A Life Transformed: Albany CrossFit Announces Winner of Paleo Diet Challenge

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When a 33-year-old mom signed up for Albany CrossFit and its Paleo diet challenge she ending up getting a lot more than she thought possible: a new way of life.

Albany Fitness, Paleo Nutirtion

Katie Hunter, Paleo Challenge Winner

My coach was frickin' awesome. So I'm getting better all the time.

Albany CrossFit and Crossfit Clifton Park, part of a worldwide movement that is changing the way people think about diet and fitness, today announced that its Paleo diet challenge has been been won by Katie Hunter, a 33-year-old mom and special education teacher who calls her experience “life-changing.”

“This really got me out of my shell. I now know what I can do if I try,” says Hunter. “It was definitely a confidence booster. People now come to me for diet advice. I never thought that would happen.”

Hunter now encourages others and posts inspirational quotes on her Facebook page. She is even considering a career change: becoming a fitness or nutrition coach once her 11-year-old son is a little older.

Hunter lost 20 pounds during the 90 day Paleo Challenge, on top of the 35 pounds she’d previously lost. At 185 pounds, Hunter says she still has 20-30 pounds to lose.

“I may not be there yet, but I’m getting better all the time,” says Hunter. She knows she can make it, thanks to the supportive environment at Albany CrossFit and CrossFit Clifton Park. “It’s the community that makes the difference,” she says.

Jason Ackerman, owner of Albany CrossFit and CrossFit Clifton Park, agrees. “We suspected we were on to something when over 120 of our members signed up for the challenge, but we were completely blown away by the results. Our members banded together to form a remarkable support system. Katie Hunter’s success story is just one of many.”

Hunter cites another factor. “It really helped that my Albany CrossFit Coach, Jason Murphy, had been through a similar transformation,” she said, describing the coach known as Murph as “frickin’ awesome.”

Hunter had previously been a member at a conventional gym. She worked with a personal trainer and was in the gym almost every day, but showed little improvement because her diet was still so poor.

Albany CrossFit Paleo Challenge participants recorded improvements in diet, athletic performance and body composition and blogged about their experiences. They took before and after pictures and tracked improvements in benchmark workouts including: Deadlifts (1 rep max); a 2000 meter row; and a short circuit-based workout.

As the winner, Hunter will receive a free one-year membership.

“But this is not really about winning or losing a competition," said Caleb Nelson, another coach at Albany CrossFit. “That’s not what drove everyone. It’s really about becoming your best self. Our participants ended up happier and healthier. That’s the real win.”

The Albany CrossFit gym began modestly four years ago in cramped and shared space with a handful of members. It expanded to a second location in Clifton Park last summer, then expanded its original location. Together, both gyms have over 500 members.

Why the success for a demanding diet and workout regimen?

"It's the community feeling and the caring," says Albany CrossFit and CrossFit Clifton Park owner Jason Ackerman. "We treat everyone who walks through the door like an athlete, regardless of their current fitness level, and our members are great about encouraging each other.”

Katie Hunter can attest to that. Encouraged by her brother, who was already a member, she first walked though the Albany CrossFit doors a year ago. She admits to feeling “a little intimidated at first.” But she stuck with the program and has even done 5k and 10k races and two CrossFit competitions on her journey to a better self.

The Paleo diet was part of that journey. It consists mostly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. Grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oil are excluded.

CrossFit workouts focus on natural and functional movements and are different every day. Every workout is coached and the coaches scale the workouts to accommodate different ability levels. CrossFit uses barbells, kettlebells, pull up bars and many body weight movements including squats and pushups.

And it's a bit like the TV series "Cheers": everyone knows your name. Members strike up friendships, go out together and travel together. A few have even gotten married.

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