Our December athlete could’ve been nominated for this honor on likability alone. She can turn the gym into a laugh factory within .2 seconds of entering. She’s uplifting, intelligent, witty, and she’s amazingly ridiculous. But watch out, when Megan Gitterman gets focused, her eyes turn into lasers and you can almost see her transport back to the lacrosse field in college. She’s a true athlete. She’ll try to tell you otherwise with some self deprecating humor, but ignore the goofball. She has heart. She gives it her all. She moves well, is coachable and determined to get it right, and has an amazing work ethic. Gitterman is tenacious in achieving her goals. Setting aside a few minutes each day to conquer more advanced gymnastics movements like kipping pull ups, toes to bar, or handstand pushups. Regardless of a stressful long day at work or spending a full day at the doctors office with her daughter, this amazing mom shows up at the gym on the daily to get in HER own form of therapy. This deep dedication to becoming her best self has been an inspiration to our Blackbird community.  Please take the time to read her Athlete of the Month bio. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt and, of course, humorous testament to the healing power of exercise, taking care of oneself, and community. We love us some GIIIIIIIIIIIIIITERMAAAAAAAN! MEET MEGAN GITTERMAN…

1.TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.

I’m Gittermann. I was given a first name at birth, but nobody ever seems to use it . . . pretty sure it’s Megan. I’m 35, and I have two incredible daughters who entertain me (and drive me a little crazy) daily. I was a lax goalie at Hofstra University, where I studied both Finance and Mathematics. I did my postgraduate work at UMBC and at Towson. My passion is working with teenagers living in poverty or experiencing trauma, which is why I ultimately pursued a career in education. Currently, I’m a high school instructional specialist in Howard County. Basically, the math office assign me to schools, and I work with teachers, team leaders, and struggling or disadvantaged students at those schools. I love the kids I serve, even though they sometimes give me more gray hairs than my own.

2. WHAT MADE YOU START CROSSFIT? 

I’ve always had a really intense personality (surprised?), but in 2016 things sort of fell apart for me. During the first half of the year, my youngest daughter went through a drawn-out series of pretty scary medical crises that landed her in and out of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and ultimately resulted in a permanent physical disability. I was struggling to keep my head above water at work and at home under the weight of frequent ER visits, piles of medical paperwork, and traumatically invasive testing. At some point during my fight for her, I sort of lost the will to fight for the rest of my family, for my students, and for myself. I walked into Blackbird after the dust settled, hoping to gain a piece of myself back, hoping to feel something resembling normal, and hoping to give my family back the wife and mother they deserved. I am not sure that I have ever made a wiser decision. These days, my focus has shifted from merely avoiding the worst versions of myself to actively pursuing my very best self. And I have never felt better.

3. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS AFTER YOUR 1st WOD?

I’ve learned that comparison is a habit that’s harder to quit than refined sugar. And that it’s far more damaging to your well-being. Also, I’ve learned to climb that damn rope from elementary school PE class. No knots necessary.

4.WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BLACKBIRD OR CROSSFIT IN GENERAL? 

I expected to enjoy the workouts, but I had no idea how much I’d love the people. I’m naturally an extrovert, so a workout is ten times more enjoyable for me when I can suffer through it next to people I truly enjoy. While the Dudes of Blackbird are pretty awesome, my Blackbird Ladies are the first group of women in a long time who have really made me feel like I belong to a community, particularly my fellow mamas. Us Blackbird moms are a force to be reckoned with.

5. WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CROSSFIT MOMENT?

The most memorable moment was when I Rx’d the WOD on 9/11. I was a college student not far from NYC on that day, and I worked for the NYSE shortly thereafter, so the day will always be one of personal reflection for me. The WOD was really hard, but it was also really cathartic. That day was my turning point at Blackbird, because it was one of the first really grueling workouts I had the courage to Rx. I’m pretty sure I was in last place, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have been prouder.

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVEMENT/LIFT? LEAST FAVORITE?

I love so many things, but my three most favoritest on the whole, wide planet are slam balls, tire flips and deadlifts. If I can shove it, smash it, or heave it, I’m a happy girl. I suppose I’m aggressive that way. My least favorite movement ever in the history of all exercise is the wall ball. Wall balls are the worst, and I hate them. Whoever invented them is hateful. The end.

7. WHAT ARE YOUR CROSSFIT GOALS? HOW CLOSE ARE YOU TO REACHING THEM?

My overall goal is to be able to Rx all of the movements and weights that come up regularly (chest to bar pull-ups and muscle-ups can wait until December of 2032). I’m definitely getting close, but I’m currently battling handstand push-ups and double unders. Both movements are a mind game for me, but I’m determined to get them before the Open.

8. WHAT IMPACT HAS BLACKBIRD HAD ON YOUR LIFE IN AND OUT OF THE GYM?

In the gym, I’m getting stronger, both mentally and physically. Outside of the gym, I’m happier and so much more confident. There’s something about going to work in the morning with a bruise on your collarbone from a squat clean PR the night before that makes you feel like a genuine badass.

9. WHEN YOU’RE CROSSFITTING, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO?

I’m actually a hopeless book worm at home. I read everything and all the time – about 30-45 books per year. I own three kindles and about a million physical books. Actually, I sort of used to hoard textbooks. I stole my Calculus textbook and To Kill a Mockingbird from high school in 10th grade, and I still have them. I also like running and hiking, which is only slightly less nerdy. Sometimes, I make the font really big on my Kindle . . . and I run on the treadmill with it. Now that I’ve joined Blackbird, I often wear a weight vest while doing it. Essentially, when I’m not CrossFitting, I’m just about the coolest kid in Eldersburg.

10. WHAT IS ONE FUN THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE MAY NOT KNOW YET?

Did you read the part about me stealing a Calculus textbook because I couldn’t bear to let it go? There’s literally nothing fun about me that you don’t already know.

11. THE ONE TIP YOU’D GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT STARTING CROSSFIT OR JUST STARTED?

I would say jump in with both feet! CrossFit takes all the guesswork out of physical fitness. You show up a few times a week, work your hardest at whatever is on the screen with trained coaches there to support you, and you go home better than when you arrived. There is no movement that cannot be scaled to meet your needs, and there is no person in the gym who was not once a beginner like you. Along the way, you’ll do things you never thought possible, and you may even make some great friends in the process.

11. AS A FORMER COLLEGIATE ATHLETE, HOW DOES THIS TYPE OF TRAINING FEEL AS AN ADULT?

It feels like I’m part of a team again, which is amazing. There is a special type of camaraderie that can only be forged in sweat. CrossFit feeds the competitive beast in me as an athlete, but is blissfully absent of the pressures that come with playing time, win/loss records, and scholarship money. There is nothing more empowering as an athlete than to work with with coaches that have one goal only: your personal growth.

12. RESULTS! TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESULTS!

Well, I have lost a grand total of (drumroll, please) . . . zero pounds! BUT I feel great, and I know my body is changing. I’ve increased strength in every lift, I can see and feel muscles that have been lost since college, and my clothes are far more forgiving these days. The most important result is that I barely look at the scale anymore and I look forward to working out.

FREEWRITE:

Thank you to the coaches and members of Blackbird for welcoming me into your community. Every single day, I look forward to checking the workout in the morning and walking through the doors in the evening, because I know I’ll see faces on the whiteboard and in the gym who make me genuinely smile. I walk into the gym knowing that I will always walk out better for having been there. To the athletes at Blackbird, who inspire me to work hard each and every day: thank you for your kindness, your encouragement, your humor, and your determination. I never thought I’d get so excited by gold stars earned by others, but here we are. To the coaches, who have coached me through PRs and plateaus, who deal with my constant chatter and nervous energy, and who never let me quit: thank you for your patience, your guidance, your honesty, and your friendship.