May 29, 2013
Stephanie Cherrstrom: Bare Bones Attraction
By Delwin Keasberry

"I feel totally honored to be in the same category as these other athletes."



Photos by Mario Gandia

At 40, Stephanie Cherrstrom qualified for the 2013 Asia Regional. Get to know the athlete who will by vying for a spot on the podium in just a few days. 

What do you do?

I am the head coach on the Yokosuka Navy base, Japan. I have been coaching for a number of years, but knew that moving to Japan would be a wonderful opportunity to share the community of CrossFit. I applied for my affiliation with CrossFit even before we moved. I got the approval for CrossFit Yokosuka in June of 2012.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for a number of years. I am a Navy wife of 18 years and after moving to Virginia in 2009, I decided it was time for me to make some healthy changes for myself.

I have been active my entire life, but had found myself in a fitness and health rut. I am the mother of two wonderful children, ages 12 and 16, and love any opportunity for adventure. I have done a number of adventure races, Ironman 70.3 and Tokyo marathon by no extra training other than CrossFit.  

You meet a stranger and they ask you "What is CrossFit?" What is your response?

CrossFit is a community of like-minded individuals. You may start based off the fitness aspect of it, but you stay because of the family you make. I have also described it like a tattoo. It hurts when you are in the middle of it, but before too long, you cannot wait to get another one.

Tell us about your CrossFit journey.

I heard about CrossFit when we were stationed in California, but since we were about to move, I did not do much research on it. In Virginia, I happened to come across a flyer while my daughter was at gymnastics, and I decided it was worth looking into. I made an appointment, drove up to a warehouse and before even doing an introductory (workout), I signed a year contract. There was a feeling I got just by walking in and seeing the bare bones of this space and hearing the loud hard music. I knew that if I put my money on it, it was a done deal. I do not like to waste money.

After a year of CrossFit, I decided to get my Level 1 (Certificate). I instantly started coaching and finally felt like I figured out what I was going to do when I grew up … although, the “grew up” bit is still up for debate. Another year later, I got my Olympic lifting certification and I am always on the lookout to get more. Hopefully we can arrange for something to happen in Yokosuka.

Tell us about CrossFit Yokosuka.

We have about 60 to 70 members and a long waiting list that we are hoping to free up soon.  CrossFit is completely new to a majority of our members. It is so rewarding when I am able to see people accomplish one of their goals, cheer on and finish a WOD with a teammate, high five or be there for the overwhelming tears that might come. I do not think anyone expected this to be as life changing as it is.

We have been very blessed to form a family that is able to fill voids for those of us who are stationed overseas and far away from family. It means so much that this has taken off in such a quick timeframe. We work hard and play hard but without any question, the relationships that have been formed, are being formed, and will continue to form are priceless. CrossFit is bigger than anything I could have imagined.  

You will be participating in the Asia Regional. What is running through your mind?

Regionals 2013 will be my first time. I never expected to qualify. Since I am 40, I competed in the Masters category. Knowing that they only took the best of the best and went straight to the Games, I just wanted to go in and do the best I could do, but still have fun doing it. I was pretty amazed when I placed first in the Asia Masters, but did not give much thought to competing on an individual level.

Regarding the events, I am nervous and excited about all of them. My CrossFit nemesis is the muscle-up, so we will see what Day 1 brings. I feel totally honored to be in the same category as these other athletes. I am still working on my weaknesses and will continue to do so up until the competition itself. I think the thing I am most excited about is to be in an arena with awesome athletes. I am fortunate enough to have three of my friends and members accompany me to Korea and I am really excited for them to share this excitement with me, as well.

Share three lessons you have learnt from your preparations for those of us looking to qualify in 2014.

Be consistent but remember your love of CrossFit. It makes the pain a little more tolerable.

Train your weaknesses. If you do not like something, it is probably because you are not very good at it, so do it more often.

Eat well and rest.

What are your goals for the next three years?

Stronger and more efficient than I am today. I would love to have more of my members accompanying me to Regionals.

Finally, any special mentions?

To all of my family at CrossFit Yokosuka, for believing in me. For my Virginia family at CrossFit Unrivaled who continue to cheer across the water, and mostly, my wonderful husband, Matt and kids, Bryce and Ellie. I am truly blessed to have a support system like the one I have.