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danielle.gray.solcana-1Solcana has helped redeem my love for fitness. Allow me to explain. I pursued and attained a degree in Exercise and Sport Science and began working in the fitness field while finishing that degree. It didn’t take long to experience how vain the fitness field could be. There were spoken and unspoken pressures to look a certain way, which was conveyed as “thin but toned” if you’re a woman and “buff” if you’re a man. There was also a competitive nature to be better than those around you. Needless to say, sincere encouragement was hard to come across. While I have always been a competitive athlete and in fairly good shape, I simply did not fit this fitness field mold and brought myself to some dark places trying to force my body to. This, coupled with my own high expectations of myself in all that I do, led to body shaming and self-hate during these times. So, while I loved health and fitness personally, I decided it was best to leave the fitness field in order to protect myself. And I had no intention of ever going back.

Fast forward four years. I began to hear rumblings of the Crossfit world and all the typical assumptions that came with what it was. I was actually drawn to the level of intensity I heard about (because I like a good challenge), but assumed it came with all the other negative aspects I was used to. Through a friend, I also began to hear about a woman named Hannah who had a vision to create a safe and welcoming environment while doing intense workouts that led to legitimate fitness gains. I seriously had no idea that these two could go together and it took a year of convincing to finally give it a shot. My initial intention was to simply gain back the fitness that I had lost over time. But what came with joining was so much more.

danielle.gray.solcana-4I tried one class at Solcana and was instantly hooked. Since I come from a health background, it was a relief to see great programming that led to solid workouts but were also really fun. Even more so though, it was a relief to feel welcomed in a way that was so warm and genuine. People were so open and I never felt judged by what I could or could not do. I was encouraged to try new things and push limits in a physically and emotionally safe way. It was also clear to me that Solcana celebrated bodies, not body types. It’s more about what are bodies are capable of, instead of what they look like!

While I tended to portray a confident demeanor, early on there was an underlying anxiety that I would fall back into those dark places where shame was the main motivator. And frankly, that very thing happened. About 6 months after joining Solcana, I entered to compete in my first weightlifting meet. How did I do, you ask? The short version is that I mentally psyched myself out and bombed. There are only two lifts in weightlifting and you get three attempts at each lift. I missed all three attempts on my first lift at a weight that should’ve been fairly easy for me at the time. That meant no matter what my score on my second lift was, I would have no legitimate overall score. While this was a small, local meet and really didn’t matter for anything it honestly crushed me. Remember that I come from a competitive sport background, so this was supposed to be what I had to excel in. Because I have learned to set extremely high standards for myself (especially in regards to physical fitness) I felt like I had failed and my identity as a person was tied to that failure.

What was so interesting to me though, is what followed the week after. I was in my usual state of self hate after feeling like I had failed, but sensed something different alongside that as well. There was this sense of wanting to offer myself grace as I learned from this experience and move forward in a healthy manner. This led me to the realization that I was beginning to be deeply impacted by the culture that was created at Solcana.

danielle.gray.solcana-2The culture at Solcana is one that celebrates growth but also offers grace in the inbetweens. We celebrate with one another when a body experiences growth in any number of ways that allows them to potentially move more weight or perform a new movement or digest its food more effectively! But when that growth process seems to be taking longer than expected or there are bumps along the way, grace is extended to remind us that we are not alone and it’s okay to stumble while we figure it out. Simply being immersed in this has brought about transformation for me as a person. This gift, given over and over again by Solcana coaches and fellow athletes, allowed me to begin to process my successes AND shortcomings in a new way.  As a result, I have learned to have more grace for myself as I seek new goals in fitness but also in life. Over time, it has become far more about celebrating what my body is capable of versus focusing on how my body falls short.

Solcana has shed a new light on fitness and wellness for me and has helped to redeem my love for both of them. The culture that Hannah and the other Solcana staff have created is not an easy feat in a field that can often be so toxic. This has brought about a realization that I too want to help foster that safe space for others and have recently been given the opportunity to become a coach at Solcana! I am excited to be able to join the wonderful Solcana staff and am honored to be given the opportunity to help create an environment that is empowering to all we come in contact with.

I would love to end this by telling you that I no longer struggle with that shame mindset. I am still on a journey of having my mind transformed in this way. I do, however, celebrate how much growth I have seen over the past years and the role that Solcana has played in that. I am so grateful to be a part of a community that encourages me in the right direction every time I see them!

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There one response to “My Story: Solcana Athlete Danielle Gray”


Roberta Gray

Danielle, your life story is making a difference to others, including me. You – go- girl !!!!

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