it.”
As the Open progresses, Sheena’s goals are simply to complete the workouts, feel good, and be there to support her teammates. “I just want to be the best that I can be, to stay with it and finish it, and to continue to motivate people along the way.”