Harriet Hansell


Harriet Hansell

IMG_3536Harriet Hansell

Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD (but really now Durham)
Age: 38
Occupation: Family Physician/Medical Acupuncturist

When did you first start CrossFitting?:
February 2014

What is your favorite movement? Favorite workout?
Handstand push-ups, dead hang pull-ups, toes to bar, burpees to chest to bar pull-ups. “Diane” is my favorite workout.

What is your least favorite movement? Least favorite workout?
Snatches! I’m also not a big fan of running long distances nor rowing (I’m too short)

Tell us about your sports & fitness background:
I grew up a tomboy that was the “queen of the mountain” in my neighborhood and arm wrestling champion through 8th grade (then the boys hit puberty). I dabbled in different sports: lacrosse, diving, and skiing, but my main two sports were gymnastics and volleyball. I currently love biking with the family, rock climbing, snowboarding, and wake boarding. I am a believer of strength training and high intensity interval workouts and preach this to my patients. I also like competition and would happily challenge people to a handstand or arm wrestling contest (I am a good loser too).

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Do you remember your first WOD? How did it go? IMG_3515
My cousin Eric moved to NC from NJ in September 2013 and started at CrossFit Durham. I took the foundations class in February 2014 and have been hooked since. Other than while on vacation, I usually come three times a week. My first WOD was a blur. I just tried to keep up as best as I could and not make a fool out of myself. Scaling was the key to survival. I just remember telling people how ugly my snatch was and that I had to keep my eye on the box. No wonder all the funny looks from my non-CrossFit friends!

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit? (before/after)
So I tore my two of my right rotator cuff muscles in 2011 and had a two year rehab process without surgery. It was really painful and I had a lot of atrophy in my arm, rhomboids and lats. Even when I began CrossFit, I was not completely healed because I needed to strengthen my upper body. With appropriate scaling during the WODs and working on pull-ups on my own, I quickly regained the strength in my arms, shoulders, and upper back. I just remember not even being able to hang from the bar when I started and after just 3 months of CrossFit, I could do dead hang pull-ups without any issues. My chiropractor was in disbelief with how quickly I regained my muscle tone in my upper body after only 3 months of CrossFit.

What impact has CrossFit had on your life?
CrossFit is a good match for me since I am very internally competitive. I always want to do better with each workout and strive toward the next goal (which would be an unassisted muscle up!) I would come everyday if I had the time. I like being pushed to a point where I would not normally push myself. I am smart about what movements may compromise an old injury and scale appropriately. I also am not afraid to try anything and no workout scares me. I may still whine about it, but I know I can get through any workout. It has restored my strength and confidence in both body movement exercises and lifting.

What is your favorite CrossFit/CFD moment?
My favorite moment was getting my handstands back! I could not do handstands for about two years and now walking on my hands is fun and so manageable. My favorite part of CrossFit Durham is the camaraderie. I have met some great people here and we have a group headed to the Spartan Sprint in April 2015.

What is your advice for people just getting started or thinking about starting CrossFit?
Do not be intimidated. Everyone is good at something in CrossFit. CrossFit forces you to strengthen and to have more endurance. You may not be good at pull-ups but may be a great runner. The variations of the WODs makes everyone realize what their strengths and weaknesses are. I now have a hard time getting a hard enough workout while on vacation because CrossFit has taken me to another fitness level that I did not know that I could hit after having two kids.

Also be smart about scaling appropriately. I have never gotten hurt doing CrossFit because I am smart about listening to my body. I know the difference between muscle fatigue and muscle/connective tissue injury (there should never be true pain while doing an activity). The foam roller and lacrosse balls (for rolling out sore IMG_2762muscles) will be your best friend!

What are your hobbies, interests, and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I am married with two girls (ages 8 and almost 6). I am a full time physician who practices general medicine and acupuncture in Raleigh. We travel a lot, our family usually flies every 2-3 months for some vacation/exploration. I love to cook and am a self-admitted food snob. I eat well, believe in feeding your body healthy foods, and love beer. I actually usually eat a full dinner and drink a beer (usually an IPA) prior to all my evening CrossFit WODs. I moved to the triangle in 1998 and have lived in Durham since 2000 (and love it!). My husband and I enjoy renovating the beautiful old homes of Durham and have some rental properties in Durham. I believe in investing in your community!