Athlete of the MonthApril

Tasha Ebanks-Garcia

Years at CrossFit 7 Mile - Grand Cayman: 1

Learn more about Tasha Ebanks-Garcia

How long have you been doing CrossFit?

I started CrossFit classes in September 2018 after doing Fundamentals with Coach Chris Spigner.

What made you decide to give 7 Mile Strength & Fitness a try?

In December 2016 I decided that 2017 would not be another failed attempt at getting healthy for the New Year. I can’t remember how I heard about it, but the 7 Mile Strength & Fitness Couch-2-5K training caught my attention. The idea of running sounded exciting in my head. I thought, “Wow, can you imagine being able to run a 5K”. Two Couch 2 5K’s and one Marathon training program later, Coach Scotty and Coach Jesse had me running my first half marathon. I made the transition from run training to CrossFit after a knee injury in early 2018.

What was the hardest part when you started out and how did you overcome that?

The hardest part when I started CrossFit was overcoming the intimidation of the WOD. When I read the board half the stuff on there were movements/exercises that looked super hard or I just couldn’t do. I wasn’t strong, I wasn’t particularly fast. Flexibility was probably the only thing I had going for me.

For the first couple of months I only went to classes that my Coach (Chris Spigner) taught. He knew me and was able to scale the workouts for me, making them manageable (still super hard, but manageable). After a while I got brave and started going to classes taught by other coaches and found a really supportive team of coaches that got to know me and helped me to scale the workouts. Getting to know my body, accepting where I was in the moment and scaling workouts was how I overcame the fear of the WOD.

You just finished your first ever CrossFit Games Open!! Congratulations on an amazing job over the 5 weeks! Tell us a little bit about your experience. Which workout did you like? Which one was your least favorite? Will you participate again in October? What would you tell anyone who’s on the fence about doing the Open?

19.2 was my favourite of the Open workouts. When I started CrossFit I couldn’t do more than 10 single-unders unbroken. For some reason I found skipping rope hard and uncomfortable. In 19.2 I was able to get through the single-under sets with just one break which felt awesome to me. In 19.2 my hands got good and tore up doing the hanging knee raises (nothing says CrossFit like callused hands!). Add to that the squat cleans, a movement that makes you feel powerful when you do it, and you have a really great WOD.

I don’t know that I have a least favourite workout. They were all equally painful, both mentally and physically. With all of them I hated each movement at the start, but by the time I finished the workout I found that I was better at each movement than when I started and actually started to like the movements. Movements that I thought I wasn’t good at (I’m talking to you wall balls!) I got better at, and movements that I didn’t like I learned to appreciate (I’m talking to you jumping pull ups!).

I’m all over October. I’ve already started to strategize about what I need to do differently in my nutrition and my training to be stronger for October. I have a PT coming up and I’ll be looking to my Coach to help me plan for being stronger, both mentally and physically, for October.

If you’re sitting on the fence about the Open I would ask, “What’s holding you back?” Sure it’s scary. Every morning before the workout started my stomach was in knots. Sure it’s painful. In the middle of each workout I thought to myself, “I could curl up into a ball on the floor and just refuse to do another movement”. But then you get to the end, after having giving it everything you have, and you sit in awe at what you just did. My best WODs ever, were in the Open. The unintentional grunting noises coming out of my mouth during the Open was the anthem call of my effort. The pride on my husband and kid’s faces as they watched me do my first Open was the icing on the cake. The Open was my Mt. Everest, and I can tell you the view from the top is amazing!

You posted awhile back about your on-going knee issues you had when training for the marathon. How has coming in to do strength training helped you? What’s made the biggest difference, in your opinion, in getting better?

I ended up in CrossFit after getting a knee injury (guess I ran farther than my body wanted to go!). I got to a point where one mile in my knee hurt so bad I had to hobble home. The doctors couldn’t find anything medically wrong with me other than inflammation in my knee. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication was prescribed. You can’t imagine the disappointment. For years I searched for some form of exercise that I enjoyed. While I wasn’t a fast runner I really enjoyed the thrill of the long distance and thought that this was my sport.

However, I do need to share with you that if you saw me in the home stretch of a long run I looked like an old lady hunched over dragging her body behind her, and the running pack that I wore on my back added to the whole Quasimodo look I was sporting (the pics look seriously funny). Coming to CrossFit was a way to get the strength that I needed to run the distance. As my CrossFit Coach pointed out, carrying 150 pounds for an hour or two is a lot of work for the body.

In addition to building strength, my CrossFit Coach has been working with me on the mechanics of running (I am a heel striker). While learning how to run, and undoing what my body has been doing for 45 years, has been absolutely frustrating it has also been tremendously helpful. Slowly my body is adapting to the changes that I am trying to make in terms of the mechanics of running and as a result I am getting faster. While I still can’t run the distance I would like to (3-4miles is my point of pain) when I do run I feel stronger and my form is 100 times better (Goodbye Quasimodo!).

Any other goals on your list for this year?

My plan was to start training to run my next half marathon at the end of the year. But I am so conflicted because I have developed this unexpected love for CrossFit and the next Open is in October. I am torn between two loves and right now the embrace of CrossFit feels really good.

Name something you’re most proud of in the gym.

I asked my son what he thinks the answer to this question is and he said, “deadlifts”. Apparently, I get very animated when I talk about my progress in deadlifts. I can lift my body weight which I think is totally cool.

Did you play any sports growing up?

Growing up I was the kid in PE who kept sneaking to the back of the line so they didn’t have to play sports. I had a fear of failure and convinced myself that if I didn’t do well I would be totally embarrassed. The only sport that I did take part in was netball. Given my height in high school I could play goal keeper quite successfully by just standing and raising my hand over the shooter. Since the goal keeper can only move in one third of the court I didn’t have to move much. Basically, I just stood in the circle and raised my hand.

Anything people at 7 Mile Strength & Fitness don’t know about you?

There is…in 1995 I was crowned Miss Cayman. I got to represent the Cayman Islands at Miss Universe in Las Vegas and Miss World in South Africa.

Anything crazy on your bucket list? (bungee jumping, sky diving?)

Most people may not considerate it crazy, but as a ninth generation Caymanian who swore at one point in her life that Cayman would be her home till God took her to heaven, the crazy thing on my bucket list is making my home in a foreign country. My husband (who is from the Philippines) and I are exploring the option of moving to the Philippines one day (possibly sooner than later).

What is your favorite WOD and why?

Anything that involves a bar with weights. As a woman, there is something seriously empowering about manhandling a bar with weights on it.

What is your least favorite WOD and why?

This may sound strange, but anything with running in it. I loathe short distances. Ask me to run a 10K, but please don’t ask me to run 400m.

What has been your biggest surprise about doing CrossFit?

I was most surprised by how encouraging and motivating the sport is and the fact there wherever you are in your CrossFit journey you can be good at CrossFit. I feel confident in saying I am good at CrossFit even though I scale workouts, I cap out, I can’t figure out how to do an EMOM and have that built in break, I am not the fastest or strongest, my height means that squats seem to take forever because of the distance I have to travel…I could go on.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s the kind of sport that you can be good at even when there is room for growth. And in CrossFit there is always room for growth which means that you go from one milestone, one celebration, one PR to another. There isn’t one defining moment when you have arrived. In whatever moment you are standing in you have arrived. I can remember going from doing negative pushups on a box to doing 10 box pushups in a row and feeling on top of the world. Can you imagine the feeling I will have when I can do pushups on the ground! In CrossFit you go from growth to growth, celebrating each achievement and using that positive energy to take you to the next level.

Would you recommend 7 Mile Strength & Fitness to others and if so, why?

Absolutely! You can get a good workout and you can find good coaching at any good gym. What 7 Mile Strength & Fitness has that you don’t find everywhere is a great community. For me going to 7 Mile Strength & Fitness is more than just going to the gym. It’s that place where I am encouraged and supported. It’s that place where I go when I feel down and need to escape the world. There’s something transformational about walking in there, its part WOD, part community, part amazing coaching. There are a number of times that I have gone into 7 Mile Strength & Fitness feeling crappy. Never once have I left feeling crappy.

Congratulations, Tash!  We are proud of you and your accomplishments!


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