Last year, Paula Reynolds didn’t think she’d ever be able to do the Open. Now, 100 lb. lighter, she’s posted scores for the first...

“She was—and is—the most positive person I have ever trained."
~Steve Cristini


Photos by Steve Cristini

Last year, Paula Reynolds didn’t think she’d ever be able to do the Open.

Now, 100 lb. lighter, she’s posted scores for the first three 2014 Open workouts. She logged 268 reps in 14.1 and 12 reps in 14.2. Previous to achieving two chest-to-bar pull-ups, she had never even done a pull-up before. Open Workout 14.3 played to her strengths, as she logged 139 reps on the deadlift/box jump couplet.

Reynolds, a labor-and-delivery nurse, was worried about her health when she found Reebok CrossFit East Woodbridge. Weighing in at 295 lb., she feared for her future.

“Sure, I was clinically healthy,” she said, “but with a family history of heart disease and diabetes, it wouldn’t have been long before they started to creep up on me.”

She mustered the guts to walk into East Woodbridge that year.

“I booked a one-on-one session at RCFEW,” she recalled. “There, I met up with Steve (Cristini), and after the workout I remember Steve asking me, ‘So are going to sign up?’ For some reason I couldn’t say no. A year later, I still have a hard time saying no to him.”

Her relationship with her coach led to fantastic accomplishments for Reynolds.

“Steve constantly pushes me to do more than I think I can,” Reynolds said of her coach. “If he ever doubted my ability to do something he never showed it, giving me the courage to try.”

According to Cristini, Reynolds’ hard work had nothing to do with him.

“She was—and is—the most positive person I have ever trained,” Cristini said. “She is such a positive role model. She is always smiling and always pushes her absolute hardest.”

Reynolds was captivated by the Open in 2013, but never imagined competing in 2014.

“I was so excited to watch all the amazing athletes compete,” she said.

By November, Reynolds had gained new skills and lost about 100 lb.

“When registration opened, I was still hesitant to sign up,” she said, “but with the encouragement from Steve, I decided to register.”

“My goal is simple: complete every workout,” Reynolds continued. “But more importantly, be better than the person I was yesterday, and even better than the person I was a year ago.”

Her biggest fear was being unable to complete a single exercise.

“When I watched the first workout, I almost cried,” she said. “I could do double-unders and snatches. I was just happy I would get a chance to compete.”

“I set a goal of getting five rounds. I thought it was lofty but something I could push toward,” she said. “I don’t think anyone was more surprised than I was when I got there!”

For 14.2, she was worried about chest-to-bar pull-ups.

“Right after the announcement I tried some out; they weren’t happening,” she said. “I tried some the next morning: still nothing. But when I went into the box Monday to do the workout, I finally got one … then two!”

She is keeping a positive attitude about the two remaining workouts.

“I’m excited and nervous, but my goal remains the same: just go out there and do it,” she said. “If I have to learn a new skill along the way, I’ll be better for it.”