We, the Solace coaching staff, are very excited to award our January Member of the Month to Melissa Ferrer. Melissa is a part of the early morning crew and is an incredible athlete. Runner turned Crossfitter, she is usually one of the first to finish the workouts, but you can always find her cheering everyone else on.
In February of 2016, Melissa suffered two severely herniated disks in her neck and had to go through not one, but two spinal surgeries. Prior to the injury, she was constantly pushing herself and not in a good way. The biggest take away for Melissa – patience and the importance of listening to your body. While it was a long road to recovery, Melissa put in the work and is hitting old PR’s and setting new ones – she just got her first bar muscle up!! Proving just how strong she is, both mentally and physically.
Melissa is a great example of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish. While it was not an easy road, she learned from her injury and used it as motivation to come back stronger than ever. From the entire community and staff at Solace, it is an honor to have you apart of this community and we want to thank you for being a positive example for all of us. So what are you waiting for?! Keep reading to learn more about our January Member of the Month!
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Member of the Month
Name: Melissa Ferrer
Hometown: Lincoln, Rhode Island
Occupation: Third grade teacher
How long have you been doing CrossFit and how did you get into it?
Ever since I can remember I have loved being active and I have always searched for ways to physically challenge myself. In the fall of 2013, I decided to train for and run the NYC Marathon. About a month prior to the actual race, I wound up unable to run because of a bad knee injury. My body felt awful, and, honestly, for all the running I had been doing, I certainly didn’t feel very fit. I said to myself, “It’s time for a change.” Fast forward a few months later, and I found myself in my very first CrossFit class in January of 2014.
What were your thoughts after your first CF workout?
Oh man, I don’t remember the workout exactly, but the WOD involved burpees, wall balls, and pushups. After I caught my breath I thought something along the following lines of, “God, that was awful,” and, “Woah, I have a LOT to learn.” Clearly, I was hooked.
What were your goals when joining CrossFit?
When I first started, I’d say my goals were mainly centered around body image and how I looked. After a few ups and downs with my physical health, I’m proud to say that my goals today are much different. My goals now are based on feeling healthy and strong, and to have some fun in the process. Also, this is New York City. I want to be able to carry my groceries home without feeling out of breath and needing to put my bags down every other block. Am I right?!
How did you find Solace and what has kept you with us for so long?
A good friend of mine took me to one of Kenny’s body classes about a year before I joined Solace, and I was INTO it. Now that I am officially a member here, I love the variety of classes our gym offers and we are all clearly spoiled by our facilities. That being said, the main reason I enjoy our box so much is The PEOPLE! There is so much more to CrossFit and to the Solace than lifting weights. There is no way I would wake up at 4:30 or 5:30 for an AM class if I didn’t enjoy the community of people I work out with and the amazing coaches who teach us and keep us motivated.
You are consistently in the gym early working hard. What gets and kept you motivated?
Unfinished business. I love working to continuously improve every time I walk in the door. Subsequently, every day once I head out after a workout, I always leave knowing I have unfinished business to come back to, for something else to improve on.
You also recently had neck surgery and have made an amazing recovery. Talk to us about that.
In the spring of 2015, about 18 months after initially beginning CrossFit, I was constantly pushing myself at the gym (not in a good way), I suffered a pretty serious neck injury. In hindsight, I was ignoring some very serious alarms my body was sending me. It finally caught up with me, and I wound up with two severely herniated discs in my neck and no feeling in my right arm/hand. After months of PT, acupuncture, and rest with little improvement, I wound up needing to get spine surgery. Unfortunately, about 8 months after my initial surgery, in February of 2016, I was at the surgeon’s office for a routine post-op appointment, when it was discovered that two of the screws in my neck were not properly adhering to my bone… so I had to go back and do the same exact surgery all over again! I was devastated. I knew I had another long and hard road ahead of me.
My recovery was extremely humbling and it certainly was not a clear-cut line of steady progression back to feeling like myself and getting back to CrossFit. I have some incredible friends in my corner who kept me smiling while my body healed and I strolled the streets of NYC in a sexy cervical collar. Thank goodness for them! I also made two promises to myself after my second surgery: 1) I promised I would be patient and do exactly what the doctors said before even thinking about getting back to working out/CrossFit and 2) I promised to always listen to my body and never take it for granted again. So far, so good!
What has been the most challenging part of your journey and overcoming the injury?
Initially, the hardest part of recovery was being patient and giving my body the proper time to heal. I am always on the go and fairly independent so not feeling like my full self for months at a time was a major buzzkill. Once I was finally cleared to go back to CrossFit in 2017, the biggest challenge for me was maintaining a positive mindset while getting back into the swing of things. I would look back at my old log book and feel frustrated when I realized how much strength and endurance I had lost since getting hurt. It was quite a reality check and a definite hit to the ego. I’ve come a long way with those thoughts, and even though I am not physically the CrossFitter I once, I have a much healthier mindset about fitness. When I find myself going down that rabbit hole of negative self-talk I say to myself, “Chill OUT. This is supposed to be fun so stop taking yourself so damn seriously.”
How has Solace positively affected you both inside and outside the gym?
The biggest positive change for me since joining Solace would have to be my confidence both inside and outside of the gym. Of course, when you’re consistent with any workout regimen you’re going to see positive results from a superficial standpoint, but I truly believe people underestimate the mental effects of CrossFit. It’s about going into that dark place that makes you feel scared, uncomfortable, and uneasy, and coming out triumphant because you decided to challenge yourself and not settle. When you accomplish something in a WOD that you didn’t think you were physically capable of, you start to feel pretty unstoppable in other parts of your life as well.
Biggest achievement at Solace so far?
Getting a Bar MUSCLE UP!!!! It was my 2017 goal and I didn’t think it was going to happen.. and then in December it did!! Thanks, Coach Chelsea!!!!
2018 is here. New goals for the coming year?
Since I just recently managed to get a few bar muscle ups, I would love to work on my technique with this movement and begin to regularly/efficiently incorporate it into workouts when applicable. I also would love to clear a 160 pound clean. I just recently hit an old PR of 155 so getting to 160 would be awesome.
Something no one at the gym knows about you: My friends all call me Turbo. Along those lines: I am one of the clumsiest people on the planet.
When you’re not at Solace, where are we most likely to find you?
Probably playing with my pup, Huxley. We got him in March of 2017 and I’m borderline obsessed with him.
Pre and post workout meal of choice?
I’m fairly routine-oriented so nothing too exciting here. Pre entails rolling out of bed, maybe some coffee, but always a big glass of water with apple cider vinegar (I know, ew, gross), and then coconut water mixed with protein. Since I usually follow workouts with breakfast my post workout meal typically entails some veggies and greek yogurt mixed with oatmeal and peanut butter.
Favorite WOD/ Least Favorite WOD: My favorite WOD is Kelly! Love a good rounds for time endurance WOD with running and wall balls… oh, and box jumps, are okay, I guess. My least favorite WOD is Diane. Deadlifts and handstand push-ups give me anxiety.
Knowing how far you’ve come, if you could give your past self-advice, what would it be?
“Listen to and respect your body. It’s the only one you’ve got.”
Rapid Fire Questions
If you had a theme song, what would it be? Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap. Try to be in a bad mood after listening to that song. I dare you.
Last picture you took on your phone: A picture of my pup at the dog park 🙂
Last book you read: The Ramblers
Favorite show to binge watch: Lately: The Crown and Planet Earth II, but give me a few good documentaries and I’ll be occupied for days.
Last concert you went to: M83 back in 2016 (it’s been awhile)!
Favorite pizza topping: Mushrooms and/or extra cheese
Favorite NYC Doughnut Shop: I will take the liberty of changing “doughnut” to “cookie,” and say Levain Bakery. If you haven’t been then you haven’t lived.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Teleportation
One thing you couldn’t live without: La Croix …. oh, and spandex, of course.
Favorite emoji: Probably that one where the girl is shrugging. I find myself sending that one more than I care to admit.
Last song stuck in your head: “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
First album/CD/cassette you ever bought?: TLC CrazySexyCool
Favorite hidden gem spot/restaurant in NYC: Kura. If you like sushi and have a special occasion to celebrate I highly recommend checking this place out.
Favorite healthy snack: Are cookies healthy? No? Chocolate then?
Go to karaoke song: “Like a Prayer” by Madonna