If you are a woman who CrossFits, it’s likely you have heard of a Facebook page called Women of CrossFit = Strong (changed 11/4/14 to WODn’ Women = Strong). Quickly nearing 119,000 followers, WOC=S posts about the triumphs and successes of CrossFit women from around the world.
But who are the two women behind the scenes of this fast-growing online CrossFit community? True Barbellion set out to learn more about Megan Cannon and Shannon Dearing.
Women of CrossFit = Strong is not about me and Shan! It’s about all the women getting stronger with CrossFit. It’s their page, not ours.” – Meg
True Barbellion: Meg, why did you create Women of CrossFit = Strong?
Meg: Because I wanted a place to talk about CrossFit 24/7! Back in 2011 when I started WOC=S, I couldn’t find any CrossFit pages, so I decided to start my own.
TB: When did Shan come into the picture?
Meg: I noticed that Shan posted often on the page and always shared inspirational messages. WOC=S quickly took off and I was having trouble keeping up with it! I asked Shan if she would help.
Shan: I had started CrossFit in January of 2011. Meg started WOC=S in April of 2011. Once I drank the kool-aid, I searched for CrossFit pages to help inspire me to keep going and I found hers. Meg and I formed a quick friendship and in October of 2011, she asked me to help her with the posts. At the time I signed on, there were roughly 2000 followers…I’ve helped grow this page with her to over 118,000 followers and it’s been such a wonderful experience!
TB: But you two have never met in person?
Shan: Unfortunately, no. I’m in Boise, Idaho and my travels don’t often take me down to Louisiana. But hopefully some day soon!
Meg: We’ve tried a couple of times, but it hasn’t worked out. We text and talk all the time, though.
TB: Right now, WOC=S has over 118,500 Facebook followers. Are you surprised at how popular the page is?
Meg: (laughs) I can’t believe how it’s taken off.
Shan: I’ve been overwhelmed to see the response the page has gotten. The women of the page truly are the ones who keep us motivated to keep posting. It’s a crazy sight to see the love people give to others. The page has been such a source of comradery for women all over the world.
TB: When I see a WOC=S post in my news feed, it makes me smile. How do you keep it positive?
Shan: We used to have to ban people for negative comments, but it feels like people have finally realized that is exactly what we will do if we see them (and we read all comments).
Meg: We don’t allow anyone to ruin the celebration. And we want to keep it real. When I was trying to get my CrossFit Level 1 certification, it took me three times – yes, three – to pass the test. But I was completely honest about it on WOC=S. Being strong isn’t just physical. It’s also pushing ahead when you fail. I wanted to show people that if you want something, you have to keep working to get it. Things like that – people are going to post negative things. But we don’t allow it.
TB: Congratulations on your L1! As a coach, what do you think is the biggest mistake athletes make in their training?
Meg: Comparing themselves to other people. No two people are at the same point in their training. I see athletes compromise form and ignore common sense, just to be as “good” or as strong as someone else. Or they get discouraged because they have to scale the weight. We all have to start somewhere and we all start at different levels. Competition is great, but it’s not worth sacrificing form. That’s just going to stall your progress.
I still have a long way to go on my fitness journey, but each day that I enter that box, I’m that much closer to the goals I have set for myself.” – Shan
TB: Do you have a favorite CrossFit movement?
Meg: Muscle ups. I love them. My gymnastics background helps.
Shan: From the first time I did it…deadlift. It’s always been my lift. I’ve grown to absolutely love power cleans and power snatches too. But burpees and wall balls? Gag me.
TB: Any goals you’re working towards?
Shan: 300# deadlift. I’ve been stuck at 280# for awhile. And I want to do a strict pull up. I feel I can get it if I just keep focusing on it and practicing.
Meg: I’m looking ahead to 2015 Regionals. I was so nervous this year, like all these awesome CrossFit women would wonder how I’d made it. But they were so welcoming. It was a great experience.
TB: What about outside the box?
Meg: Well, I’m the manager and head coach at CrossFit CSE in St Charles, LA, so I’m inside the box a lot! But I love spending time with my husband and two year old son Liam.
Shan: My husband and I have our two rescue “fur” babies, Rocky and Sammie. As hobbies I’ve taken up mountain biking and running to help build up my stamina and endurance!
TB: In the years since you started Women of CrossFit = Strong, are there any posts that really stick out in your memory?
Meg: Yes! Eva, a CrossFitter diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her friends would post regularly with updates on Eva’s treatment. She had some setbacks, and many of us on WOC=S followed her cancer journey. But now she’s cancer free and is coming down to CrossFit CSE’s 2nd Annual WOD’n for TaTas in October. I’m really excited about meeting such a strong and courageous woman.
TB: What’s your favorite thing about CrossFit?
CrossFit helped me find my voice. I am strong enough now to help and protect others when they need it.” – Meg
Shan: CrossFit is not only making me stronger on the outside, but I am also gaining a new appreciation for myself on the inside. And while some of that is due to retraining my thought process, I’d say the majority of it comes from the energy and encouragement I get from my fellow CrossFitters. I push harder and further every day. Not every day is my best, but I am there giving 100% of what I have that day. So, yes…I belong to a cult – a strong and healthy cult. And this is why I have become so damn passionate about fitness. Finally! Strong is beautiful!
True Barbellion: Occasionally you cross paths with a person who you just know makes the lives of others better. Both Meg and Shan are those type of people. A big thanks to both of them for putting up with questions, requests for photos and late night emails. You’re doing great work, and I love that Women of CrossFit = Strong is part of my daily news feed.
Do you have a favorite CrossFit page? Questions for Meg or Shan?