Meet Coach Laura Paler

Certifications: CF-L1 & CF-L2Class Times: 8:45 am & 10:00 am Sundays
Fav Playlist/Genre: AmericanaFav Workout: DT, anything with a heavy bar, muscle ups/hsw

Here is some bio information about her:

What got you into CrossFit: I started Crossfit in 2016 shortly after my husband started. When he encouraged me to try it, I was initially very skeptical. I had always done independent, individual sports (mostly martial arts) and was wary of what I thought would be “drill sergeant” bro workouts. I couldn’t have been more wrong about what Crossfit actually is, and I was absolutely hooked from my first class. 

While a little bit of encouragement is what got me to try Crossfit, that is not what has kept me coming to Crossfit consistently, 4-5 days a week, for over seven years. I’ve stuck with Crossfit because I’ve been amazed at the transformation I’ve seen in myself. I am a very normal person — I was never a college athlete and I have never felt particularly talented when it comes to sports. But my fitness, strength, endurance, nutrition, and overall health have all improved dramatically. I realized that the Crossfit method worked better than anything else I’d ever encountered.  

I’ve also stuck with Crossfit because I love how it has redefined fitness expectations in general, but especially for women and especially for individuals as they age. As a young girl, I did try to fit a particular mold that was not at all suited to my body type or my abilities. An important part of Crossfit is the notion that strong is beautiful and that it is more important to focus on what our bodies can do than how they look, and I love that message. Also, as I am now about to turn 45, I am increasingly focused on health goals for longevity and quality of life for the long-run. Here again Crossfit has transformed our understanding of what people are capable of fitness-wise as they get older and provides a roadmap to health and fitness at any decade. I personally saw the benefits of my fitness after recovering from a hysterectomy in 2021. My recovery astounded my surgeon and my physical therapist and it was all possible because I had such a strong fitness baseline. My goal is to be doing Crossfit into my 70s.

Coaching style: Ha, I guess I would have to call it “tough love.” I really really care about movement quality. I will always do my best to emphasize and demonstrate movement quality and I’m not afraid to call out athletes for not going below parallel on a squat or getting their chests to the ground on a push-up. But I hope everyone knows that it comes from a place of love.

What is one thing you bring to your classes that makes them unique/special: I think I bring to my classes both a strong desire to help athletes improve and the perspective of someone who has personally had to work hard to become proficient at many Crossfit movements. In my experience as a political science professor (my day job) it is often the professors who had to work the hardest to understand a subject who teach it very well. That’s because these professors understand why and where students get stuck and how to provide the intuition and tools to make progress. This is also true for how I coach Crossfit. I’m not necessarily naturally talented at olympic lifting or double under or gymnastics but I’ve worked hard to learn and improve these skills, often through a lot of trial and error. I try to bring that perspective and problem-solving approach to my coaching to help everyone improve, regardless of their starting point or sticking points.  

Fitness Goals/Accomplishments: I was proud to qualify for age group quarterfinals in 2023 after a few setbacks in recent years. This year, the goal is to nail finally those pesky kipping ring muscle-ups and butterfly pull-ups in time for the 2024 open. 

Work/Hobbies: When not at the gym, I’m a political science professor at American University. Being a professor is a lot like being a coach but often not quite as fun 😉

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