EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to our 12 reps feature. In each appearance of 12 Reps, our coaches, writers, and occasional guests will be answering the same twelve questions each time. Go “into the locker-room” with them and get to know our coaches and writers a little bit better!
12 Reps With Nurse Practitioner Vanessa Bennington
1. Who was your first coach and what did he or she teach you?
I had two “first” coaches simultaneously. I didn’t really do any kind of sport in high school or college, so I only really experienced coaching when I started CrossFit. Jeff Tucker helped me in the beginning to learn how to do the basic movements and how to kip (that was HUGE.) He also really made me believe I could be a decent CrossFitter. It might have been the first time in my life I thought I might have some real athletic potential. Josh Wells, who Tucker introduced me to, taught me how to do the basic strength movements: squat, deadlift, press, and power clean. He also taught me not to be afraid to be muscular. If I hadn’t taken the time to get stronger, I think I would still be struggling athletically to do a lot of things that I now take for granted.
2. Who is the coach you most admire?
My husband. I don’t know of anyone else who cares so much about helping everyone, and I do mean everyone, improve athletically. He doesn’t just cater to the athletically or genetically talented. He wants everyone to do their very best, from the 60 year old grandma to the college athlete. He lives and breathes weightlifting, gymnastics, and all things CrossFit. He reads, he studies, he watches videos, he tries out different methodologies, and he loves this. And I love to watch him doing what he loves.
3. If you could have a superhero power, what would it be?
To fly? Yeah, that would make traveling a heck of a lot easier, and less expensive. I’m pretty sure it would make me rich and famous. Pull ups, muscle ups, and all things gymnastics would be a breeze. I thought about reading minds, or seeing the future, but I’m afraid that would make me even more neurotic than I already am. Flying it is!
4. What athlete, dead or alive, would you most like to talk with?
I’m a dork. I’m still totally enamored with CrossFit athletes. Probably Lindsey Valenzuela, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, or Stacie Tovar. Having not really been into sports as a kid, these girls are my heroes.
5. When did you know that coaching was your calling?
I began training people in 1997, and never thought it would be a “real job” until I tried to remove myself from it completely after I finished grad school. It was then that I think I realized that I would never be happy doing a “regular” job, no matter how amazing the pay. I was always jealous of other trainers. I longed to be in the gym, helping people to look and feel their best. And by this point, I had found CrossFit and I knew that quality training led to very real self-esteem improvements and body image improvements for so many women.
6. What is the best and hardest part about being a coach?
Patience. It’s also the hardest part of being coached. Learning to be patient with your athletes/clients and finding the right words and cues are definitely the two hardest parts of training clients.
7. What is your favorite physical activity or exercise?
Hiking or walking. This is my go-to activity. When I need to cheer up, calm down, just get into some kind of activity, explore a new place, or lose a little body fat – this is my favorite activity. I enjoy this activity, and hopefully will always be able to.
8. What is your favorite “cheat” food?
Mellow Mushroom pizza. Half philosopher’s pie. Half red skin potato pie!
9. What is your biggest accomplishment?
Posting pictures of my cellulite online! Haha! No, really, I think my biggest accomplishment so far has been finishing grad school and finally finding work that I love and enjoy. That was tough for me. For so many years, I thought that happiness was money, and you had to suck it up and find a solid job that would make good money in order to find happiness. Boy, was I wrong.
10. What do you bring to your students/clients that is different than other coaches and programs?
I think I bring medical expertise that most coaches don’t have because they didn’t spend a zillion dollars getting a medical degree. I also feel I bring a lot of compassion, understanding, and a real desire to help those people who are struggling to find their health again. Weight loss, favorable body composition, and athleticism are not things that came naturally to me. I have fought for every abdominal muscle, for every personal record, for every pound lost. I get it. I know it can be hard and I know what it feels like to feel defeated because your body isn’t responding the way it’s supposed to. I can help and I can certainly lend a empathetic ear.
11. What is your favorite quote?
“Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we’re wired that way. Because without it, I don’t know, maybe we just wouldn’t feel real. What’s that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop” – Meredith Grey.
Yes, that is a quote from Grey’s Anatomy. Ha! You asked!
12. What was/is your favorite sport and why?
Olympic weightlifting. How absolutely amazing are these people to watch? It takes doing some weightlifting to truly appreciate this sport. Close second: gymnastics. Again, amazing. My children will be forced to go to gymnastics!
Click here to read articles from Vanessa.
If you missed any editions of 12 Reps, be sure to check out our archives. You never know who we might talk to and what might get said!